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1.  Identification of FGFR4 as a Potential Therapeutic Target for Advanced-Stage High-Grade Serous Ovarian Cancer 
To evaluate the prognostic value of fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) protein expression in patients with advanced-stage, high-grade serous ovarian cancer, delineate the functional role of FGFR4 in ovarian cancer progression, and evaluate the feasibility of targeting FGFR4 in serous ovarian cancer treatment.
Experimental Design
Immunolocalization of FGFR4 was performed on 183 ovarian tumor samples. The collected FGFR4 expression data were correlated with overall survival using Kaplan-Meier and Cox regression analyses. The effects of FGFR4 silencing on ovarian cancer cell growth, survival, invasiveness, apoptosis and FGF1-mediated signaling pathway activation were evaluated by transfecting cells with FGFR4-specific small interfering RNAs (siRNAs). An orthotopic mouse model was used to evaluate the effect of injection of FGFR4-specific siRNAs and FGFR4 trap protein encapsulated in nanoliposomes on ovarian tumor growth in vivo.
Overexpression of FGFR4 protein was significantly associated with decreased overall survival durations. FGFR4 silencing significantly decreased the proliferation, survival, and invasiveness and increased apoptosis of ovarian cancer cells. Also, downregulation of FGFR4 significantly abrogated the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK), nuclear factor-κB (NFκB), and WNT signaling pathways, which are activated by FGF1. Targeting FGFR4 with the FGFR4-specific siRNAs and FGFR4 trap protein significantly decreased ovarian tumor growth in vivo.
FGFR4 is a prognostic marker for advanced-stage, high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. Silencing FGFR4 and inhibiting ligand-receptor binding significantly decrease ovarian tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that targeting ovarian cancer cells with high levels of FGFR4 protein expression is a new therapeutic modality for this disease and will improve survival of it.
PMCID: PMC3577959  PMID: 23344261
serous ovarian carcinoma; FGFR4; FGF1; nanoliposomes; FGF trap
2.  Molecular grading of tumors of the upper urothelial tract using FGFR3 mutation status identifies patients with favorable prognosis 
Mutations in FGFR3 have been shown to occur in tumors of the upper urothelial tract and may be indicative of a good prognosis. In bladder tumors, the combination of FGFR3 mutation status and Ki-67 level has been used to define a tumor’s molecular grade and predict survival. Pathological evaluation of upper urothelial tumors is currently the best predictor of prognosis, but suffers from variability in pathological assessments. This study investigated the association with prognosis of FGFR3 mutations alone and in combination with Ki-67 in this patient population.
Genomic DNA was isolated from tumor samples of 80 patients with upper urothelial cancer. The presence of mutation in FGFR3 was evaluated using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Ki-67 protein expression was determined by immunohistochemistry. Kaplan–Meier survival analysis evaluated the relationship of FGFR3 mutations and Ki-67 levels with survival.
FGFR3 mutations were identified in 40% of tumors and were predominantly associated with noninvasive tumors. Overall survival was higher in patients with FGFR3 mutant tumors (P = 0.02) and in molecular grade 1 tumors as determined by FGFR3 and Ki-67 (P = 0.02).
In this study, we confirm the occurrence of FGFR3 mutations in tumors of the upper urothelial tract and its association with a good prognosis. Both FGFR3 and molecular grading are predictors of overall survival. Molecular grading can help to assess the prognosis of patients with upper urinary tract cancer and may represent a new tool for managing this population of patients.
PMCID: PMC3806446  PMID: 24199183
upper tract; urothelial carcinoma; ureter; renal pelvis; Ki-67; survival
3.  FGFR2 Point Mutations in 466 Endometrioid Endometrial Tumors: Relationship with MSI, KRAS, PIK3CA, CTNNB1 Mutations and Clinicopathological Features 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30801.
Mutations in multiple oncogenes including KRAS, CTNNB1, PIK3CA and FGFR2 have been identified in endometrial cancer. The aim of this study was to provide insight into the clinicopathological features associated with patterns of mutation in these genes, a necessary step in planning targeted therapies for endometrial cancer. 466 endometrioid endometrial tumors were tested for mutations in FGFR2, KRAS, CTNNB1, and PIK3CA. The relationships between mutation status, tumor microsatellite instability (MSI) and clinicopathological features including overall survival (OS) and disease-free survival (DFS) were evaluated using Kaplan-Meier survival analysis and Cox proportional hazard models. Mutations were identified in FGFR2 (48/466); KRAS (87/464); CTNNB1 (88/454) and PIK3CA (104/464). KRAS and FGFR2 mutations were significantly more common, and CTNNB1 mutations less common, in MSI positive tumors. KRAS and FGFR2 occurred in a near mutually exclusive pattern (p = 0.05) and, surprisingly, mutations in KRAS and CTNNB1 also occurred in a near mutually exclusive pattern (p = 0.0002). Multivariate analysis revealed that mutation in KRAS and FGFR2 showed a trend (p = 0.06) towards longer and shorter DFS, respectively. In the 386 patients with early stage disease (stage I and II), FGFR2 mutation was significantly associated with shorter DFS (HR = 3.24; 95% confidence interval, CI, 1.35–7.77; p = 0.008) and OS (HR = 2.00; 95% CI 1.09–3.65; p = 0.025) and KRAS was associated with longer DFS (HR = 0.23; 95% CI 0.05–0.97; p = 0.045). In conclusion, although KRAS and FGFR2 mutations share similar activation of the MAPK pathway, our data suggest very different roles in tumor biology. This has implications for the implementation of anti-FGFR or anti-MEK biologic therapies.
