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The role of Activin signaling pathway in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer

Abstract : Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive disease worldwide and remains the ranking of 7th leading cause of cancer related death in the past 5 years. Because of the lack of highly sensitive and specific detective tools in an early stage of this disease and low curative treatments, most of the patients are diagnosed in an incurable stage and end up with a high mortality. Understanding the molecular pathology especially the early stage of this lethal disease is of great importance to improve the outcome of these patients. The first and major part of my work was based on gene profiling analysis in which they emphasized the role of TGFβ/Activin signalling and ALK4-receptor during the development of PDAC in addition to the four common oncogenic genes (KRAS, CDKN2A, TP53 and SMAD4). On the other hand, INHBA(encoding for ActivinA) as a key member of TGFβ-superfamily ligands is a target of Kras oncogenic activation in pancreatic duct cell and has been pointed a potential SASP candidate component through a secretome analysis of cells undergoing Kras induced senescence. Therefore, the aim of my work is to investigate the impact of ActivinA-signalling during PDAC initiation. In the first part of my project, I demonstrated that ActivinA as a tumour-protecting SASP factor, produced by ADM/PanINs senescent cells, that limit their proliferation and expansion into highly proliferative lesions through its ALK4 receptor in the initiation of PDAC. Furthermore, our work revealed that senescent Dclk1+ cells limit the expansion of preneoplastic lesions and partly impact the stromal component which is sustained by ActivinA-signalling. Besides, I also explored the autocrine and paracrine functions of ActivinA-signalling in the late stage of PDAC. We found that lack of ActivinA-ALK4 signalling in mice leads to an increased proliferative capacity in tumor cells and a reduced accumulation of stromal cells, which might help to explain their diverse metastasis and a relative longer survival time. To conclude, my work gives another insight of ActivinA-signalling and Dclk1 in the onset of pancreatic cancer and their existence in senescent cells within low grade pancreatic precursor lesions should be considered a crucial step for developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for PDAC patients
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Yajie Zhao. The role of Activin signaling pathway in the initiation and progression of pancreatic cancer. Cancer. Université de Lyon, 2019. English. ⟨NNT : 2019LYSE1159⟩. ⟨tel-02918148⟩

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