Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is driven by the accumulation of somatic mutations, epigenetic modifications and changes in the micro-environment. New approaches to investigating disruptions of gene expression networks promise to uncover key regulators and pathways in carcinogenesis. We performed messenger RNA-sequencing in pancreatic normal (n = 10) and tumor (n = 8) derived tissue samples, as well as in pancreatic cancer cell lines (n = 9), to determine differential gene expression (DE) patterns. Sub-network enrichment analyses identified HNF1A as the regulator of the most significantly and consistently dysregulated expression sub-network in pancreatic tumor tissues and cells (median P = 7.56×10(-7), median rank = 1, range = 1-25). To explore the effects of HNF1A expression in pancreatic tumor-derived cells, we generated stable HNF1A-inducible clones in two pancreatic cancer cell lines (PANC-1 and MIA PaCa-2) and observed growth inhibition (5.3-fold, P = 4.5×10(-5) for MIA PaCa-2 clones; 7.2-fold, P = 2.2×10(-5) for PANC-1 clones), and a G0/G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis upon induction. These effects correlated with HNF1A-induced down-regulation of 51 of 84 cell cycle genes (e.g. E2F1, CDK2, CDK4, MCM2/3/4/5, SKP2 and CCND1), decreased expression of anti-apoptotic genes (e.g. BIRC2/5/6 and AKT) and increased expression of pro-apoptotic genes (e.g. CASP4/9/10 and APAF1). In light of the established role of HNF1A in the regulation of pancreatic development and homeostasis, our data suggest that it also functions as an important tumor suppressor in the pancreas.
ASJC Scopus subject areas