PMCID: PMC3285611  PMID: 22383975
4.  Activating Somatic FGFR2 Mutations in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60264.
It is known that FGFR2 gene variations confer a risk for breast cancer. FGFR2 and FGF10, the main ligand of FGFR2, are both overexpressed in 5–10% of breast tumors. In our study, we sequenced the most important coding regions of FGFR2 in somatic tumor tissue of 140 sporadic breast cancer patients and performed MLPA analysis to detect copy number variations in FGFR2 and FGF10. We identified one somatic heterozygous missense mutation, p.K660N (c.1980G>C), within the tyrosine kinase domain of FGFR2 in tumor tissue of a sporadic breast cancer patient, which is likely mediated by the FGFR2-IIIb isoform. The presence of wild type and mutated alleles in equal quantities suggests that the mutation has driven clonal amplification of mutant cells. We have analyzed the tyrosine kinase activity of p.K660N and another recently described somatic breast cancer mutation in FGFR2, p.R203C, after expression in HEK293 cells and demonstrated that the intrinsic tyrosine kinase activity of both mutant proteins is strongly increased resulting in elevated phosphorylation and activity of downstream effectors. To our knowledge, this is the first report of functional analysis of somatic breast cancer mutations in FGFR2 providing evidence for the activating nature of FGFR2-mediated signalling in the pathogenesis of breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC3603931  PMID: 23527311
5.  FGFR4 Profile as a Prognostic Marker in Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Mouth and Oropharynx 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e50747.
Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) is a member of a receptor tyrosine kinase family of enzymes involved in cell cycle control and proliferation. A common single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) Gly388Arg variant has been associated with increased tumor cell motility and progression of breast cancer, head and neck cancer and soft tissue sarcomas. The present study evaluated the prognostic significance of FGFR4 in oral and oropharynx carcinomas, finding an association of FGFR4 expression and Gly388Arg genotype with tumor onset and prognosis.
Patients and Methods
DNA from peripheral blood of 122 patients with oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas was used to determine FGFR4 genotype by PCR-RFLP. Protein expression was assessed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on paraffin-embedded tissue microarrays.
Presence of allele Arg388 was associated with lymphatic embolization and with disease related premature death. In addition, FGFR4 low expression was related with lymph node positivity and premature relapse of disease, as well as disease related death.
Our results propose FGFR4 profile, measured by the Gly388Arg genotype and expression, as a novel marker of prognosis in squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and oropharynx.
PMCID: PMC3511351  PMID: 23226373
6.  Expression of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 3 in the Recurrence of Non-Muscle-Invasive Urothelial Carcinoma of the Bladder 
Korean Journal of Urology  2010;51(2):94-100.
The fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) gene is known to be frequently mutated in noninvasive urothelial carcinomas of the bladder. In this study, we investigated the expression of FGFR3, Ki-67, and p53 in bladder cancers and the effects of expression on tumor recurrence.
Materials and Methods
Fifty-five cases of primary bladder cancer were examined by immunohistochemistry. The relationship of these markers with various clinicopathological factors, including recurrence, was assessed.
Positivity for cytoplasmic FGFR3 (FGFR3-c) was associated with a lower cancer grade (p=0.022) and stage (p=0.011). Recurrence was more frequent in patients with a higher stage, negative FGFR3-c, and high Ki-67 expression. According to univariate analysis, predictors of recurrence-free survival included the following: age, stage, FGFR-c, Ki-67, and p53. However, none of these was independent from the other parameters in multivariate studies.
The immunohistochemical expression of FGFR3 is not only one of the characteristic features of lower-grade and lower-stage urothelial carcinoma but also a possible marker in predicting disease recurrence.
PMCID: PMC2855482  PMID: 20414420
Carcinoma, transitional cell; Fibroblast growth factor receptor 3; p53 genes; Recurrence
7.  Clinical and biological characteristics of cervical neoplasias with FGFR3 mutation 
Molecular Cancer  2005;4:15.
