nCounter® PanCancer Pathways Panel

Perform multiplex gene expression analysis with 770 genes from 13 cancer-associated canonical pathways including: MAPK, STAT, PI3K, RAS, Cell Cycle, Apoptosis, Hedgehog, Wnt, DNA Damage Control, Transcriptional Regulation, Chromatin Modification, and TGF-ẞ.

  • Highly multiplexed analysis of basic cancer biology and pathway deregulation activity
  • Measure treatment effects on pathways
  • Rapidly and easily screen samples for biomarker discovery or drug mechanism of action studies
  • Customizable with up to 30 additional user-defined genes with Panel Plus option
  • 3D-enabled for multi-analyte analysis with Vantage 3D™ Assays

All nCounter® Panel products are provided as a CodeSet product sold in increments of 12 reactions. Master Kits (for MAX or FLEX systems) or SPRINT Reagents and Cartridges (for SPRINT) are also required and sold separately.



Number of Targets

770 including up to 40 PanCancer reference genes

Input Material

25 ng–300 ng

Sample Type(s)

FFPE-derived RNA, total RNA, fragmented RNA, cell lysates


Human or Mouse

Single Cell/Low Input Material Protocol




Time to Results

Approximately 24 hours

Data Analysis

nSolver™ Analysis software

Advanced Data Analysis

Pathway deregulation and scoring module

Shipping and Storage Conditions


Below are brief descriptions of the Pathways included in the PanCancer Pathways Panel. Please click on the name of the pathway to view more information, including detailed information on pathway genes and KEGG pathway gene maps.




The Notch signaling pathway is an evolutionarily conserved, intercellular signaling mechanism essential for proper embryonic development. The Notch proteins are single-pass receptors that are activated by the Delta (or Delta-like) and Jagged/Serrate families of membrane-bound ligands. They are transported to the plasma membrane as cleaved, but otherwise intact polypeptides.

Interaction with ligand leads to two additional proteolytic cleavages that liberate the Notch intracellular domain (NICD) from the plasma membrane. The NICD translocates to the nucleus, where it forms a complex with the DNA binding protein CSL, displacing a histone deacetylase (HDAc)-co-repressor (CoR) complex from CSL. Components of an activation complex, such as MAML1 and histone acetyltransferases (HATs), are recruited to the NICD-CSL complex, leading to the transcriptional activation of Notch target genes.

Notch Signaling Pathway

APC (Wnt)

Wnt proteins are secreted morphogens that are required for basic developmental processes, such as cell-fate specification, progenitor-cell proliferation and the control of asymmetric cell division, in many different species and organs. There are at least three different Wnt pathways: the canonical pathway, the planar cell polarity (PCP) pathway and the Wnt/Ca2+ pathway.

In the canonical Wnt pathway, the major effect of Wnt ligand binding to its receptor is the stabilization of cytoplasmic beta-catenin through inhibition of the bea-catenin degradation complex. Beta-catenin is then free to enter the nucleus and activate Wnt-regulated genes through its interaction with TCF (T-cell factor) family transcription factors and concomitant recruitment of coactivators.

Planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling leads to the activation of the small GTPases RHOA (RAS homologue gene-family member A) and RAC1, which activate the stress kinase JNK (Jun N-terminal kinase) and ROCK (RHO-associated coiled-coil-containing protein kinase 1) and leads to remodeling of the cytoskeleton and changes in cell adhesion and motility. WNT-Ca2+ signaling is mediated through G proteins and phospholipases and leads to transient increases in cytoplasmic free calcium that subsequently activate the kinase PKC (protein kinase C) and CAMKII (calcium calmodulin mediated kinase II) and the phosphatase calcineurin.

