Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an extremely aggressive malignancy, characterized by a high metastatic burden, already at the time of diagnosis. The metastatic potential of PDAC is one of the main reasons for the poor outcome next to lack of significant improvement in effective treatments in the last decade. Key mutated driver genes, such as activating KRAS mutations, are concordantly expressed in primary and metastatic tumors. However, the biology behind the metastatic potential of PDAC is not fully understood. Recently, large-scale omic approaches have revealed new mechanisms by which PDAC cells gain their metastatic potency. In particular, genomic studies have shown that multiple heterogeneous subclones reside in the primary tumor with different metastatic potential. The development of metastases may be correlated to a more mesenchymal transcriptomic subtype. However, for cancer cells to survive in a distant organ, metastatic sites need to be modulated into pre-metastatic niches. Proteomic studies identified the influence of exosomes on the Kuppfer cells in the liver, which could function to prepare this tissue for metastatic colonization. Phosphoproteomics adds an extra layer to the established omic techniques by unravelling key functional signaling. Future studies integrating results from these large-scale omic approaches will hopefully improve PDAC prognosis through identification of new therapeutic targets and patient selection tools. In this article, we will review the current knowledge on the biology of PDAC metastasis unravelled by large scale multi-omic approaches.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-169
Number of pages17
JournalSeminars in Cancer Biology
Early online date2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Genetics
  • Metastasis
  • Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma
  • Proteomics
  • Transcriptomics

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