Mark J. Cowley

Garvan Institute of Medical Research, דרלינגהרסט, New South Wales, Australia

Are you Mark J. Cowley?

Claim your profile

Publications (120)

  • Source
    Amali C Mallawaarachchi · Yvonne Hort · Mark J Cowley · [...] · Timothy J Furlong
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autosomal dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) is the most common monogenic kidney disorder and is due to disease-causing variants in PKD1 or PKD2. Strong genotype-phenotype correlation exists although diagnostic sequencing is not part of routine clinical practice. This is because PKD1 bears 97.7% sequence similarity with six pseudogenes, requiring laborious and error-prone long-range PCR and Sanger sequencing to overcome. We hypothesised that whole-genome sequencing (WGS) would be able to overcome the problem of this sequence homology, because of 150 bp, paired-end reads and avoidance of capture bias that arises from targeted sequencing. We prospectively recruited a cohort of 28 unique pedigrees with ADPKD phenotype. Standard DNA extraction, library preparation and WGS were performed using Illumina HiSeq X and variants were classified following standard guidelines. Molecular diagnosis was made in 24 patients (86%), with 100% variant confirmation by current gold standard of long-range PCR and Sanger sequencing. We demonstrated unique alignment of sequencing reads over the pseudogene-homologous region. In addition to identifying function-affecting single-nucleotide variants and indels, we identified single- and multi-exon deletions affecting PKD1 and PKD2, which would have been challenging to identify using exome sequencing. We report the first use of WGS to diagnose ADPKD. This method overcomes pseudogene homology, provides uniform coverage, detects all variant types in a single test and is less labour-intensive than current techniques. This technique is translatable to a diagnostic setting, allows clinicians to make better-informed management decisions and has implications for other disease groups that are challenged by regions of confounding sequence homology.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 11 May 2016; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.48.
    Full-text Article · May 2016 · European Journal of Human Genetics
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effect of time on genome methylation.
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Integrated genomic analysis of 456 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas identified 32 recurrently mutated genes that aggregate into 10 pathways: KRAS, TGF-β, WNT, NOTCH, ROBO/SLIT signalling, G1/S transition, SWI-SNF, chromatin modification, DNA repair and RNA processing. Expression analysis defined 4 subtypes: (1) squamous; (2) pancreatic progenitor; (3) immunogenic; and (4) aberrantly differentiated endocrine exocrine (ADEX) that correlate with histopathological characteristics. Squamous tumours are enriched for TP53 and KDM6A mutations, upregulation of the TP63∆N transcriptional network, hypermethylation of pancreatic endodermal cell-fate determining genes and have a poor prognosis. Pancreatic progenitor tumours preferentially express genes involved in early pancreatic development (FOXA2/3, PDX1 and MNX1). ADEX tumours displayed upregulation of genes that regulate networks involved in KRAS activation, exocrine (NR5A2 and RBPJL), and endocrine differentiation (NEUROD1 and NKX2-2). Immunogenic tumours contained upregulated immune networks including pathways involved in acquired immune suppression. These data infer differences in the molecular evolution of pancreatic cancer subtypes and identify opportunities for therapeutic development.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2016 · Nature
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Somatic variants (N=8077) detected by whole genome sequencing
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Effect of time on gene expression. List of differentially expressed genes (abs(log2FoldChange)>=1)
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The cytidine analogues azacytidine and 5-aza-2′ -deoxycytidine (decitabine) are commonly used to treat myelodysplastic syndromes, with or without a myeloproliferative component. It remains unclear whether the response to these hypomethylating agents results from a cytotoxic or an epigenetic effect. In this study, we address this question in chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia. We describe a comprehensive analysis of the mutational landscape of these tumours, combining whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing. We identify an average of 14±5 somatic mutations in coding sequences of sorted monocyte DNA and the signatures of three mutational processes. Serial sequencing demonstrates that the response to hypomethylating agents is associated with changes in DNA methylation and gene expression, without any decrease in the mutation allele burden, nor prevention of new genetic alteration occurence. Our findings indicate that cytosine analogues restore a balanced haematopoiesis without decreasing the size of the mutated clone, arguing for a predominantly epigenetic effect.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2016 · Nature Communications
