Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Cancer and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research article

Identification of Achaete-scute complex-like 1 (ASCL1) target genes and evaluation of DKK1 and TPH1 expression in pancreatic endocrine tumours

Térèse A Johansson1, Gunnar Westin2 and Britt Skogseid1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala University Hospital, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

2 Department of Surgical Sciences, Uppsala University, Uppsala University Hospital, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Cancer 2009, 9:321  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-9-321

Published: 10 September 2009



ASCL1 role in pancreatic endocrine tumourigenesis has not been established. Recently it was suggested that ASCL1 negatively controls expression of the Wnt signalling antagonist DKK1. Notch signalling regulates expression of TPH1, the rate limiting enzyme in the biosyntesis of serotonin. Understanding the development and proliferation of pancreatic endocrine tumours (PETs) is essential for the development of new therapies.


ASCL1 target genes in the pancreatic endocrine tumour cell line BON1 were identified by RNA interference and microarray expression analysis. Protein expressions of selected target genes in PETs were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.


158 annotated ASCL1 target genes were identified in BON1 cells, among them DKK1 and TPH1 that were negatively regulated by ASCL1. An inverse relation of ASCL1 to DKK1 protein expression was observed for 15 out of 22 tumours (68%). Nine tumours displayed low ASCL1/high DKK1 and six tumours high ASCL1/low DKK1 expression. Remaining PETs showed high ASCL1/high DKK1 (n = 4) or low ASCL1/low DKK1 (n = 3) expression. Nine of twelve analysed PETs (75%) showed TPH1 expression with no relation to ASCL1.


A number of genes with potential importance for PET tumourigenesis have been identified. ASCL1 negatively regulated the Wnt signalling antagonist DKK1, and TPH1 expression in BON1 cells. In concordance with these findings DKK1 showed an inverse relation to ASCL1 expression in a subset of PETs, which may affect growth control by the Wnt signalling pathway.