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Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a devastating disease due to its propensity for early invasion and refractory relapse after initial treatment response. Although these aggressive traits have been associated with phenotypic heterogeneity, our understanding of this association remains incomplete. To fill this knowledge gap, we inferred a set of 33 transcription factors (TF) associated with gene signatures of the known neuroendocrine/epithelial (NE) and non-neuroendocrine/mesenchymal-like (ML) SCLC phenotypes. The topology of this SCLC TF network was derived from prior knowledge and was simulated using Boolean modeling. These simulations predicted that the network settles into attractors, or TF expression patterns, that correlate with NE or ML phenotypes, suggesting that TF network dynamics underlie the emergence of heterogeneous SCLC phenotypes. However, several cell lines and patient tumor specimens failed to correlate with either the NE or ML attractors. By flow cytometry, single cells within these cell lines simultaneously expressed surface markers of both NE and ML differentiation, confirming the existence of a "hybrid" phenotype. Upon exposure to standard-of-care cytotoxic drugs or epigenetic modifiers, NE and ML cell populations converged toward the hybrid state, suggesting possible escape from treatment. Our findings indicate that SCLC phenotypic heterogeneity can be specified dynamically by attractor states of a master regulatory TF network. Thus, SCLC heterogeneity may be best understood as states within an epigenetic landscape. Understanding phenotypic transitions within this landscape may provide insights to clinical applications. .
©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.
Targeted therapies and the consequent adoption of "personalized" oncology have achieved notable successes in some cancers; however, significant problems remain with this approach. Many targeted therapies are highly toxic, costs are extremely high, and most patients experience relapse after a few disease-free months. Relapses arise from genetic heterogeneity in tumors, which harbor therapy-resistant immortalized cells that have adopted alternate and compensatory pathways (i.e., pathways that are not reliant upon the same mechanisms as those which have been targeted). To address these limitations, an international task force of 180 scientists was assembled to explore the concept of a low-toxicity "broad-spectrum" therapeutic approach that could simultaneously target many key pathways and mechanisms. Using cancer hallmark phenotypes and the tumor microenvironment to account for the various aspects of relevant cancer biology, interdisciplinary teams reviewed each hallmark area and nominated a wide range of high-priority targets (74 in total) that could be modified to improve patient outcomes. For these targets, corresponding low-toxicity therapeutic approaches were then suggested, many of which were phytochemicals. Proposed actions on each target and all of the approaches were further reviewed for known effects on other hallmark areas and the tumor microenvironment. Potential contrary or procarcinogenic effects were found for 3.9% of the relationships between targets and hallmarks, and mixed evidence of complementary and contrary relationships was found for 7.1%. Approximately 67% of the relationships revealed potentially complementary effects, and the remainder had no known relationship. Among the approaches, 1.1% had contrary, 2.8% had mixed and 62.1% had complementary relationships. These results suggest that a broad-spectrum approach should be feasible from a safety standpoint. This novel approach has potential to be relatively inexpensive, it should help us address stages and types of cancer that lack conventional treatment, and it may reduce relapse risks. A proposed agenda for future research is offered.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a molecularly heterogeneous disease lacking recurrent targetable alterations and thus therapeutic advances have been challenging. The absence of ER, PR and HER2 amplifications, leaves combination chemotherapy as the standard of care treatment option in the adjuvant, neoadjuvant and metastatic settings. Recently, multiple studies have shed some light on the heterogeneity of TNBC and identified distinct transcriptional subtypes with unique biologies. Herein we review the molecular heterogeneity and the impact on previous and future clinical trials.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Current histopathologic classification schemes for gastric adenocarcinoma have limited clinical utility and are difficult to apply due to tumor heterogeneity. Elucidation of molecular subtypes of gastric cancer may contribute to our understanding of gastric cancer biology and to the development of new molecular markers that may lead to improved diagnosis, therapy, or prognosis. We previously demonstrated that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-infected gastric cancers have a distinct human gene expression profile compared with uninfected cancers. We now examine the histopathologic features characterizing infected (n=14) and uninfected (n=89) cancers; the latter of which are now further divided into 2 major molecular subtypes based on expression patterns of 93 RNAs. One uninfected gastric cancer subtype was distinguished by upregulation of 3 genes with neuroendocrine (NE) function (CHGA, GAST, and REG4 encoding chromogranin, gastrin, and the secreted peptide REG4 involved in epithelial cell regeneration), implicating hormonal factors in the pathogenesis of a major class of gastric adenocarcinomas. Evidence of NE differentiation (molecular, immunohistochemical, or morphologic) was mutually exclusive of EBV infection. EBV-infected tumors tended to have solid-type morphology with lymphoid stroma. This study reveals novel molecular subtypes of gastric cancer and their associated morphologies that demonstrate divergent NE features.
