Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the most common and aggressive type of pancreatic cancer. The five-year survival rate of PDAC is very low (less than 8%), which is associated with the late diagnosis, high metastatic potential, and resistance to therapeutic agents. The identification of better prognostic or therapeutic biomarker may have clinical benefits for PDAC treatment. SMAD4, a central mediator of transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) signaling pathway, is considered a tumor suppressor gene. SMAD4 inactivation is frequently found in PDAC. However, its role in prognosis and therapeutics of PDAC is still unclear. In this study, we applied bioinformatics approaches, and integrated publicly available resources, to investigate the role of SMAD4 gene deletion in PDAC. We found that SMAD4 deletion was associated with poorer disease-free, but not overall, survival in PDAC patients. Cancer hallmark enrichment and pathway analysis suggested that the upregulation of cell cycle-related genes in SMAD4-deleted PDAC. Chemotherapy response profiling of PDAC cell lines and patient-derived organoids revealed that SMAD4-deleted PDAC was sensitive to gemcitabine, the first-line treatment for PDAC, and specific cell cycle-targeting drugs. Taken together, our study provides an insight into the prognostic and therapeutic roles of SMAD4 gene deletion in PDAC, and SMAD4 gene copy numbers may be used as a therapeutic biomarker for PDAC treatment.
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