We have previously reported activating mutations of the gene coding for the fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3) in invasive cervical carcinoma. To further analyze the role of FGFR3 in cervical tumor progression, we extended our study to screen a total of 75 invasive tumors and 80 cervical intraepithelial neoplasias (40 low-grade and 40 high-grade lesions).
Using single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) followed by DNA sequencing, we found FGFR3 mutation (S249C in all cases) in 5% of invasive cervical carcinomas and no mutation in intraepithelial lesions. These results suggest that, unlike in bladder carcinoma, FGFR3 mutation does not or rarely occur in non invasive lesions. Compared to patients with wildtype FGFR3 tumor, patients with S249C FGFR3 mutated tumors were older (mean age 64 vs. 49.4 years, P = 0.02), and were more likely to be associated with a non-16/18 HPV type in their tumor. Gene expression analysis demonstrated that FGFR3 mutated tumors were associated with higher FGFR3b mRNA expression levels compared to wildtype FGFR3 tumors. Supervised analysis of Affymetrix expression data identified a significant number of genes specifically differentially expressed in tumors with respect to FGFR3 mutation status.
This study suggest that tumors with FGFR3 mutation appear to have distinctive clinical and biological characteristics that may help in defining a population of patients for FGFR3 mutation screening.
PMCID: PMC1131920  PMID: 15869706
8.  Targeting Mutant Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptors in Cancer 
Trends in molecular medicine  2011;17(5):10.1016/j.molmed.2011.01.012.
Fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) play diverse roles in control of cell proliferation, cell differentiation, angiogenesis, and development. Activating mutations of FGFRs in the germline have long been known to cause a variety of skeletal developmental disorders, but it is only recently that a similar spectrum of somatic FGFR mutations has been associated with human cancers. Many of these somatic mutations are gain-of-function and oncogenic and create dependencies in tumor cell lines harboring such mutations. A combination of knock-down studies and pharmaceutical inhibition in preclinical models has further substantiated genomically-altered FGFR as a therapeutic target in cancer, and the oncology community is responding with clinical trials evaluating multi-kinase inhibitors with anti-FGFR activity and a new generation of specific pan-FGFR inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3809064  PMID: 21367659
FGFR; tyrosine kinase; somatic mutation; targeted therapy
9.  Antibody-based targeting of FGFR3 in bladder carcinoma and t(4;14)-positive multiple myeloma in mice 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2009;119(5):1216-1229.
Overexpression of FGF receptor 3 (FGFR3) is implicated in the development of t(4;14)-positive multiple myeloma. While FGFR3 is frequently overexpressed and/or activated through mutations in bladder cancer, the functional importance of FGFR3 and its potential as a specific therapeutic target in this disease have not been elucidated in vivo. Here we report that inducible knockdown of FGFR3 in human bladder carcinoma cells arrested cell-cycle progression in culture and markedly attenuated tumor progression in xenografted mice. Further, we developed a unique antibody (R3Mab) that inhibited not only WT FGFR3, but also various mutants of the receptor, including disulfide-linked cysteine mutants. Biochemical analysis and 2.1-Å resolution crystallography revealed that R3Mab bound to a specific FGFR3 epitope that simultaneously blocked ligand binding, prevented receptor dimerization, and induced substantial conformational changes in the receptor. R3Mab exerted potent antitumor activity against bladder carcinoma and t(4;14)-positive multiple myeloma xenografts in mice by antagonizing FGFR3 signaling and eliciting antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC). These studies provide in vivo evidence demonstrating an oncogenic role of FGFR3 in bladder cancer and support antibody-based targeting of FGFR3 in hematologic and epithelial cancers driven by WT or mutant FGFR3.
PMCID: PMC2673861  PMID: 19381019
10.  Targeting Wild-Type and Mutationally Activated FGFR4 in Rhabdomyosarcoma with the Inhibitor Ponatinib (AP24534) 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76551.
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is the most common childhood soft tissue sarcoma. Despite advances in modern therapy, patients with relapsed or metastatic disease have a very poor clinical prognosis. Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor 4 (FGFR4) is a cell surface tyrosine kinase receptor that is involved in normal myogenesis and muscle regeneration, but not commonly expressed in differentiated muscle tissues. Amplification and mutational activation of FGFR4 has been reported in RMS and promotes tumor progression. Therefore, FGFR4 is a tractable therapeutic target for patients with RMS. In this study, we used a chimeric Ba/F3 TEL-FGFR4 construct to test five tyrosine kinase inhibitors reported to specifically inhibit FGFRs in the nanomolar range. We found ponatinib (AP24534) to be the most potent FGFR4 inhibitor with an IC50 in the nanomolar range. Ponatinib inhibited the growth of RMS cells expressing wild-type or mutated FGFR4 through increased apoptosis. Phosphorylation of wild-type and mutated FGFR4 as well as its downstream target STAT3 was also suppressed by ponatinib. Finally, ponatinib treatment inhibited tumor growth in a RMS mouse model expressing mutated FGFR4. Therefore, our data suggests that ponatinib is a potentially effective therapeutic agent for RMS tumors that are driven by a dysregulated FGFR4 signaling pathway.
