We previously identified a region of recurrent amplification on chromosome 22q11.21 in a subset of primary lung adenocarcinomas. Here we show that CRKL, encoding for an adaptor protein, is amplified and overexpressed in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells that harbor 22q11.21 amplifications. Overexpression of CRKL in immortalized human airway epithelial cells promoted anchorage independent growth and tumorigenicity. Oncogenic CRKL activates SOS1-RAS-RAF-ERK and SRC-C3G-RAP1 pathways. Suppression of CRKL in NSCLC cells that harbor CRKL amplifications induced cell death. Overexpression of CRKL in EGFR mutant cells induces resistance to gefitinib by activating ERK and AKT signaling. We identified CRKL amplification in an EGFR inhibitor treated lung adenocarcinoma that was not present prior to treatment. These observations show that CRKL overexpression induces cell transformation, credential CRKL as a therapeutic target for a subset of NSCLC that harbor CRKL amplifications and implicate CRKL as an additional mechanism of resistance to EGFR-directed therapy.
non small cell lung cancer; CRKL; cell transformation; RAP1; oncogene
Genomic DNA amplification is a genetic factor involved in cancer, and some oncogenes, such as ERBB2, are highly amplified in gastric cancer. We searched for the possible amplification of other genes in gastric cancer.
Methods and Results
A genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism microarray analysis was performed using three cell lines of differentiated gastric cancers, and 22 genes (including ERBB2) in five highly amplified chromosome regions (with a copy number of more than 6) were identified. Particular attention was paid to the CRKL gene, the product of which is an adaptor protein containing Src homology 2 and 3 (SH2/SH3) domains. An extremely high CRKL copy number was confirmed in the MKN74 gastric cancer cell line using fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH), and a high level of CRKL expression was also observed in the cells. The RNA-interference-mediated knockdown of CRKL in MKN74 disclosed the ability of CRKL to upregulate gastric cell proliferation. An immunohistochemical analysis revealed that CRKL protein was overexpressed in 24.4% (88/360) of the primary gastric cancers that were analyzed. The CRKL copy number was also examined in 360 primary gastric cancers using a FISH analysis, and CRKL amplification was found to be associated with CRKL overexpression. Finally, we showed that MKN74 cells with CRKL amplification were responsive to the dual Src/BCR-ABL kinase inhibitor BMS354825, likely via the inhibition of CRKL phosphorylation, and that the proliferation of MKN74 cells was suppressed by treatment with a CRKL-targeting peptide.
These results suggested that CRKL protein is overexpressed in a subset of gastric cancers and is associated with CRKL amplification in gastric cancer. Furthermore, our results suggested that CRKL protein has the ability to regulate gastric cell proliferation and has the potential to serve as a molecular therapy target for gastric cancer.
CRKL; Gastric cancer; Cell proliferation; Overexpression; Copy number amplification
Lung cancer is a leading cause of cancer death, where the amplification of oncogenes contributes to tumorigenesis. Genomic profiling of 128 lung cancer cell lines and tumors revealed frequent focal DNA amplification at cytoband 14q13.3, a locus not amplified in other tumor types. The smallest region of recurrent amplification spanned the homeobox transcription factor TITF1 (thyroid transcription factor 1; also called NKX2-1), previously linked to normal lung development and function. When amplified, TITF1 exhibited increased expression at both the RNA and protein levels. Small interfering RNA (siRNA)- mediated knockdown of TITF1 in lung cancer cell lines with amplification led to reduced cell proliferation, manifested by both decreased cell-cycle progression and increased apoptosis. Our findings indicate that TITF1 amplification and overexpression contribute to lung cancer cell proliferation rates and survival and implicate TITF1 as a lineage-specific oncogene in lung cancer.
TITF1; lineage-specific oncogene; genomic profiling; lung cancer; TTF-1; NKX2-1
Pancreatobiliary cancers have among the highest mortality rates of any cancer type. Discovering the full spectrum of molecular genetic alterations may suggest new avenues for therapy. To catalogue genomic alterations, we carried out array-based genomic profiling of 31 exocrine pancreatic cancers and 6 distal bile duct cancers, expanded as xenografts to enrich the tumor cell fraction. We identified numerous focal DNA amplifications and deletions, including in 19% of pancreatobiliary cases gain at cytoband 18q11.2, a locus uncommonly amplified in other tumor types. The smallest shared amplification at 18q11.2 included GATA6, a transcriptional regulator previously linked to normal pancreas development. When amplified, GATA6 was overexpressed at both the mRNA and protein levels, and strong immunostaining was observed in 25 of 54 (46%) primary pancreatic cancers compared to 0 of 33 normal pancreas specimens surveyed. GATA6 expression in xenografts was associated with specific microarray gene-expression patterns, enriched for GATA binding sites and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation activity. siRNA mediated knockdown of GATA6 in pancreatic cancer cell lines with amplification led to reduced cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and colony formation. Our findings indicate that GATA6 amplification and overexpression contribute to the oncogenic phenotypes of pancreatic cancer cells, and identify GATA6 as a candidate lineage-specific oncogene in pancreatobiliary cancer, with implications for novel treatment strategies.
Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease, having among the lowest survival rates of any cancer. A better understanding of the molecular basis of pancreatic cancer may lead to improved rationale therapies. We report here the discovery of amplification (i.e. extra copies) of the GATA6 gene in many human pancreatic cancers. GATA6 is a regulator of gene expression and functions in the development of the normal pancreas. Our findings indicate that its amplification and aberrant overexpression contribute to pancreatic cancer development. GATA6 joins a growing list of cancer genes with key roles in normal human development but pathogenic roles in cancer when aberrantly expressed. Our discovery of GATA6 amplification provides a new foothold into understanding the pathogenic mechanisms underlying pancreatic cancer, and suggests new strategies for therapy by targeting GATA6 or the genes it regulates.
Crkl is an adapter protein and phosphotyrosine-containing substrate implicated in transformation by the bcr-abl oncogene and in signaling by cytokines. When phosphorylated, Crkl binds through its Src homology 2 (SH2) domain to other tyrosine phosphoproteins such as paxillin and Cbl. Overexpression of Crkl in fibroblasts induces transformation. Here we examine the role of Crkl in hematopoietic cells and find that overexpression of Crkl confers a signal leading to increased adhesion to fibronectin. In both fibroblasts and hematopoietic cells, individual mutations or deletions of each SH2 and SH3 domain abrogated transformation and adhesion, respectively, indicating that interactions with other proteins such as Cbl and paxillin (SH2 domain) and Abl, Sos, and C3G (N-terminal SH3 domain) are essential for biological activity. In vivo and in vitro tryptic phosphopeptide mapping studies show that Crkl is phosphorylated on multiple tyrosine residues when overexpressed or when activated by Bcr-Abl. Mutation at tyrosine 207, a residue conserved in c-Crk, abrogates all in vivo tyrosine phosphorylation of Crkl. Despite this loss of phosphotyrosine, mutation at this site enhanced Crkl function as measured by complex formation with SH2 binding proteins, signal transduction to Jun Kinase, and fibroblast transformation. These observations implicate Crkl in cellular adhesion and demonstrate that Y207 functions as a negative regulatory site.
The c-MET receptor can be overexpressed, amplified, or mutated in solid tumours including small cell lung cancer (SCLC). In c-MET-overexpressing SCLC cell line NCI-H69, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) dramatically induced c-MET phosphorylation at phosphoepitopes pY1230/1234/1235 (catalytic tyrosine kinase), pY1003 (juxtamembrane), and also of paxillin at pY31 (CRKL-binding site). We utilised a global proteomics phosphoantibody array approach to identify further c-MET/HGF signal transduction intermediates in SCLC. Strong HGF induction of specific phosphorylation sites in phosphoproteins involved in c-MET/HGF signal transduction was detected, namely adducin-α [S724], adducin-γ [S662], CREB [S133], ERK1 [T185/Y187], ERK1/2 [T202/Y204], ERK2 [T185/Y187], MAPKK (MEK) 1/2 [S221/S225], MAPKK (MEK) 3/6 [S189/S207], RB [S612], RB1 [S780], JNK [T183/Y185], STAT3 [S727], focal adhesion kinase (FAK) [Y576/S722/S910], p38α-MAPK [T180/Y182], and AKT1[S473] and [T308]. Conversely, inhibition of phosphorylation by HGF in protein kinase C (PKC), protein kinase R (PKR), and also CDK1 was identified. Phosphoantibody-based immunohistochemical analysis of SCLC tumour tissue and microarray established the role of c-MET in SCLC biology. This supports a role of c-MET activation in tumour invasive front in the tumour progression and invasion involving FAK and AKT downstream. The c-MET serves as an attractive therapeutic target in SCLC, as shown through small interfering RNA (siRNA) and selective prototype c-MET inhibitor SU11274, inhibiting the phosphorylation of c-MET itself and its downstream molecules such as AKT, S6 kinase, and ERK1/2. Investigation of mechanisms of invasion and, ultimately, metastasis in SCLC would be very useful with these signal transduction molecules.
