Disruption of the antiproliferative TGF-beta signaling pathways in human pancreatic cancer cells

Oncogene. 1998 Oct 15;17(15):1969-78. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1202118.


Resistance to TGF-beta1 occurred in pancreatic cancer cells suggesting that inactivation of TGF-beta inhibitory signaling pathways may play an important role in human pancreatic cancer. The aim of our study was to determine the presence of alterations in the main putative components of the TGF-beta inhibitory signaling pathways (p15, Smad4, Smad2, TGFbeta-RII, CDC25A). A panel of human carcinomas of the exocrine pancreas orthotopically implanted and perpetuated in nude mice and pancreatic cancer cell lines were studied. p15 gene alterations, mainly homozygous deletions that involved exons 1 and/or 2, were found in the 62.5% (5 of 8) of pancreatic xenografts whereas Smad4 gene aberrations were found in one of eight xenografts and in two of seven cell lines. Additional aberrations in these genes were acquired during in vivo perpetuation and distal dissemination. Paradoxically, TGFbeta-RII overexpression and a decrease in CDC25A protein levels were found in all tumors and cell lines. In one cell line, resistance to TGF-beta1 occurred in the absence of alterations in the genes analysed so far. We conclude that all human pancreatic tumor cells analysed herein have non-functional TGF-beta pathways. The majority of cells harbor alterations in at least one of the putative components of TGF-beta pathways, mainly in p15 and Smad4 genes. These results suggest that inactivation of TGF-beta signaling pathways plays an important role in human pancreatic tumorigenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Cycle Proteins*
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p15
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16*
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA Replication / physiology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Nude
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Point Mutation
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases / genetics
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Smad4 Protein
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / physiology
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins*
  • cdc25 Phosphatases*


  • CDKN2B protein, human
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cdkn1b protein, mouse
  • Cdkn2b protein, mouse
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p15
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p16
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • Receptors, Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • SMAD2 protein, human
  • SMAD4 protein, human
  • Smad2 Protein
  • Smad2 protein, mouse
  • Smad4 Protein
  • Smad4 protein, mouse
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cyclin-Dependent Kinase Inhibitor p27
  • Protein-Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Receptor, Transforming Growth Factor-beta Type II
  • CDC25A protein, human
  • Cdc25a protein, mouse
  • Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases
  • cdc25 Phosphatases