[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Major international projects are underway that are aimed at creating a comprehensive catalogue of all the genes responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer. These studies involve the sequencing of matched tumour-normal samples followed by mathematical analysis to identify those genes in which mutations occur more frequently than expected by random chance. Here we describe a fundamental problem with cancer genome studies: as the sample size increases, the list of putatively significant genes produced by current analytical methods burgeons into the hundreds. The list includes many implausible genes (such as those encoding olfactory receptors and the muscle protein titin), suggesting extensive false-positive findings that overshadow true driver events. We show that this problem stems largely from mutational heterogeneity and provide a novel analytical methodology, MutSigCV, for resolving the problem. We apply MutSigCV to exome sequences from 3,083 tumour-normal pairs and discover extraordinary variation in mutation frequency and spectrum within cancer types, which sheds light on mutational processes and disease aetiology, and in mutation frequency across the genome, which is strongly correlated with DNA replication timing and also with transcriptional activity. By incorporating mutational heterogeneity into the analyses, MutSigCV is able to eliminate most of the apparent artefactual findings and enable the identification of genes truly associated with cancer.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 3q26 is frequently amplified in several cancer types with a common amplified region containing 20 genes. To identify cancer driver genes in this region, we interrogated the function of each of these genes by loss- and gain-of-function genetic screens. Specifically, we found that TLOC1 (SEC62) was selectively required for the proliferation of cell lines with 3q26 amplification. Increased TLOC1 expression induced anchorage independent growth and a second 3q26 gene, SKIL (SNON), facilitated cell invasion in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells. Expression of both TLOC1 and SKIL induced subcutaneous tumor growth. Proteomic studies demonstrated that TLOC1 binds to DDX3X, which is essential for TLOC1-induced transformation and affected protein translation. SKIL induced invasion through up-regulation of SLUG (SNAI2) expression. Together, these studies identify TLOC1 and SKIL as driver genes at 3q26 and more broadly suggest that cooperating genes may be co-amplified in other regions with somatic copy number gain.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Because of the high risk of recurrence in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGS-OvCa), the development of outcome predictors could be valuable for patient stratification. Using the catalog of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we developed subtype and survival gene expression signatures, which, when combined, provide a prognostic model of HGS-OvCa classification, named "Classification of Ovarian Cancer" (CLOVAR). We validated CLOVAR on an independent dataset consisting of 879 HGS-OvCa expression profiles. The worst outcome group, accounting for 23% of all cases, was associated with a median survival of 23 months and a platinum resistance rate of 63%, versus a median survival of 46 months and platinum resistance rate of 23% in other cases. Associating the outcome prediction model with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation status, residual disease after surgery, and disease stage further optimized outcome classification. Ovarian cancer is a disease in urgent need of more effective therapies. The spectrum of outcomes observed here and their association with CLOVAR signatures suggests variations in underlying tumor biology. Prospective validation of the CLOVAR model in the context of additional prognostic variables may provide a rationale for optimal combination of patient and treatment regimens.
The Journal of clinical investigation 12/2012; · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diffuse large B cell lymphoma (DLBCL) is a clinically and biologically heterogeneous disease with a high proliferation rate. By integrating copy number data with transcriptional profiles and performing pathway analysis in primary DLBCLs, we identified a comprehensive set of copy number alterations (CNAs) that decreased p53 activity and perturbed cell cycle regulation. Primary tumors either had multiple complementary alterations of p53 and cell cycle components or largely lacked these lesions. DLBCLs with p53 and cell cycle pathway CNAs had decreased abundance of p53 target transcripts and increased expression of E2F target genes and the Ki67 proliferation marker. CNAs of the CDKN2A-TP53-RB-E2F axis provide a structural basis for increased proliferation in DLBCL, predict outcome with current therapy, and suggest targeted treatment approaches.
Cancer cell 09/2012; 22(3):359-72. · 25.29 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Tumors exhibit numerous recurrent hemizygous focal deletions that contain no known tumor suppressors and are poorly understood. To investigate whether these regions contribute to tumorigenesis, we searched genetically for genes with cancer-relevant properties within these hemizygous deletions. We identified STOP and GO genes, which negatively and positively regulate proliferation, respectively. STOP genes include many known tumor suppressors, whereas GO genes are enriched for essential genes. Analysis of their chromosomal distribution revealed that recurring deletions preferentially overrepresent STOP genes and underrepresent GO genes. We propose a hypothesis called the cancer gene island model, whereby gene islands encompassing high densities of STOP genes and low densities of GO genes are hemizygously deleted to maximize proliferative fitness through cumulative haploinsufficiencies. Because hundreds to thousands of genes are hemizygously deleted per tumor, this mechanism may help to drive tumorigenesis across many cancer types.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cancer research has benefitted fr om the sequencing of the human genome and the subsequent development of massively parallel DNA sequencing technologies. Many quantitative techniques are now available to a field that classically had relied on qualitative measures. The new quantitative techniques are being developed in tandem with the discovery of new biological insights which they have enabled. A critical challenge is distinguishing signal from noise.
IEEE Signal Processing Magazine 01/2012; 29(1):89-97. · 3.37 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A comprehensive understanding of the molecular vulnerabilities of every type of cancer will provide a powerful roadmap to guide therapeutic approaches. Efforts such as The Cancer Genome Atlas Project will identify genes with aberrant copy number, sequence, or expression in various cancer types, providing a survey of the genes that may have a causal role in cancer. A complementary approach is to perform systematic loss-of-function studies to identify essential genes in particular cancer cell types. We have begun a systematic effort, termed Project Achilles, aimed at identifying genetic vulnerabilities across large numbers of cancer cell lines. Here, we report the assessment of the essentiality of 11,194 genes in 102 human cancer cell lines. We show that the integration of these functional data with information derived from surveying cancer genomes pinpoints known and previously undescribed lineage-specific dependencies across a wide spectrum of cancers. In particular, we found 54 genes that are specifically essential for the proliferation and viability of ovarian cancer cells and also amplified in primary tumors or differentially overexpressed in ovarian cancer cell lines. One such gene, PAX8, is focally amplified in 16% of high-grade serous ovarian cancers and expressed at higher levels in ovarian tumors. Suppression of PAX8 selectively induces apoptotic cell death of ovarian cancer cells. These results identify PAX8 as an ovarian lineage-specific dependency. More generally, these observations demonstrate that the integration of genome-scale functional and structural studies provides an efficient path to identify dependencies of specific cancer types on particular genes and pathways.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2011; 108(30):12372-7. · 9.74 Impact Factor