PMCID: PMC3790700  PMID: 24124571
11.  Plasma 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 and Bladder Cancer Risk According to Tumor Stage and FGFR3 Status: A Mechanism-Based Epidemiological Study 
Previous evidence suggests that 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] protects against several cancers. However, little is known regarding urothelial bladder cancer (UBC). We analyzed the association between plasma 25(OH)D3 and overall risk of UBC, as well as according to stage and FGFR3 molecular subphenotypes.
Plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D3 in 1125 cases with UBC and 1028 control subjects were determined by a chemiluminescence immunoassay. FGFR3 mutational status and expression in tumor tissue were assessed. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated by logistic regression adjusting for potential confounders. Analyses were further stratified by tumor invasiveness and grade, FGFR3 expression, and smoking status. Cell proliferation was measured in human UBC cell lines cultured with 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3.
A statistically significantly increased risk of UBC was observed among subjects presenting the lowest concentrations of 25(OH)D3 (ORadj = 1.83; 95% CI = 1.19 to 2.82; P = .006), showing a dose–response effect (P trend = .004). The association was stronger for patients with muscle-invasive tumors, especially among low-FGFR3 expressers (ORadj = 5.94; 95% CI = 1.72 to 20.45; P = .005). The biological plausibility of these associations is supported by the fact that, in vitro, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 upregulates FGFR3 expression in UBC cell lines with low levels of wild-type FGFR3.
These findings support a role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of UBC and show that 25(OH)D3 levels are associated with FGFR3 expression in the tumor. Because FGFR3 mutation and overexpression are markers of better outcome, our findings suggest that individuals with low levels of plasma 25(OH)D3 may be at high risk of more aggressive forms of UBC.
PMCID: PMC3525815  PMID: 23108201
12.  Small molecule FGF receptor inhibitors block FGFR-dependent urothelial carcinoma growth in vitro and in vivo 
British Journal of Cancer  2010;104(1):75-82.
Activating mutations of FGFR3 are frequently identified in superficial urothelial carcinoma (UC) and increased expression of FGFR1 and FGFR3 are common in both superficial and invasive UC.
The effects of inhibition of receptor activity by three small molecule inhibitors (PD173074, TKI-258 and SU5402) were investigated in a panel of bladder tumour cell lines with known FGFR expression levels and FGFR3 mutation status.
All inhibitors prevented activation of FGFR3, and inhibited downstream MAPK pathway signalling. Response was related to FGFR3 and/or FGFR1 expression levels. Cell lines with the highest levels of FGFR expression showed the greatest response and little or no effect was measured in normal human urothelial cells or in UC cell lines with activating RAS gene mutations. In sensitive cell lines, the drugs induced cell cycle arrest and/or apoptosis. IC50 values for PD173074 and TKI-258 were in the nanomolar concentration range compared with micromolar concentrations for SU5402. PD173074 showed the greatest effects in vitro and in vivo significantly delayed the growth of subcutaneous bladder tumour xenografts.
These results indicate that inhibition of FGFR1 and wild-type or mutant FGFR3 may represent a useful therapeutic approach in patients with both non-muscle invasive and muscle invasive UC.
PMCID: PMC3039817  PMID: 21119661
FGFR3; FGFR1; tyrosine kinase inhibitor; urothelial carcinoma; PD173074; TKI-258
13.  FGFR1 promotes proliferation and survival via activation of the MAPK pathway in bladder cancer 
Cancer research  2009;69(11):4613-4620.
Fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs) play key roles in proliferation, differentiation and tumorigenesis. Many urothelial carcinomas (UC) contain activating point mutations or increased expression of FGFR3. However, little is known about the role of other FGFRs. We have examined FGFR expression in immortalised normal human urothelial cells (TERT-NHUC), UC cell lines and tumor samples and demonstrated that FGFR1 expression is increased in a high proportion of cell lines and tumors independent of stage and grade. To determine the role of FGFR1 in low-stage bladder cancer we over-expressed FGFR1 in TERT-NHUC, and examined changes in proliferation and cell survival in response to FGF2. FGFR1 stimulation increased proliferation and reduced apoptosis. To elucidate the mechanistic basis for these alterations we examined the signaling cascades activated by FGFR1. FRS2α and PLCγ were activated in response to FGF2, leading to activation of the MAPK pathway. The level of MAPK activation correlated with the level of cyclinD1, MCL1 and phosphorylated BAD, which also correlated with FGFR-induced proliferation and survival. Knockdown of FGFR1 in UC cell lines revealed differential FGFR1-dependence. JMSU1 cells were dependent on FGFR1 expression for survival but 3 other cell lines were not. Two cell lines (JMSU1 and UMUC3) were dependent on FGFR1 for growth in soft agar. Only one of the cell lines tested (UMUC3) was frankly tumorigenic and here FGFR1 knockdown inhibited tumor growth. Our results indicate that FGFR1 has significant effects on urothelial cell phenotype and may represent a useful therapeutic target in some cases of UC.
