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1.  Integrative Genomic Analyses Identify BRF2 as a Novel Lineage-Specific Oncogene in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(7):e1000315.
William Lockwood and colleagues show that the focal amplification of a gene, BRF2, on Chromosome 8p12 plays a key role in squamous cell carcinoma of the lung.
Traditionally, non-small cell lung cancer is treated as a single disease entity in terms of systemic therapy. Emerging evidence suggests the major subtypes—adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to therapy. Identification of the molecular differences between these tumor types will have a significant impact in designing novel therapies that can improve the treatment outcome.
Methods and Findings
We used an integrative genomics approach, combing high-resolution comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray profiles, to compare AC and SqCC tumors in order to uncover alterations at the DNA level, with corresponding gene transcription changes, which are selected for during development of lung cancer subtypes. Through the analysis of multiple independent cohorts of clinical tumor samples (>330), normal lung tissues and bronchial epithelial cells obtained by bronchial brushing in smokers without lung cancer, we identified the overexpression of BRF2, a gene on Chromosome 8p12, which is specific for development of SqCC of lung. Genetic activation of BRF2, which encodes a RNA polymerase III (Pol III) transcription initiation factor, was found to be associated with increased expression of small nuclear RNAs (snRNAs) that are involved in processes essential for cell growth, such as RNA splicing. Ectopic expression of BRF2 in human bronchial epithelial cells induced a transformed phenotype and demonstrates downstream oncogenic effects, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown suppressed growth and colony formation of SqCC cells overexpressing BRF2, but not AC cells. Frequent activation of BRF2 in >35% preinvasive bronchial carcinoma in situ, as well as in dysplastic lesions, provides evidence that BRF2 expression is an early event in cancer development of this cell lineage.
This is the first study, to our knowledge, to show that the focal amplification of a gene in Chromosome 8p12, plays a key role in squamous cell lineage specificity of the disease. Our data suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 represents a unique mechanism of SqCC lung tumorigenesis through the increase of Pol III-mediated transcription. It can serve as a marker for lung SqCC and may provide a novel target for therapy.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death. Every year, 1.3 million people die from this disease, which is mainly caused by smoking. Most cases of lung cancer are “non-small cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs). Like all cancers, NSCLC starts when cells begin to divide uncontrollably and to move round the body (metastasize) because of changes (mutations) in their genes. These mutations are often in “oncogenes,” genes that, when activated, encourage cell division. Oncogenes can be activated by mutations that alter the properties of the proteins they encode or by mutations that increase the amount of protein made from them, such as gene amplification (an increase in the number of copies of a gene). If NSCLC is diagnosed before it has spread from the lungs (stage I disease), it can be surgically removed and many patients with stage I NSCLC survive for more than 5 years after their diagnosis. Unfortunately, in more than half of patients, NSCLC has metastasized before it is diagnosed. This stage IV NSCLC can be treated with chemotherapy (toxic chemicals that kill fast-growing cancer cells) but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer are alive 5 years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Traditionally, NSCLC has been regarded as a single disease in terms of treatment. However, emerging evidence suggests that the two major subtypes of NSCLC—adenocarcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC)—respond differently to chemotherapy. Adenocarcinoma and SqCC start in different types of lung cell and experts think that for each cell type in the body, specific combinations of mutations interact with the cell type's own unique characteristics to provide the growth and survival advantage needed for cancer development. If this is true, then identifying the molecular differences between adenocarcinoma and SqCC could provide targets for more effective therapies for these major subtypes of NSCLC. Amplification of a chromosome region called 8p12 is very common in NSCLC, which suggests that an oncogene that drives lung cancer development is present in this chromosome region. In this study, the researchers investigate this possibility by looking for an amplified gene in the 8p12 chromosome region that makes increased amounts of protein in lung SqCC but not in lung adenocarcinoma.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used a technique called comparative genomic hybridization to show that focal regions of Chromosome 8p are amplified in about 40% of lung SqCCs, but that DNA loss in this region is the most common alteration in lung adenocarcinomas. Ten genes in the 8p12 chromosome region were expressed at higher levels in the SqCC samples that they examined than in adenocarcinoma samples, they report, and overexpression of five of these genes correlated with amplification of the 8p12 region in the SqCC samples. Only one of the genes—BRF2—was more highly expressed in squamous carcinoma cells than in normal bronchial epithelial cells (the cell type that lines the tubes that take air into the lungs and from which SqCC develops). Artificially induced expression of BRF2 in bronchial epithelial cells made these normal cells behave like tumor cells, whereas reduction of BRF2 expression in squamous carcinoma cells made them behave more like normal bronchial epithelial cells. Finally, BRF2 was frequently activated in two early stages of squamous cell carcinoma—bronchial carcinoma in situ and dysplastic lesions.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Together, these findings show that the focal amplification of chromosome region 8p12 plays a role in the development of lung SqCC but not in the development of lung adenocarcinoma, the other major subtype of NSCLC. These findings identify BRF2 (which encodes a RNA polymerase III transcription initiation factor, a protein that is required for the synthesis of RNA molecules that help to control cell growth) as a lung SqCC-specific oncogene and uncover a unique mechanism for lung SqCC development. Most importantly, these findings suggest that genetic activation of BRF2 could be used as a marker for lung SqCC, which might facilitate the early detection of this type of NSCLC and that BRF2 might provide a new target for therapy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small cell carcinoma (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
PMCID: PMC2910599  PMID: 20668658
2.  Integrated molecular portrait of non-small cell lung cancers 
BMC Medical Genomics  2013;6:53.
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a leading cause of cancer deaths, represents a heterogeneous group of neoplasms, mostly comprising squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), adenocarcinoma (AC) and large-cell carcinoma (LCC). The objectives of this study were to utilize integrated genomic data including copy-number alteration, mRNA, microRNA expression and candidate-gene full sequencing data to characterize the molecular distinctions between AC and SCC.
Comparative genomic hybridization followed by mutational analysis, gene expression and miRNA microarray profiling were performed on 123 paired tumor and non-tumor tissue samples from patients with NSCLC.
At DNA, mRNA and miRNA levels we could identify molecular markers that discriminated significantly between the various histopathological entities of NSCLC. We identified 34 genomic clusters using aCGH data; several genes exhibited a different profile of aberrations between AC and SCC, including PIK3CA, SOX2, THPO, TP63, PDGFB genes. Gene expression profiling analysis identified SPP1, CTHRC1and GREM1 as potential biomarkers for early diagnosis of the cancer, and SPINK1 and BMP7 to distinguish between AC and SCC in small biopsies or in blood samples. Using integrated genomics approach we found in recurrently altered regions a list of three potential driver genes, MRPS22, NDRG1 and RNF7, which were consistently over-expressed in amplified regions, had wide-spread correlation with an average of ~800 genes throughout the genome and highly associated with histological types. Using a network enrichment analysis, the targets of these potential drivers were seen to be involved in DNA replication, cell cycle, mismatch repair, p53 signalling pathway and other lung cancer related signalling pathways, and many immunological pathways. Furthermore, we also identified one potential driver miRNA hsa-miR-944.
Integrated molecular characterization of AC and SCC helped identify clinically relevant markers and potential drivers, which are recurrent and stable changes at DNA level that have functional implications at RNA level and have strong association with histological subtypes.
PMCID: PMC4222074  PMID: 24299561
NSCLC; AC; SCC; LCC; Systems biology
3.  Micro-Scale Genomic DNA Copy Number Aberrations as Another Means of Mutagenesis in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51719.
In breast cancer, the basal-like subtype has high levels of genomic instability relative to other breast cancer subtypes with many basal-like-specific regions of aberration. There is evidence that this genomic instability extends to smaller scale genomic aberrations, as shown by a previously described micro-deletion event in the PTEN gene in the Basal-like SUM149 breast cancer cell line.
We sought to identify if small regions of genomic DNA copy number changes exist by using a high density, gene-centric Comparative Genomic Hybridizations (CGH) array on cell lines and primary tumors. A custom tiling array for CGH (244,000 probes, 200 bp tiling resolution) was created to identify small regions of genomic change, which was focused on previously identified basal-like-specific, and general cancer genes. Tumor genomic DNA from 94 patients and 2 breast cancer cell lines was labeled and hybridized to these arrays. Aberrations were called using SWITCHdna and the smallest 25% of SWITCHdna-defined genomic segments were called micro-aberrations (<64 contiguous probes, ∼ 15 kb).
Our data showed that primary tumor breast cancer genomes frequently contained many small-scale copy number gains and losses, termed micro-aberrations, most of which are undetectable using typical-density genome-wide aCGH arrays. The basal-like subtype exhibited the highest incidence of these events. These micro-aberrations sometimes altered expression of the involved gene. We confirmed the presence of the PTEN micro-amplification in SUM149 and by mRNA-seq showed that this resulted in loss of expression of all exons downstream of this event. Micro-aberrations disproportionately affected the 5′ regions of the affected genes, including the promoter region, and high frequency of micro-aberrations was associated with poor survival.
Using a high-probe-density, gene-centric aCGH microarray, we present evidence of small-scale genomic aberrations that can contribute to gene inactivation. These events may contribute to tumor formation through mechanisms not detected using conventional DNA copy number analyses.
PMCID: PMC3524128  PMID: 23284754
4.  MicroRNA-218 Is Deleted and Downregulated in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12560.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, non-coding RNA species functioning as negative regulators of multiple target genes including tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes. Many miRNA gene loci are located within cancer-associated genomic regions. To identify potential new amplified oncogenic and/or deleted tumour suppressing miRNAs in lung cancer, we inferred miRNA gene dosage from high dimensional arrayCGH data. From miRBase v9.0 (, 474 human miRNA genes were physically mapped to regions of chromosomal loss or gain identified from a high-resolution genome-wide arrayCGH study of 132 primary non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) (a training set of 60 squamous cell carcinomas and 72 adenocarcinomas). MiRNAs were selected as candidates if their immediately flanking probes or host gene were deleted or amplified in at least 25% of primary tumours using both Analysis of Copy Errors algorithm and fold change (≥±1.2) analyses. Using these criteria, 97 miRNAs mapped to regions of aberrant copy number. Analysis of three independent published lung cancer arrayCGH datasets confirmed that 22 of these miRNA loci showed directionally concordant copy number variation. MiR-218, encoded on 4p15.31 and 5q35.1 within two host genes (SLIT2 and SLIT3), in a region of copy number loss, was selected as a priority candidate for follow-up as it is reported as underexpressed in lung cancer. We confirmed decreased expression of mature miR-218 and its host genes by qRT-PCR in 39 NSCLCs relative to normal lung tissue. This downregulation of miR-218 was found to be associated with a history of cigarette smoking, but not human papilloma virus. Thus, we show for the first time that putative lung cancer-associated miRNAs can be identified from genome-wide arrayCGH datasets using a bioinformatics mapping approach, and report that miR-218 is a strong candidate tumour suppressing miRNA potentially involved in lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2933228  PMID: 20838434
5.  Nuclear Receptor Expression Defines a Set of Prognostic Biomarkers for Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(12):e1000378.
David Mangelsdorf and colleagues show that nuclear receptor expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes of lung cancer patients, and this expression profile is a potential prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for individuals with early stage disease.
The identification of prognostic tumor biomarkers that also would have potential as therapeutic targets, particularly in patients with early stage disease, has been a long sought-after goal in the management and treatment of lung cancer. The nuclear receptor (NR) superfamily, which is composed of 48 transcription factors that govern complex physiologic and pathophysiologic processes, could represent a unique subset of these biomarkers. In fact, many members of this family are the targets of already identified selective receptor modulators, providing a direct link between individual tumor NR quantitation and selection of therapy. The goal of this study, which begins this overall strategy, was to investigate the association between mRNA expression of the NR superfamily and the clinical outcome for patients with lung cancer, and to test whether a tumor NR gene signature provided useful information (over available clinical data) for patients with lung cancer.
Methods and Findings
Using quantitative real-time PCR to study NR expression in 30 microdissected non-small-cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) and their pair-matched normal lung epithelium, we found great variability in NR expression among patients' tumor and non-involved lung epithelium, found a strong association between NR expression and clinical outcome, and identified an NR gene signature from both normal and tumor tissues that predicted patient survival time and disease recurrence. The NR signature derived from the initial 30 NSCLC samples was validated in two independent microarray datasets derived from 442 and 117 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The NR gene signature was also validated in 130 squamous cell carcinomas. The prognostic signature in tumors could be distilled to expression of two NRs, short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor, as single gene predictors of NSCLC patient survival time, including for patients with stage I disease. Of equal interest, the studies of microdissected histologically normal epithelium and matched tumors identified expression in normal (but not tumor) epithelium of NGFIB3 and mineralocorticoid receptor as single gene predictors of good prognosis.
