Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Biomedical Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Marsha L. Frazier

Committee Member

Ann M. Killary

Committee Member

Christopher Amos

Committee Member

Subrata Sen

Committee Member

Jan Bressler

Committee Member

Peng Huang


Introduction: Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer-related death among males and females in the United States. Sel-1-like (SEL1L) is a putative tumor suppressor gene that is downregulated in a significant proportion of human pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). It was hypothesized that SEL1L expression could be down-modulated by somatic mutation, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), CpG island hypermethylation and/or aberrantly expressed microRNAs (miRNAs).

Material and methods: In 42 PDAC tumors, the SEL1L coding region was amplified using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis and sequenced to search for mutations. Using fluorescent fragment analysis, two intragenic microsatellites in the SEL1L gene region were examined to detect LOH in a total of 73 pairs of PDAC tumors and normal-appearing adjacent tissues. Bisulfite DNA sequencing was performed to determine the methylation status of the SEL1L promoter in 41 PDAC tumors and 6 PDAC cell lines. Using real-time quantitative PCR, the expression levels of SEL1L mRNA and 7 aberrantly upregulated miRNAs that potentially target SEL1L were assessed in 42 PDAC tumor and normal pairs. Statistical methods were applied to evaluate the correlation between SEL1L mRNA and the miRNAs. Further the interaction was determined by functional analysis using a molecular biological approach.

Results: No mutations were detected in the SEL1L coding region. More than 50% of the samples displayed abnormally alternate or aberrant spliced transcripts of SEL1L. About 14.5% of the tumors displayed LOH at the CAR/CAL microsatellite locus and 10.7% at the RepIN20 microsatellite locus. However, the presence of LOH did not show significant association with SEL1L downregulation. No methylation was observed in the SEL1L promoter. Statistical analysis showed that SEL1L mRNA expression levels significantly and inversely correlated with the expression of hsa-mir-143, hsa-mir-155, and hsa-mir-223. Functional analysis indicated that hsa-mir-155 acted as a suppressor of SEL1L in PL18 and MDAPanc3 PDAC cell lines.

Discussion: Evidence from these studies suggested that SEL1L was possibly downregulated by aberrantly upregulated miRNAs in PDAC. Future studies should be directed towards developing a better understanding of the mechanisms for generation of aberrant SEL1L transcripts, and further analysis of miRNAs that may downregulate SEL1L.


pancreatic cancer, tumor suppressor gene, SEL1L, pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma, loss of heterozygosity, methylation, mutation, aberrant splicing, microRNA