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Gene Discovered by Researchers Tied to Pancreatic Cancer

a family in which 18 members, over four generations, died of pancreatic cancer. Subsequent DNA samples from this family, including from those with the initial stages of pancreatic cancer and those without the disease, led to the isolation of palladin on a particular region of chromosome 4.

Dr. Kay L. Pogue-Geile, assistant director of microarray at the National Surgical Adjuvant Breast and Bowel Project Laboratory in Pittsburgh, developed a customized DNA microarray to assess genes in that region of the chromosome and looked for gene overexpression or overactivity. Pogue-Geile and Brentnall share first authorship on the PLOS paper.

The analysis found a mutated palladin gene in all family members affected with early stage disease but not in those unaffected. The mutation was associated with gene overexpression 21 times greater than other genes in that region. Moreover, in pancreas cells of people with sporadic pancreatic cancer, the research team found palladin also overexpressed, and increasingly so, as the disease progressed.

The study team said these findings could account for changes in the cytoskeletal architecture of pancreatic cancer cells, and those alterations “may be responsible for the tumor’s invasive and migratory abilities.”

“We don’t know how the palladin mutation found in this study contributes to the movement or invasiveness of cancer cells. That’s the part of the story we still have to figure out,” Otey said.

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