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Supplementary Figures 1-10 and Supplementary Tables 1-9.
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Somatic variants identified in hotspot (N=46), promoter (N=147) and enhancer (N=37) regions of the genome.
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: List of the 680 somatic mutations validated by re-sequencing
    Full-text Dataset · Feb 2016
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The loss of β-catenin inhibitory components is a well-established mechanism of carcinogenesis but β-catenin hyperactivity can also be enhanced through its coactivators. Here we first interrogated a highly validated genomic screen and the largest repository of cancer genomics data and identified JRK as a potential new oncogene and therapeutic target of the β-catenin pathway. We proceeded to validate the oncogenic role of JRK in colon cancer cells and primary tumors. Consistent with a β-catenin activator function, depletion of JRK in several cancer cell lines repressed β-catenin transcriptional activity and reduced cell proliferation. Importantly, JRK expression was aberrantly elevated in 21% of colorectal cancers, 15% of breast and ovarian cancers and was associated with increased expression of β-catenin target genes and increased cell proliferation. This study shows that JRK is required for β-catenin hyperactivity regardless of the adenomatous polyposis coli/β-catenin mutation status and targeting JRK presents new opportunities for therapeutic intervention in cancer.Oncogene advance online publication, 12 October 2015; doi:10.1038/onc.2015.347.
    Article · Oct 2015 · Oncogene
  • Article · Sep 2015 · Nephrology
  • Article · Sep 2015 · Internal Medicine Journal
  • [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Asparagine Synthetase Deficiency is a recently described cause of profound intellectual disability, marked progressive cerebral atrophy and variable seizure disorder. To date there has been limited functional data explaining the underlying pathophysiology. We report a new case with compound heterozygous mutations in the ASNS gene (NM_183356.3:c. [866G>C]; [1010C>T]). Both variants alter evolutionarily conserved amino acids and were predicted to be pathogenic based on in silico protein modelling that suggests disruption of the critical ATP binding site of the ASNS enzyme. In patient fibroblasts, ASNS expression as well as protein and mRNA stability are not affected by these variants. However, there is markedly reduced proliferation of patient fibroblasts when cultured in asparagine-limited growth medium, compared to parental and wild type fibroblasts. Restricting asparagine replicates the physiology within the blood-brain-barrier, with limited transfer of dietary derived asparagine, resulting in reliance of neuronal cells on intracellular asparagine synthesis by the ASNS enzyme. These functional studies offer insight into the underlying pathophysiology of the dramatic progressive cerebral atrophy associated with Asparagine Synthetase Deficiency. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Article · Aug 2015 · Molecular Genetics and Metabolism
  • P. M. Manders · M. Cowley · M. McCabe · [...] · R. J. Epstein
    Article · Aug 2015 · Asia-Pacific Journal of Clinical Oncology
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Characterization of molecular mechanisms underpinning development of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) may lead to the identification of novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers. SgK223, also known as Pragmin, is a pseudokinase and scaffolding protein closely related to SgK269/PEAK1. Both proteins are implicated in oncogenic tyrosine kinase signaling, but their mechanisms and function remain poorly characterized. Expression of SgK223 in PDAC and PDAC cell lines was characterized using gene expression microarrays, mass spectrometry (MS)-based phosphoproteomics and Western blotting. SgK223 was overexpressed in human pancreatic ductal epithelial (HPDE) cells via retroviral transduction, and knocked down in PDAC cells using siRNA. Cell proliferation was determined using a colorimetric cell viability assay, and cell migration and invasion using transwells. Expression of markers of epithelial-mesenchyme transition (EMT) was assayed by quantitative PCR. SgK223 and Stat3 signaling was interrogated by immunoprecipitation, Western blot and gene reporter assays. The functional