This study aimed to identify the functional genes and genetic variants associated with the prognosis of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) and reveal the mechanism underlying their prognostic roles.
First, we implement a two-stage exome-wide association study in a total of 1070 patients to identify the genetic variant correlated with PDAC prognosis. Then we performed fine mapping through bioinformatics analysis and dual-luciferase reporter assays to reveal the causal functional variant and prognostic gene. Next, we established the gene knockdown, knockout, and overexpression cell lines with small interfering RNA, CRISPR/Cas9, and lentivirus, respectively, and investigated the gene function on cell proliferation and migration in vivo and in vitro. Finally, we performed the RNA-seq to elucidate downstream genes and mechanisms altering PDAC prognosis.
We identified the CAV1-CAV2 locus tagged by rs8940 was significantly associated with PDAC prognosis, and rs10249656 in the 3’untranslated region of CAV2 was the real functional variant, which upregulated CAV2 expression through abolishing miR-548s binding. We observed upregulated CAV2 in PDAC and the higher expression correlated with worse prognosis. Transient knockdown of CAV2 inhibited PDAC migration without affecting proliferation rate. Knockout of CAV2 suppressed PDAC progression and metastasis, whereas stable overexpression of CAV2 promoted. Overexpressed CAV2 promoted the PDAC progression and metastasis via perturbing genes in the focal adhesion (CCND1, IGTA1, and ZYX) and extracellular matrix organisation (PLOD2, CAST, and ITGA1) pathways mechanically.
These findings shed light on an important role of CAV2 on PDAC progression and the prognostic impact of its genetic variation.

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