Somatic loss of ATM is a late event in pancreatic tumorigenesis

J Pathol. 2023 Aug;260(4):455-464. doi: 10.1002/path.6136. Epub 2023 Jun 22.


Understanding the timing and spectrum of genetic alterations that contribute to the development of pancreatic cancer is essential for effective interventions and treatments. The aim of this study was to characterize somatic ATM alterations in noninvasive pancreatic precursor lesions and invasive pancreatic adenocarcinomas from patients with and without pathogenic germline ATM variants. DNA was isolated and sequenced from the invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas and precursor lesions of patients with a pathogenic germline ATM variant. Tumor and precursor lesions from these patients as well as colloid carcinoma from patients without a germline ATM variant were immunolabeled to assess ATM expression. Among patients with a pathogenic germline ATM variant, somatic ATM alterations, either mutations and/or loss of protein expression, were identified in 75.0% of invasive pancreatic adenocarcinomas but only 7.1% of pancreatic precursor lesions. Loss of ATM expression was also detected in 31.0% of colloid carcinomas from patients unselected for germline ATM status, significantly higher than in pancreatic precursor lesions [pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms (p = 0.0013); intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms, p = 0.0040] and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (p = 0.0076) unselected for germline ATM status. These data are consistent with the second hit to ATM being a late event in pancreatic tumorigenesis. © 2023 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of The Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.

Keywords: ATM; DNA; cancer; immunohistochemistry; inherited; pancreatic; pathogenic; sequencing; somatic; variant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma*
  • Adenocarcinoma, Mucinous* / genetics
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins / genetics
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins / metabolism
  • Carcinogenesis
  • Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal* / pathology
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms* / pathology


  • ATM protein, human
  • Ataxia Telangiectasia Mutated Proteins