[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: One of the key questions about genomic alterations in cancer is whether they are functional in the sense of contributing to the selective advantage of tumor cells. The frequency with which an alteration occurs might reflect its ability to increase cancer cell growth, or alternatively, enhanced instability of a locus may increase the frequency with which it is found to be aberrant in tumors, regardless of oncogenic impact. Here we've addressed this on a genome-wide scale for cancer-associated focal deletions, which are known to pinpoint both tumor suppressor genes (tumor suppressors) and unstable loci. Based on DNA copy number analysis of over one-thousand human cancers representing ten different tumor types, we observed five loci with focal deletion frequencies above 5%, including the A2BP1 gene at 16p13.3 and the MACROD2 gene at 20p12.1. However, neither RNA expression nor functional studies support a tumor suppressor role for either gene. Further analyses suggest instead that these are sites of increased genomic instability and that they resemble common fragile sites (CFS). Genome-wide analysis revealed properties of CFS-like recurrent deletions that distinguish them from deletions affecting tumor suppressor genes, including their isolation at specific loci away from other genomic deletion sites, a considerably smaller deletion size, and dispersal throughout the affected locus rather than assembly at a common site of overlap. Additionally, CFS-like deletions have less impact on gene expression and are enriched in cell lines compared to primary tumors. We show that loci affected by CFS-like deletions are often distinct from known common fragile sites. Indeed, we find that each tumor tissue type has its own spectrum of CFS-like deletions, and that colon cancers have many more CFS-like deletions than other tumor types. We present simple rules that can pinpoint focal deletions that are not CFS-like and more likely to affect functional tumor suppressors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: RNAi screening holds the promise of systemizing the search for combination therapeutic strategies. Here we performed a pooled shRNA library screen to look for promising targets to inhibit in combination with inhibition of the mitotic regulator polo-like kinase (PLK1). The library contained ~4,500 shRNAs targeting various signaling and cancer-related genes and was screened in four lung cancer cell lines using both high (IC80) and low (IC20) amounts of the PLK1 inhibitor GSK461364. The relative abundance of cells containing individual shRNAs following drug treatment was determined by microarray analysis, using the mock treatment replicates as the normalizing reference. Overall, the inferred influences of individual shRNAs in both high and low drug treatment were remarkably similar in all four cell lines and involved a large percentage of the library. To investigate which functional categories of shRNAs were most prominent in influencing drug response, we used statistical analysis of microarrays (SAM) in combination with a filter for genes that had two or more concordant shRNAs. The most significant functional categories that came out of this analysis included receptor tyrosine kinases and nuclear hormone receptors. Through individual validation experiments, we determined that the two shRNAs from the library targeting the nuclear retinoic acid receptor gene RARA did indeed silence RARA expression and as predicted conferred resistance to GSK461364. This led us to test whether activation of RARA receptor with retinoids could sensitize cells to GSK461364. We found that retinoids did increase the drug sensitivity and enhanced the ability of PLK1 inhibition to induce mitotic arrest and apoptosis. These results suggest that retinoids could be used to enhance the effectiveness of GSK461364 and provide further evidence that RNAi screens can be effective tools to identify combination target strategies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We screened 124 genes that are amplified in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) using a mouse hepatoblast model and identified 18 tumor-promoting genes, including CCND1 and its neighbor on 11q13.3, FGF19. Although it is widely assumed that CCND1 is the main driving oncogene of this common amplicon (15% frequency in HCC), both forward-transformation assays and RNAi-mediated inhibition in human HCC cells established that FGF19 is an equally important driver gene in HCC. Furthermore, clonal growth and tumorigenicity of HCC cells harboring the 11q13.3 amplicon were selectively inhibited by RNAi-mediated knockdown of CCND1 or FGF19, as well as by an anti-FGF19 antibody. These results show that 11q13.3 amplification could be an effective biomarker for patients most likely to respond to anti-FGF19 therapy.