Intratumor Heterogeneity of KRAS Mutation Status in Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Is Associated with Smaller Lesions

Sima S. Nagawkar, Samah Abu-Funni, Einav Simon, Tova Bick, Elad Prinz, Edmond Sabo, Ofer Ben-Izhak, Dov Hershkovitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives Recent studies have demonstrated intratumor heterogeneity (ITH) for genetic mutations in various tumors and suggest that ITH might have significant clinical impact. Because KRAS is the most commonly mutated oncogene in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma and has an important role in pancreatic carcinogenesis, the purpose of this study was to evaluate ITH for KRAS gene mutation and its clinical significance. Methods Deep sequencing of 47 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma cases was used to determine the fraction of KRAS mutant alleles. In addition, computerized morphometry was used to calculate the fraction of tumor cells. After analysis of both results, cases were classified as ITH or as having amplification of mutant KRAS. The presence of ITH was correlated with clinical and pathological factors. Results KRAS mutation was found in 38 (81%) cases, of which 12 (32%) showed ITH and 9 (23%) were found to have KRAS mutant allele amplification. The presence of ITH was associated with smaller tumors, whereas amplification was associated with higher tumor diameter. Conclusions In pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, ITH for KRAS gene mutation was associated with smaller tumors. It is possible that, as the tumor progresses, more cells carry this mutation, which leads to more aggressive tumor features.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)876-881
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • KRAS
  • intratumor heterogeneity
  • pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • subclonality


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