Germline copy number variation in the YTHDC2 gene: does it have a role in finding a novel potential molecular target involved in pancreatic adenocarcinoma susceptibility?

Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2014 Aug;18(8):841-50. doi: 10.1517/14728222.2014.920324. Epub 2014 May 16.


Objective: The vast majority of pancreatic cancers occurs sporadically. The discovery of frequent variations in germline gene copy number can significantly influence the expression levels of genes that predispose to pancreatic adenocarcinoma. We prospectively investigated whether patients with sporadic pancreatic adenocarcinoma share specific gene copy number variations (CNVs) in their germline DNA.

Patients and methods: DNA samples were analyzed from peripheral leukocytes from 72 patients with a diagnosis of sporadic pancreatic adenocarcinoma and from 60 controls using Affymetrix 500K array set. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) assay was performed using a set of self-designed MLPA probes specific for seven target sequences.

Results: We identified a CNV-containing DNA region associated with pancreatic cancer risk. This region shows a deletion of 1 allele in 36 of the 72 analyzed patients but in none of the controls. This region is of particular interest since it contains the YTHDC2 gene encoding for a putative DNA/RNA helicase, such protein being frequently involved in cancer susceptibility. Interestingly, 82.6% of Sicilian patients showed germline loss of one allele.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that the YTHDC2 gene could be a potential candidate for pancreatic cancer susceptibility and a useful marker for early detection as well as for the development of possible new therapeutic strategies.

Keywords: YTHDC2 gene; copy number variations; germline alteration; pancreatic cancer susceptibility.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / genetics*
  • Adenocarcinoma / pathology
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / genetics*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • DNA Copy Number Variations / genetics*
  • DNA Helicases / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiplex Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA Helicases / genetics


  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • DNA Helicases
  • RNA Helicases
  • YTHDC2 protein, human