Abstract

The pancreas is a gland composed mainly by endocrine and exocrine cells, giving rise to three main tumour types. Pancreatic neuroendocrine tumour or PNET arise from the endocrine portion of the pancreas. On the contrary, pancreatic exocrine neoplasms include pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and acinar cell carcinoma. PDAC is the most common type of pancreatic cancer and one of the leading causes of cancer-related death. It has been shown that less than 3% of PDAC patients have an overall survival of up to 5 years in the U.K. This mainly arises since the majority of patients diagnosed with PDAC present with advanced unresectable disease, which is highly resistant to all forms of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Activating mutations of an isoform of the RAS protein, KRAS, are found in almost all PDAC cases and occur during early stages of malignant transformation. KRAS mutations play a critical role as they are involved in both initiating and maintaining PDAC development. The interaction of RAS with GDP/GTP along with its recruitment to the membrane affects transduction of its activating signals to downstream effectors. In this review, we aim to summarise different mutations of RAS and their prevalence in pancreatic cancer along with other RAS-induced tumours. In addition, we briefly discuss the genetically engineered mouse models that have been developed to study KRAS-mutated adenocarcinomas in the pancreas. These provide an opportunity to also address the importance of targeting RAS for better treatment response in PDAC patients along with the challenges incurred herein.

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