PMCID: PMC2737316  PMID: 19458078
FGFR1; urothelial cell carcinoma; therapeutic target
14.  FGFR3-expressing smooth muscle-like stromal cells differentiate in response to FGFR2IIIb-expressing prostate tumor cells and delay tumor progression 
Evolution of unresponsiveness to homeostasis-promoting signals from the microenvironment is a hallmark of malignant tumor cells. In Dunning R3327 model rat prostate tumors that are comprised of distinct stromal and epithelial compartments, progression from non-malignant, androgen-responsive tumors to malignancy is characterized by loss of compartmentation coincident with a loss of resident epithelial cell FGFR2IIIb that receives instructive signals from stromal FGF7 and FGF10. Restoration of FGFR2IIIb to malignant tumor cells restores responsiveness to stromal cells, restores distinct stromal and epithelial compartments and retards malignant progression. Cultured stromal cells from two compartment tumors are comprised of smooth muscle α−actin-positive cells that express predominantly FGFR3 and fibroblast-like cells devoid of α−actin and FGFR3. Here we show that it is primarily the smooth muscle cell-like α−actin-expressing stromal cells that survive, morphologically differentiate and delay tumor incidence and size in the presence of malignant cells in which FGFR2IIIb has been restored. Expression of FGFR3 by transfection in the fibroblast-like stromal cells conferred ability to respond similar to the smooth muscle cell-like stromal cells in which FGFR3 is normally resident. These results highlight the importance of the two-way communication back and forth between stroma and epithelium that is mediated by signaling within the FGFR family during progression to malignancy.
PMCID: PMC3471788  PMID: 21691921
cell-cell communication; Dunning tumors; tumor microenvironment; prostate cancer; receptor tyrosine kinases; stromal-epithelial interactions; tissue homeostasis
15.  Genetic mosaic analysis reveals FGF receptor 2 function in terminal end buds during mammary gland branching morphogenesis 
Developmental biology  2008;321(1):77-87.
FGF signaling is associated with breast cancer and is required for mammary placode formation in the mouse. In this study, we employed a genetic mosaic analysis based on Cre-mediated recombination to investigate FGF receptor 2 (Fgfr2) function in the postnatal mammary gland. Mosaic inactivation of Fgfr2 by the MMTVCre transgene enabled us to compare the behavior of Fgfr2 null and Fgfr2 heterozygous cells in the same gland. Fgfr2 null cells were at a competitive disadvantage to their Fgfr2 heterozygous neighbors in the highly proliferative terminal end buds (TEBs) at the invasion front, owing to a negative effect of loss of Fgfr2 function on cell proliferation. However, Fgfr2 null cells were tolerated in mature ducts. In these genetic mosaic mammary glands, the epithelial network is apparently built by TEBs that over time are composed of a progressively larger proportion of Fgfr2-positive cells. However, subsequently, most cells lose Fgfr2 function, presumably due to additional rounds of Cre-mediated recombination. Using an independent strategy to create mosaic mammary glands, which employed an adenovirus-Cre that acts only once, we confirmed that Fgfr2 null cells were out-competed by neighboring Fgfr2 heterozygous cells. Together, our data demonstrate that Fgfr2 functions in the proliferating and invading TEBs, but it is not required in the mature ducts of the pubertal mammary gland.
PMCID: PMC2582391  PMID: 18585375
Cre recombinase; Epithelial-mesenchymal crosstalk; FGF signaling; Mosaic analysis; Terminal end buds
16.  Fibroblast growth factor receptors 1 and 2 in keratinocytes control the epidermal barrier and cutaneous homeostasis 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2010;188(6):935-952.
Loss of FGFRs results in skin abnormalities due to activation of keratinocytes and epidermal T cells.
Fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) are master regulators of organogenesis and tissue homeostasis. In this study, we used different combinations of FGF receptor (FGFR)-deficient mice to unravel their functions in the skin. Loss of the IIIb splice variants of FGFR1 and FGFR2 in keratinocytes caused progressive loss of skin appendages, cutaneous inflammation, keratinocyte hyperproliferation, and acanthosis. We identified loss of FGF-induced expression of tight junction components with subsequent deficits in epidermal barrier function as the mechanism underlying the progressive inflammatory skin disease. The defective barrier causes activation of keratinocytes and epidermal γδ T cells, which produce interleukin-1 family member 8 and S100A8/A9 proteins. These cytokines initiate an inflammatory response and induce a double paracrine loop through production of keratinocyte mitogens by dermal cells. Our results identify essential roles for FGFs in the regulation of the epidermal barrier and in the prevention of cutaneous inflammation, and highlight the importance of stromal–epithelial interactions in skin homeostasis and disease.
PMCID: PMC2845079  PMID: 20308431
17.  Somatic mutation of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor-3 (FGFR3) defines a distinct morphologic subtype of high-grade urothelial carcinoma 
The Journal of pathology  2011;224(2):270-279.
FGFR3 mutations are common in low grade urothelial carcinoma and represent a potential therapeutic target in this disease. Their incidence and functional role in high grade urothelial carcinoma (HGUC), which displays an increased propensity for recurrence and muscularis propria invasion, is less well defined. We developed a mass spectrometry based genotyping assay to define the incidence of FGFR3 mutations in a large clinically annotated set of urothelial carcinomas. FGFR3 mutations were found in 17% of HGUC versus 84% of low-grade lesions. Retrospective pathologic review of the class of FGFR3 mutant HGUC revealed unique histologic features characterized by a bulky, exophytic component with branching papillary architecture as well as irregular nuclei with a koilocytoid appearance. The predictive value of this histologic appearance was confirmed using a prospective set of 49 additional HGUC. Prospective histologic review was able to correctly predict for the presence of an FGFR3 mutation in 13 of 24 HGUC specimens that exhibited the distinct morphology (54%). All 25 specimens lacking the defined histologic features were FGFR3 wild-type for a negative predictive value of 100%. Macrodissection of individual tumors confirmed the presence of the FGFR3 mutant allele in non-invasive and invasive, low and high-grade regions of individual tumors and in the lymph node metastases of patients whose tumors possessed the characteristic morphologic signature, suggesting that FGFR3 mutations are not restricted to the more clinically indolent regions of HGUCs. These data suggest that histologic screening of HGUC followed by confirmatory genotyping can be used to enrich for the population of HGUC most likely to harbor activating mutations in the FGFR3 receptor tyrosine kinase. Histologic review could thus aid in the development of targeted inhibitors of FGFR3 by facilitating the identification of the subset of patients most likely to harbor activating mutations in the FGFR3 gene.
PMCID: PMC3235805  PMID: 21547910
fibroblast growth factor receptor-3; FGFR3; urothelial carcinoma; morphology
18.  Elevated expression of SOX2 and FGFR1 in correlation with poor prognosis in patients with small cell lung cancer 
Objectives: The central issue in this study is to investigate the expression of Sex determining region Y-BOX2 (SOX2) and fibroblast growth factor receptor 1 (FGFR1), evaluate their clinicopathological variables and prognostic significance in small cell lung cancer (SCLC). Methods: Specimens from 222 SCLC patients and 53 adjacent normal lung tissues were detected by the immunohistochemistry for SOX2 and FGFR1 expression. The relationship between the expression of both markers and survival status was determined. Results: Overexpression of SOX2 and FGFR1 were revealed in SCLC tumors than in normal tissues (P<0.05). SOX2 expression was associated with clinical stage (P=0.014) and lymph node status (P=0.041). Besides, FGFR1 expression was significantly higher in ever smokers (P=0.030) and late stage SCLC (P=0.005). SOX2, FGFR1 and TNM stage were independent prognostic factors for overall survival (OS) and Recurrence-free survival (RFS) by multivariate analysis. In stage I patients, only overexpression of SOX2, but not of FGFR1, predicted poor OS (0.027) and RFS (P=0.013). According to the expression of SOX2 and FGFR1, patients were categorized into three groups. Patients with elevated expression of both markers belonged to the group with the shortest RFS (P<0.0001) and OS (P<0.0001). Conclusions: Increased expression of SOX2 and FGFR1 may be available as poor prognostic indicators in SCLC patients.
PMCID: PMC3843264  PMID: 24294370
SOX2; FGFR1; small cell lung cancer; immunohistochemistry; prognosis
19.  From shape to cells: mouse models reveal mechanisms altering palate development in Apert syndrome 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2013;6(3):768-779.
