MSX2, a member of the homeobox genes family, is demonstrated to be the downstream target for ras signaling pathway and is expressed in a variety of carcinoma cells, suggesting its relevance to the development of ductal pancreatic tumors since pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasia (IPMN) harbor frequent K-ras gene mutations. Recent studies revealed the roles of MSX2 in the development of carcinoma of various origins including pancreas. Among gastrointestinal tumors, PDAC is one of the most malignant. PDAC progresses rapidly to develop metastatic lesions, frequently by the time of diagnosis, and these tumors are usually resistant to conventional chemotherapy and radiation therapy. The molecular mechanisms regulating the aggressive behavior of PDAC still remain to be clarified. On the other hand, IPMN of the pancreas is distinct from PDAC because of its intraductal growth in the main pancreatic duct or secondary branches with rare invasion and metastasis to distant organs. However, recent evidence indicated that once IPMN showed stromal invasion, it progresses like PDAC. Therefore, it is important to determin how IPMN progresses to malignant phenotype. In this review, we focus on the involvement of MSX2 in the enhancement of malignant behavior in PDAC and IPMN, and further highlight the clinical approach to differentiate PDAC from chronic pancreatitis by evaluating MSX2 expression level.
- Cancer development
- Intraductal papillary-mucinous neoplasm of the pancreas
- Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma