ROR1 and ROR2 expression in pancreatic cancer

BMC Cancer. 2021 Nov 11;21(1):1199. doi: 10.1186/s12885-021-08952-9.


Background: The Wnt receptors ROR1 and ROR2 are generating increased interest as cancer therapeutic targets but remain understudied in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Compared to canonical Wnt/ β-catenin signalling, the role of noncanonical Wnt signalling in PDAC remains largely unknown. Only one study has investigated the prognostic significance of the noncanonical Wnt signalling receptor, ROR2 in PDAC. No studies have investigated the prognostic role of ROR1 in PDAC.

Methods: Here, we performed analysis of ROR1 and ROR2 mRNA expression in three publicly available datasets ICGC-PACA-AU (n = 81), TCGA-PAAD (n = 150) and CPTAC-PDAC (n = 137). ROR1 and ROR2 protein expression from the CPTAC-PDAC discovery cohort were also analysed. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) using the validated anti ROR1 monoclonal antibody (4A5) was performed on the Australian Pancreatic Cancer Genome Initiative (APGI) cohort of PDAC samples (n = 152). Association between ROR1 cytoplasmic staining intensity and clinicopathological parameters including stage, grade and overall survival (OS) was investigated.

Results: High ROR1 mRNA expression levels correlated with a favourable OS outcome in all of the ICGC-PACA-AU, TCGA-PAAD and CPTAC-PDAC cohorts. ROR1 protein expression was not associated with stage, grade or OS in the APGI cohort.

Conclusion: ROR1 and ROR2 have potential as prognostic markers when measured at the mRNA level in PDAC. Our IHC cohort did not support ROR1 protein expression in predicting OS, and highlighted the discrepancy of prognostic biomarkers when measured by MS, IHC and RNAseq.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / analysis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / mortality*
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal / pathology
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Staging
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / mortality*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prognosis
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors / analysis
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors / metabolism*
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • ROR1 protein, human
  • ROR2 protein, human
  • Receptor Tyrosine Kinase-like Orphan Receptors