Indexed on: 01 Jan '11Published on: 01 Jan '11Published in: Cancers
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) remains amongst the most lethal human cancers. PDAC is characterized by the tumor mass containing a paucity of malignant cells in association with a large desmoplastic reaction comprised of a variety of stromal components. Sporadic PDAC oncogenesis occurs as a result of the sequential acquisition of genetic aberrations occurring in core genetic pathways. Unfortunately, the average PDAC contains a large number of genetic aberrations that are not uniform between individual cancers. The interplay between the complex genetics and stromal component may represent a significant barrier to the development of effective therapy for this disease and ultimately be an important factor in PDAC lethality. The Wnt pathway has been identified as a one of the common pathways undergoing genetic alterations in PDAC. Wnt is a complex signal transduction pathway utilizing both a b-catenin dependent (canonical) and b-catenin independent (noncanonical) signals to affect a wide array of intracellular events. Wnt signal transduction is an integral component of pancreas organogenesis promoting the expansion and development of the exocrine pancreas. Pancreatic cancer may utilize the Wnt signaling pathway in concert with other signaling pathways such as notch during tumorigenesis. This review will focus on the role of Wnt signal transduction in pancreatic cancer biology.