[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Lymphangioleiomyomatosis (LAM) is a rare lung-metastasizing neoplasm caused by the proliferation of smooth muscle-like cells that commonly carry loss-of-function mutations in either the tuberous sclerosis complex 1 or 2 (TSC1 or TSC2) genes. While allosteric inhibition of the mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) has shown substantial clinical benefit, complementary therapies are required to improve response and/or to treat specific patients. However, there is a lack of LAM biomarkers that could potentially be used to monitor the disease and to develop other targeted therapies. We hypothesized that the mediators of cancer metastasis to lung, particularly in breast cancer, also play a relevant role in LAM. Analyses across independent breast cancer datasets revealed associations between low TSC1/2 expression, altered mTOR complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway signaling, and metastasis to lung. Subsequently, immunohistochemical analyses of 23 LAM lesions revealed positivity in all cases for the lung metastasis mediators fascin 1 (FSCN1) and inhibitor of DNA binding 1 (ID1). Moreover, assessment of breast cancer stem or luminal progenitor cell biomarkers showed positivity in most LAM tissue for the aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 (ALDH1), integrin-ß3 (ITGB3/CD61), and/or the sex-determining region Y-box 9 (SOX9) proteins. The immunohistochemical analyses also provided evidence of heterogeneity between and within LAM cases. The analysis of Tsc2-deficient cells revealed relative over-expression of FSCN1 and ID1; however, Tsc2-deficient cells did not show higher sensitivity to ID1-based cancer inhibitors. Collectively, the results of this study reveal novel LAM biomarkers linked to breast cancer metastasis to lung and to cell stemness, which in turn might guide the assessment of additional or complementary therapeutic opportunities for LAM.
PLoS ONE 07/2015; 10(7):e0132546. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0132546 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: While interplay between BRCA1 and AURKA-RHAMM-TPX2-TUBG1 regulates mammary epithelial polarization, common genetic variation in HMMR (gene product RHAMM) may be associated with risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 mutation carriers. Following on these observations, we further assessed the link between the AURKA-HMMR-TPX2-TUBG1 functional module and risk of breast cancer in BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation carriers. Forty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped in 15,252 BRCA1 and 8,211 BRCA2 mutation carriers and subsequently analyzed using a retrospective likelihood approach. The association of HMMR rs299290 with breast cancer risk in BRCA1 mutation carriers was confirmed: per-allele hazard ratio (HR) = 1.10, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.04 - 1.15, p = 1.9 x 10-4 (false discovery rate (FDR)-adjusted p = 0.043). Variation in CSTF1, located next to AURKA, was also found to be associated with breast cancer risk in BRCA2 mutation carriers: rs2426618 per-allele HR = 1.10, 95% CI 1.03 - 1.16, p = 0.005 (FDR-adjusted p = 0.045). Assessment of pairwise interactions provided suggestions (FDR-adjusted pinteraction values > 0.05) for deviations from the multiplicative model for rs299290 and CSTF1 rs6064391, and rs299290 and TUBG1 rs11649877 in both BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Following these suggestions, the expression of HMMR and AURKA or TUBG1 in sporadic breast tumors was found to potentially interact, influencing patients' survival. Together, the results of this study support the hypothesis of a causative link between altered function of AURKA-HMMR-TPX2-TUBG1 and breast carcinogenesis in BRCA1/2 mutation carriers.
PMID: 25830658 [PubMed - in process]
PLoS ONE 04/2015; 10(4). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0120020 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs) are soft-tissue sarcomas that can arise either sporadically or in association with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). These aggressive malignancies confer poor survival, with no effective therapy available. We present the generation and characterization of five distinct MPNST orthoxenograft models for preclinical testing and personalized medicine. Four of the models are patient-derived tumor xenografts (PDTX), two independent MPNSTs from the same NF1 patient and two from different sporadic patients. The fifth model is an orthoxenograft derived from an NF1-related MPNST cell line. All MPNST orthoxenografts were generated by tumor implantation, or cell line injection, next to the sciatic nerve of nude mice, and were perpetuated by 7–10 mouse-to-mouse passages. The models reliably recapitulate the histopathological properties of their parental primary tumors. They also mimic distal dissemination properties in mice. Human stroma was rapidly lost after MPNST engraftment and replaced by murine stroma, which facilitated genomic tumor characterization. Compatible with an origin in a catastrophic event and subsequent genome stabilization, MPNST contained highly altered genomes that remained remarkably stable in orthoxenograft establishment and along passages. Mutational frequency and type of somatic point mutations were highly variable among the different MPNSTs modeled, but very consistent when comparing primary tumors with matched orthoxenografts generated. Unsupervised cluster analysis and principal component analysis (PCA) using an MPNST expression signature of ~1,000 genes grouped together all primary tumor–orthoxenograft pairs. Our work points to differences in the engraftment process of primary tumors compared with the engraftment of established cell lines. Following standardization and extensive characterization and validation, the orthoxenograft models were used for initial preclinical drug testing. Sorafenib (a BRAF inhibitor), in combination with doxorubicin or rapamycin, was found to be the most effective treatment for reducing MPNST growth. The development of genomically well-characterized preclinical models for MPNST allowed the evaluation of novel therapeutic strategies for personalized medicine.
