Sally R Lambert

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, ENG, United Kingdom

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Publications (8)74.66 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common childhood brain tumor, is typically associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations. Surgically inaccessible midline tumors are therapeutically challenging, showing sustained tendency for progression and often becoming a chronic disease with substantial morbidities. Here we describe whole-genome sequencing of 96 pilocytic astrocytomas, with matched RNA sequencing (n = 73), conducted by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) PedBrain Tumor Project. We identified recurrent activating mutations in FGFR1 and PTPN11 and new NTRK2 fusion genes in non-cerebellar tumors. New BRAF-activating changes were also observed. MAPK pathway alterations affected all tumors analyzed, with no other significant mutations identified, indicating that pilocytic astrocytoma is predominantly a single-pathway disease. Notably, we identified the same FGFR1 mutations in a subset of H3F3A-mutated pediatric glioblastoma with additional alterations in the NF1 gene. Our findings thus identify new potential therapeutic targets in distinct subsets of pilocytic astrocytoma and childhood glioblastoma.
    Nature Genetics 06/2013; Epub ahead of print. · 29.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pilocytic astrocytomas (PAs) are the most common brain tumors in pediatric patients and can cause significant morbidity, including chronic neurological deficiencies. They are characterized by activating alterations in the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, but little else is known about their development. To map the global DNA methylation profiles of these tumors, we analyzed 62 PAs and 7 normal cerebellum samples using Illumina 450K microarrays. These data revealed two subgroups of PA that separate according to tumor location (infratentorial versus supratentorial), and identified key neural developmental genes that are differentially methylated between the two groups, including NR2E1 and EN2. Integration with transcriptome microarray data highlighted significant expression differences, which were unexpectedly associated with a strong positive correlation between methylation and expression. Differentially methylated probes were often identified within the gene body and/or regions up- or downstream of the gene, rather than at the transcription start site. We also identified a large number of differentially methylated genes between cerebellar PAs and normal cerebellum, which were again enriched for developmental genes. In addition, we found a significant association between differentially methylated genes and SUZ12 binding sites, indicating potential disruption of the polycomb repressor complex 2 (PRC2). Taken together, these data suggest that PA from different locations in the brain may arise from region-specific cells of origin, and highlight the potential disruption of key developmental regulators during tumorigenesis. These findings have implications for future basic research and clinical trials, as therapeutic targets and drug sensitivity may differ according to tumor location.
    Acta Neuropathologica 05/2013; · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pilocytic astrocytomas occur predominantly in childhood. In contrast to the posterior fossa location, hypothalamo-chiasmatic pilocytic astrocytomas display a worse prognosis often leading to multiple surgical procedures and/or several lines of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to achieve long-term control. Hypothalamo-chiasmatic pilocytic astrocytomas and cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas have a distinctive gene signature and several differential expressed genes (ICAM1, CRK, CD36, and IQGAP1) are targets for available drugs: fluvastatin and/or celecoxib. Quantification by RT-Q-PCR of the expression of these genes was performed in a series of 51 pilocytic astrocytomas and 10 glioblastomas: they were all significantly overexpressed in hypothalamo-chiasmatic pilocytic astrocytomas relative to cerebellar pilocytic astrocytomas, and CRK and ICAM1 were significantly overexpressed in pilocytic astrocytomas versus glioblastomas.We used two commercially available glioblastoma cell lines and three pilocytic astrocytoma explant cultures to investigate the effect of celecoxib/fluvastatin alone or in combination. Glioblastoma cell lines were sensitive to both drugs and a combination of 100 μM celecoxib and 240 μM fluvastatin was the most synergistic. This synergistic combination was used on the explant cultures and led to massive cell death of pilocytic astrocytoma cells.As a proof of concept, a patient with a refractory multifocal pilocytic astrocytoma was successfully treated with the fluvastatin/celecoxib combination used for 18 months. It was well tolerated and led to a partial tumor response. This study reports evidence for new targets and synergistic effect of celecoxib/fluvastatin combination in pilocytic astrocytoma. Because it is non-toxic, this new strategy offers hope for the treatment of patients with refractory pilocytic astrocytoma.
    Acta neuropathologica communications. 01/2013; 1(1):17.
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    ABSTRACT: Rosette-forming glioneuronal tumors (RGNT) of the fourth ventricle are rare mixed glioneuronal tumors included in the revised WHO classification of central nervous system tumors, showing partial histological similarities to pilocytic astrocytomas. To evaluate potential similarities at the molecular level between these tumors, we analysed a series of 10 RGNT for the presence of KIAA1549-BRAF fusions using interphase fluorescence in situ hybridisation. However, we found no cases showing KIAA1549-BRAF gene fusion or BRAF (V600E) mutation. Our data support the hypothesis that RGNT may represent a distinct entity among the glioneuronal tumors of the central nervous system, with molecular features different from pilocytic astrocytomas.
