ME Caldwell, GM DeNicola, CP Martins, MA Jacobetz, A Maitra, RH Hruban, DA Tuveson
During tumor initiation, oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) is proposed to limit the progression of preneoplasms to invasive carcinoma unless circumvented by the acquisition of certain tumor suppressor mutations. Using a variety of biomarkers, OIS has been previously reported in a wide range of human and murine precursor lesions, including the pancreas, lung, colon and skin. Here, we have characterized a panel of potential OIS biomarkers in human and murine pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN), and found that only senescence-associated β-galactosidase (SAβgal) activity is specifically enriched in these precursors, compared with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). Indeed, many of the other proposed OIS biomarkers are detected in actively proliferating PanIN epithelium and in cells within the microenvironment. Surprisingly, acinar to ductal metaplasia (ADM), a distinct preneoplasm that is potentially a precursor for PanIN, also exhibits SAβgal activity and contains a higher content of p21 and p53 than PanIN. Therefore, SAβgal activity is the only biomarker that accurately identifies a small and heterogeneous population of non-proliferating premalignant cells in the pancreas, and the concomitant expression of p53 and p21 in ADM supports the possibility that PanIN and ADM each exhibit discrete senescence blocks.