The molecular genetic profiles that characterize pancreatic ductal neoplasia have taken shape recently with the help of immunohistochemistry and the establishment of the nomenclature describing pancreatic ductal tumorigenesis. K-ras mutations frequently occur early, changes in the expression and genetic integrity of the p 16 gene appear in intermediate lesions, and the inactivation of the p53, DPC4, and BRCA2 genes occur late in the neoplastic progression. Tumor-suppressor genes inactivated in pancreatic cancer such as ALK5, TGFBR2, MKK4, and STK11/LKB1 have been identified, although their roles in tumor progression are not yet well defined. Additional discoveries in this tumor system may be on the horizon, will further refine the molecular genetic profiles for the disease, and should suggest some clinical uses for this fund of knowledge.
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