WNT Signaling Pathway


The Hedgehog (Hh) family of secreted signaling proteins plays a crucial role in development, regulating morphogenesis of a variety of tissues and organs. Hh signaling is also involved in control of stem cell proliferation in adult tissues and aberrant activation of the Hh pathway has been linked to multiple types of human cancer. Members of the Hh family bind to patched (ptc), thus releasing smoothened (smo) to transduce a signal. Transcriptional activation occurs through the GLI family of proteins resulting in activation of target genes.

Hedgehog Signaling Pathway

Chromatin Modification

Members of this family of genes are involved or regulate processes associated with the alteration of DNA, protein, or sometimes RNA, in chromatin, which may result in changing the chromatin structure.

Transcriptional Regulation

A collection of pathways annotated by KEGG known to be transcriptionally misregulated in a variety of cancers.

DNA Damage Control

DNA repair is a multi-enzyme, multi-pathway system required to ensure the integrity of the cellular genome. DNA damage can arise spontaneously in the cellular milieu through chemical alteration of base nucleotides or as a consequence of errors during DNA replication. The basic mechanisms underlying distinct DNA repair pathways include nucleotide excision repair (NER), base excision repair (BER), DNA strand break repair (DSBR), direct reversal of DNA damage, and the replication past DNA lesions by specialized DNA bypass polymerases (bypass replication).

Defects in most of these repair pathways have been associated with one or more specific human diseases. Additionally, the repair of damaged DNA is intimately associated with a number of other distinct cellular processes such as DNA replication, DNA recombination, cell cycle checkpoint arrest, and other basic cellular mechanisms.


The transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) family members, which include TGF-betas, activins and bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), are structurally related secreted cytokines. A wide spectrum of cellular functions such as proliferation, apoptosis, differentiation and migration are regulated by TGF-beta family members. TGF-beta family member binds to the Type II receptor and recruits Type I, whereby Type II receptor phosphorylates and activates Type I.

The Type I receptor, in turn, phosphorylates receptor-activated Smads ( R-Smads: Smad1, Smad2, Smad3, Smad5, and Smad8). Once phosphorylated, R-Smads associate with the co-mediator Smad, Smad4, and the heteromeric complex then translocates into the nucleus. In the nucleus, Smad complexes activate specific genes through cooperative interactions with other DNA-binding and coactivator (or co-repressor) proteins.

TGF-Beta Signaling Pathway


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade is a highly conserved module that is involved in various cellular functions, including cell proliferation, differentiation and migration. Mammals express at least four distinctly regulated groups of MAPKs, extracellular signal-related kinases (ERK)-1/2, Jun amino-terminal kinases (JNK1/2/3), p38 proteins (p38alpha/beta/gamma/delta) and ERK5, that are activated by specific MAPKKs: MEK1/2 for ERK1/2, MKK3/6 for the p38, MKK4/7 (JNKK1/2) for the JNKs, and MEK5 for ERK5. Each MAPKK, however, can be activated by more than one MAPKKK, increasing the complexity and diversity of MAPK signaling.

MAPK Signaling Pathway


The Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway is one of a handful of pleiotropic cascades used to transduce a multitude of signals for development and homeostasis in animals. In mammals, the JAK/STAT pathway is the principal signaling mechanism for a wide array of cytokines and growth factors. Following the binding of cytokines to their cognate receptor, STATs are activated by members of the JAK family of tyrosine kinases. Once activated, they dimerize and translocate to the nucleus and modulate the expression of target genes.

In addition to the activation of STATs, JAKs mediate the recruitment of other molecules such as the MAP kinases, PI3 kinase etc. These molecules process downstream signals via the Ras-Raf-MAP kinase and PI3 kinase pathways which results in the activation of additional transcription factors.

JAK-STAT Signaling Pathway


The phosphatidylinositol 3' -kinase(PI3K)-Akt signaling pathway is activated by many types of cellular stimuli or toxic insults and regulates fundamental cellular functions such as transcription, translation, proliferation, growth, and survival. The binding of growth factors to their receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) or G protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) stimulates class Ia and Ib PI3K isoforms, respectively.

