Laura S Schmidt

National Institutes of Health, Maryland, United States

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Publications (109)814.06 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell cancer (HLRCC) is an autosomal dominant condition in which susceptible individuals are at risk for the development of cutaneous leiomyomas, early onset multiple uterine leiomyomas and an aggressive form of type 2 papillary renal cell cancer. HLRCC is caused by germline mutations in the fumarate hydratase (FH) gene which inactivate the enzyme and alters the function of the tricarboxylic acid (Krebs) cycle. Issues surrounding surveillance and treatment for HLRCC-associated renal cell cancer were considered as part of a recent international symposium on HLRCC. The management protocol proposed in this article is based on a literature review and a consensus meeting. The lifetime renal cancer risk for FH mutation carriers is estimated to be 15 %. In view of the potential for early onset of RCC in HLRCC, periodic renal imaging and, when available, predictive testing for a FH mutation is recommended from 8 to 10 years of age. However, the small risk of renal cell cancer in the 10-20 years age range and the potential drawbacks of screening should be carefully discussed on an individual basis. Surveillance preferably consists of annual abdominal MRI. Treatment of renal tumours should be prompt and generally consist of wide-margin surgical excision and consideration of retroperitoneal lymph node dissection. The choice for systemic treatment in metastatic disease should, if possible, be part of a clinical trial. Screening procedures in HLRCC families should preferably be evaluated in large cohorts of families.
    Familial Cancer 07/2014; · 1.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cardiac hypertrophy, an adaptive process that responds to increased wall stress, is characterized by the enlargement of cardiomyocytes and structural remodeling. It is stimulated by various growth signals, of which the mTORC1 pathway is a well-recognized source. Here, we show that loss of Flcn, a novel AMPK-mTOR interacting molecule, causes severe cardiac hypertrophy with deregulated energy homeostasis leading to dilated cardiomyopathy in mice. We found that mTORC1 activity was upregulated in Flcn-deficient hearts, and that rapamycin treatment significantly reduced heart mass and ameliorated cardiac dysfunction. Phospho-AMPK-alpha (T172) was reduced in Flcn-deficient hearts and nonresponsive to various stimulations including metformin and AICAR. ATP levels were elevated and mitochondrial function was increased in Flcn-deficient hearts, suggesting that excess energy resulting from up-regulated mitochondrial metabolism under Flcn deficiency might attenuate AMPK activation. Expression of Ppargc1a, a central molecule for mitochondrial metabolism, was increased in Flcn-deficient hearts and indeed, inactivation of Ppargc1a in Flcn-deficient hearts significantly reduced heart mass and prolonged survival. Ppargc1a inactivation restored phospho-AMPK-alpha levels and suppressed mTORC1 activity in Flcn-deficient hearts, suggesting that up-regulated Ppargc1a confers increased mitochondrial metabolism and excess energy, leading to inactivation of AMPK and activation of mTORC1. Rapamycin treatment did not affect the heart size of Flcn/Ppargc1a doubly inactivated hearts, further supporting the idea that Ppargc1a is the critical element leading to deregulation of the AMPK-mTOR-axis and resulting in cardiac hypertrophy under Flcn deficiency. These data support an important role for Flcn in cardiac homeostatis in the murine model.
    Human Molecular Genetics 06/2014; · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spontaneous pneumothoraces due to lung cyst rupture afflict patients with the rare disease Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome, which is caused by mutations of the tumor suppressor gene folliculin (FLCN). The underlying mechanism of the lung manifestations in BHD is unclear. We show that BHD lungs exhibit increased alveolar epithelial cell apoptosis and that Flcn deletion in mouse lung epithelium leads to cell apoptosis, alveolar enlargement, and an impairment of both epithelial barrier and overall lung function. We find that Flcn-null epithelial cell apoptosis is the result of impaired AMPK activation and increased cleaved caspase-3. AMPK activator LKB1 and E-cadherin are downregulated by Flcn loss and restored by its expression. Correspondingly, Flcn-null cell survival is rescued by the AMPK activator AICAR or constitutively active AMPK. AICAR also improves lung condition of Flcn(f/f):SP-C-Cre mice. Our data suggest that lung cysts in BHD may result from an underlying defect in alveolar epithelial cell survival, attributable to FLCN regulation of the E-cadherin-LKB1-AMPK axis.
