Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) has a 5-year survival rate of less than 5% and is the sixth leading cause of cancer death. Although KRAS mutations are one of the major driver mutations in PDA, KRAS mutation alone is not sufficient to induce invasive pancreatic cancer in mice model. HER2, also known as ERBB2, is a receptor tyrosine kinase, and overexpression of HER2 is associated with poor clinical outcomes in pancreatic cancer. However, no report has shown whether HER2 and its downstream signaling contributes to the pancreatic cancer development. By immunohistochemical analysis in human cases, HER2 protein expression was detected in 40% of PDAs and 29% of intraductal papillary mucinous carcinomas, another type of pancreatic cancer. In a mouse model, we showed overexpression of activated HER2 (HER2 NT ) in the pancreas, in which cystic neoplastic lesions resembling intraductal papillary mucinous neoplasm-like lesions in humans had developed. We also found that HER2 NT cooperated with oncogenic Kras to accelerate the development of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasms. In addition, using pancreatic organoids in 3D cultures, we found that organoids cultured from HER2 NT /Kras double transgenic mice showed proliferative potential and tumorigenic ability cooperatively. HER2-signaling inhibition was suggested to be an new therapeutic target in some types of PDAs.
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