c-MET; signal transduction; small cell lung cancer; invasion
CRKL (CRK-Like) is an adapter protein predominantly phosphorylated in cells that express the tyrosine kinase p210BCR-ABL, the fusion product of a (9;22) chromosomal translocation causative for chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It has been unclear, however, whether CRKL plays a functional role in p210BCR-ABL transformation. Here we show that CRKL is required for p210BCR-ABL to support IL-3-independent growth of myeloid progenitor cells and long-term outgrowth of B-lymphoid cells from fetal liver-derived hematopoietic progenitor cells. Furthermore, a synthetic phosphotyrosyl peptide that binds to the CRKL SH2 domain with high affinity blocks association of endogenous CRKL with the p210BCR-ABL complex and reduces c-MYC levels in K562 human leukemic cells as well as mouse hematopoietic cells transformed by p210BCR-ABL or the imatinib-resistant mutant T315I. These results indicate that the function of CRKL as an adapter protein is essential for p210BCR-ABL-induced transformation.
CRKL; BCR-ABL; c-MYC; Leukemia; STAT5
Cheung et al show that amplified CRKL can function as a driver oncogene in lung adenocarcinoma, activating both RAS and RAP1 to induce MAPK signaling. In addition, they show that CRKL amplification may be another mechanism for primary or acquired resistance to EGFR kinase inhibitors.
Deletions on chromosome 22q11.21 disrupt pharyngeal and cardiac development and cause DiGeorge and related human syndromes. CRKL (CRK-Like) lies within 22q11.21, and Crkl-/- mice have phenotypic features of 22q11 deletion (del22q11) syndromes. While human FGF8 does not localize to 22q11, deficiency of Fgf8 also generates many features of del22q11 syndrome in mice. Since Fgf8 signals via receptor-type tyrosine kinases, and Crk family adaptor proteins transduce intracellular signals downstream of tyrosine kinases, we investigated whether Crkl mediates Fgf8 signaling. In addition to discovering genetic interactions between Crkl and Fgf8 during morphogenesis of structures affected in del22q11 syndrome, we found that Fgf8 induces tyrosine phosphorylation of FgfRs 1 and 2 and their binding to Crkl. Crkl is required for normal cellular responses to Fgf8, including survival and migration, Erk activation, and target gene expression. These findings provide mechanistic insight into disrupted intercellular interactions in the pathogenesis of malformations seen in del22q11 syndrome.
Genomic analyses of human cells expressing dihydrofolate reductase provide insight into the effects of genome position on the propensity for a drug-resistance gene to amplify in human cells.
Amplifications, regions of focal high-level copy number change, lead to overexpression of oncogenes or drug resistance genes in tumors. Their presence is often associated with poor prognosis; however, the use of amplification as a mechanism for overexpression of a particular gene in tumors varies. To investigate the influence of genome position on propensity to amplify, we integrated a mutant form of the gene encoding dihydrofolate reductase into different positions in the human genome, challenged cells with methotrexate and then studied the genomic alterations arising in drug resistant cells.
