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We studied 137 primary testicular germ cell tumors (TGCTs) using high-dimensional assays of genomic, epigenomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic features. These tumors exhibited high aneuploidy and a paucity of somatic mutations. Somatic mutation of only three genes achieved significance-KIT, KRAS, and NRAS-exclusively in samples with seminoma components. Integrated analyses identified distinct molecular patterns that characterized the major recognized histologic subtypes of TGCT: seminoma, embryonal carcinoma, yolk sac tumor, and teratoma. Striking differences in global DNA methylation and microRNA expression between histology subtypes highlight a likely role of epigenomic processes in determining histologic fates in TGCTs. We also identified a subset of pure seminomas defined by KIT mutations, increased immune infiltration, globally demethylated DNA, and decreased KRAS copy number. We report potential biomarkers for risk stratification, such as miRNA specifically expressed in teratoma, and others with molecular diagnostic potential, such as CpH (CpA/CpC/CpT) methylation identifying embryonal carcinomas.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Precision oncology uses genomic evidence to match patients with treatment but often fails to identify all patients who may respond. The transcriptome of these "hidden responders" may reveal responsive molecular states. We describe and evaluate a machine-learning approach to classify aberrant pathway activity in tumors, which may aid in hidden responder identification. The algorithm integrates RNA-seq, copy number, and mutations from 33 different cancer types across The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) PanCanAtlas project to predict aberrant molecular states in tumors. Applied to the Ras pathway, the method detects Ras activation across cancer types and identifies phenocopying variants. The model, trained on human tumors, can predict response to MEK inhibitors in wild-type Ras cell lines. We also present data that suggest that multiple hits in the Ras pathway confer increased Ras activity. The transcriptome is underused in precision oncology and, combined with machine learning, can aid in the identification of hidden responders.
Copyright © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Dysregulation of iron metabolism in cancer is well documented and it has been suggested that there is interdependence between excess iron and increased cancer incidence and progression. In an effort to better understand the linkages between iron metabolism and breast cancer, a predictive mathematical model of an expanded iron homeostasis pathway was constructed that includes species involved in iron utilization, oxidative stress response and oncogenic pathways. The model leads to three predictions. The first is that overexpression of iron regulatory protein 2 (IRP2) recapitulates many aspects of the alterations in free iron and iron-related proteins in cancer cells without affecting the oxidative stress response or the oncogenic pathways included in the model. This prediction was validated by experimentation. The second prediction is that iron-related proteins are dramatically affected by mitochondrial ferritin overexpression. This prediction was validated by results in the pertinent literature not used for model construction. The third prediction is that oncogenic Ras pathways contribute to altered iron homeostasis in cancer cells. This prediction was validated by a combination of simulation experiments of Ras overexpression and catalase knockout in conjunction with the literature. The model successfully captures key aspects of iron metabolism in breast cancer cells and provides a framework upon which more detailed models can be built.
Metabolic reprogramming, in which altered utilization of glucose and glutamine supports rapid growth, is a hallmark of most cancers. Mutations in the oncogenes KRAS and BRAF drive metabolic reprogramming through enhanced glucose uptake, but the broader impact of these mutations on pathways of carbon metabolism is unknown. Global shotgun proteomic analysis of isogenic DLD-1 and RKO colon cancer cell lines expressing mutant and wild type KRAS or BRAF, respectively, failed to identify significant differences (at least 2-fold) in metabolic protein abundance. However, a multiplexed parallel reaction monitoring (PRM) strategy targeting 73 metabolic proteins identified significant protein abundance increases of 1.25-twofold in glycolysis, the nonoxidative pentose phosphate pathway, glutamine metabolism, and the phosphoserine biosynthetic pathway in cells with KRAS G13D mutations or BRAF V600E mutations. These alterations corresponded to mutant KRAS and BRAF-dependent increases in glucose uptake and lactate production. Metabolic reprogramming and glucose conversion to lactate in RKO cells were proportional to levels of BRAF V600E protein. In DLD-1 cells, these effects were independent of the ratio of KRAS G13D to KRAS wild type protein. A study of 8 KRAS wild type and 8 KRAS mutant human colon tumors confirmed the association of increased expression of glycolytic and glutamine metabolic proteins with KRAS mutant status. Metabolic reprogramming is driven largely by modest (<2-fold) alterations in protein expression, which are not readily detected by the global profiling methods most commonly employed in proteomic studies. The results indicate the superiority of more precise, multiplexed, pathway-targeted analyses to study functional proteome systems. Data are available through MassIVE Accession MSV000079486 at ftp://MSV000079486@massive.ucsd.edu.
