Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 4;21(15):E5580. doi: 10.3390/ijms21155580.
RAB proteins (RABs) represent the largest subfamily of Ras-like small GTPases that regulate a wide variety of endosomal membrane transport pathways. Their aberrant expression has been demonstrated in various malignancies and implicated in pathogenesis. Using The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, we analyzed the differential expression and clinicopathological association of RAB genes in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Of the 62 RAB genes analyzed, five (RAB3A, RAB26, RAB25, RAB21, and RAB22A) exhibited statistically significant upregulation, while five (RAB6B, RAB8B, RABL2A, RABL2B, and RAB32) were downregulated in PDAC as compared to the normal pancreas. Racially disparate expression was also reported for RAB3A, RAB25, and RAB26. However, no clear trend of altered expression was observed with increasing stage and grade, age, and gender of the patients. PDAC from occasional drinkers had significantly higher expression of RAB21 compared to daily or weekly drinkers, whereas RAB25 expression was significantly higher in social drinkers, compared to occasional ones. The expression of RABL2A was significantly reduced in PDAC from diabetic patients, whereas RAB26 was significantly lower in pancreatitis patients. More importantly, a significant association of high expression of RAB21, RAB22A, and RAB25, and low expression of RAB6B, RABL2A, and RABL2B was observed with poorer survival of PC patients. Together, our study suggests potential diagnostic and prognostic significance of RABs in PDAC, warranting further investigations to define their functional and mechanistic significance.