PI3K catalyzes the production of phosphatidylinositol-3,4,5-triphosphate (PIP3) at the cell membrane. PIP3 in turn serves as a second messenger that helps to activate Akt. Once active, Akt can control key cellular processes by phosphorylating substrates involved in apoptosis, protein synthesis, metabolism, and cell cycle.

PI3K-AKT Signaling Pathway


The Ras proteins are GTPases that function as molecular switches for signaling pathways regulating cell proliferation, survival, growth, migration, differentiation or cytoskeletal dynamism. Ras proteins transduce signals from extracellular growth factors by cycling between inactive GDP-bound and active GTP-bound states.

The exchange of GTP for GDP on RAS is regulated by guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) and GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs). Activated RAS (RAS-GTP) regulates multiple cellular functions through effectors including Raf, phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) and Ral guanine nucleotide-dissociation stimulator (RALGDS).

RAS Signaling Pathway

Cell Cycle

Mitotic cell cycle progression is accomplished through a reproducible sequence of events, DNA replication (S phase) and mitosis (M phase) separated temporally by gaps known as G1 and G2 phases. Cyclin-dependent kinases (CDKs) are key regulatory enzymes, each consisting of a catalytic CDK subunit and an activating cyclin subunit. CDKs regulate the cell's progression through the phases of the cell cycle by modulating the activity of key substrates. Downstream targets of CDKs include transcription factor E2F and its regulator Rb. Precise activation and inactivation of CDKs at specific points in the cell cycle are required for orderly cell division. Cyclin-CDK inhibitors (CKIs), such as p16Ink4a, p15Ink4b, p27Kip1, and p21Cip1, are involved in the negative regulation of CDK activities, thus providing a pathway through which the cell cycle is negatively regulated.

Eukaryotic cells respond to DNA damage by activating signaling pathways that promote cell cycle arrest and DNA repair. In response to DNA damage, the checkpoint kinase ATM phosphorylates and activates Chk2, which in turn directly phosphorylates and activates p53 tumor suppressor protein. p53 and its transcriptional targets play an important role in both G1 and G2 checkpoints. ATR-Chk1-mediated protein degradation of Cdc25A protein phosphatase is also a mechanism conferring intra-S-phase checkpoint activation.

Cell Cycle


Apoptosis is a genetically controlled mechanisms of cell death involved in the regulation of tissue homeostasis. The 2 major pathways of apoptosis are the extrinsic (Fas and other TNFR superfamily members and ligands) and the intrinsic (mitochondria-associated) pathways, both of which are found in the cytoplasm. The extrinsic pathway is triggered by death receptor engagement, which initiates a signaling cascade mediated by caspase-8 activation. Caspase-8 both feeds directly into caspase-3 activation and stimulates the release of cytochrome c by the mitochondria. Caspase-3 activation leads to the degradation of cellular proteins necessary to maintain cell survival and integrity.

The intrinsic pathway occurs when various apoptotic stimuli trigger the release of cytochrome c from the mitochondria (independently of caspase-8 activation). Cytochrome c interacts with Apaf-1 and caspase-9 to promote the activation of caspase-3. Recent studies point to the ER as a third subcellular compartment implicated in apoptotic execution. Alterations in Ca2+ homeostasis and accumulation of misfolded proteins in the ER cause ER stress. Prolonged ER stress can result in the activation of BAD and/or caspase-12, and execute apoptosis.


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Catalog Number

Unit Size

nCounter® PanCancer Pathways Panel

Gene Expression CodeSet profiling (770 genes) 730 cancer-related human genes + 40 internal reference controls. Master Kit reagents sold separately.


12 reactions

nCounter® PanCancer Mouse Pathways Panel

Gene Expression CodeSet profiling (770 genes) 750 cancer-related mouse genes + 20 internal reference controls. Master Kit reagents sold separately.


12 reactions

PanCancer Pathways Introduction

For Research Use Only. Not for use in diagnostic procedures.