Background/aims: The pathogenesis of pancreatic cancer is poorly understood. The multigenetic nature of carcinogenesis has been best documented in colon cancer. The relevance of this model was suggested for other epithelial tumors. Only advanced stages of pancreatic cancer are usually detected because of late diagnosis. Analysis of accumulated, diverse genetic changes could allow further understanding of putative mechanisms involved in tumor development. Activated c-Ki-ras oncogene has been shown to be a frequent event. However, additional alterations of tumor suppressor genes are expected. Therefore, concomitant genetic changes of p53 and deleted in colon carcinoma (DCC) in pancreatic carcinoma cell lines and primary tumors were analyzed.
Methods: p53 protein and transcript expression were revealed by immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry, immunoassay, and Northern blot analysis. p53 mutations were identified by sequence analysis. DCC expression was investigated by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Results: p53 overexpression was observed in 9 of 12 cell lines. p53 point mutations were confirmed in seven cell lines overexpressing p53. The majority of cell lines showed concomitant p53 and DCC alterations. Four of 6 primary tumors overexpressing p53 also showed loss of DCC expression.
Conclusions: p53 and DCC genetic changes are associated with pancreatic cancer and the frequently activated c-Ki-ras oncogene. Therefore, the multihit model of carcinogenesis could prove relevant for pancreatic cancer.