role of specific kinases and Stat3 was determined using selective small molecule inhibitors. Elevated site-selective tyrosine phosphorylation of SgK223 was identified in subsets of PDAC cell lines, and increased expression of SgK223 detected in several PDAC cell lines compared to human pancreatic ductal epithelial (HPDE) cells and in PDACs compared to normal pancreas. Expression of SgK223 in HPDE cells at levels comparable to those in PDAC did not alter cell proliferation but led to a more elongated morphology, enhanced migration and invasion and induced gene expression changes characteristic of a partial EMT. While SgK223 overexpression did not affect activation of Erk or Akt, it led to increased Stat3 Tyr705 phosphorylation and Stat3 transcriptional activity, and SgK223 and Stat3 associated in vivo. SgK223-overexpressing cells exhibited increased JAK1 activation, and use of selective inhibitors determined that the increased Stat3 signaling driven by SgK223 was JAK-dependent. Pharmacological inhibition of Stat3 revealed that Stat3 activation was required for the enhanced motility and invasion of SgK223-overexpressing cells. Increased expression of SgK223 occurs in PDAC, and overexpression of SgK223 in pancreatic ductal epithelial cells promotes acquisition of a migratory and invasive phenotype through enhanced JAK1/Stat3 signaling. This represents the first association of SgK223 with a particular human cancer, and links SgK223 with a major signaling pathway strongly implicated in PDAC progression.
    Full-text Article · Jul 2015 · Molecular Cancer
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The study of mammalian development has offered many insights into the molecular aetiology of cancer. We previously used analysis of mammary morphogenesis to discover a critical role for GATA-3 in mammary developmental and carcinogenesis. In recent years an important role for microRNAs (miRNAs) in a myriad of cellular processes in development and in oncogenesis has emerged. microRNA profiling was conducted on stromal and epithelial cellular subsets microdissected from the pubertal mouse mammary gland. miR-184 was reactivated by transient or stable overexpression in breast cancer cell lines and examined using a series of in vitro (proliferation, tumour-sphere and protein synthesis) assays. Orthotopic xenografts of breast cancer cells were used to assess the effect of miR-184 on tumourigenesis as well as distant metastasis. Interactions between miR-184 and its putative targets were assessed by quantitative PCR, microarray, bioinformatics and 3' untranslated region Luciferase reporter assay. The methylation status of primary patient samples was determined by MBD-Cap sequencing. Lastly, the clinical prognostic significance of miR-184 putative targets was assessed using publicly available datasets. A large number of microRNA were restricted in their expression to specific tissue subsets. MicroRNA-184 (miR-184) was exclusively expressed in epithelial cells and markedly upregulated during differentiation of the proliferative, invasive cells of the pubertal terminal end bud (TEB) into ductal epithelial cells in vivo. miR-184 expression was silenced in mouse tumour models compared to non-transformed epithelium and in a majority of breast cancer cell line models. Ectopic reactivation of miR-184 inhibited the proliferation and self-renewal of triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) cell lines in vitro and delayed primary tumour formation and reduced metastatic burden in vivo. Gene expression studies uncovered multi-factorial regulation of genes in the AKT/mTORC1 pathway by miR-184. In clinical breast cancer tissues, expression of miR-184 is lost in primary TNBCs while the miR-184 promoter is methylated in a subset of lymph node metastases from TNBC patients. These studies elucidate a new layer of regulation in the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway with relevance to mammary development and tumour progression and identify miR-184 as a putative breast tumour suppressor.
    Full-text Article · Jun 2015 · Breast cancer research: BCR
  • Source
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pancreatic cancer remains one of the most lethal of malignancies and a major health burden. We performed whole-genome sequencing and copy number variation (CNV) analysis of 100 pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas (PDACs). Chromosomal rearrangements leading to gene disruption were prevalent, affecting genes known to be important in pancreatic cancer (TP53, SMAD4, CDKN2A, ARID1A and ROBO2) and new candidate drivers of pancreatic carcinogenesis (KDM6A and PREX2). Patterns of structural variation (variation in chromosomal structure) classified PDACs into 4 subtypes with potential clinical utility: the subtypes were termed stable, locally rearranged, scattered and unstable. A significant proportion harboured focal amplifications, many of which contained druggable oncogenes (ERBB2, MET, FGFR1, CDK6, PIK3R3 and PIK3CA), but at low individual patient prevalence. Genomic instability co-segregated with inactivation of DNA maintenance genes (BRCA1, BRCA2 or PALB2) and a mutational signature of DNA damage repair deficiency. Of 8 patients who received platinum therapy, 4 of 5 individuals with these measures of defective DNA maintenance responded.
    Full-text Article · Feb 2015 · Nature
  • Source
    Jeremy L. Humphris · Amber L. Johns · Skye H. Simpson · [...] · Mary-Anne Brancato
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND Inherited predisposition to pancreatic cancer contributes significantly to its incidence and presents an opportunity for the development of early detection strategies. The genetic basis of predisposition remains unexplained in a high proportion of patients with familial PC (FPC).METHODS Clinicopathologic features were assessed in a cohort of 766 patients who had been diagnosed with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PC). Patients were classified with FPC if they had ≥1 affected first-degree relatives; otherwise, they were classified with sporadic PC (SPC).RESULTSThe prevalence of FPC in this cohort was 8.9%. In FPC families with an affected parent-child pair, 71% in the subsequent generation were 12.3 years younger at diagnosis. Patients with FPC had more first-degree relatives who had an extrapancreatic malignancy (EPM) (42.6% vs 21.2; P<.0001), particularly melanoma and endometrial cancer, but not a personal history of EPM. Patients with SPC were more likely to be active smokers, have higher cumulative tobacco exposure, and have fewer multifocal precursor lesions, but these were not associated with differences in survival. Long-standing diabetes mellitus (>2 years) was associated with poor survival in both groups.CONCLUSIONSFPC represents 9% of PC, and the risk of malignancy in kindred does not appear to be confined to the pancreas. Patients with FPC have more precursor lesions and include fewer active smokers, but other clinicopathologic factors and outcome are similar to those in patients with SPC. Furthermore, some FPC kindreds may exhibit anticipation. A better understanding of the clinical features of PC will facilitate efforts to uncover novel susceptibility genes and the development of early detection strategies. Cancer 2014. © 2014 American Cancer Society.
    Full-text Article · Dec 2014 · Cancer
  • Source
    Adrien Grimont · Andreia V Pinho · Mark J Cowley · [...] · Patrick Jacquemin
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Objective The transcription factor SOX9 was recently shown to stimulate ductal gene expression in pancreatic acinar-to-ductal metaplasia and to accelerate development of premalignant lesions preceding pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC). Here, we investigate how SOX9 operates in pancreatic tumourigenesis. Design We analysed genomic and transcriptomic data from surgically resected PDAC and extended the expression analysis to xenografts from PDAC samples and to PDAC cell lines. SOX9 expression was manipulated in human cell lines and mouse models developing PDAC. Results We found genetic aberrations in the SOX9 gene in about 15% of patient tumours. Most PDAC samples strongly express SOX9 protein, and SOX9 levels are higher in classical PDAC. This tumour subtype is associated with better patient outcome, and cell lines of this subtype respond to therapy targeting epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR/ERBB1) signalling, a pathway essential for pancreatic tumourigenesis. In human PDAC, high expression of SOX9 correlates with expression of genes belonging to the ERBB pathway. In particular, ERBB2 expression in PDAC cell lines is stimulated by SOX9. Inactivating Sox9 expression in mice confirmed its role in PDAC initiation; it demonstrated that Sox9 stimulates expression of several members of the ERBB pathway and is required for ERBB signalling activity. Conclusions By integrating data from patient samples and mouse models, we found that SOX9 regulates the ERBB pathway throughout pancreatic tumourigenesis. Our work opens perspectives for therapy targeting tumourigenic mechanisms.
    Full-text Article · Oct 2014 · Gut
  • Andreia V. Pinho · Adrien Grimont · Mark J. Cowley · [...] · Ilse Rooman
    Article · Oct 2014 · Cancer Research

Publication Stats

2k Citations


  • 2015
    • Garvan Institute of Medical Research
      • Cancer Research Program
      דרלינגהרסט, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2013
    • The Kinghorn Cancer Centre
      דרלינגהרסט, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2007
    • University of New South Wales
      • School of Biotechnology and Biomolecular Sciences (BABS)
      Kensington, New South Wales, Australia