NR expression is strongly associated with clinical outcomes for patients with lung cancer, and this expression profile provides a unique prognostic signature for lung cancer patient survival time, particularly for those with early stage disease. This study highlights the potential use of NRs as a rational set of therapeutically tractable genes as theragnostic biomarkers, and specifically identifies short heterodimer partner and progesterone receptor in tumors, and NGFIB3 and MR in non-neoplastic lung epithelium, for future detailed translational study in lung cancer.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer, the most common cause of cancer-related death, kills 1.3 million people annually. Most lung cancers are “non-small-cell lung cancers” (NSCLCs), and most are caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke causes changes in the genes of the cells lining the lungs that allow the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. How NSCLC is treated and responds to treatment depends on its “stage.” Stage I tumors, which are small and confined to the lung, are removed surgically, although chemotherapy is also sometimes given. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with surgery and chemotherapy, as are some stage III tumors. However, because cancer cells in stage III tumors can be present throughout the chest, surgery is not always possible. For such cases, and for stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread around the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I and II NSCLC but only 2% of patients with stage IV NSCLC survive for five years after diagnosis; more than 50% of patients have stage IV NSCLC at diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
Patient responses to treatment vary considerably. Oncologists (doctors who treat cancer) would like to know which patients have a good prognosis (are likely to do well) to help them individualize their treatment. Consequently, the search is on for “prognostic tumor biomarkers,” molecules made by cancer cells that can be used to predict likely clinical outcomes. Such biomarkers, which may also be potential therapeutic targets, can be identified by analyzing the overall pattern of gene expression in a panel of tumors using a technique called microarray analysis and looking for associations between the expression of sets of genes and clinical outcomes. In this study, the researchers take a more directed approach to identifying prognostic biomarkers by investigating the association between the expression of the genes encoding nuclear receptors (NRs) and clinical outcome in patients with lung cancer. The NR superfamily contains 48 transcription factors (proteins that control the expression of other genes) that respond to several hormones and to diet-derived fats. NRs control many biological processes and are targets for several successful drugs, including some used to treat cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the expression of NR mRNAs using “quantitative real-time PCR” in 30 microdissected NSCLCs and in matched normal lung tissue samples (mRNA is the blueprint for protein production). They then used an approach called standard classification and regression tree analysis to build a prognostic model for NSCLC based on the expression data. This model predicted both survival time and disease recurrence among the patients from whom the tumors had been taken. The researchers validated their prognostic model in two large independent lung adenocarcinoma microarray datasets and in a squamous cell carcinoma dataset (adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas are two major NSCLC subtypes). Finally, they explored the roles of specific NRs in the prediction model. This analysis revealed that the ability of the NR signature in tumors to predict outcomes was mainly due to the expression of two NRs—the short heterodimer partner (SHP) and the progesterone receptor (PR). Expression of either gene could be used as a single gene predictor of the survival time of patients, including those with stage I disease. Similarly, the expression of either nerve growth factor induced gene B3 (NGFIB3) or mineralocorticoid receptor (MR) in normal tissue was a single gene predictor of a good prognosis.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that the expression of NR mRNA is strongly associated with clinical outcomes in patients with NSCLC. Furthermore, they identify a prognostic NR expression signature that provides information on the survival time of patients, including those with early stage disease. The signature needs to be confirmed in more patients before it can be used clinically, and researchers would like to establish whether changes in mRNA expression are reflected in changes in protein expression if NRs are to be targeted therapeutically. Nevertheless, these findings highlight the potential use of NRs as prognostic tumor biomarkers. Furthermore, they identify SHP and PR in tumors and two NRs in normal lung tissue as molecules that might provide new targets for the treatment of lung cancer and new insights into the early diagnosis, pathogenesis, and chemoprevention of lung cancer.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The Nuclear Receptor Signaling Atlas (NURSA) is consortium of scientists sponsored by the US National Institutes of Health that provides scientific reagents, datasets, and educational material on nuclear receptors and their co-regulators to the scientific community through a Web-based portal
The Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas (CPRIT) provides information and resources to anyone interested in the prevention and treatment of lung and other cancers
The US National Cancer Institute provides detailed information for patients and professionals about all aspects of lung cancer, including information on non-small-cell carcinoma and on tumor markers (in English and Spanish)
Cancer Research UK also provides information about lung cancer and information on how cancer starts
MedlinePlus has links to other resources about lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on nuclear receptors (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
PMCID: PMC3001894  PMID: 21179495
6.  Array-Comparative Genomic Hybridization Reveals Loss of SOCS6 Is Associated with Poor Prognosis in Primary Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30398.
Primary tumor recurrence commonly occurs after surgical resection of lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). Little is known about the genes driving SCC recurrence.
We used array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) to identify genes affected by copy number alterations that may be involved in SCC recurrence. Training and test sets of resected primary lung SCC were assembled. aCGH was used to determine genomic copy number in a training set of 62 primary lung SCCs (28 with recurrence and 34 with no evidence of recurrence) and the altered copy number of candidate genes was confirmed by quantitative PCR (qPCR). An independent test set of 72 primary lung SCCs (20 with recurrence and 52 with no evidence of recurrence) was used for biological validation. mRNA expression of candidate genes was studied using qRT-PCR. Candidate gene promoter methylation was evaluated using methylation microarrays and Sequenom EpiTYPER analysis.
18q22.3 loss was identified by aCGH as being significantly associated with recurrence (p = 0.038). Seven genes within 18q22.3 had aCGH copy number loss associated with recurrence but only SOCS6 copy number was both technically replicated by qPCR and biologically validated in the test set. SOCS6 copy number loss correlated with reduced mRNA expression in the study samples and in the samples with copy number loss, there was a trend for increased methylation, albeit non-significant. Overall survival was significantly poorer in patients with SOCS6 loss compared to patients without SOCS6 loss in both the training (30 vs. 43 months, p = 0.023) and test set (27 vs. 43 months, p = 0.010).
Reduced copy number and mRNA expression of SOCS6 are associated with disease recurrence in primary lung SCC and may be useful prognostic biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3281847  PMID: 22363434
7.  Chromosomal Localization of DNA Amplifications in Neuroblastoma Tumors Using cDNA Microarray Comparative Genomic Hybridization1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2003;5(1):53-62.
Conventional comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) profiling of neuroblastomas has identified many genomic aberrations, although the limited resolution has precluded a precise localization of sequences of interest within amplicons. To map high copy number genomic gains in clinically matched stage IV neuroblastomas, CGH analysis using a 19,200-feature cDNA microarray was used. A dedicated (freely available) algorithm was developed for rapid in silico determination of chromosomal localizations of microarray cDNA targets, and for generation of an ideogram-type profile of copy number changes. Using these methodologies, novel gene amplifications undetectable by chromosome CGH were identified, and larger MYCN amplicon sizes (in one tumor up to 6 Mb) than those previously reported in neuroblastoma were identified. The genes HPCAL1, LPIN1/KIAA0188, NAG, and NSE1/LOC151354 were found to be coamplified with MYCN. To determine whether stage IV primary tumors could be further subclassified based on their genomic copy number profiles, hierarchical clustering was performed. Cluster analysis of microarray CGH data identified three groups: 1) no amplifications evident, 2) a small MYCN amplicon as the only detectable imbalance, and 3) a large MYCN amplicon with additional gene amplifications. Application of CGH to cDNA microarray targets will help to determine both the variation of amplicon size and help better define amplification-dependent and independent pathways of progression in neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC1502121  PMID: 12659670
amplicons; genomic instability; genomics; N-myc; high-resolution mapping; genomic profiling
8.  Large fragment Bst DNA polymerase for whole genome amplification of DNA from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:312.
Formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues represent the largest source of archival biological material available for genomic studies of human cancer. Therefore, it is desirable to develop methods that enable whole genome amplification (WGA) using DNA extracted from FFPE tissues. Multiple-strand Displacement Amplification (MDA) is an isothermal method for WGA that uses the large fragment of Bst DNA polymerase. To date, MDA has been feasible only for genomic DNA isolated from fresh or snap-frozen tissue, and yields a representational distortion of less than threefold.
We amplified genomic DNA of five FFPE samples of normal human lung tissue with the large fragment of Bst DNA polymerase. Using quantitative PCR, the copy number of 7 genes was evaluated in both amplified and original DNA samples. Four neuroblastoma xenograft samples derived from cell lines with known N-myc gene copy number were also evaluated, as were 7 samples of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) tumors with known Skp2 gene amplification. In addition, we compared the array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH)-based genome profiles of two NSCLC samples before and after Bst MDA. A median 990-fold amplification of DNA was achieved. The DNA amplification products had a very high molecular weight (> 23 Kb). When the gene content of the amplified samples was compared to that of the original samples, the representational distortion was limited to threefold. Array CGH genome profiles of amplified and non-amplified FFPE DNA were similar.
Large fragment Bst DNA polymerase is suitable for WGA of DNA extracted from FFPE tissues, with an expected maximal representational distortion of threefold. Amplified DNA may be used for the detection of gene copy number changes by quantitative realtime PCR and genome profiling by array CGH.
PMCID: PMC1764024  PMID: 17156491
9.  A probe-density-based analysis method for array CGH data: simulation, normalization and centralization 
Bioinformatics  2008;24(16):1749-1756.
Motivation: Genomic instability is one of the fundamental factors in tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Many studies have shown that copy-number abnormalities at the DNA level are important in the pathogenesis of cancer. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), developed based on expression microarray technology, can reveal the chromosomal aberrations in segmental copies at a high resolution. However, due to the nature of aCGH, many standard expression data processing tools, such as data normalization, often fail to yield satisfactory results.
Results: We demonstrated a novel aCGH normalization algorithm, which provides an accurate aCGH data normalization by utilizing the dependency of neighboring probe measurements in aCGH experiments. To facilitate the study, we have developed a hidden Markov model (HMM) to simulate a series of aCGH experiments with random DNA copy number alterations that are used to validate the performance of our normalization. In addition, we applied the proposed normalization algorithm to an aCGH study of lung cancer cell lines. By using the proposed algorithm, data quality and the reliability of experimental results are significantly improved, and the distinct patterns of DNA copy number alternations are observed among those lung cancer cell lines.
Supplementary information: Source codes and.gures may be found at
PMCID: PMC2732214  PMID: 18603568
10.  A Gene Expression Signature Predicts Survival of Patients with Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(12):e467.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death in the United States. Nearly 50% of patients with stages I and II non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will die from recurrent disease despite surgical resection. No reliable clinical or molecular predictors are currently available for identifying those at high risk for developing recurrent disease. As a consequence, it is not possible to select those high-risk patients for more aggressive therapies and assign less aggressive treatments to patients at low risk for recurrence.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we applied a meta-analysis of datasets from seven different microarray studies on NSCLC for differentially expressed genes related to survival time (under 2 y and over 5 y). A consensus set of 4,905 genes from these studies was selected, and systematic bias adjustment in the datasets was performed by distance-weighted discrimination (DWD). We identified a gene expression signature consisting of 64 genes that is highly predictive of which stage I lung cancer patients may benefit from more aggressive therapy. Kaplan-Meier analysis of the overall survival of stage I NSCLC patients with the 64-gene expression signature demonstrated that the high- and low-risk groups are significantly different in their overall survival. Of the 64 genes, 11 are related to cancer metastasis (APC, CDH8, IL8RB, LY6D, PCDHGA12, DSP, NID, ENPP2, CCR2, CASP8, and CASP10) and eight are involved in apoptosis (CASP8, CASP10, PIK3R1, BCL2, SON, INHA, PSEN1, and BIK).
Our results indicate that gene expression signatures from several datasets can be reconciled. The resulting signature is useful in predicting survival of stage I NSCLC and might be useful in informing treatment decisions.
Meta-analysis of several lung cancer gene expression studies yields a set of 64 genes whose expression profile is useful in predicting survival of patients with early-stage lung cancer and possibly informing treatment decisions.
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and are mainly caused by smoking. Like other cancers, how NSCLC is treated depends on the “stage” at which it is detected. Stage IA NSCLCs are small and confined to the lung and can be removed surgically; patients with slightly larger stage IB tumors often receive chemotherapy after surgery. In stage II NSCLC, cancer cells may be present in lymph nodes near the tumor. Surgery plus chemotherapy is the usual treatment for this stage and for some stage III NSCLCs. However, in this stage, the tumor can be present throughout the chest and surgery is not always possible. For such cases and in stage IV NSCLC, where the tumor has spread throughout the body, patients are treated with chemotherapy alone. The stage at which NSCLC is detected also determines how well patients respond to treatment. Those who can be treated surgically do much better than those who can't. So, whereas only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer survive for 5 years after diagnosis, about 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer live at least this long.
Why Was This Study Done?
Even stage I and II lung cancers often recur and there is no accurate way to identify the patients in which this will happen. If there was, these patients could be given aggressive chemotherapy, so the search is on for a “molecular signature” to help identify which NSCLCs are likely to recur. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral differences are caused by changes in their genetic material that alter their patterns of RNA transcription and protein expression. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether data from several microarray studies (a technique used to catalog the genes expressed in cells) can be pooled to construct a gene expression signature that predicts the survival of patients with stage I NSCLC.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers took the data from seven independent microarray studies (including a new study of their own) that recorded gene expression profiles related to survival time (less than 2 years and greater than 5 years) for stage I NSCLC. Because these studies had been done in different places with slightly different techniques, the researchers applied a statistical tool called distance-weighted discrimination to smooth out any systematic differences among the studies before identifying 64 genes whose expression was associated with survival. Most of these genes are involved in cell adhesion, cell motility, cell proliferation, and cell death, all processes that are altered in cancer cells. The researchers then developed a statistical model that allowed them to use the gene expression and survival data to calculate risk scores for nearly 200 patients in five of the datasets. When they separated the patients into high and low risk groups on the basis of these scores, the two groups were significantly different in terms of survival time. Indeed, the gene expression signature was better at predicting outcome than routine staging. Finally, the researchers validated the gene expression signature by showing that it predicted survival with more than 85% accuracy in two independent datasets.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The 64 gene expression signature identified here could help clinicians prepare treatment plans for patients with stage I NSCLC. Because it accurately predicts survival in patients with adenocarcinoma or squamous cell cancer (the two major subtypes of NSCLC), it potentially indicates which of these patients should receive aggressive chemotherapy and which can be spared this unpleasant treatment. Previous attempts to establish gene expression signatures to predict outcome have used data from small groups of patients and have failed when tested in additional patients. In contrast, this new signature seems to be generalizable. Nevertheless, its ability to predict outcomes must be confirmed in further studies before it is routinely adopted by oncologists for treatment planning.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US National Cancer Institute information on lung cancer for patients and health professionals.
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entries on small-cell and non-small-cell lung cancer.
Cancer Research UK, information on patients about all aspects of lung cancer.
Wikipedia pages on DNA microarrays and expression profiling (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit).
PMCID: PMC1716187  PMID: 17194181
11.  Aberrant DNA Methylation of OLIG1, a Novel Prognostic Factor in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e108.
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Currently, tumor, node, metastasis (TNM) staging provides the most accurate prognostic parameter for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, the overall survival of patients with resectable tumors varies significantly, indicating the need for additional prognostic factors to better predict the outcome of the disease, particularly within a given TNM subset.
Methods and Findings
In this study, we investigated whether adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas could be differentiated based on their global aberrant DNA methylation patterns. We performed restriction landmark genomic scanning on 40 patient samples and identified 47 DNA methylation targets that together could distinguish the two lung cancer subgroups. The protein expression of one of those targets, oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1), significantly correlated with survival in NSCLC patients, as shown by univariate and multivariate analyses. Furthermore, the hazard ratio for patients negative for OLIG1 protein was significantly higher than the one for those patients expressing the protein, even at low levels.
Multivariate analyses of our data confirmed that OLIG1 protein expression significantly correlates with overall survival in NSCLC patients, with a relative risk of 0.84 (95% confidence interval 0.77–0.91, p < 0.001) along with T and N stages, as indicated by a Cox proportional hazard model. Taken together, our results suggests that OLIG1 protein expression could be utilized as a novel prognostic factor, which could aid in deciding which NSCLC patients might benefit from more aggressive therapy. This is potentially of great significance, as the addition of postoperative adjuvant chemotherapy in T2N0 NSCLC patients is still controversial.
Christopher Plass and colleagues find thatOLIG1 expression correlates with survival in lung cancer patients and suggest that it could be used in deciding which patients are likely to benefit from more aggressive therapy.
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the commonest cause of cancer-related death worldwide. Most cases are of a type called non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Like other cancers, treatment of NCSLC depends on the “TNM stage” at which the cancer is detected. Staging takes into account the size and local spread of the tumor (its T classification), whether nearby lymph nodes contain tumor cells (its N classification), and whether tumor cells have spread (metastasized) throughout the body (its M classification). Stage I tumors are confined to the lung and are removed surgically. Stage II tumors have spread to nearby lymph nodes and are treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Stage III tumors have spread throughout the chest, and stage IV tumors have metastasized around the body; patients with both of these stages are treated with chemotherapy alone. About 70% of patients with stage I or II lung cancer, but only 2% of patients with stage IV lung cancer, survive for five years after diagnosis.
Why Was This Study Done?
TNM staging is the best way to predict the likely outcome (prognosis) for patients with NSCLC, but survival times for patients with stage I and II tumors vary widely. Another prognostic marker—maybe a “molecular signature”—that could distinguish patients who are likely to respond to treatment from those whose cancer will inevitably progress would be very useful. Unlike normal cells, cancer cells divide uncontrollably and can move around the body. These behavioral changes are caused by alterations in the pattern of proteins expressed by the cells. But what causes these alterations? The answer in some cases is “epigenetic changes” or chemical modifications of genes. In cancer cells, methyl groups are aberrantly added to GC-rich gene regions. These so-called “CpG islands” lie near gene promoters (sequences that control the transcription of DNA into mRNA, the template for protein production), and their methylation stops the promoters working and silences the gene. In this study, the researchers have investigated whether aberrant methylation patterns vary between NSCLC subtypes and whether specific aberrant methylations are associated with survival and can, therefore, be used prognostically.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used “restriction landmark genomic scanning” (RLGS) to catalog global aberrant DNA methylation patterns in human lung tumor samples. In RLGS, DNA is cut into fragments with a restriction enzyme (a protein that cuts at specific DNA sequences), end-labeled, and separated using two-dimensional gel electrophoresis to give a pattern of spots. Because methylation stops some restriction enzymes cutting their target sequence, normal lung tissue and lung tumor samples yield different patterns of spots. The researchers used these patterns to identify 47 DNA methylation targets (many in CpG islands) that together distinguished between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas, two major types of NSCLCs. Next, they measured mRNA production from the genes with the greatest difference in methylation between adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas. OLIG1 (the gene that encodes a protein involved in nerve cell development) had one of the highest differences in mRNA production between these tumor types. Furthermore, three-quarters of NSCLCs had reduced or no expression of OLIG1 protein and, when the researchers analyzed the association between OLIG1 protein expression and overall survival in patients with NSCLC, reduced OLIG1 protein expression was associated with reduced survival.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that different types of NSCLC can be distinguished by examining their aberrant methylation patterns. This suggests that the establishment of different DNA methylation patterns might be related to the cell type from which the tumors developed. Alternatively, the different aberrant methylation patterns might reflect the different routes that these cells take to becoming tumor cells. This research identifies a potential new prognostic marker for NSCLC by showing that OLIG1 protein expression correlates with overall survival in patients with NSCLC. This correlation needs to be tested in a clinical setting to see if adding OLIG1 expression to the current prognostic parameters can lead to better treatment choices for early-stage lung cancer patients and ultimately improve these patients' overall survival.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Patient and professional information on lung cancer, including staging (in English and Spanish), is available from the US National Cancer Institute
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on non-small cell lung cancer (in English and Spanish)
Cancerbackup provides patient information on lung cancer
CancerQuest, provided by Emory University, has information about how cancer develops (in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian)
Wikipedia pages on epigenetics (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
The Epigenome Network of Excellence gives background information and the latest news about epigenetics (in several European languages)
PMCID: PMC1831740  PMID: 17388669
12.  Acquirement of DNA copy number variations in non-small cell lung cancer metastasis to the brain 
Oncology Reports  2015;34(4):1701-1707.
Brain metastasis is a major complication of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and leads to most of the mortality of this disease. However, the biological mechanisms and molecular features in brain metastasis of NSCLC are poorly understood. In the present study, we compared whole-genome copy number variations (CNVs) between a primary lung adenocarcinoma and secondary metastatic brain lesion from the same patient using array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). The number of CNV regions was markedly higher in the secondary metastatic tumor than the primary tumor in the lung. In detail, the common CNVs in both tumors included gains of 7p22, 7p12-p11, 7q11, 7q22, 21q22, and 19q13; gains of 1p33-p34, 1q22, 5p13 and 14q11 whereas losses of 3p, 4q31, 5q, 11p15, Xp21-p22 and Xq21 were identified only in the secondary lesion. Gene Ontology enrichment analysis revealed that the genes with amplified copy numbers in both tumors were related to such processes as DNA replication and mismatch repair. Genes only amplified in the metastatic tumor were enriched in processes that include leukocyte migration and organ development, and genes with a lower copy number in the secondary tumor included the processes of proteolysis regulation, negative regulation of cell proliferation and cell adhesion. These findings provided new insight into the genomic mechanism of the spread of lung adenocarcinoma to the brain, and the candidate genes identified serve as novel indicators or putative targets in NSCLC brain metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4564092  PMID: 26259861
non-small cell lung cancer; brain metastasis; copy number variation; array comparative genomic hybridization
13.  Comparison of chromosomal and array-based comparative genomic hybridization for the detection of genomic imbalances in primary prostate carcinomas 
Molecular Cancer  2006;5:33.
In order to gain new insights into the molecular mechanisms involved in prostate cancer, we performed array-based comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) on a series of 46 primary prostate carcinomas using a 1 Mbp whole-genome coverage platform. As chromosomal comparative genomic hybridization (cCGH) data was available for these samples, we compared the sensitivity and overall concordance of the two methodologies, and used the combined information to infer the best of three different aCGH scoring approaches.
Our data demonstrate that the reliability of aCGH in the analysis of primary prostate carcinomas depends to some extent on the scoring approach used, with the breakpoint estimation method being the most sensitive and reliable. The pattern of copy number changes detected by aCGH was concordant with that of cCGH, but the higher resolution technique detected 2.7 times more aberrations and 15.2% more carcinomas with genomic imbalances. We additionally show that several aberrations were consistently overlooked using cCGH, such as small deletions at 5q, 6q, 12p, and 17p. The latter were validated by fluorescence in situ hybridization targeting TP53, although only one carcinoma harbored a point mutation in this gene. Strikingly, homozygous deletions at 10q23.31, encompassing the PTEN locus, were seen in 58% of the cases with 10q loss.
We conclude that aCGH can significantly improve the detection of genomic aberrations in cancer cells as compared to previously established whole-genome methodologies, although contamination with normal cells may influence the sensitivity and specificity of some scoring approaches. Our work delineated recurrent copy number changes and revealed novel amplified loci and frequent homozygous deletions in primary prostate carcinomas, which may guide future work aimed at identifying the relevant target genes. In particular, biallelic loss seems to be a frequent mechanism of inactivation of the PTEN gene in prostate carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC1570364  PMID: 16952311
14.  Global gene expression profiling reveals a suppressed immune response pathway associated with 3q amplification in squamous carcinoma of the lung 
Genomics Data  2015;5:272-274.
Chromosome 3q26–28 is a critical region of genomic amplification in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), particularly lung squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs). No molecular therapeutic target has shown clinical utility for SCC, in contrast with adenocarcinomas of the lung. To identify novel candidate drivers in this region, we performed both Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization (array CGH, Agilent Human Genome CGH 244A oligo-microarrays) and Gene Expression Microarray (Agilent Human Gene Expression 4 × 44 K microarray) on 24 untreated lung SCC specimens. Using our previously published integrative genomics approach, we identified 12 top amplified driver genes within this region that are highly correlated and overexpressed in lung SCC. We further demonstrated one of the 12 top amplified driver Fragile X mental retardation-related protein 1 (FXR1) as a novel cancer gene in NSCLC and FXR1 executes its regulatory function by forming a novel complex with two other oncogenes, protein kinase C, iota ( PRKCI) and epithelial cell transforming 2 (ECT2) within the same amplicon in lung cancer cell. Here we report that immune response pathways are significantly suppressed in lung SCC and negatively associated with 3q driver gene expression, implying a potential role of 3q drivers in cancer immune-surveillance. In light of the attractive immunotherapy strategy using blockade of negative regulators of T cell function for multiple human cancer including lung SCC, our findings may provide a rationale for targeting 3q drivers in combination of immunotherapies for human tumors harboring the 3q amplicon. The data have been deposited in NCBI's Gene Expression Omnibus and are accessible through GEO Series accession number GSE40089.
