Duct- and acinar-derived pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas show distinct tumor progression and marker expression

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The cell of origin of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) has been controversial. Here, we show that identical oncogenic drivers trigger PDAC originating from both ductal and acinar cells with similar histology but with distinct pathophysiology and marker expression dependent on cell of origin. Whereas acinar-derived tumors exhibited low AGR2 expression and were preceded by pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasias (PanINs), duct-derived tumors displayed high AGR2 and developed independently of a PanIN stage via non-mucinous lesions. Using orthotopic transplantation and chimera experiments, we demonstrate that PanIN-like lesions can be induced by PDAC as bystanders in adjacent healthy tissues, explaining the co-existence of mucinous and non-mucinous lesions and highlighting the need to distinguish between true precursor PanINs and PanIN-like bystander lesions. Our results suggest AGR2 as a tool to stratify PDAC according to cell of origin, highlight that not all PanIN-like lesions are precursors of PDAC, and add an alternative progression route to the current model of PDAC development.

Journal details

Journal Cell Reports
Volume 21
Issue number 4
Pages 966-978
Available online
Publication date