Pancreatic cancer is one of the most aggressive cancers and a leading cause of cancer death. This cancer originates from lesions called Pancreatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia (PanIN) that can evolve into adenocarcinoma. A better understanding of the mechanisms driving the disease will contribute to better treatments.
The team of Patrick Jacquemin and Frédéric Lemaigre, in collaboration with the laboratory of Ilse Rooman, from the Garvan Institute, in Sidney, investigated the role of the transcription factor Sox9 in pancreatic cancer. They found that Sox9 is expressed at higher levels in a tumor subtype which is associated with better patient outcome and better response to therapy targeting the EGF receptor. High expression of Sox9 in human tumors correlates with high expression of several members of the EGFR/ERBB signaling pathway. Using mouse models, the team also demonstrated that Sox9 is essential for PanIN formation and is required for ERBB signaling activity.
By integrating data from patient samples and animal models, this work, recently published in the journal Gut, could help in the future to optimize selection of patients that may respond to therapy targeting the EGF signaling pathway.