PMCID: PMC4583673  PMID: 26484266
Squamous carcinoma of the lung; 3q amplification; Immune response
15.  Genome wide single cell analysis of chemotherapy resistant metastatic cells in a case of gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2011;11:455.
Metastatic progression due to development or enrichment of therapy-resistant tumor cells is eventually lethal. Molecular characterization of such chemotherapy resistant tumor cell clones may identify markers responsible for malignant progression and potential targets for new treatment. Here, in a case of stage IV adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction, we report the successful genome wide analysis using array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) of DNA from only fourteen tumor cells using a bead-based single cell selection method from a bone metastasis progressing during chemotherapy.
Case presentation
In a case of metastatic adenocarcinoma of the gastroesophageal junction, the progression of bone metastasis was observed during a chemotherapy regimen of epirubicin, oxaliplatin and capecitabine, whereas lung-, liver and lymph node metastases as well as the primary tumor were regressing. A bone marrow aspirate sampled at the site of progressing metastasis in the right iliac bone was performed, and single cell molecular analysis using array-CGH of Epithelial Specific Antigen (ESA)-positive metastatic cells, and revealed two distinct regions of amplification, 12p12.1 and 17q12-q21.2 amplicons, containing the KRAS (12p) and ERBB2 (HER2/NEU) (17q) oncogenes. Further intrapatient tumor heterogeneity of these highlighted gene copy number changes was analyzed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in all available primary and metastatic tumor biopsies, and ErbB2 protein expression was investigated by immunohistochemistry.
ERBB2 was heterogeneously amplified by FISH analysis in the primary tumor, as well as liver and bone metastasis, but homogenously amplified in biopsy specimens from a progressing bone metastasis after three initial cycles of chemotherapy, indicating a possible enrichment of erbB2 positive tumor cells in the progressing bone marrow metastasis during chemotherapy. A similar amplification profile was detected for wild-type KRAS, although more heterogeneously expressed in the bone metastasis progressing on chemotherapy. Correspondingly, the erbB2 protein was found heterogeneously expressed by immunohistochemical staining of the primary tumor of the gastroesophageal junction, while negative in liver and bone metastases, but after three initial cycles of palliative chemotherapy with epirubicin, oxaliplatin and capecetabine, the representative bone metastasis stained strongly positive for erbB2.
Global analysis of genetic aberrations, as illustrated by performing array-CGH analysis on genomic DNA from only a few selected tumor cells of interest sampled from a progressing bone metastasis, can identify relevant therapeutic targets and genetic aberrations involved in malignant progression, thus emphasizing the importance and feasibility of this powerful tool on the road to more personalized cancer therapies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3208621  PMID: 22014070
16.  Development of a DNA-Labeling System for Array-Based Comparative Genomic Hybridization 
Chromosomal amplifications and deletions are critical components of tumorigenesis and DNA copy-number variations also correlate with changes in mRNA expression levels. Genome-wide microarray comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) has become an important method for detecting and mapping chromosomal changes in tumors. Thus, the ability to detect twofold differences in fluorescent intensity between samples on microarrays depends on the generation of high-quality labeled probes. To enhance array-based CGH analysis, a random prime genomic DNA labeling method optimized for improved sensitivity, signal-to-noise ratios, and reproducibility has been developed. The labeling system comprises formulated random primers, nucleotide mixtures, and notably a high concentration of the double mutant exo-large fragment of DNA polymerase I (exo-Klenow). Microarray analyses indicate that the genomic DNA-labeled templates yield hybridization signals with higher fluorescent intensities and greater signal-to-noise ratios and detect more positive features than the standard random prime and conventional nick translation methods. Also, templates generated by this system have detected twofold differences in gene copy number between male and female genomic DNA and identified amplification and deletions from the BT474 breast cancer cell line in microarray hybridizations. Moreover, alterations in gene copy number were routinely detected with 0.5 μg of genomic DNA starting sample. The method is flexible and performs efficiently with different fluorescently labeled nucleotides. Application of the optimized CGH labeling system may enhance the resolution and sensitivity of array-based CGH analysis in cancer and medical genetic studies.
PMCID: PMC2291716  PMID: 16030317
CGH; array-based CGH; chromosome imbalances; DNA labeling system; random prime labeling; genomic DNA labeling; labeling; DNA copy number
17.  The use of ultra-dense array CGH analysis for the discovery of micro-copy number alterations and gene fusions in the cancer genome 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:16.
Molecular alterations critical to development of cancer include mutations, copy number alterations (amplifications and deletions) as well as genomic rearrangements resulting in gene fusions. Massively parallel next generation sequencing, which enables the discovery of such changes, uses considerable quantities of genomic DNA (> 5 ug), a serious limitation in ever smaller clinical samples. However, a commonly available microarray platforms such as array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) allows the characterization of gene copy number at a single gene resolution using much smaller amounts of genomic DNA. In this study we evaluate the sensitivity of ultra-dense array CGH platforms developed by Agilent, especially that of the 1 million probe array (1 M array), and their application when whole genome amplification is required because of limited sample quantities.
We performed array CGH on whole genome amplified and not amplified genomic DNA from MCF-7 breast cancer cells, using 244 K and 1 M Agilent arrays. The ADM-2 algorithm was used to identify micro-copy number alterations that measured less than 1 Mb in genomic length.
DNA from MCF-7 breast cancer cells was analyzed for micro-copy number alterations, defined as measuring less than 1 Mb in genomic length. The 4-fold extra resolution of the 1 M array platform relative to the less dense 244 K array platform, led to the improved detection of copy number variations (CNVs) and micro-CNAs. The identification of intra-genic breakpoints in areas of DNA copy number gain signaled the possible presence of gene fusion events. However, the ultra-dense platforms, especially the densest 1 M array, detect artifacts inherent to whole genome amplification and should be used only with non-amplified DNA samples.
This is a first report using 1 M array CGH for the discovery of cancer genes and biomarkers. We show the remarkable capacity of this technology to discover CNVs, micro-copy number alterations and even gene fusions. However, these platforms require excellent genomic DNA quality and do not tolerate relatively small imperfections related to the whole genome amplification.
PMCID: PMC3041991  PMID: 21272361
18.  cDNA array-CGH profiling identifies genomic alterations specific to stage and MYCN-amplification in neuroblastoma 
BMC Genomics  2004;5:70.
Recurrent non-random genomic alterations are the hallmarks of cancer and the characterization of these imbalances is critical to our understanding of tumorigenesis and cancer progression.