EMBO Molecular Medicine 03/2015; 7(5). DOI:10.15252/emmm.201404430 · 8.67 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many common diseases, such as asthma, diabetes or obesity, involve altered interactions between thousands of genes. High-throughput techniques (omics) allow identification of such genes and their products, but functional understanding is a formidable challenge. Network-based analyses of omics data have identified modules of disease-associated genes that have been used to obtain both a systems level and a molecular understanding of disease mechanisms. For example, in allergy a module was used to find a novel candidate gene that was validated by functional and clinical studies. Such analyses play important roles in systems medicine. This is an emerging discipline that aims to gain a translational understanding of the complex mechanisms underlying common diseases. In this review, we will explain and provide examples of how network-based analyses of omics data, in combination with functional and clinical studies, are aiding our understanding of disease, as well as helping to prioritize diagnostic markers or therapeutic candidate genes. Such analyses involve significant problems and limitations, which will be discussed. We also highlight the steps needed for clinical implementation.
Genome Medicine 10/2014; 6(10):82. DOI:10.1186/s13073-014-0082-6 · 5.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years there have been major advances in the knowledge of the genetic alterations that drive cancer susceptibility and progression. However, the molecular links between these alteration levels (i.e., germline for susceptibility and somatic for progression) remain mostly unknown. Here, the potential of integrating germline and somatic data for a comprehensive and personalized cancer medicine is discussed.
Trends in Molecular Medicine 08/2014; 20(8):413–415. DOI:10.1016/j.molmed.2014.05.004 · 9.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Most patients with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) develop cortical tubers that cause severe neurological disabilities. It has been suggested that defects in neuronal differentiation and/or migration underlie the appearance of tubers. However, the precise molecular alterations remain largely unknown. Here, by combining cytological and immunohistochemical analyses of tubers from nine TSC patients (four of them diagnosed with TSC2 germline mutations) we show that alteration of microtubule biology through ROCK2 signaling contributes to TSC neuropathology. All tubers showed a larger number of binucleated neurons than expected relative to control cortex. An excess of normal and altered cytokinetic figures was also commonly observed. Analysis of centrosomal markers suggested increased microtubule nucleation capacity, which was supported by the analysis of an expression dataset from cortical tubers and control cortex, and subsequently linked to under-expression of Rho-associated coiled-coil containing kinase 2 (ROCK2). Thus, augmented microtubule nucleation capacity was observed in mouse embryonic fibroblasts and human fibroblasts deficient in the Tsc2/TSC2 gene product, tuberin. Consistent with ROCK2 under-expression, microtubule acetylation was found to be increased with tuberin deficiency; this alteration was abrogated by rapamycin treatment and mimicked by HDAC6 inhibition. Together, the results of this study support the hypothesis that loss of TSC2 expression can alter microtubule organization and dynamics, which, in turn, deregulate cell division and potentially impair neuronal differentiation.
The Journal of Pathology 07/2014; 233(3). DOI:10.1002/path.4343 · 7.43 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endocrine therapies targeting cell proliferation and survival mediated by estrogen receptor α
(ERα) are among the most effective systemic treatments for ERα-positive breast cancer.
However, most tumors initially responsive to these therapies acquire resistance through
mechanisms that involve ERα transcriptional regulatory plasticity. Here, we identify VAV3
as a critical component in this process.
Breast Cancer Research 05/2014; 16(3):R53. DOI:10.1186/bcr3664 · 5.49 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Epigenetic regulation and, in particular, DNA methylation have been linked to the underlying genetic sequence. DNA methylation quantitative trait loci (meQTL) have been identified through significant associations between the genetic and epigenetic codes in physiological and pathological contexts. We propose that interrogating the interplay between polymorphic alleles and DNA methylation is a powerful method for improving our interpretation of risk alleles identified in genome-wide association studies that otherwise lack mechanistic explanation. We integrated patient cancer risk genotype data and genome-scale DNA methylation profiles of 3,649 primary human tumors, representing 13 solid cancer types. We provide a comprehensive meQTL catalog containing DNA methylation associations for 21% of interrogated cancer risk polymorphisms. Differentially methylated loci harbor previously reported and as-yet-unidentified cancer genes. We suggest that such regulation at the DNA level can provide a considerable amount of new information about the biology of cancer-risk alleles.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Protein kinase A (PKA) hyperactivation causes hereditary endocrine neoplasias; however, its role in sporadic epithelial cancers is unknown. Here, we show that heightened PKA activity in the mammary epithelium generates tumors. Mammary-restricted biallelic ablation of Prkar1a, which encodes for the critical type-I PKA regulatory subunit, induced spontaneous breast tumors characterized by enhanced type-II PKA activity. Downstream of this, Src phosphorylation occurs at residues serine-17 and tyrosine-416 and mammary cell transformation is driven through a mechanism involving Src signaling. The phenotypic consequences of these alterations consisted of increased cell proliferation and, accordingly, expansion of both luminal and basal epithelial cell populations. In human breast cancer, low PRKAR1A/high SRC expression defines basal-like and HER2 breast tumors associated with poor clinical outcome. Together, the results of this study define a novel molecular mechanism altered in breast carcinogenesis and highlight the potential strategy of inhibiting SRC signaling in treating this cancer subtype in humans.Oncogene advance online publication, 24 March 2014; doi:10.1038/onc.2014.41.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Translational research typically aims to identify and functionally validate individual, disease-specific genes. However, reaching this aim is complicated by the involvement of thousands of genes in common diseases, and that many of those genes are pleiotropic, i.e. shared by several diseases.
