Background: Epigenetic alterations have been recognized as important contributors to the pathogenesis of PDAC. However, the role of histone variants in pancreatic tumor progression is still not completely understood. The aim of this study was to explore the expression and prognostic significance of histone protein variants in PDAC patients.
Methods: Liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was employed for qualitative analysis of histone variants and histone related post-translational modifications (PTMs) in PDAC and normal pancreatic tissues. Survival analysis was conducted using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox proportional hazards regression.
Results: Histone variant H1.3 was found to be differentially expressed (p = 0.005) and was selected as a PDAC specific histone variant candidate. The prognostic role of H1.3 was evaluated in an external cohort of patients with resected PDAC using immunohistochemistry. Intratumor expression of H1.3 was found to be an important risk factor for overall survival in PDAC, with an adjusted HR value of 2.6 (95% CI 1.1-6.1), p = 0.029.
Conclusion: We suggest that the intratumor histone H1.3 expression as reported herein, may serve as a new epigenetic biomarker for PDAC.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Epigenetics; H1.3; Histone variants; Immunohistochemistry; LC-MS/MS; Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma.