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Mod Pathol. 2013 Oct;26(10):1346-54. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2013.71. Epub 2013 Apr 19.

KRAS mutant allele-specific imbalance is associated with worse prognosis in pancreatic cancer and progression to undifferentiated carcinoma of the pancreas.

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Department of Pathology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA, USA.


KRAS codon 12 mutations are present in about 90% of ductal adenocarcinomas and in undifferentiated carcinomas of the pancreas. The role of KRAS copy number changes and resulting KRAS mutant allele-specific imbalance (MASI) in ductal adenocarcinoma (n=94), and its progression into undifferentiated carcinoma of the pancreas (n=25) was studied by direct sequencing and KRAS fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Semi-quantitative evaluation of sequencing electropherograms showed KRAS MASI (ie, mutant allele peak higher than or equal to the wild-type allele peak) in 22 (18.4%) cases. KRAS FISH (performed on 45 cases) revealed a trend for more frequent KRAS amplification among cases with KRAS MASI (7/20, 35% vs 3/25, 12%, P=0.08). KRAS amplification by FISH was seen only in undifferentiated carcinomas (10/24, 42% vs 0/21 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, 0%, P=0.0007). In 6 of 11 cases with both undifferentiated and well-differentiated components, transition to undifferentiated carcinoma was associated with an increase in KRAS copy number, due to amplification and/or chromosome 12 hyperploidy. Pancreatic carcinomas with KRAS MASI (compared to those without MASI) were predominantly undifferentiated (16/22, 73% vs 9/97, 9%, P<0.001), more likely to present at clinical stage IV (5/22, 23% vs 7/97, 7%, P=0.009), and were associated with shorter overall survival (9 months, 95% confidence interval, 5-13, vs 22 months, 95% confidence interval, 17-27; P=0.015) and shorter disease-free survival (5 months, 95% confidence interval, 2-8 vs 13 months, 95% confidence interval, 10-16; P=0.02). Our findings suggest that in a subset of ductal adenocarcinomas, KRAS MASI correlates with the progression to undifferentiated carcinoma of the pancreas.

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