Whole exome sequencing of rapid autopsy tumors and xenograft models reveals possible driver mutations underlying tumor progression
Carcinoma, Pancreatic Ductal
Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a highly lethal malignancy due to its propensity to invade and rapidly metastasize and remains very difficult to manage clinically. One major hindrance towards a better understanding of PDAC is the lack of molecular data sets and models representative of end stage disease. Moreover, it remains unclear how molecularly similar patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models are to the primary tumor from which they were derived. To identify potential molecular drivers in metastatic pancreatic cancer progression, we obtained matched primary tumor, metastases and normal (peripheral blood) samples under a rapid autopsy program and performed whole exome sequencing (WES) on tumor as well as normal samples. PDX models were also generated, sequenced and compared to tumors. Across the matched data sets generated for three patients, there were on average approximately 160 single-nucleotide mutations in each sample. The majority of mutations in each patient were shared among the primary and metastatic samples and, importantly, were largely retained in the xenograft models. Based on the mutation prevalence in the primary and metastatic sites, we proposed possible clonal evolution patterns marked by functional mutations affecting cancer genes such as KRAS, TP53 and SMAD4 that may play an important role in tumor initiation, progression and metastasis. These results add to our understanding of pancreatic tumor biology, and demonstrate that PDX models derived from advanced or end-stage likely closely approximate the genetics of the disease in the clinic and thus represent a biologically and clinically relevant pre-clinical platform that may enable the development of effective targeted therapies for PDAC.