We performed array-comparative genomic hybridization (A-CGH) on cDNA microarrays containing 42,000 elements in neuroblastoma (NB). We found that only two chromosomes (2p and 12q) had gene amplifications and all were in the MYCN amplified samples. There were 6 independent non-contiguous amplicons (10.4–69.4 Mb) on chromosome 2, and the largest contiguous region was 1.7 Mb bounded by NAG and an EST (clone: 757451); the smallest region was 27 Kb including an EST (clone: 241343), NCYM, and MYCN. Using a probabilistic approach to identify single copy number changes, we systemically investigated the genomic alterations occurring in Stage 1 and Stage 4 NBs with and without MYCN amplification (stage 1-, 4-, and 4+). We have not found genomic alterations universally present in all (100%) three subgroups of NBs. However we identified both common and unique patterns of genomic imbalance in NB including gain of 7q32, 17q21, 17q23-24 and loss of 3p21 were common to all three categories. Finally we confirm that the most frequent specific changes in Stage 4+ tumors were the loss of 1p36 with gain of 2p24-25 and they had fewer genomic alterations compared to either stage 1 or 4-, indicating that for this subgroup of poor risk NB requires a smaller number of genomic changes are required to develop the malignant phenotype.
cDNA A-CGH analysis is an efficient method for the detection and characterization of amplicons. Furthermore we were able to detect single copy number changes using our probabilistic approach and identified genomic alterations specific to stage and MYCN amplification.
PMCID: PMC520814  PMID: 15380028
19.  Genomic and mutational profiling to assess clonal relationships between multiple non-small cell lung cancers 
In cases of multiple non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), clinicians must decide whether patients have independent tumors or metastases and tailor treatment accordingly. Decisions are currently made using the Martini and Melamed criteria, which are mostly based on tumor location and histological type. New genomic tools could improve the ability to assess tumor clonality.
Experimental Design
We obtained fresh-frozen tumors specimens from patients who underwent surgery on at least two occasions for presumptively independent NSCLC. We performed array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH), mutational profiling of select genes, and detailed clinico-pathological review.
We analyzed a total of 42 tumors from 20 patients (6 patients with synchronous tumors; 14 patients with metachronous tumors; 24 potential tumor pair comparisons); 22 tumor pairs were evaluable by aCGH. Surprisingly, classification based upon genomic profiling contradicted the clinico-pathologic diagnosis in 4 (18%) of the comparisons, identifying independent primaries in one case diagnosed as metastasis and metastases in 3 cases diagnosed as independent primaries. Matching somatic point mutations were observed in these latter 3 cases. Another 4 tumor pairings were assigned an “equivocal” result based on aCGH; however, matching somatic point mutations were also found in these tumor pairs. None of the tumor pairs deemed independent primaries by aCGH harbored matching mutations.
Genomic analysis can help distinguish clonal tumors from independent primaries. The development of rapid, inexpensive and reliable molecular tools may allow for refinement of clinico-pathologic criteria currently used in this setting.
PMCID: PMC2892178  PMID: 19671847
Non-small cell lung cancer; synchronous; metachronous; multiple primary lung cancers; array comparative genomic hybridization; mutational profiling
20.  Cross-Species Array Comparative Genomic Hybridization Identifies Novel Oncogenic Events in Zebrafish and Human Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma 
PLoS Genetics  2013;9(8):e1003727.
Human cancer genomes are highly complex, making it challenging to identify specific drivers of cancer growth, progression, and tumor maintenance. To bypass this obstacle, we have applied array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) to zebrafish embryonal rhabdomyosaroma (ERMS) and utilized cross-species comparison to rapidly identify genomic copy number aberrations and novel candidate oncogenes in human disease. Zebrafish ERMS contain small, focal regions of low-copy amplification. These same regions were commonly amplified in human disease. For example, 16 of 19 chromosomal gains identified in zebrafish ERMS also exhibited focal, low-copy gains in human disease. Genes found in amplified genomic regions were assessed for functional roles in promoting continued tumor growth in human and zebrafish ERMS – identifying critical genes associated with tumor maintenance. Knockdown studies identified important roles for Cyclin D2 (CCND2), Homeobox Protein C6 (HOXC6) and PlexinA1 (PLXNA1) in human ERMS cell proliferation. PLXNA1 knockdown also enhanced differentiation, reduced migration, and altered anchorage-independent growth. By contrast, chemical inhibition of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) signaling reduced angiogenesis and tumor size in ERMS-bearing zebrafish. Importantly, VEGFA expression correlated with poor clinical outcome in patients with ERMS, implicating inhibitors of the VEGF pathway as a promising therapy for improving patient survival. Our results demonstrate the utility of array CGH and cross-species comparisons to identify candidate oncogenes essential for the pathogenesis of human cancer.
Author Summary
Cancer is a complex genetic disease that is often associated with regional gains and losses of genomic DNA segments. These changes result in aberrant gene expression and drive continued tumor growth. Because amplified and deleted DNA segments tend to span large regions of chromosomes, it has been challenging to identify the genes that are required for continued tumor growth and progression. Array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) is an effective technology in identifying abnormal copy number variations in cancer genomes. In this study, array CGH was used in a zebrafish model of embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma - a pediatric muscle tumor. Our work shows that the zebrafish cancer genome contains a small number of recurrent DNA copy number changes, which are also commonly amplified in the human disease. Moreover, these chromosomal regions are small, facilitating rapid identification of candidate oncogenes. A subset of genes identified in zebrafish array CGH was prioritized for functional characterization in human ERMS, identifying evolutionarily conserved pathways that regulate proliferation, migration, differentiation, and neovascularization. Our results demonstrate the broad utility of cross-species array CGH comparisons of human and zebrafish cancer and provide a much needed discovery platform for identifying critical cancer-causing genes in a wide range of malignancies.
PMCID: PMC3757044  PMID: 24009521
21.  Detection of Novel Amplicons in Prostate Cancer by Comprehensive Genomic Profiling of Prostate Cancer Cell Lines Using Oligonucleotide-Based ArrayCGH 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(8):e769.
The purpose of this study was to prove the feasibility of a longmer oligonucleotide microarray platform to profile gene copy number alterations in prostate cancer cell lines and to quickly indicate novel candidate genes, which may play a role in carcinogenesis.
Methods/Results and Findings
Genome-wide screening for regions of genetic gains and losses on nine prostate cancer cell lines (PC3, DU145, LNCaP, CWR22, and derived sublines) was carried out using comparative genomic hybridization on a 35,000 feature oligonucleotide microarray (arrayCGH). Compared to conventional chromosomal CGH, more deletions and small regions of gains, particularly in pericentromeric regions and regions next to the telomeres, were detected. As validation of the high-resolution of arrayCGH we further analyzed a small amplicon of 1.7 MB at 9p13.3, which was found in CWR22 and CWR22-Rv1. Increased copy number was confirmed by fluorescence in situ hybridization using the BAC clone RP11-165H19 from the amplified region comprising the two genes interleukin 11 receptor alpha (IL11-RA) and dynactin 3 (DCTN3). Using quantitative real time PCR (qPCR) we could demonstrate that IL11-RA is the gene with the highest copy number gain in the cell lines compared to DCTN3 suggesting IL11-RA to be the amplification target. Screening of 20 primary prostate carcinomas by qPCR revealed an IL11-RA copy number gain in 75% of the tumors analyzed. Gain of DCTN3 was only found in two cases together with a gain of IL11-RA.
ArrayCGH using longmer oligonucleotide microarrays is feasible for high-resolution analysis of chomosomal imbalances. Characterization of a small gained region at 9p13.3 in prostate cancer cell lines and primary prostate cancer samples by fluorescence in situ hybridization and quantitative PCR has revealed interleukin 11 receptor alpha gene as a candidate target of amplification with an amplification frequency of 75% in prostate carcinomas. Frequent amplification of IL11-RA in prostate cancer is a potential mechanism of IL11-RA overexpression in this tumor type.
PMCID: PMC1940319  PMID: 17712417
22.  High-Resolution Genomic and Expression Profiling Reveals 105 Putative Amplification Target Genes in Pancreatic Cancer1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2004;6(5):432-439.
Abstract Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) studies have provided a wealth of information on common copy number aberrations in pancreatic cancer, but the genes affected by these aberrations are largely unknown. To identify putative amplification target genes in pancreatic cancer, we performed a parallel copy number and expression survey in 13 pancreatic cancer cell lines using a 12,232-clone cDNA microarray, providing an average resolution of 300 kb throughout the human genome. CGH on cDNA microarray allowed highly accurate mapping of copy number increases and resulted in identification of 24 independent amplicons, ranging in size from 130 kb to 11 Mb. Statistical evaluation of gene copy number and expression data across all 13 cell lines revealed a set of 105 genes whose elevated expression levels were directly attributable to increased copy number. These included genes previously reported to be amplified in cancer as well as several novel targets for copy number alterations, such as p21-activated kinase 4 (PAK4), which was previously shown to be involved in cell migration, cell adhesion, and anchorage-independent growth. In conclusion, our results implicate a set of 105 genes that is likely to be actively involved in the development and progression of pancreatic cancer.
PMCID: PMC1550328  PMID: 15548351
Pancreatic cancer; amplification; CGH microarray; cDNA microarray; overexpression
23.  High resolution genomic analysis of sporadic breast cancer using array-based comparative genomic hybridization 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(6):R1186-R1198.
Genomic aberrations in the form of subchromosomal DNA copy number changes are a hallmark of epithelial cancers, including breast cancer. The goal of the present study was to analyze such aberrations in breast cancer at high resolution.
We employed high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization with 4,134 bacterial artificial chromosomes that cover the genome at 0.9 megabase resolution to analyze 47 primary breast tumors and 18 breast cancer cell lines.
Common amplicons included 8q24.3 (amplified in 79% of tumors, with 5/47 exhibiting high level amplification), 1q32.1 and 16p13.3 (amplified in 66% and 57% of tumors, respectively). Moreover, we found several positive correlations between specific amplicons from different chromosomes, suggesting the existence of cooperating genetic loci. Queried by gene, the most frequently amplified kinase was PTK2 (79% of tumors), whereas the most frequently lost kinase was PTK2B (hemizygous loss in 34% of tumors). Amplification of ERBB2 as measured by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) correlated closely with ERBB2 DNA and RNA levels measured by quantitative PCR as well as with ERBB2 protein levels. The overall frequency of recurrent losses was lower, with no region lost in more than 50% of tumors; the most frequently lost tumor suppressor gene was RB1 (hemizygous loss in 26% of tumors). Finally, we find that specific copy number changes in cell lines closely mimicked those in primary tumors, with an overall Pearson correlation coefficient of 0.843 for gains and 0.734 for losses.
High resolution CGH analysis of breast cancer reveals several regions where DNA copy number is commonly gained or lost, that non-random correlations between specific amplicons exist, and that specific genetic alterations are maintained in breast cancer cell lines despite repeat passage in tissue culture. These observations suggest that genes within these regions are critical to the malignant phenotype and may thus serve as future therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC1410746  PMID: 16457699
24.  Virtual CGH: an integrative approach to predict genetic abnormalities from gene expression microarray data applied in lymphoma 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:32.
Comparative Genomic Hybridization (CGH) is a molecular approach for detecting DNA Copy Number Alterations (CNAs) in tumor, which are among the key causes of tumorigenesis. However in the post-genomic era, most studies in cancer biology have been focusing on Gene Expression Profiling (GEP) but not CGH, and as a result, an enormous amount of GEP data had been accumulated in public databases for a wide variety of tumor types. We exploited this resource of GEP data to define possible recurrent CNAs in tumor. In addition, the CNAs identified by GEP would be more functionally relevant CNAs in the disease pathogenesis since the functional effects of CNAs can be reflected by altered gene expression.
We proposed a novel computational approach, coined virtual CGH (vCGH), which employs hidden Markov models (HMMs) to predict DNA CNAs from their corresponding GEP data. vCGH was first trained on the paired GEP and CGH data generated from a sufficient number of tumor samples, and then applied to the GEP data of a new tumor sample to predict its CNAs.
Using cross-validation on 190 Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphomas (DLBCL), vCGH achieved 80% sensitivity, 90% specificity and 90% accuracy for CNA prediction. The majority of the recurrent regions defined by vCGH are concordant with the experimental CGH, including gains of 1q, 2p16-p14, 3q27-q29, 6p25-p21, 7, 11q, 12 and 18q21, and losses of 6q, 8p23-p21, 9p24-p21 and 17p13 in DLBCL. In addition, vCGH predicted some recurrent functional abnormalities which were not observed in CGH, including gains of 1p, 2q and 6q and losses of 1q, 6p and 8q. Among those novel loci, 1q, 6q and 8q were significantly associated with the clinical outcomes in the DLBCL patients (p < 0.05).
We developed a novel computational approach, vCGH, to predict genome-wide genetic abnormalities from GEP data in lymphomas. vCGH can be generally applied to other types of tumors and may significantly enhance the detection of functionally important genetic abnormalities in cancer research.
PMCID: PMC3086850  PMID: 21486456
25.  Identification of Novel Gene Expression Targets for the Ras Association Domain Family 1 (RASSF1A) Tumor Suppressor Gene in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Neuroblastoma1 
Cancer research  2003;63(17):5344-5351.
RASSF1A is a recently identified 3p21.3 tumor suppressor gene. The high frequency of epigenetic inactivation of this gene in a wide range of human sporadic cancers including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and neuroblastoma suggests that RASSF1A inactivation is important for tumor development. Although little is known about the function of RASSF1A, preliminary data suggests that it may have multiple functions. To gain insight into RASSF1A functions in an unbiased manner, we have characterized the expression profile of a lung cancer cell line (A549) transfected with RASSF1A. Initially we demonstrated that transient expression of RASSF1A into the NSCLC cell line A549 induced G1 cell cycle arrest, as measured by propidium iodide staining. Furthermore, an-nexin-V staining showed that RASSF1A-expressing cells had an increased sensitivity to staurosporine-induced apoptosis. We then screened a cDNA microarray containing more than 6000 probes to identify genes differentially regulated by RASSF1A. Sixty-six genes showed at least a 2-fold change in expression. Among these were many genes with relevance to tumorigenesis involved in transcription, cytoskeleton, signaling, cell cycle, cell adhesion, and apoptosis. For 22 genes we confirmed the microarray results by real-time RT-PCR and/or Northern blotting. In silico, we were able to confirm the majority of these genes in other NSCLC cell lines using published data on gene expression profiles. Furthermore, we confirmed 10 genes at the RNA level in two neuroblastoma cell lines, indicating that these RASSF1A target genes have relevance in non-lung cell backgrounds. Protein analysis of six genes (ETS2, Cyclin D3, CDH2, DAPK1, TXN, and CTSL) showed that the changes induced by RASSF1A at the RNA level correlated with changes in protein expression in both non-small cell lung cancer and neuroblastoma cell lines. Finally, we have used a transient assay to demonstrate the induction of CDH2 and TGM2 by RASSF1A in NSCLC cell lines. We have identified several novel targets for RASSF1A tumor suppressor gene both at the RNA and the protein levels in two different cellular backgrounds. The identified targets are involved in diverse cellular processes; this should help toward understanding mechanisms that contribute to RASSF1A biological activity.
PMCID: PMC3484890  PMID: 14500366

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