ARTICLE ABSTRACTMetabolic reprogramming and cancer stem cells drive the aggressiveness of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). However, the metabolic and stemness programs of pancreatic precursor lesions (PPL), considered early PDAC development events, have not been thoroughly explored.
Meta-analyses using gene expression profile data from NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus and IHC on tissue microarrays (TMA) were performed. The following animal and cellular models were used: cerulean-induced KrasG12D; Pdx1 Cre (KC) acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM) mice, KrasG12D; Smad4Loss; Pdx-1 Cre (KCSmad4−) intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm (IPMN) mice, LGKC1 cell line derived from the doxycycline-inducible Gnas IPMN model, and human IPMN organoids. Flow cytometry, Seahorse extracellular flux analyzer, qRT-PCR, and sphere assay were used to analyze metabolic and stemness features. SR18292 was used to inhibit PGC1α, and short hairpin RNA was used to knockdown (KD) PGC1α.
The meta-analysis revealed a significant upregulation of specific stemness genes in ADM-mediated pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms (PanIN) and IPMN. Meta- and TMA analyses followed by in vitro and in vivo validation revealed that ADM/PanIN exhibit increased PGC1α and oxidative phosphorylation (OXPhos) but reduced CPT1A. IPMN showed elevated PGC1α, fatty acid β-oxidation (FAO) gene expression, and FAO-OXPhos. PGC1α was co-overexpressed with its coactivator NRF1 in ADM/PanINs and with PPARγ in IPMN. PGC1α KD or SR18292 inhibited the specific metabolic and stemness features of PPLs and repressed IPMN organoid growth.
ADM/PanINs and IPMNs show specific stemness signatures with unique metabolisms. Inhibition of PGC1α using SR18292 diminishes the specific stemness by targeting FAO-independent and FAO-dependent OXPhos of ADM/PanINs and IPMNs, respectively.