Apert syndrome is a congenital disorder characterized by severe skull malformations and caused by one of two missense mutations, S252W and P253R, on fibroblast growth factor receptor 2 (FGFR2). The molecular bases underlying differential Apert syndrome phenotypes are still poorly understood and it is unclear why cleft palate is more frequent in patients carrying the S252W mutation. Taking advantage of Apert syndrome mouse models, we performed a novel combination of morphometric, histological and immunohistochemical analyses to precisely quantify distinct palatal phenotypes in Fgfr2+/S252W and Fgfr2+/P253R mice. We localized regions of differentially altered FGF signaling and assessed local cell patterns to establish a baseline for understanding the differential effects of these two Fgfr2 mutations. Palatal suture scoring and comparative 3D shape analysis from high resolution μCT images of 120 newborn mouse skulls showed that Fgfr2+/S252W mice display relatively more severe palate dysmorphologies, with contracted and more separated palatal shelves, a greater tendency to fuse the maxillary-palatine sutures and aberrant development of the inter-premaxillary suture. These palatal defects are associated with suture-specific patterns of abnormal cellular proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. The posterior region of the developing palate emerges as a potential target for therapeutic strategies in clinical management of cleft palate in Apert syndrome patients.
PMCID: PMC3634659  PMID: 23519026
20.  Generation of Fgfr3 Conditional Knockout Mice 
Fibroblast growth factor receptor 3 (FGFR3), highly conserved in both humans and murine, is one of key tyrosine kinase receptors for FGF. FGFR3 is expressed in different tissues, including cartilage, brain, kidney, and intestine at different development stages. Conventional knockout of Fgfr3 alleles leads to short life span, and overgrowth of bone. In clinic, human FGFR3 mutations are responsible for three different types of chondrodysplasia syndromes including achondroplasia (ACH), hypochondroplasia (HCH) and thanatophoric dysplasia (TD). For better understanding of the roles of FGFR3 in different tissues at different stages of development and in pathological conditions, we generated Fgfr3 conditional knockout mice in which loxp sites flank exons 9-10 in the Fgfr3 allele. We also demonstrated that Cre-mediated recombination using Col2a1-Cre, a Cre line expressed in chondrocyte during bone development, results in specific deletion of the gene in tissues containing cartilage. This animal model will be useful to study distinct roles of FGFR3 in different tissues at different ages.
PMCID: PMC2892296  PMID: 20582225
FGFR3; conditional knock out; Cre-Loxp; gene targeting
21.  FGFR3 has tumor suppressor properties in cells with epithelial phenotype 
Molecular Cancer  2013;12:83.
Due to frequent mutations in certain cancers, FGFR3 gene is considered as an oncogene. However, in some normal tissues, FGFR3 can limit cell growth and promote cell differentiation. Thus, FGFR3 action appears paradoxical.
FGFR3 expression was forced in pancreatic cell lines. The receptor exerted dual effects: it suppressed tumor growth in pancreatic epithelial-like cells and had oncogenic properties in pancreatic mesenchymal-like cells. Distinct exclusive pathways were activated, STATs in epithelial-like cells and MAP Kinases in mesenchymal-like cells. Both FGFR3 splice variants had similar effects and used the same intracellular signaling. In human pancreatic carcinoma tissues, levels of FGFR3 dropped in tumors.
In tumors from epithelial origin, FGFR3 signal can limit tumor growth, explaining why the 4p16.3 locus bearing FGFR3 is frequently lost and why activating mutations of FGFR3 in benign or low grade tumors of epithelial origin are associated with good prognosis. The new hypothesis that FGFR3 can harbor both tumor suppressive and oncogenic properties is crucial in the context of targeted therapies involving specific tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). TKIs against FGFR3 might result in adverse effects if used in the wrong cell context.
PMCID: PMC3750311  PMID: 23902722
FGFR3; Pancreatic cancer; Tumor suppressor; Oncogene; MAP kinases; STAT
22.  Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor-2 Expression in Thyroid Tumor Progression: Potential Diagnostic Application 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72224.
Fibroblast growth factor receptor-2 (FGFR-2) plays an important role in tumorigenesis. In thyroid cancer it has been observed a FGFR-2 down-modulation, but the role of this receptor has not been yet clarified. Therefore, we decided to examine the expression of both FGFR-2 isoform, FGFR-2-IIIb and FGFR-2-IIIc, in different histological thyroid variants such as hyperplasia, follicular adenoma and papillary carcinoma. Immunohistochemistry and quantitative Real-Time PCR analyses were performed on samples of hyperplasia, follicular adenoma and papillary carcinoma, compared with normal thyroid tissue. Thyroid hyperplasia did not show statistically significant reduction in FGFR-2 protein and mRNA levels. Interestingly, in both follicular adenoma and papillary carcinoma samples we observed a strongly reduced expression of both FGFR-2 isoforms. We speculate that FGFR-2 down-modulation might be an early event in thyroid carcinogenesis. Furthermore, we suggest the potential use of FGFR-2 as an early marker for thyroid cancer diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3747152  PMID: 23977259
23.  FGFR4 blockade exerts distinct anti-tumorigenic effects in human embryonal versus alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma 
Rhabdomyosarcoma (RMS) is a malignancy with features of skeletal muscle, and the most common soft-tissue sarcoma of childhood. Survival for high risk groups is ~30% at 5 years and there are no durable therapies tailored to its genetic aberrations. During genetic modeling of the common RMS variants, embryonal (eRMS) and alveolar (aRMS), we noted that the RTK FGFR4 was upregulated as an early event in aRMS. Herein, we evaluated the expression of FGFR4 in eRMS compared to aRMS, and whether FGFR4 had similar or distinct roles in their tumorigenesis.