We observed site-specific differences in methotrexate sensitivity, amplicon organization and amplification frequency. One site was uniquely associated with a significantly enhanced propensity to amplify and recurrent amplicon boundaries, possibly implicating a rare folate-sensitive fragile site in initiating amplification. Hierarchical clustering of gene expression patterns and subsequent gene enrichment analysis revealed two clusters differing significantly in expression of MYC target genes independent of integration site.
These studies suggest that genome context together with the particular challenges to genome stability experienced during the progression to cancer contribute to the propensity to amplify a specific oncogene or drug resistance gene, whereas the overall functional response to drug (or other) challenge may be independent of the genomic location of an oncogene.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung is a frequent and aggressive cancer type. Gene amplifications, a known activating mechanism of oncogenes, target the 3q26-qter region as one of the most frequently gained/amplified genomic sites in SCC of various types. Here, we used array comparative genomic hybridization to delineate the consensus region of 3q26.3 amplifications in lung SCC. Recurrent amplifications occur in 20% of lung SCC (136 tumors in total) and map to a core region of 2 Mb (Megabases) that encompasses SOX2, a transcription factor gene. Intense SOX2 immunostaining is frequent in nuclei of lung SCC, indicating potential active transcriptional regulation by SOX2. Analyses of the transcriptome of lung SCC, SOX2-overexpressing lung epithelial cells and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) reveal that SOX2 contributes to activate ESC-like phenotypes and provide clues pertaining to the deregulated genes involved in the malignant phenotype. In cell culture experiments, overexpression of SOX2 stimulates cellular migration and anchorage-independent growth while SOX2 knockdown impairs cell growth. Finally, SOX2 over-expression in non-tumorigenic human lung bronchial epithelial cells is tumorigenic in immunocompromised mice. These results indicate that the SOX2 transcription factor, a major regulator of stem cell function, is also an oncogene and a driver gene for the recurrent 3q26.33 amplifications in lung SCC.
The BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase is the defining feature of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) and its kinase activity is required for induction of this disease. Current thinking holds that BCR-ABL forms a multi-protein complex that incorporates several substrates and adaptor proteins and is stabilized by multiple direct and indirect interactions. Signaling output from this highly redundant network leads to cellular transformation. Proteins known to be associated with BCR-ABL in this complex include: GRB2, c-CBL, p62DOK, and CRKL. These proteins in turn, link BCR-ABL to various signaling pathways indicated in cellular transformation. In this study we show that a triple mutant of BCR-ABL with mutations of the direct binding sites for GRB2, CBL, p62DOK and CRKL, is defective for transformation of primary hematopoietic cells in vitro and in a murine CML model, while it retains the capacity to induce IL-3 independence in 32D cells. Compared to BCR-ABL, the triple mutant's ability to activate the MAP kinase and PI3-kinase pathways is severely compromised, while STAT5 phosphorylation is maintained, suggesting that the former are crucial for the transformation of primary cells, but dispensable for transformation of factor dependent cell lines. Our data suggest that inhibition of BCR-ABL-induced leukemia by disrupting protein interactions could be possible, but would require blocking of multiple sites.
Cancer is a disease driven by a combination of inherited risk alleles coupled with the acquisition of somatic mutations, including amplification and deletion of genomic DNA. Potential relationships between the inherited and somatic aspects of the disease have only rarely been examined on a genome-wide level. Applying a novel integrative analysis of SNP and copy number measurements, we queried the tumor and normal-tissue genomes of 178 glioblastoma patients from the Cancer Genome Atlas project for preferentially amplified alleles, under the hypothesis that oncogenic germline variants will be selectively amplified in the tumor environment. Selected alleles are revealed by allelic imbalance in amplification across samples. This general approach is based on genetic principles and provides a method for identifying important tumor-related alleles. We find that SNP alleles that are most significantly overrepresented in amplicons tend to occur in genes involved with regulation of kinase and transferase activity, and many of these genes are known contributors to gliomagenesis. The analysis also implicates variants in synapse genes. By incorporating gene expression data, we demonstrate synergy between preferential allelic amplification and expression in DOCK4 and EGFR. Our results support the notion that combining germline and tumor genetic data can identify regions relevant to cancer biology.
Cancer is a disease of two distinct, but related, genomes: the inherited genome and the tumor genome. Despite the fact that the tumor genome arises from the germline, the genomes are typically studied as separate entities. For example, germline genetic studies focus on how inherited variation is related to a particular trait such as disease risk, whereas tumor genetic studies focus on areas of recurrent aberrations such as amplifications to identify genes involved in tumor biology. In this study, we integrated both germline and tumor genetic information to pinpoint areas of the human genome that are likely undergoing selection during the evolution of the tumor. Our results support the notion that combining germline and tumor genetic data can identify regions relevant to cancer biology.
Amplification of the 8p11−12 region occurs in 15−20% of breast cancers, but the driving oncogene at this locus has yet to be definitively identified. We mapped the 8p11−12 amplicon in breast cancer cell lines and primary human breast cancers and identified the candidate oncogene LSM1 based on increases in copy number and expression level relative to human mammary epithelial cells. To examine the oncogenic role of LSM1, we overexpressed this gene in MCF10A mammary epithelial cells and inhibited its production in the SUM44 breast cancer cell line, which has a natural amplification and overexpression of LSM1. Our data confirmed that LSM1 is an oncogene from the 8p11−12 amplicon by showing that human Sm-like protein (hLsm1) overexpression induced growth factor-independent proliferation and soft agar colony formation in MCF10A cells, and hLsm1 inhibition in SUM44 cells dramatically reduced soft agar growth. Little is known about hLsm1 function other than its involvement in mRNA degradation; therefore, we used expression microarray analysis to investigate how hLsm1 affects cell transformation in MCF10A and SUM44 cells. We identified numerous genes altered following hLsm1 overexpression common to SUM44 breast cancer cells that play important roles in cell cycle regulation, cell proliferation and other cancer-promoting processes. Future work will continue to characterize these important changes in the hope of achieving a more complete understanding of the mechanism of hLsm1's effect on cancer progression.
LSM1; breast cancer; chromosome 8p11−12
The amplification of putative oncogenes is a common finding within the genome of various cancer types. Identification and further targeting of specific junction sites within the sequence of genomic amplicons (amplicon fusion sites, AFS) by PCR (AFS-PCR) is suitable for quantification of minimal residual disease (MRD). This approach has recently been developed and described for MYCN amplified neuroblastomas. To compare AFS-PCR directly to routinely used MRD diagnostic strategies, we mapped the amplified genomic regions (ampGR) of an iAMP21-amplicon in high resolution of a patient with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Successfully, we established AFS-PCR covering junction sites between ampGR within the iAMP21-amplicon. Quantification of MRD by AFS-PCR was directly comparable to IgH/TCR based real time quantitative PCR and fluorescence activated cell sorting (FACS) analysis in consecutive bone marrow (BM) specimens. Our data give an additional proof of concept of AFS-PCR for quantification of MRD. The method could be taken into account for ALL patients with genomic amplifications as alternative MRD diagnostic, if no or qualitatively poor Ig/TCR-PCRs are available.
Somatic mutations and copy number alterations (as a result of deletion or amplification of large portions of a chromosome) are major drivers of human lung cancers. Detailed analysis of lung cancer–associated chromosomal amplifications could identify novel oncogenes. By performing an integrative cytogenetic and gene expression analysis of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines and tumors, we report here the identification of a frequently recurring amplification at chromosome 11 band p13. Within this region, only TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6) exhibited concomitant mRNA overexpression and gene amplification in lung cancers. Inhibition of TRAF6 in human lung cancer cell lines suppressed NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. In these lung cancer cell lines, RAS required TRAF6 for its oncogenic capabilities. Furthermore, TRAF6 overexpression in NIH3T3 cells resulted in NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. Our findings show that TRAF6 is an oncogene that is important for RAS-mediated oncogenesis and provide a mechanistic explanation for the previously apparent importance of constitutive NF-κB activation in RAS-driven lung cancers.
In this study we have calculated a 3D structure of apoptin and through modeling and docking approaches, we show its interaction with Bcr-Abl oncoprotein and its downstream signaling components, following which we confirm some of the newly-found interactions by biochemical methods. Bcr-Abl oncoprotein is aberrantly expressed in chronic myelogenous leukaemia (CML). It has several distinct functional domains in addition to the Abl kinase domain. The SH3 and SH2 domains cooperatively play important roles in autoinhibiting its kinase activity. Adapter molecules such as Grb2 and CrkL interact with proline-rich region and activate multiple Bcr-Abl downstream signaling pathways that contribute to growth and survival. Therefore, the oncogenic effect of Bcr-Abl could be inhibited by the interaction of small molecules with these domains. Apoptin is a viral protein with well-documented cancer-selective cytotoxicity. Apoptin attributes such as SH2-like sequence similarity with CrkL SH2 domain, unique SH3 domain binding sequence, presence of proline-rich segments, and its nuclear affinity render the molecule capable of interaction with Bcr-Abl. Despite almost two decades of research, the mode of apoptin's action remains elusive because 3D structure of apoptin is unavailable. We performed in silico three-dimensional modeling of apoptin, molecular docking experiments between apoptin model and the known structure of Bcr-Abl, and the 3D structures of SH2 domains of CrkL and Bcr-Abl. We also biochemically validated some of the interactions that were first predicted in silico. This structure-property relationship of apoptin may help in unlocking its cancer-selective toxic properties. Moreover, such models will guide us in developing of a new class of potent apoptin-like molecules with greater selectivity and potency.
Lung cancer in never smokers would rank as the seventh most common cause of cancer death worldwide.
Methods and Findings
We performed high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization analysis of lung adenocarcinoma in sixty never smokers and identified fourteen new minimal common regions (MCR) of gain or loss, of which five contained a single gene (MOCS2, NSUN3, KHDRBS2, SNTG1 and ST18). One larger MCR of gain contained NSD1. One focal amplification and nine gains contained FUS. NSD1 and FUS are oncogenes hitherto not known to be associated with lung cancer. FISH showed that the amplicon containing FUS was joined to the next telomeric amplicon at 16p11.2. FUS was over-expressed in 10 tumors with gain of 16p11.2 compared to 30 tumors without that gain. Other cancer genes present in aberrations included ARNT, BCL9, CDK4, CDKN2B, EGFR, ERBB2, MDM2, MDM4, MET, MYC and KRAS. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering with adjustment for false-discovery rate revealed clusters differing by the level and pattern of aberrations and displaying particular tumor characteristics. One cluster was strongly associated with gain of MYC. Another cluster was characterized by extensive losses containing tumor suppressor genes of which RB1 and WRN. Tumors in that cluster frequently harbored a central scar-like fibrosis. A third cluster was associated with gains on 7p and 7q, containing ETV1 and BRAF, and displayed the highest rate of EGFR mutations. SNP array analysis validated copy-number aberrations and revealed that RB1 and WRN were altered by recurrent copy-neutral loss of heterozygosity.
The present study has uncovered new aberrations containing cancer genes. The oncogene FUS is a candidate gene in the 16p region that is frequently gained in never smokers. Multiple genetic pathways defined by gains of MYC, deletions of RB1 and WRN or gains on 7p and 7q are involved in lung adenocarcinoma in never smokers.
CT10 regulator of kinase (Crk) adaptor proteins (CrkI, CrkII and CrkL) play a role in integrating signals for migration and invasion of highly malignant breast cancer cell lines. This has important implications, as elevated CrkI/II protein levels were observed in a small cohort of breast cancer patients, which identified a potential role for Crk proteins in breast cancer progression. Numerous in vitro studies identified a role for Crk proteins in cell motility, but little is known about how Crk proteins contribute to breast cancer progression in vivo.
The clinical significance of Crk proteins in human breast cancer was assessed by analyzing published breast cancer datasets using a gene expression signature that was generated following CrkII over-expression and by examining Crk protein expression in tissue microarrays of breast tumors (n = 254). Stable knockdown of Crk (CrkI/CrkII/CrkL) proteins was accomplished using a short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated approach in two basal breast cancer cell lines, MDA-231 1833TR and SUM1315, where the former have a high affinity to form bone metastases. Both in vitro assays (cell migration, invasion, soft agar growth) and in vivo experiments (intra-cardiac, tibial and mammary fat pad injections) were performed to assess the functional significance of Crk proteins in breast cancer.
A gene signature derived following CrkII over-expression correlated significantly with basal breast cancers and with high grade and poor outcome in general. Moreover, elevated Crk immunostaining on tissue microarrays revealed a significant association with highly proliferative tumors within the basal subtype. RNAi-mediated knockdown of all three Crk proteins in metastatic basal breast cancer cells established a continued requirement for Crk in cell migration and invasion in vitro and metastatic growth in vivo. Furthermore, Crk ablation suppressed anchorage independent growth and in vivo orthotopic tumor growth. This was associated with diminished cell proliferation and was rescued by expression of non-shRNA targeted CrkI/II. Perturbations in tumor progression correlated with altered integrin signaling, including decreased cell spreading, diminished p130Cas phosphorylation, and Cdc42 activation.
These data highlight the physiological importance of Crk proteins in regulating growth of aggressive basal breast cancer cells and identify Crk-dependent signaling networks as promising therapeutic targets.
Gene fusions, like BCR/ABL1 in chronic myelogenous leukemia, have long been recognized in hematologic and mesenchymal malignancies. The recent finding of gene fusions in prostate and lung cancers has motivated the search for pathogenic gene fusions in other malignancies. Here, we developed a “breakpoint analysis” pipeline to discover candidate gene fusions by tell-tale transcript level or genomic DNA copy number transitions occurring within genes. Mining data from 974 diverse cancer samples, we identified 198 candidate fusions involving annotated cancer genes. From these, we validated and further characterized novel gene fusions involving ROS1 tyrosine kinase in angiosarcoma (CEP85L/ROS1), SLC1A2 glutamate transporter in colon cancer (APIP/SLC1A2), RAF1 kinase in pancreatic cancer (ATG7/RAF1) and anaplastic astrocytoma (BCL6/RAF1), EWSR1 in melanoma (EWSR1/CREM), CDK6 kinase in T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (FAM133B/CDK6), and CLTC in breast cancer (CLTC/VMP1). Notably, while these fusions involved known cancer genes, all occurred with novel fusion partners and in previously unreported cancer types. Moreover, several constituted druggable targets (including kinases), with therapeutic implications for their respective malignancies. Lastly, breakpoint analysis identified new cell line models for known rearrangements, including EGFRvIII and FIP1L1/PDGFRA. Taken together, we provide a robust approach for gene fusion discovery, and our results highlight a more widespread role of fusion genes in cancer pathogenesis.
Gene fusions represent an important class of cancer genes, created by rearrangements of the genome that bring together two different genes. Because they are unique to cancer cells, gene fusions are ideal diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. While gene fusions were once thought restricted mainly to blood cancers, recent discoveries suggest they are more widespread. Here, we have developed an approach for mining DNA microarray data to detect the tell-tale signatures of gene fusions, as “breakpoints” occurring within the encoding DNA or expressed transcripts. We apply this approach to a large collection of nearly 1,000 human cancer specimens. From this analysis, we discover and verify twelve new gene fusions occurring in diverse cancer types. We verify that some of these rearrangements recur in other samples of the same cancer type (supporting a causal role) and that the cancers show dependency on the fusion for cancer cell growth. Notably, some of these fusions (e.g. CEP85L/ROS1 in angiosarcoma) represent the first for that cancer type and thus provide important new biological insight. Some are also good drug targets (including rearrangements of ROS1, RAF1, and CDK6 kinases), with clear implications for therapy.
Amplifications at 6p22.3 are prevalent in advanced stage bladder cancer (TCC). Previous studies have identified SOX4, CDKAL, and E2F3 as targets of this amplification and therefore potential oncogenes, but the more telomeric DEK gene too has been reported as overexpressed and amplified. We have therefore investigated whether the intermediate region harboring the oncogene candidate ID4 is also part of the amplicon.
