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Smad4 or DPC4 belongs to a family of signal transduction proteins that are phosphorylated and activated by transmembrane serine-threonine receptor kinases in response to transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) signaling via several pathways. The gene acts as a tumour suppressor gene and inactivation of smad4/DPC4 is best recognised in pancreatic cancer. However, smad4/DPC4 is also mutated in other conditions and cancers such as juvenile polyposis syndrome with and without hereditary haemorrhagic telangiectasia, colorectal and prostate cancers.

Immunohistochemistry for smad4/DPC4 protein is most useful in separating benign/reactive conditions from pancreatic cancer in needle/core biopsies. In normal and reactive states, the protein is localised to the cytoplasm and nucleus, while the protein is lost in high-grade pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia/carcinoma in situ and pancreatic cancer.

  • smad4
  • DPC
  • tumour suppressor gene
  • TGF-β
  • pancreatic cancer

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