Experimental Design
Human RMS cell lines and tumor tissue were analyzed for FGFR4 expression by immunoblot and IHC. Genetic and pharmacologic loss-of-function of FGFR4 using virally-transduced shRNAs and the FGFR small molecule inhibitor PD173074, respectively, were used to study the role of FGFR4 in RMS cell lines in vitro and xenografts in vivo. Expression of the anti-apoptotic protein BCL2L1 was also examined.
FGFR4 is expressed in both RMS subtypes, but protein expression is higher in aRMS. The signature aRMS gene fusion product, PAX3-FOXO1, induced FGFR4 expression in primary human myoblasts. In eRMS, FGFR4 loss-of-function reduced cell proliferation in vitro and xenograft formation in vivo. In aRMS, it diminished cell survival in vitro. In myoblasts and aRMS, FGFR4 was necessary and sufficient for expression of BCL2L1, while in eRMS, this induction was not observed, suggesting differential FGFR4 signaling.
These studies define dichotomous roles for FGFR4 in RMS subtypes, and support further study of FGFR4 as a therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3713717  PMID: 22648271
FGFR4; PAX3-FOXO1; Rhabdomyosarcoma; Pediatric cancers
24.  Targeting FGFR4 Inhibits Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Preclinical Mouse Models 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36713.
The fibroblast growth factor (FGF)-FGF receptor (FGFR) signaling system plays critical roles in a variety of normal developmental and physiological processes. It is also well documented that dysregulation of FGF-FGFR signaling may have important roles in tumor development and progression. The FGFR4–FGF19 signaling axis has been implicated in the development of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) in mice, and potentially in humans. In this study, we demonstrate that FGFR4 is required for hepatocarcinogenesis; the progeny of FGF19 transgenic mice, which have previously been shown to develop HCCs, bred with FGFR4 knockout mice fail to develop liver tumors. To further test the importance of FGFR4 in HCC, we developed a blocking anti-FGFR4 monoclonal antibody (LD1). LD1 inhibited: 1) FGF1 and FGF19 binding to FGFR4, 2) FGFR4–mediated signaling, colony formation, and proliferation in vitro, and 3) tumor growth in a preclinical model of liver cancer in vivo. Finally, we show that FGFR4 expression is elevated in several types of cancer, including liver cancer, as compared to normal tissues. These findings suggest a modulatory role for FGFR4 in the development and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma and that FGFR4 may be an important and novel therapeutic target in treating this disease.
PMCID: PMC3352934  PMID: 22615798
25.  FGF receptors 1 and 2 control chemically-induced injury and compound detoxification in regenerating livers of mice 
Gastroenterology  2010;139(4):1385-1396.e8.
Background & Aims
Fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) 4 controls bile acid metabolism and protects the liver from fibrosis, but the roles of FGFR1 and FGFR2 in the adult liver are largely unknown. We investigated the functions and mechanisms of action of these receptors in liver homeostasis, regeneration, and fibrosis.
We generated mice with hepatocytes that lack FGFR1 and FGFR2 and subjected them to acute and chronic carbon tetrachloride-induced liver injury and partial hepatectomy; mice were also injected with FGF7. We performed histology, histomorphometry, real-time reverse transcription PCR, and immunoblot analyses.
In hepatocytes, loss of FGFR1 and FGFR2 eliminated responsiveness to FGF7 and related FGF family members, but did not affect toxin-induced liver injury and fibrosis. However, mortality after partial hepatectomy increased because of severe hepatocyte necrosis. These effects appeared to be mediated by a failure of hepatocyes to induce the expression of the transcriptional regulators Dbp and Tef upon liver surgery; this affected expression of their target genes, which encode detoxifying cytochrome P450 enzymes. We found that Dbp and Tef expression was directly controlled by FGFR signalling in hepatocytes. As a consequence of the reduced expression of genes that control detoxification, the liver tissue that remained after partial hepatectomy failed to efficiently metabolize endogenous compounds and the drugs applied for anaesthesia/analgesia.
We identified a new, cytoprotective effect of FGFR1 and FGFR2 in the regenerating liver and suggest the use of recombinant FGF7 to increase survival of patients after surgical resection of large amounts of liver tissue.
PMCID: PMC2949525  PMID: 20603121
liver disease; cirrhosis; drug toxicity; cytoprotection

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