We integrated genomic meta-analyses with prospective clinical studies to systematically investigate the pathogenic, diagnostic and therapeutic roles of pleiotropic genes. In a novel approach, we first used pathway analysis of all published GWAS to find a cell type common to many diseases.
The analysis showed over-representation of the T helper cell differentiation pathway, which is expressed in T cells. This led us to focus on expression profiling of CD4+ T cells from highly diverse inflammatory and malignant diseases. We found that pleiotropic genes were highly interconnected and formed a pleiotropic module, which was enriched for inflammatory, metabolic and proliferative pathways. The general relevance of this module was supported by highly significant enrichment of genetic variants identified by all GWAS and cancer studies, as well as known diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Prospective clinical studies of multiple sclerosis and allergy showed the importance of both pleiotropic and disease specific modules for clinical stratification.
In summary, this translational genomics study identified a pleiotropic module, which has key pathogenic, diagnostic and therapeutic roles.
Genome Medicine 02/2014; 6(2):17. DOI:10.1186/gm534 · 5.34 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dozens of common genetic variants associated with cancer risk have been identified through genome-wide association studies (GWASs). However, these variants only explain a modest fraction of the heritability of disease. The missing heritability has been attributed to several factors, among them the existence of genetic interactions (GxG). Systematic screens for GxG in model organisms have revealed their fundamental influence in complex phenotypes. In this scenario, GxG overlap significantly with other types of gene and/or protein relationships. Here, by integrating predicted GxG from GWAS data and complex- and context-defined gene co-expression profiles, we provide evidence for GxG associated with cancer risk. GxG predicted from a breast cancer GWAS dataset identified significant overlaps (relative enrichments of 8-36%, empirical P values < 0.05 - 10(-4)) with complex (non-linear) gene co-expression in breast tumors. The use of gene or protein data not specific for breast cancer did not reveal overlaps. According to the predicted GxG, experimental assays demonstrated functional interplay between LPP and TGFβ signaling in the MCF10A non-tumorigenic mammary epithelial cell model. Next, integration of pancreatic tumor gene expression profiles with pancreatic cancer GxG predicted from a GWAS corroborated the observations made for breast cancer risk (relative enrichments of 25-59%). The method presented here can potentially support the identification of genetic interactions associated with cancer risk, providing novel mechanistic hypotheses for carcinogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNST) are rare, hereditary cancers associated with neurofibromatosis type I. MPNSTs lack effective treatment options as they often resist chemotherapies and have high rates of disease recurrence. Aurora kinase A (AURKA) is an emerging target in cancer and an aurora kinase inhibitor (AKI), termed MLN8237, shows promise against MPNST cell lines in vitro and in vivo. Here, we test MLN8237 against two primary human MPNST grown in vivo as xenotransplants and find that treatment results in tumour cells exiting the cell cycle and undergoing endoreduplication, which cumulates in stabilized disease. Targeted therapies can often fail in the clinic due to insufficient knowledge about factors that determine tumour susceptibilities, so we turned to three MPNST cell-lines to further study and modulate the cellular responses to AKI. We find that the sensitivity of cell-lines with amplification of AURKA depends upon the activity of the kinase, which correlates with the expression of the regulatory gene products TPX2 and HMMR/RHAMM. Silencing of HMMR/RHAMM, but not TPX2, augments AURKA activity and sensitizes MPNST cells to AKI. Furthermore, we find that AURKA activity is critical to the propagation and self-renewal of sphere-enriched MPNST cancer stem-like cells. AKI treatment significantly reduces the formation of spheroids, attenuates the self-renewal of spheroid forming cells, and promotes their differentiation. Moreover, silencing of HMMR/RHAMM is sufficient to endow MPNST cells with an ability to form and maintain sphere culture. Collectively, our data indicate that AURKA is a rationale therapeutic target for MPNST and tumour cell responses to AKI, which include differentiation, are modulated by the abundance of HMMR/RHAMM.