Glycated hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) is used as a measure of glycemic control and also as a diagnostic criterion for diabetes. To discover novel loci harboring common variants associated with HbA1c in East Asians, we conducted a meta-analysis of 13 genome-wide association studies (GWAS; N = 21,026). We replicated our findings in three additional studies comprising 11,576 individuals of East Asian ancestry. Ten variants showed associations that reached genome-wide significance in the discovery data set, of which nine (four novel variants at TMEM79 [P value = 1.3 × 10(-23)], HBS1L/MYB [8.5 × 10(-15)], MYO9B [9.0 × 10(-12)], and CYBA [1.1 × 10(-8)] as well as five variants at loci that had been previously identified [CDKAL1, G6PC2/ABCB11, GCK, ANK1, and FN3KI]) showed consistent evidence of association in replication data sets. These variants explained 1.76% of the variance in HbA1c. Several of these variants (TMEM79, HBS1L/MYB, CYBA, MYO9B, ANK1, and FN3K) showed no association with either blood glucose or type 2 diabetes. Among individuals with nondiabetic levels of fasting glucose (<7.0 mmol/L) but elevated HbA1c (≥6.5%), 36.1% had HbA1c <6.5% after adjustment for these six variants. Our East Asian GWAS meta-analysis has identified novel variants associated with HbA1c as well as demonstrated that the effects of known variants are largely transferable across ethnic groups. Variants affecting erythrocyte parameters rather than glucose metabolism may be relevant to the use of HbA1c for diagnosing diabetes in these populations.
© 2014 by the American Diabetes Association.
BACKGROUND - Cancer genomes harbor hundreds to thousands of somatic nonsynonymous mutations. DNA damage and deficiency of DNA repair systems are two major forces to cause somatic mutations, marking cancer genomes with specific somatic mutation patterns. Recently, several pan-cancer genome studies revealed more than 20 mutation signatures across multiple cancer types. However, detailed cancer-type specific mutation signatures and their different features within (intra-) and between (inter-) cancer types remain largely unexplored.
METHODS - We employed a matrix decomposition algorithm, namely Non-negative Matrix Factorization, to survey the somatic mutations in nine major human cancers, involving a total of ~2100 genomes.
RESULTS - Our results revealed 3-5 independent mutational signatures in each cancer, implying that a range of 3-5 predominant mutational processes likely underlie each cancer genome. Both mutagen exposure (tobacco and sun) and changes in DNA repair systems (APOBEC family, POLE, and MLH1) were found as mutagenesis forces, each of which marks the genome with an evident mutational signature. We studied the features of several signatures and their combinatory patterns within and across cancers. On one hand, we found each signature may influence a cancer genome with different influential magnitudes even in the same cancer type and the signature-specific load reflects intra-cancer heterogeneity (e.g., the smoking-related signature in lung cancer smokers and never smokers). On the other hand, inter-cancer heterogeneity is characterized by combinatory patterns of mutational signatures, where no cancers share the same signature profile, even between two lung cancer subtypes (lung adenocarcinoma and squamous cell lung cancer).
CONCLUSIONS - Our work provides a detailed overview of the mutational characteristics in each of nine major cancers and highlights that the mutational signature profile is representative of each cancer.
Triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) is a heterogeneous disease; gene expression analyses recently identified six distinct TNBC subtypes, each displaying a unique biology. Exploring novel approaches to treatment of these subtypes is critical because less than 30% of women with metastatic breast cancer survive five years and virtually all women with metastatic TNBC will ultimately die of their disease despite systemic therapy. To date, not a single targeted therapy has been approved for the treatment of TNBC and cytotoxic chemotherapy remains the standard treatment. We discuss the current and upcoming therapeutic strategies being explored in an attempt to "target" TNBC.
PURPOSE - The clinical relevancy of the 7-subtype classification of triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) reported by Lehmann and colleagues is unknown. We investigated the clinical relevancy of TNBC heterogeneity by determining pathologic complete response (pCR) rates after neoadjuvant chemotherapy, based on TNBC subtypes.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - We revalidated the Lehmann and colleagues experiments using Affymetrix CEL files from public datasets. We applied these methods to 146 patients with TNBC with gene expression microarrays obtained from June 2000 to March 2010 at our institution. Of those, 130 had received standard neoadjuvant chemotherapy and had evaluable pathologic response data. We classified the TNBC samples by subtype and then correlated subtype and pCR status using Fisher exact test and a logistic regression model. We also assessed survival and compared the subtypes with PAM50 intrinsic subtypes and residual cancer burden (RCB) index.
RESULTS - TNBC subtype and pCR status were significantly associated (P = 0.04379). The basal-like 1 (BL1) subtype had the highest pCR rate (52%); basal-like 2 (BL2) and luminal androgen receptor had the lowest (0% and 10%, respectively). TNBC subtype was an independent predictor of pCR status (P = 0.022) by a likelihood ratio test. The subtypes better predicted pCR status than did the PAM50 intrinsic subtypes (basal-like vs. non basal-like).
CONCLUSIONS - Classifying TNBC by 7 subtypes predicts high versus low pCR rate. We confirm the clinical relevancy of the 7 subtypes of TNBC. We need to prospectively validate whether the pCR rate differences translate into long-term outcome differences. The 7-subtype classification may spur innovative personalized medicine strategies for patients with TNBC.
Mesothelia, which cover all coelomic organs and body cavities in vertebrates, perform diverse functions in embryonic and adult life. Yet, mesothelia are traditionally viewed as simple, uniform epithelia. Here we demonstrate distinct differences between visceral and parietal mesothelia, the most basic subdivision of this tissue type, in terms of gene expression, adhesion, migration, and invasion. Gene profiling determined that autotaxin, a secreted lysophospholipase D originally discovered as a tumor cell-motility-stimulating factor, was expressed exclusively in the more motile and invasive visceral mesothelia and at abnormally high levels in mesotheliomas. Gain and loss of function studies demonstrate that autotaxin signaling is indeed a critical factor responsible for phenotypic differences within mesothelia. Furthermore, we demonstrate that known and novel small molecule inhibitors of the autotaxin signaling pathway dramatically blunt migratory and invasive behaviors of aggressive mesotheliomas. Taken together, this study reveals distinct phenotypes within the mesothelial cell lineage, demonstrates that differential autotaxin expression is the molecular underpinning for these differences, and provides a novel target and lead compounds to intervene in invasive mesotheliomas.
Most psychiatric disorders are moderately to highly heritable. The degree to which genetic variation is unique to individual disorders or shared across disorders is unclear. To examine shared genetic etiology, we use genome-wide genotype data from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium (PGC) for cases and controls in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). We apply univariate and bivariate methods for the estimation of genetic variation within and covariation between disorders. SNPs explained 17-29% of the variance in liability. The genetic correlation calculated using common SNPs was high between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (0.68 ± 0.04 s.e.), moderate between schizophrenia and major depressive disorder (0.43 ± 0.06 s.e.), bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder (0.47 ± 0.06 s.e.), and ADHD and major depressive disorder (0.32 ± 0.07 s.e.), low between schizophrenia and ASD (0.16 ± 0.06 s.e.) and non-significant for other pairs of disorders as well as between psychiatric disorders and the negative control of Crohn's disease. This empirical evidence of shared genetic etiology for psychiatric disorders can inform nosology and encourages the investigation of common pathophysiologies for related disorders.