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Clin Cancer Res. 2009 Apr 15;15(8):2864-71. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-08-2946. Epub 2009 Apr 7.

Synuclein-gamma is closely involved in perineural invasion and distant metastasis in mouse models and is a novel prognostic factor in pancreatic cancer.

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Department of Pathology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.



Perineural invasion is associated with the high incidence of local recurrence and a dismal prognosis in pancreatic cancer. We previously reported a novel perineural invasion model and distinguished high- and low-perineural invasion groups in pancreatic cancer cell lines. This study aimed to elucidate the molecular mechanism of perineural invasion.


To identify key biological markers involved in perineural invasion, differentially expressed molecules were investigated by proteomics and transcriptomics. Synuclein-gamma emerged as the only up-regulated molecule in high-perineural invasion group by both analyses. The clinical significance and the biological property of synuclein-gamma were examined in 62 resected cases of pancreatic cancer and mouse models.


Synuclein-gamma overexpression was observed in 38 (61%) cases and correlated with major invasive parameters, including perineural invasion and lymph node metastasis (P < 0.05). Multivariate analyses revealed synuclein-gamma overexpression as the only independent predictor of diminished overall survival [hazard ratio, 3.4 (95% confidence interval, 1.51-7.51)] and the strongest negative indicator of disease-free survival [2.8 (1.26-6.02)]. In mouse perineural invasion and orthotopic transplantation models, stable synuclein-gamma suppression by short hairpin RNA significantly reduced the incidence of perineural invasion (P = 0.009) and liver/lymph node metastasis (P = 0.019 and P = 0.020, respectively) compared with the control.


This is the first study to provide in vivo evidence that synuclein-gamma is closely involved in perineural invasion/distant metastasis and is a significant prognostic factor in pancreatic cancer. Synuclein-gamma may serve as a promising molecular target of early diagnosis and anticancer therapy.

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