© 2016 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.
MicroRNA (miR) are important regulators of gene expression, and aberrant miR expression has been linked to oncogenesis; however, little is understood about their contribution to lung tumorigenesis. Here, we determined that miR-31 is overexpressed in human lung adenocarcinoma and this overexpression independently correlates with decreased patient survival. We developed a transgenic mouse model that allows for lung-specific expression of miR-31 to test the oncogenic potential of miR-31 in the lung. Using this model, we observed that miR-31 induction results in lung hyperplasia, followed by adenoma formation and later adenocarcinoma development. Moreover, induced expression of miR-31 in mice cooperated with mutant KRAS to accelerate lung tumorigenesis. We determined that miR-31 regulates lung epithelial cell growth and identified 6 negative regulators of RAS/MAPK signaling as direct targets of miR-31. Our study distinguishes miR-31 as a driver of lung tumorigenesis that promotes mutant KRAS-mediated oncogenesis and reveals that miR-31 directly targets and reduces expression of negative regulators of RAS/MAPK signaling.
There is substantial heterogeneity among primary prostate cancers, evident in the spectrum of molecular abnormalities and its variable clinical course. As part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we present a comprehensive molecular analysis of 333 primary prostate carcinomas. Our results revealed a molecular taxonomy in which 74% of these tumors fell into one of seven subtypes defined by specific gene fusions (ERG, ETV1/4, and FLI1) or mutations (SPOP, FOXA1, and IDH1). Epigenetic profiles showed substantial heterogeneity, including an IDH1 mutant subset with a methylator phenotype. Androgen receptor (AR) activity varied widely and in a subtype-specific manner, with SPOP and FOXA1 mutant tumors having the highest levels of AR-induced transcripts. 25% of the prostate cancers had a presumed actionable lesion in the PI3K or MAPK signaling pathways, and DNA repair genes were inactivated in 19%. Our analysis reveals molecular heterogeneity among primary prostate cancers, as well as potentially actionable molecular defects.
Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PURPOSE - Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) in the residual disease (RD) of triple-negative breast cancers (TNBC) after neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC) are associated with improved survival, but insight into tumor cell-autonomous molecular pathways affecting these features are lacking.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN - We analyzed TILs in the RD of clinically and molecularly characterized TNBCs after NAC and explored therapeutic strategies targeting combinations of MEK inhibitors with PD-1/PD-L1-targeted immunotherapy in mouse models of breast cancer.
RESULTS - Presence of TILs in the RD was significantly associated with improved prognosis. Genetic or transcriptomic alterations in Ras-MAPK signaling were significantly correlated with lower TILs. MEK inhibition upregulated cell surface MHC expression and PD-L1 in TNBC cells both in vivo and in vitro. Moreover, combined MEK and PD-L1/PD-1 inhibition enhanced antitumor immune responses in mouse models of breast cancer.
CONCLUSIONS - These data suggest the possibility that Ras-MAPK pathway activation promotes immune-evasion in TNBC, and support clinical trials combining MEK- and PD-L1-targeted therapies. Furthermore, Ras/MAPK activation and MHC expression may be predictive biomarkers of response to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
©2015 American Association for Cancer Research.
One strategy for combating cancer-drug resistance is to deploy rational polytherapy up front that suppresses the survival and emergence of resistant tumor cells. Here we demonstrate in models of lung adenocarcinoma harboring the oncogenic fusion of ALK and EML4 that the GTPase RAS-mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, but not other known ALK effectors, is required for tumor-cell survival. EML4-ALK activated RAS-MAPK signaling by engaging all three major RAS isoforms through the HELP domain of EML4. Reactivation of the MAPK pathway via either a gain in the number of copies of the gene encoding wild-type K-RAS (KRAS(WT)) or decreased expression of the MAPK phosphatase DUSP6 promoted resistance to ALK inhibitors in vitro, and each was associated with resistance to ALK inhibitors in individuals with EML4-ALK-positive lung adenocarcinoma. Upfront inhibition of both ALK and the kinase MEK enhanced both the magnitude and duration of the initial response in preclinical models of EML4-ALK lung adenocarcinoma. Our findings identify RAS-MAPK dependence as a hallmark of EML4-ALK lung adenocarcinoma and provide a rationale for the upfront inhibition of both ALK and MEK to forestall resistance and improve patient outcomes.
The ERBB4 receptor tyrosine kinase promotes colonocyte survival. Herein, we tested whether ERBB4's antiapoptotic signaling promotes transformation and colorectal tumorigenesis. ERBB4 alterations in a The Cancer Genome Atlas colorectal cancer (CRC) data set stratified survival, and in a combined Moffitt Cancer Center and Vanderbilt Medical Center CRC expression data set, ERBB4 message levels were increased at all tumor stages. Similarly, western blot and immunohistochemistry on additional CRC tissue banks showed elevated ERBB4 protein in tumors. ERBB4 was highly expressed in aggressive, dedifferentiated CRC cell lines, and its knockdown in LIM2405 cells reduced anchorage-independent colony formation. In nude mouse xenograft studies, ERBB4 alone was insufficient to induce tumor establishment of non-transformed mouse colonocytes, but its over-expression in cells harboring Apc(min) and v-Ha-Ras caused a doubling of tumor size. ERBB4-expressing xenografts displayed increased activation of survival pathways, including epidermal growth factor receptor and Akt phosphorylation and COX-2 expression, and decreased apoptotic signals. Finally, ERBB4 deletion from mouse intestinal epithelium impaired stem cell replication and in vitro enteroid establishment. In summary, we report that ERBB4 is over-expressed in human CRC, and in experimental systems enhances the survival and growth of cells driven by Ras and/or WNT signaling. Chronic ERBB4 over-expression in the context of, for example, inflammation may contribute to colorectal carcinogenesis. Tumors with high receptor levels are likely to have enhanced cell survival signaling through epidermal growth factor receptor, PI3K and COX-2. These results suggest ERBB4 as a novel therapeutic target in a subset of CRC.
© The Author 2015. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
BACKGROUND - Zebrafish have been used as a vertebrate model to study human cancers such as melanoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, liver cancer, and leukemia as well as for high-throughput screening of small molecules of therapeutic value. However, they are just emerging as a model for human brain tumors, which are among the most devastating and difficult to treat. In this study, we evaluated zebrafish as a brain tumor model by overexpressing a human version of oncogenic KRAS (KRAS(G12V)).
METHODS - Using zebrafish cytokeratin 5 (krt5) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (gfap) gene promoters, we activated Ras signaling in the zebrafish central nervous system (CNS) through transient and stable transgenic overexpression. Immunohistochemical analyses were performed to identify activated pathways in the resulting brain tumors. The effects of the MEK inhibitor U0126 on oncogenic KRAS were evaluated.
RESULTS - We demonstrated that transient transgenic expression of KRAS(G12V) in putative neural stem and/or progenitor cells induced brain tumorigenesis. When expressed under the control of the krt5 gene promoter, KRAS(G12V) induced brain tumors in ventricular zones (VZ) at low frequency. The majority of other tumors were composed mostly of spindle and epithelioid cells, reminiscent of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). In contrast, when expressed under the control of the gfap gene promoter, KRAS(G12V) induced brain tumors in both VZs and brain parenchyma at higher frequency. Immunohistochemical analyses indicated prominent activation of the canonical RAS-RAF-ERK pathway, variable activation of the mTOR pathway, but no activation of the PI3K-AKT pathway. In a krt5-derived stable and inducible transgenic line, expression of oncogenic KRAS resulted in skin hyperplasia, and the MEK inhibitor U0126 effectively suppressed this pro-proliferative effects. In a gfap-derived stable and inducible line, expression of oncogenic KRAS led to significantly increased mitotic index in the spinal cord.
CONCLUSIONS - Our studies demonstrate that zebrafish could be explored to study cellular origins and molecular mechanisms of brain tumorigenesis and could also be used as a platform for studying human oncogene function and for discovering oncogenic RAS inhibitors.