Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is one of the most lethal cancers worldwide. To identify biologically relevant genes with prognostic and therapeutic significance in PDAC, we first performed the microarray gene-expression profiling in 45 matching pairs of tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues from resected PDAC cases. We identified 36 genes that were associated with patient outcome and also differentially expressed in tumors as compared with adjacent non-tumor tissues in microarray analysis. Further evaluation in an independent validation cohort (N = 27) confirmed that DPEP1 (dipeptidase 1) expression was decreased (T: N ratio ~0.1, P<0.01) in tumors as compared with non-tumor tissues. DPEP1 gene expression was negatively correlated with histological grade (Spearman correlation coefficient = -0.35, P = 0.004). Lower expression of DPEP1 in tumors was associated with poor survival (Kaplan Meier log rank) in both test cohort (P = 0.035) and validation cohort (P = 0.016). DPEP1 expression was independently associated with cancer-specific mortality when adjusted for tumor stage and resection margin status in both univariate (hazard ratio = 0.43, 95%CI = 0.24-0.76, P = 0.004) and multivariate analyses (hazard ratio = 0.51, 95%CI = 0.27-0.94, P = 0.032). We further demonstrated that overexpression of DPEP1 suppressed tumor cells invasiveness and increased sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agent Gemcitabine. Our data also showed that growth factor EGF treatment decreased DPEP1 expression and MEK1/2 inhibitor AZD6244 increased DPEP1 expression in vitro, indicating a potential mechanism for DPEP1 gene regulation. Therefore, we provide evidence that DPEP1 plays a role in pancreatic cancer aggressiveness and predicts outcome in patients with resected PDAC. In view of these findings, we propose that DPEP1 may be a candidate target in PDAC for designing improved treatments.
Zhang, G., Schetter, A., He, P., Funamizu, N., Gaedcke, J., Ghadimi, B. M., … Hussain, S. P. (2012). DPEP1 inhibits tumor cell invasiveness, enhances chemosensitivity and predicts clinical outcome in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. PLoS ONE, 7(2). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0031507