    Cell Reports 04/2014; · 7.21 Impact Factor
  • Laura S Schmidt, W Marston Linehan
    Urology 03/2014; 83(3):675.e5. · 2.42 Impact Factor
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    Laura S Schmidt, W Marston Linehan
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    ABSTRACT: Hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma (HLRCC) is an autosomal-dominant hereditary syndrome, which is caused by germline mutations in the FH gene that encodes the tricarboxylic acid cycle enzyme fumarate hydratase (FH). HLRCC patients are predisposed to develop cutaneous leiomyomas, multiple, symptomatic uterine fibroids in young women resulting in early hysterectomies, and early onset renal tumors with a type 2 papillary morphology that can progress and metastasize, even when small. Since HLRCC-associated renal tumors can be more aggressive than renal tumors in other hereditary renal cancer syndromes, caution is warranted, and surgical intervention is recommended rather than active surveillance. At-risk members of an HLRCC family who test positive for the familial germline FH mutation should undergo surveillance by annual magnetic resonance imaging from the age of 8 years. Biochemical studies have shown that FH-deficient kidney cancer is characterized by a metabolic shift to aerobic glycolysis. It is hoped that through ongoing clinical trials evaluating targeted molecular therapies, an effective form of treatment for HLRCC-associated kidney cancer will be developed that will offer an improved prognosis for individuals affected with HLRCC-associated kidney cancer.
    International Journal of Nephrology and Renovascular Disease 01/2014; 7:253-60.
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations.
    Cancer Cell. 12/2013; 26(3):319-330.
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations.
    Cancer Cell. 12/2013; 26(3):319-330.
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    ABSTRACT: We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations of 66 chromophobe renal cell carcinomas (ChRCCs) on the basis of multidimensional and comprehensive characterization, including mtDNA and whole-genome sequencing. The result is consistent that ChRCC originates from the distal nephron compared with other kidney cancers with more proximal origins. Combined mtDNA and gene expression analysis implicates changes in mitochondrial function as a component of the disease biology, while suggesting alternative roles for mtDNA mutations in cancers relying on oxidative phosphorylation. Genomic rearrangements lead to recurrent structural breakpoints within TERT promoter region, which correlates with highly elevated TERT expression and manifestation of kataegis, representing a mechanism of TERT upregulation in cancer distinct from previously observed amplifications and point mutations.
    Cancer Cell. 12/2013; 26(3):319-330.
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    ABSTRACT: Genetic changes underlying clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) include alterations in genes controlling cellular oxygen sensing (for example, VHL) and the maintenance of chromatin states (for example, PBRM1). We surveyed more than 400 tumours using different genomic platforms and identified 19 significantly mutated genes. The PI(3)K/AKT pathway was recurrently mutated, suggesting this pathway as a potential therapeutic target. Widespread DNA hypomethylation was associated with mutation of the H3K36 methyltransferase SETD2, and integrative analysis suggested that mutations involving the SWI/SNF chromatin remodelling complex (PBRM1, ARID1A, SMARCA4) could have far-reaching effects on other pathways. Aggressive cancers demonstrated evidence of a metabolic shift, involving downregulation of genes involved in the TCA cycle, decreased AMPK and PTEN protein levels, upregulation of the pentose phosphate pathway and the glutamine transporter genes, increased acetyl-CoA carboxylase protein, and altered promoter methylation of miR-21 (also known as MIR21) and GRB10. Remodelling cellular metabolism thus constitutes a recurrent pattern in ccRCC that correlates with tumour stage and severity and offers new views on the opportunities for disease treatment.
    Nature 06/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) clusters in some families. Familial RCC arises from mutations in several genes, including VHL, which is also mutated in sporadic RCC. However, a significant percentage of familial RCC remains unexplained. Recently, we discovered that the BAP1 gene is mutated in sporadic RCC. BAP1, which encodes a nuclear deubiquitinase, is a two-hit tumor suppressor gene. Somatic BAP1 mutations are associated with high-grade ccRCC and poor patient outcomes. To determine whether BAP1 predisposes to familial RCC, we sequenced the BAP1 gene in 83 unrelated probands with unexplained familial RCC. We identified a novel variant (c.41T>A; p.L14H), which cosegregated with the RCC phenotype. The p.L14H variant targets a highly conserved residue in the catalytic domain, a domain frequently targeted by missense mutations. The family with the BAP1 variant was characterized by early-onset clear cell RCC, occasionally of high Fuhrman grade, and lacked other features that characterize von Hippel-Lindau syndrome. These findings suggest that BAP1 is a familial RCC predisposing gene.
    Molecular Cancer Research 05/2013; · 4.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is a hereditary hamartoma syndrome that predisposes patients to develop hair follicle tumors, lung cysts, and kidney cancer. Genetic studies of BHD patients have uncovered the causative gene, FLCN, but its function is incompletely understood. Methods Mice with conditional alleles of FLCN and/or peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PPARGC1A), a transcriptional coactivator that regulates mitochondrial biogenesis, were crossbred with mice harboring either muscle creatine kinase (CKM) -Cre or myogenin (MYOG) -Cre transgenes to knock out FLCN and/or PPARGC1A in muscle, or cadherin 16 (CDH16)- Cre transgenes to knock out FLCN and/or PPARGC1A in kidney. Real-time polymerase chain reaction, immunoblotting, electron microscopy, and metabolic profiling assay were performed to evaluate mitochondrial biogenesis and function in muscle. Immunoblotting, electron microscopy, and histological analysis were used to investigate expression and the pathological role of PPARGC1A in FLCN-deficient kidney. Real-time polymerase chain reaction, oxygen consumption measurement, and flow cytometry were carried out using a FLCN-null kidney cancer cell line. All statistical analyses were two-sided.ResultsMuscle-targeted FLCN knockout mice underwent a pronounced metabolic shift toward oxidative phosphorylation, including increased mitochondrial biogenesis (FLCN ( f/f ) vs FLCN ( f/f ) /CKM-Cre: % mitochondrial area mean = 7.8% vs 17.8%; difference = 10.0%; 95% confidence interval = 5.7% to 14.3%; P < .001), and the observed increase in mitochondrial biogenesis was PPARGC1A dependent. Reconstitution of FLCN-null kidney cancer cells with wild-type FLCN suppressed mitochondrial metabolism and PPARGC1A expression. Kidney-targeted PPARGC1A inactivation partially rescued the enlarged kidney phenotype and abrogated the hyperplastic cells observed in the FLCN-deficient kidney.Conclusion FLCN deficiency and subsequent increased PPARGC1A expression result in increased mitochondrial function and oxidative metabolism as the source of cellular energy, which may give FLCN-null kidney cells a growth advantage and drive hyperplastic transformation.
    CancerSpectrum Knowledge Environment 11/2012; · 14.07 Impact Factor
  • Laura S Schmidt
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    ABSTRACT: Since the hallmark dermatologic features of Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome were first described by three Canadian physicians in 1977, the clinical manifestations of BHD have been expanded to include hamartomas of the hair follicle, lung cysts, increased risk for spontaneous pneumothorax and kidney neoplasia. Twenty-five years later the causative gene FLCN was identified, and the mutation spectrum has now been defined to include mainly protein truncating mutations, but also rare missense mutations and large gene deletions/duplication. Second "hit" FLCN mutations in BHD kidney tumors and loss of tumorigenic potential of the FLCN-null UOK257 tumor cell line when FLCN is re-expressed underscore a tumor suppressor role for FLCN. The identification of novel FLCN interacting proteins FNIP1 and FNIP2/L and their interaction with 5'-AMP activated protein kinase (AMPK) has provided a link between FLCN and the AMPK-mTOR axis and suggested molecular targets for therapeutic intervention to treat BHD kidney cancer and fibrofolliculomas. The generation of FLCN-null cell lines and in vivo animal models in which FLCN (or FNIP1) has been inactivated have provided critical reagents to facilitate mechanistic studies of FLCN function. Research efforts utilizing these critical FLCN-deficient cell lines and mice have begun to uncover important signaling pathways in which FLCN and its protein partners may play a role, including TGF-β signaling, TFE3 transcriptional regulation, PGC1-α driven mitochondrial biogenesis, apoptotic response to cell stress, and vesicular transport. As the mechanisms by which FLCN inactivation leads to BHD manifestations are clarified, we can begin to develop therapeutic agents that target the pathways dysregulated in FLCN-deficient fibrofolliculomas and kidney tumors, providing improved prognosis and quality of life for BHD patients.
    Familial Cancer 10/2012; · 1.94 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: PURPOSE: Recently, a new renal cell cancer syndrome has been linked to germline mutation of multiple subunits (SDHB/C/D) of the Krebs cycle enzyme, succinate dehydrogenase. We report our experience with the diagnosis, evaluation and treatment of this novel form of hereditary kidney cancer. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Patients with suspected hereditary kidney cancer were enrolled on a National Cancer Institute institutional review board approved protocol to study inherited forms of kidney cancer. Individuals from families with germline SDHB, SDHC and SDHD mutations, and kidney cancer underwent comprehensive clinical and genetic evaluation. RESULTS: A total of 14 patients from 12 SDHB mutation families were evaluated. Patients presented with renal cell cancer at an early age (33 years, range 15 to 62), metastatic kidney cancer developed in 4 and some families had no manifestation other than kidney tumors. An additional family with 6 individuals found to have clear cell renal cell cancer that presented at a young average age (47 years, range 40 to 53) was identified with a germline SDHC mutation (R133X) Metastatic disease developed in 2 of these family members. A patient with a history of carotid body paragangliomas and an aggressive form of kidney cancer was evaluated from a family with a germline SDHD mutation. CONCLUSIONS: SDH mutation associated renal cell carcinoma can be an aggressive type of kidney cancer, especially in younger individuals. Although detection and management of early tumors is most often associated with a good outcome, based on our initial experience with these patients and our long-term experience with hereditary leiomyomatosis and renal cell carcinoma, we recommend careful surveillance of patients at risk for SDH mutation associated renal cell carcinoma and wide surgical excision of renal tumors.
    The Journal of urology 10/2012; · 4.02 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Birt-Hogg-Dubé (BHD) syndrome is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by cutaneous fibrofolliculomas, pulmonary cysts, and kidney malignancies. Affected individuals carry germ line mutations in folliculin (FLCN), a tumor suppressor gene that becomes biallelically inactivated in kidney tumors by second-hit mutations. Similar to other factors implicated in kidney cancer, FLCN has been shown to modulate activation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). However, its precise in vivo function is largely unknown because germ line deletion of Flcn results in early embryonic lethality in animal models. Here, we describe mice deficient in the newly characterized folliculin-interacting protein 1 (Fnip1). In contrast to Flcn, Fnip1(-/-) mice develop normally, are not susceptible to kidney neoplasia, but display a striking pro-B cell block that is entirely independent of mTOR activity. We show that this developmental arrest results from rapid caspase-induced pre-B cell death, and that a Bcl2 transgene reconstitutes mature B-cell populations, respectively. We also demonstrate that conditional deletion of Flcn recapitulates the pro-B cell arrest of Fnip1(-/-) mice. Our studies thus demonstrate that the FLCN-FNIP complex deregulated in BHD syndrome is absolutely required for B-cell differentiation, and that it functions through both mTOR-dependent and independent pathways.
    Blood 06/2012; 120(6):1254-61. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Renal tumor heterogeneity studies have utilized the von Hippel-Lindau VHL gene to classify disease into molecularly defined subtypes to examine associations with etiologic risk factors and prognosis. The aim of this study was to provide a comprehensive analysis of VHL inactivation in clear cell renal tumors (ccRCC) and to evaluate relationships between VHL inactivation subgroups with renal cancer risk factors and VHL germline single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). VHL genetic and epigenetic inactivation was examined among 507 sporadic RCC/470 ccRCC cases using endonuclease scanning and using bisulfite treatment and Sanger sequencing across 11 CpG sites within the VHL promoter. Case-only multivariate analyses were conducted to identify associations between alteration subtypes and risk factors. VHL inactivation, either through sequence alterations or promoter methylation in tumor DNA, was observed among 86.6% of ccRCC cases. Germline VHL SNPs and a haplotype were associated with promoter hypermethylation in tumor tissue (OR = 6.10; 95% CI: 2.28-16.35, p = 3.76E-4, p-global = 8E-5). Risk of having genetic VHL inactivation was inversely associated with smoking due to a higher proportion of wild-type ccRCC tumors [former: OR = 0.70 (0.20-1.31) and current: OR = 0.56 (0.32-0.99); P-trend = 0.04]. Alteration prevalence did not differ by histopathologic characteristics or occupational exposure to trichloroethylene. ccRCC cases with particular VHL germline polymorphisms were more likely to have VHL inactivation through promoter hypermethylation than through sequence alterations in tumor DNA, suggesting that the presence of these SNPs may represent an example of facilitated epigenetic variation (an inherited propensity towards epigenetic variation) in renal tissue. A proportion of tumors from current smokers lacked VHL alterations and may represent a biologically distinct clinical entity from inactivated cases.
    PLoS Genetics 10/2011; 7(10):e1002312. · 8.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (BHDS), caused by germline mutations in the folliculin (FLCN) gene, predisposes individuals to develop fibrofolliculomas, pulmonary cysts, spontaneous pneumothoraces, and kidney cancer. The FLCN mutation detection rate by bidirectional DNA sequencing in the National Cancer Institute BHDS cohort was 88%. To determine if germline FLCN intragenic deletions/duplications were responsible for BHDS in families lacking FLCN sequence alterations, 23 individuals from 15 unrelated families with clinically confirmed BHDS but no sequence variations were analyzed by real-time quantitative PCR (RQ-PCR) using primers for all 14 exons. Multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) assay and array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) were utilized to confirm and fine map the rearrangements. Long-range PCR followed by DNA sequencing was used to define the breakpoints. We identified six unique intragenic deletions in nine patients from six different BHDS families including four involving exon 1, one that spanned exons 2-5, and one that encompassed exons 7-14 of FLCN. Four of the six deletion breakpoints were mapped, revealing deletions ranging from 5688 to 9189 bp. In addition, one 1341 bp duplication, which included exons 10 and 11, was identified and mapped. This report confirms that large intragenic FLCN deletions can cause BHDS and documents the first large intragenic FLCN duplication in a BHDS patient. Additionally, we identified a deletion "hot spot" in the 5'-noncoding-exon 1 region that contains the putative FLCN promoter based on a luciferase reporter assay. RQ-PCR, MLPA and aCGH may be used for clinical molecular diagnosis of BHDS in patients who are FLCN mutation-negative by DNA sequencing.
    Genes Chromosomes and Cancer 03/2011; 50(6):466-77. · 3.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kidney cancer is not a single disease but comprises a number of different types of cancer that occur in the kidney, each caused by a different gene with a different histology and clinical course that responds differently to therapy. Each of the seven known kidney cancer genes, VHL, MET, FLCN, TSC1, TSC2, FH and SDH, is involved in pathways that respond to metabolic stress or nutrient stimulation. The VHL protein is a component of the oxygen and iron sensing pathway that regulates hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) levels in the cell. HGF-MET signaling affects the LKB1-AMPK energy sensing cascade. The FLCN-FNIP1-FNIP2 complex binds AMPK and, therefore, might interact with the cellular energy and nutrient sensing pathways AMPK-TSC1/2-mTOR and PI3K-Akt-mTOR. TSC1-TSC2 is downstream of AMPK and negatively regulates mTOR in response to cellular energy deficit. FH and SDH have a central role in the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle, which is coupled to energy production through oxidative phosphorylation. Mutations in each of these kidney cancer genes result in dysregulation of metabolic pathways involved in oxygen, iron, energy or nutrient sensing, suggesting that kidney cancer is a disease of cell metabolism. Targeting the fundamental metabolic abnormalities in kidney cancer provides a unique opportunity for the development of more-effective forms of therapy for this disease.
    Nature Reviews Urology 05/2010; 7(5):277-85. · 4.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of women with lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) present with cystic lung disease, and most require lung biopsy for definitive diagnosis. The purpose of this study was to determine the prospective diagnostic usefulness of a serologic test for vascular endothelial growth factor-D (VEGF-D), a lymphangiogenic growth factor. We prospectively measured serum VEGF-D levels by enzyme-linked immunoassay in 48 women presenting with cystic lung disease. Diagnostic test performance was determined from a cohort of 195 women, with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC), TSC-LAM, sporadic LAM (S-LAM), and other cystic lung diseases in the differential diagnosis, including biopsy-proven or genetically proven pulmonary Langerhans cell histiocytosis, emphysema, Sjögren syndrome, or Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome. Serum VEGF-D levels were significantly greater in S-LAM (median 1,175 [interquartile range (IQR): 780-2,013] pg/mL; n = 56) than in other cystic lung diseases (median 281 [IQR 203-351] pg/mL; n = 44, P < .001). In the cohort evaluated prospectively, 12 of the 15 individuals ultimately diagnosed with LAM by biopsy had VEGF-D levels of > 800 pg/mL, whereas levels were < 600 pg/mL in all 18 subjects later diagnosed with other causes of cystic lung disease. Receiver operating characteristic curves demonstrated that VEGF-D effectively identified LAM, with an area under the curve of 0.961(95% CI, 0.923-0.992). A VEGF-D level of > 600 pg/mL was highly associated with a diagnosis of LAM (specificity 97.6%, likelihood ratio 35.2) and values > 800 pg/mL were diagnostically specific. Serum VEGF-D levels were significantly elevated in women with TSC-LAM (median 3,465 [IQR 1,970-7,195] pg/mL) compared with women with TSC only (median 370 [IQR 291-520] pg/mL), P < .001). A serum VEGF-D level of > 800 pg/mL in a woman with typical cystic changes on high-resolution CT (HRCT) scan is diagnostically specific for S-LAM and identifies LAM in women with TSC. A negative VEGF-D result does not exclude the diagnosis of LAM. The usefulness of serum VEGF-D testing in men or in women who do not have cystic lung disease on HRCT scan is unknown.
