Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) or islet cell tumors are a rare neuroendocrine malignancy with an annual incidence of less than 1 per 100,000 per year. Current classification scheme for PanNETs include grade and stage. While well-differentiated PanNETs can be successfully treated with surgery, there are few treatments for metastatic PanNETs. A greater understanding of the cells of origin of PanNETs, tumor progression and pathway pathogenesis may guide the development of novel therapeutic options. The most commonly mutated genes in PanNETs are ATRX, DAXX, and MEN1. Little is known about the cells-of-origin for non-functional neuroendocrine tumors. Here, we genotyped 64 PanNETs for mutations in ATRX, DAXX, and MEN1 and found 37 tumors (58%) carry mutations in these three genes (A-D-M mutant PanNETs) and this correlates with a worse clinical outcome than tumors carrying the wild-type alleles of all three genes (A-D-M WT PanNETs). We performed RNA sequencing (n=33) and Illumina 450K DNA methylation (n=32) analysis on randomly selected PanNETs to reveal two distinct subgroups with one group consisting exclusively of A-D-M mutant PanNETs. Pair-wise correlation of gene expression between all PanNETs, showed A-D-M mutant PanNETs are more homogeneous as a group than A-D-M WT PanNETs. Among A-D-M mutant PanNETs, mutants with the same genotype (mutations in ATRX/DAXX/MEN1) did not show greater gene expression correlation. Two biomarkers differentiating A-D-M mutant from A-D-M WT PanNETs were high ARX gene expression and low PDX1 gene expression with PDX1 promoter hyper-methylation in the A-D-M mutant PanNETs. Moreover, A-D-M mutant PanNETs had a gene expression signature similar to that of alpha cells (pval < 0.009) of pancreatic islets including increased expression of HNF1A and its transcriptional target genes. We validated our subtype classification and A-D-M mutant panNET alpha signature using two independent PanNETs expression dataset. This gene expression profile suggests that A-D-M mutant PanNETs originate from or transdifferentiate into a distinct cell type similar to alpha cells.
Citation Format: Saurabh V. Laddha, Chang S. Chan, Peter Lewis, Matthew Koletsky, Kenneth Robzyk, Edaise Da Silva, Paula J. Torres, Brian Untch, Promita Bose, Timothy Chan, David S. Klimstra, David C. Allis, Laura H. Tang. ATRX, DAXX or MEN1 mutant pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors are a distinct “alpha-cell signature” subgroup [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2018; 2018 Apr 14-18; Chicago, IL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2018;78(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 1799.