We propose to study lymphatic invasion and metastasis to lymph nodes, an early feature of metastasis of all adenocarcinomas. This proposal is to study the process of lymphatic invasion and metastasis in pancreatic cancer by undertaking both hypothesis-driven and hypothesis-generating specific aims.
The first aim, which is hypothesis driven, seeks to further invesfigate the role of Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) in tumor lymphangiogenesis and metastasis to lymph nodes. SHH is expressed in premalignant and malignant ductal epithelial cells of the pancreas, implicafing this morphogenic signaling protein in the inifiafion and progression of pancreafic cancer.
Aim 1 will build upon our recent published work  and other recent unpublished findings. We were the first to show that SHH contributes significantly to lymphangiogenesis by invesfigating the nature of paracrine signaling between pancreatic tumor cells producing SHH and lymphatic endothelial cells that are responding to SHH in the context of the emerging desmoplasfic reaction in pancreatic cancer.
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