    Chest 04/2010; 138(3):674-81. · 5.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Germline mutations in the FLCN gene are responsible for the development of fibrofolliculomas, lung cysts and renal neoplasia in Birt-Hogg-Dube' (BHD) syndrome. The encoded protein folliculin (FLCN) is conserved across species but contains no classic motifs or domains and its function remains unknown. Somatic mutations or loss of heterozygosity in the remaining wild type copy of the FLCN gene have been found in renal tumors from BHD patients suggesting that FLCN is a classic tumor suppressor gene. To examine the tumor suppressor function of FLCN, wild-type or mutant FLCN (H255R) was stably expressed in a FLCN-null renal tumor cell line, UOK257, derived from a BHD patient. When these cells were injected into nude mice, tumor development was inversely dependent upon the level of wild-type FLCN expression. We identified genes that were differentially expressed in the cell lines with or without wild-type FLCN, many of which are involved in TGF-beta signaling, including TGF-beta2 (TGFB2), inhibin beta A chain (INHBA), thrombospondin 1 (THBS1), gremlin (GREM1), and SMAD3. In support of the in vitro data, TGFB2, INHBA, THBS1 and SMAD3 expression levels were significantly lower in BHD-associated renal tumors compared with normal kidney tissue. Although receptor mediated SMAD phosphorylation was not affected, basal and maximal TGF-beta-induced levels of TGFB2, INHBA and SMAD7 were dramatically reduced in FLCN-null cells compared with FLCN-restored cells. Secreted TGF-beta2 and activin A (homo-dimer of INHBA) protein levels were also lower in FLCN-null cells compared with FLCN-restored cells. Consistent with a growth suppressive function, activin A (but not TGF-beta2) completely suppressed anchorage-independent growth of FLCN-null UOK257 cells. Our data demonstrate a role for FLCN in the regulation of key molecules in TGF-beta signaling and confirm deregulation of their expression in BHD-associated renal tumors. Thus, deregulation of genes involved in TGF-beta signaling by FLCN inactivation is likely to be an important step for tumorigenesis in BHD syndrome.
    Molecular Cancer 01/2010; 9:160. · 5.13 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Kidney cancer is not a single disease; it is made up of a number of cancers that occur in the kidney, each having a different histology, following a different clinical course, responding differently to therapy, and caused by a different gene. Study of the genes underlying kidney cancer has revealed that it is fundamentally a metabolic disorder. Understanding the genetic basis of cancer of the kidney has significant implications for diagnosis and management of this disease. VHL is the gene for clear cell kidney cancer. The VHL protein forms a complex that targets the hypoxia-inducible factors for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. Knowledge of this pathway provided the foundation for the development of novel therapeutic approaches now approved for treatment of this disease. MET is the gene for the hereditary form of type 1 papillary renal carcinoma and is mutated in a subset of sporadic type 1 papillary kidney cancers. Clinical trials are currently ongoing with agents targeting the tyrosine kinase domain of MET in sporadic and hereditary forms of papillary kidney cancer. BHD is the gene for the hereditary type of chromophobe kidney cancer. It is thought to be involved in energy and/or nutrient sensing through the AMPK and mTOR signaling pathways. Hereditary leiomyomatosis renal cell carcinoma, a hereditary form of type 2 papillary renal carcinoma, is caused by inactivation of a Krebs cycle enzyme due to mutation. Knowledge of these kidney cancer gene pathways has enabled new approaches in the management of this disease and has provided the foundation for the development of targeted therapeutics.
    Annual review of medicine 01/2010; 61:329-43. · 9.94 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

7k Citations
814.06 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2008–2014
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Center for Cancer Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 1993–2014
    • National Cancer Institute (USA)
      • • Urologic Oncology Branch
      • • Genetic Epidemiology
      • • Center for Cancer Research
      • • Laboratory of Pathology
      • • Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology
      Maryland, United States
  • 1995–2012
    • Leidos Biomedical Research
      Maryland, United States
  • 2004–2011
    • NCI-Frederick
      • Laboratory of Pathology
      Maryland, United States
    • Johns Hopkins Medicine
      Baltimore, Maryland, United States
  • 2009
    • Institute for Urologic Research
      Wheeling, West Virginia, United States
  • 2001
    • SAIC
      Maryland, United States