Serine/Threonine Kinase 11 Plays a Canonical Role in Malignant Progression of KRAS -Mutant and GNAS -Wild-Type Intraductal Papillary Mucinous Neoplasms of the Pancreas

Yuko Omori, Yusuke Ono, Takanori Morikawa, Fuyuhiko Motoi, Ryota Higuchi, Masakazu Yamamoto, Yuko Hayakawa, Hidenori Karasaki, Yusuke Mizukami, Michiaki Unno, Toru Furukawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: We aimed to elucidate the clinicopathobiological significance of Serine/Threonine Kinase 11 (STK11) in pancreatic intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasms (IPMNs). Background: STK11 is a tumor suppressor involved in certain IPMNs; however, its significance is not well known. Methods: In 184 IPMNs without Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, we analyzed expression of STK11 and phosphorylated-AMPKa in all cases, and p16, p53, SMAD4, and β-catenin in 140 cases by immunohistochemistry; and we analyzed mutations in 37 genes, including whole coding exons of STK11, CDKN2A, TP53, and SMAD4, and hotspots of KRAS, BRAF, and GNAS in 64 cases by targeted sequencing. KRAS and GNAS were additionally analyzed in 86 STK11-normal IPMNs using digital-PCR. Results: Consistent loss or reduction of STK11 expression was observed in 26 of 184 (14%) IPMNs. These STK11-aberrant IPMNs were 17 of 45 (38%) pancreatobiliary, 8 of 27 (30%) oncocytic, 1 of 54 (2%) gastric, and 0 of 58 (0%) intestinal subtypes (P = 8.5E-11), and 20 of 66 (30%) invasive, 6 of 74 (8%) high-grade, and 0 of 44 (0%) low-grade (P = 3.9E-06). Sixteen somatic STK11 mutations (5 frameshift, 6 nonsense, 1 splicing, and 4 missense) were detected in 15/26 STK11-aberrant IPMNs (P = 4.1E-06). All STK11-aberrant IPMNs were GNAS-wild-type and 96% of them were KRAS or BRAF-mutant. Morphologically, STK11-aberrant IPMNs presented "fern-like" arborizing papillae with thin fibrovascular core. Phosphorylated-AMPKa was down-regulated in STK11-aberrant IPMNs (92%, P = 6.8E-11). Patients with STK11-aberrant IPMNs showed poorer survival than patients with STK11-normal IPMNs (P = 3.6E-04 overall; P = 6.1E-04 disease-free). Conclusion: STK11 may play a canonical role in malignant progression and poor survival of patients with IPMNs. Aberrant STK11-driven phosphorylated AMPK downregulation may provide therapeutic opportunities with mTOR inhibitors/AMPK activators.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E384-E395
JournalAnnals of Surgery
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • AMPK
  • KRAS
  • STK11
  • intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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