Gabriele Capurso a, b , Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic b , Massimo Milione c , Francesco Panzuto a , Nicoletta Campanini c , Sally E. Dowen b , Alessia Di Florio a, d , Claudio Sette d , Cesare Bordi c , Nicholas R. Lemoine b , Gianfranco Delle Fave a
02 November 2005
Peanut-like 1 (PNUTL1) is a septin gene which is expressed at high levels in human brain. There it plays a role in the process of membrane fusion during exocytosis by interacting with syntaxin and synaptophysin. As the secretory apparatus of pancreatic islet cells closely resembles that of neurons, we decided to study the expression of PNUTL1 in the human endocrine pancreas, both in normal islets and in pancreatic endocrine tumors (PETs). Normal pancreatic tissue, purified islets, 11 PETs and two cell lines were used to evaluate the presence of PNUTL1 by RT-PCR and Western blot. The expression of the PNUTL1 protein was also evaluated by immunohistochemistry on normal pancreas, additional 26 PETs, eight pancreatic adenocarcinomas, one mixed endocrine-exocrine pancreatic neoplasm, a specimen of solid papillary pseudomucinous tumor, an adult islet cell hyperplasia and a case of neonatal nesidioblastosis. In addition, a tissue array (LandMark High Density Cancer Tissue MicroArray) comprising 280 various tumor and matched normal specimens was utilized. In PETs, the expression of pancreatic hormones, chromogranin-A, synaptophysin and Ki-67 were also evaluated. In the normal pancreas PNUTL1 expression is almost exclusively confined to the islet cells, weak expression was occasionally seen in some acinar cells, while immunoreactivity was completely absent in the ductal epithelia. PNUTL1 expression is maintained at similar high levels in hyperplastic and neoplastic islet cells, but this did not correlate with any of the clinicopathological data nor with proliferation status in PETs. Weak immunoreactivity was also noted in a proportion of exocrine neoplasms. Our findings describe for the first time the high expression levels of PNUTL1 in human pancreatic endocrine cells that suggests a similar role of this protein in islet cells to that demonstrated in neuronal tissues, and warrants further functional studies of this protein.