Objective: Intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs) are non-invasive precursor lesions that can progress to invasive pancreatic cancer and are classified as low-grade or high-grade based on the morphology of the neoplastic epithelium. We aimed to compare genetic alterations in low-grade and high-grade regions of the same IPMN in order to identify molecular alterations underlying neoplastic progression.
Design: We performed multiregion whole exome sequencing on tissue samples from 17 IPMNs with both low-grade and high-grade dysplasia (76 IPMN regions, including 49 from low-grade dysplasia and 27 from high-grade dysplasia). We reconstructed the phylogeny for each case, and we assessed mutations in a novel driver gene in an independent cohort of 63 IPMN cyst fluid samples.
Results: Our multiregion whole exome sequencing identified KLF4, a previously unreported genetic driver of IPMN tumorigenesis, with hotspot mutations in one of two codons identified in >50% of the analyzed IPMNs. Mutations in KLF4 were significantly more prevalent in low-grade regions in our sequenced cases. Phylogenetic analyses of whole exome sequencing data demonstrated diverse patterns of IPMN initiation and progression. Hotspot mutations in KLF4 were also identified in an independent cohort of IPMN cyst fluid samples, again with a significantly higher prevalence in low-grade IPMNs.
Conclusion: Hotspot mutations in KLF4 occur at high prevalence in IPMNs. Unique among pancreatic driver genes, KLF4 mutations are enriched in low-grade IPMNs. These data highlight distinct molecular features of low-grade and high-grade dysplasia and suggest diverse pathways to high-grade dysplasia via the IPMN pathway.
Keywords: molecular genetics; mutations; pancreatic cancer; pancreatic pathology; pancreatic tumours.
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