Background: Pancreatic carcinoma is one of the most malignant cancers globally. However, a systematic mRNA-miRNA-lncRNA/pseudogene network associated with the molecular mechanism of pancreatic cancer progression has not been described.

Results: The significant DEGs identified comprised 159 up-regulated and 92 down-regulated genes. According to the expression and survival analysis, three genes (COL12A1, APOL1, and MMP14) were significantly higher in tumor samples when compared with normal controls and their upregulation indicated a poor prognosis. Subsequently, 28, 17, and 11 miRNAs were predicted to target COL12A1, APOL1, and MMP14, respectively. The hsa-miR-26b-5p-COL12A1 axis showed a potential in suppressing the progression of pancreatic cancer. Moreover, 12 lncRNAs and 92 pseudogenes were predicted to potentially bind to the hsa-miR-26b-5p. Based on the results from expression and correlation analysis, NAMPTP1/HCG11-hsa-miR-26b-5p-COL12A1 competing endogenous RNA (ceRNA) sub-network was associated with the prognosis of pancreatic cancer.

Conclusions: In a word, we elucidate a new NAMPTP1/ HCG11-hsa-miR-26b-5p-COL12A sub-network in the progression of pancreatic cancer, which may serve as a promising diagnostic biomarker or effective therapeutic target for pancreatic cancer.

Materials and methods: Differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were first identified by mining GSE28735, GSE62452 and GSE41368 datasets. Functional enrichment analysis was conducted using the DAVID database. Protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was performed using the STRING database, and hub genes were identified by Cytoscape. Upstream miRNAs and pseudogenes /lncRNAs of mRNAs were forecast using miRTarBase, miRNet, and starBase. Expression, survival, and correlation analysis of genes, miRNAs, and pseudogenes /lncRNAs were validated using GEPIA, Kaplan-Meier, and starBase.