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Am J Pathol. 1994 May;144(5):889-95.

Detection of K-ras mutations in mucinous pancreatic duct hyperplasia from a patient with a family history of pancreatic carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland.


Mutations in the K-ras oncogene and in the p53 tumor suppressor gene are commonly identified in sporadic cases of pancreatic adenocarcinoma. Although these genes might serve as useful markers for early diagnosis of pancreatic carcinoma in patients at risk for the development of this disease, familial pancreatic carcinomas have not been studied for these mutations. We recently had the opportunity to examine a pancreas prophylactically removed from a patient with a strong family history of pancreatic carcinoma. This gave us the unique opportunity to study the early events in the development of familial adenocarcinoma of the pancreas. Histopathological examination of the pancreas revealed multifocal papillary and nonpapillary mucinous duct hyperplasia. Seven of these foci were microdissected and analyzed for K-ras and p53 mutations. The K-ras mutations were detected by combined mutant-enriched polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis and characterized further by allele-specific oligonucleotide hybridization. Five of the seven duct lesions harbored activating point mutations in codon 12 of K-ras; a G to A transition was found in four and a G to C transversion in one. In contrast, these lesions did not harbor detectable p53 mutations as determined by denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis of exons 5 to 8, nor was there overexpression of the p53 protein as determined by immunohistochemistry. These findings suggest that mutations in K-ras represent an early event in the pathogenesis of pancreatic carcinoma. In addition, monitoring of patients with a strong family history of pancreatic carcinoma for K-ras mutations may identify patients at risk for the development of invasive carcinoma.

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