    Journal of Neuro-Oncology 07/2012; 110(1):21-5. · 3.12 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cerebellar low-grade astrocytomas with a diffuse pattern of growth are uncommon, comprising World Health Organization (WHO) grade II diffuse astrocytomas (DA) and a minority of WHO grade I pilocytic astrocytomas (PA), so-called PA, "diffuse variant." Among 106 cerebellar low-grade astrocytomas (WHO grade I and II) operated on at the Mayo Clinic (1984-2010), we identified 19 such cases: 8 PA, "diffuse variant," 5 DA, and 6 that we were unable to classify further (low-grade astrocytomas, subtype indeterminate). We characterized these tumors using immunohistochemistry and currently available molecular markers (IDH1/2 mutations and BRAF mutation/fusion gene status) and investigated whether the markers could be used to aid the diagnostic process in combination with the clinical and pathologic features. KIAA1549-BRAF fusion was detected in 4 PA, "diffuse variant," 2 DA, and 2 low-grade astrocytomas, subtype indeterminate, indicating that these tumors were molecularly consistent with PA, the most common subtype of the series. A BRAF V600E mutation was detected in 1 PA, "diffuse variant" case; an IDH1 R132G mutation was found in 1 DA case. These results suggest that KIAA1549-BRAF fusion status and IDH1/2 and BRAF V600E mutational analyses may assist in the histologic classification of this diagnostically challenging group of tumors and result in a more accurate and objective combined molecular and histologic classification.
    Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 06/2012; 71(7):631-9. · 4.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Oncogenic BRAF/Ras or NF1 loss can potentially trigger oncogene-induced senescence (OIS) through activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Somatic genetic abnormalities affecting this pathway occur in the majority of pilocytic astrocytomas (PA), the most prevalent brain neoplasm in children. We investigated whether OIS is induced in PA. We tested expression of established senescence markers in three independent cohorts of sporadic PA. We also assessed for OIS in vitro, using forced expression of wild-type and V600E-mutant BRAF in two astrocytic cell lines: human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT)-immortalized astrocytes and fetal astrocytes. Our results indicate that PAs are senescent as evidenced by marked senescence-associated acidic β-galactosidase activity, low KI-67 index, and induction of p16(INK4a) but not p53 in the majority of 52 PA samples (46 of 52; 88.5%). Overexpression of a number of senescence-associated genes [CDKN2A (p16), CDKN1A (p21), CEBPB, GADD45A, and IGFBP7] was shown at the mRNA level in two independent PA tumor series. In vitro, sustained activation of wild-type or mutant BRAF induced OIS in both astrocytic cell lines. Loss of p16(INK4a) in immortalized astrocytes abrogated OIS, indicative of the role of this pathway in mediating this phenomenon in astrocytes. OIS is a mechanism of tumor suppression that restricts the progression of benign tumors. We show that it is triggered in PAs through p16(INK4a) pathway induction following aberrant MAPK activation. OIS may account for the slow growth pattern in PA, the lack of progression to higher-grade astrocytomas, and the high overall survival of affected patients.
    Clinical Cancer Research 05/2011; 17(14):4650-60. · 8.19 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Activation of the MAPK signaling pathway has been shown to be a unifying molecular feature in pilocytic astrocytoma (PA). Genetically, tandem duplications at chromosome 7q34 resulting in KIAA1549-BRAF fusion genes constitute the most common mechanism identified to date. To elucidate alternative mechanisms of aberrant MAPK activation in PA, we screened 125 primary tumors for RAF fusion genes and mutations in KRAS, NRAS, HRAS, PTPN11, BRAF and RAF1. Using microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), we identified in three cases an interstitial deletion of ~2.5 Mb as a novel recurrent mechanism forming BRAF gene fusions with FAM131B, a currently uncharacterized gene on chromosome 7q34. This deletion removes the BRAF N-terminal inhibitory domains, giving a constitutively active BRAF kinase. Functional characterization of the novel FAM131B-BRAF fusion demonstrated constitutive MEK phosphorylation potential and transforming activity in vitro. In addition, our study confirmed previously reported BRAF and RAF1 fusion variants in 72% (90/125) of PA. Mutations in BRAF (8/125), KRAS (2/125) and NF1 (4/125) and the rare RAF1 gene fusions (2/125) were mutually exclusive with BRAF rearrangements, with the exception of two cases in our series that concomitantly harbored more than one hit in the MAPK pathway. In summary, our findings further underline the fundamental role of RAF kinase fusion products as a tumor-specific marker and an ideally suited drug target for PA.
    Acta Neuropathologica 03/2011; 121(6):763-74. · 9.78 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Diffuse astrocytomas (WHO grade II) typically present as slow-growing tumours showing significant cellular differentiation, but possessing a tendency towards malignant progression. They account for ~10% of all astrocytic tumours, with a peak incidence between 30 and 40 years of age. Median survival is reported as around 6-8 years. Mutations of TP53 and IDH1 have been described as genetic hallmarks, while copy number alterations are also relatively common. However, there is some evidence to suggest that these characteristics may vary with age. Here, we present an integrated clinicopathologic, genomic and transcriptomic analysis suggesting that paediatric and adult tumours are associated with distinct genetic signatures. For example, no childhood tumour showed mutation of IDH1/2 or TP53, virtually no copy number changes were seen, and MGMT methylation was absent. In contrast, adult tumours showed IDH1/2 mutation in 94% and TP53 mutation in 69% of cases, with multiple copy number alterations per case and hypermethylation of MGMT in the majority of tumours. These differences were associated with a worse prognosis in the adult patients. The expression array data also revealed a significant difference in the expression of a number of genes putatively involved in neural stem cell maintenance and CNS development, including DLL3, HES5, BMP2, TIMP1 and BAMBI. Genes involved in DNA replication and the cell cycle were also enriched in the adult tumours, suggesting that their more aggressive behaviour may be due to derivation from a more rapidly dividing, less differentiated cell type.
    Acta Neuropathologica 02/2011; 121(6):753-61. · 9.78 Impact Factor