Expression of E2F3, DEK, and ID4 was investigated by real-time RT-PCR in 28 TCC compared to 6 normal bladder tissues and in 15 TCC cell lines compared to cultured normal urothelial cells. Expression of E2F3 as well as DEK increased on average in tumor vs. normal tissues (3-fold and 2.5-fold, resp.), but only the increase for E2F3 was statistically significant (p = 0.039). ID4 overexpression was observed in selected specimens. Each of the three genes was overexpressed in several cell lines, up to 150-fold (ID4), 30-fold (E2F3), and 9-fold (DEK), but these increases were not correlated to each other. Instead, moderate (DEK) to excellent (ID4) correlations were observed with copy number increases of microsatellites near each gene. Microsatellite copy number increases were highly heterogeneous across the investigated several Mb region revealing at least three subregions of amplification.
Extending previous reports, our data indicate that the 6p22.3 amplicon in TCC is highly heterogeneous and targets several genes in a variable fashion. Among these, expression of E2F3 and DEK appear to be generally increased in TCC, with additional increases caused by amplifications. In contrast, over-expression of ID4, which is normally predominantly expressed in testes and brain, appears to depend more strictly on gene amplification. Accordingly, the effect of amplifications at 6p22.3 in bladder cancer is expected to be non-uniform, thereby contributing to the highly variable biological and clinical behavior of advanced stage tumors. ID4 is a potential oncogene in a small subset of bladder cancers.
The Crk adaptor proteins (Crk and CrkL) constitute an integral part of a network of essential signal transduction pathways in humans and other organisms that act as major convergence points in tyrosine kinase signaling. Crk proteins integrate signals from a wide variety of sources, including growth factors, extracellular matrix molecules, bacterial pathogens, and apoptotic cells. Mounting evidence indicates that dysregulation of Crk proteins is associated with human diseases, including cancer and susceptibility to pathogen infections. Recent structural work has identified new and unusual insights into the regulation of Crk proteins, providing a rationale for how Crk can sense diverse signals and produce a myriad of biological responses.
The translocation of the c-abl oncogene from chromosome 9 to the bcr gene on chromosome 22 in cases of Philadelphia chromosome-positive chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) generates an aberrant bcr-abl fusion transcript which may be intimately related to the pathogenesis of CML. Because factors controlling normal bcr expression might also be involved in the expression of this aberrant bcr-abl transcript, we studied the patterns of expression of the normal bcr gene in different cell types. We found that the normal bcr gene was expressed in many different types of human cells. Moreover, the bcr gene was evolutionarily conserved, and homologous bcr genomic sequences and RNA transcripts were readily detected in chick tissue. The highest level of bcr expression in chick tissue was in brain tissue, the lowest level was in liver tissue, and a truncated bcr mRNA was noted in chick testes. Normal bcr transcripts, in addition to the aberrant bcr-abl hybrid transcripts, have been found in all Philadelphia chromosome-positive CML cells studied to date. Within a given CML sample, the relative amounts of normal bcr RNA and aberrant bcr-abl RNA were similar. In addition, the normal bcr and the aberrant bcr-abl hybrid transcripts demonstrated similarly prolonged half-lives compared with that of the normal abl-related transcripts in CML cells. These findings suggest that in CML cells, similar cellular mechanisms control the steady-state levels of both the normal bcr and the bcr-abl fusion RNAs.
Chromosomal translocation is the best-characterized genetic mechanism for oncogene activation. However, there are documented examples of activation by alternate mechanisms, for example gene dosage increase, though its prevalence is unclear. Here, we answered the fundamental question of the contribution of DNA amplification as a molecular mechanism driving oncogenesis. Comparing 104 cancer lines representing diverse tissue origins identified genes residing in amplification ‘hotspots’ and discovered an unexpected frequency of genes activated by this mechanism. The 3431 amplicons identified represent ~10 per hematological and ~36 per epithelial cancer genome. Many recurrently amplified oncogenes were previously known to be activated only by disease-specific translocations. The 135 hotspots identified contain 538 unique genes and are enriched for proliferation, apoptosis and linage-dependency genes, reflecting functions advantageous to tumor growth. Integrating gene dosage with expression data validated the downstream impact of the novel amplification events in both cell lines and clinical samples. For example, multiple downstream components of the EGFR-family-signaling pathway, including CDK5, AKT1 and SHC1, are overexpressed as a direct result of gene amplification in lung cancer. Our findings suggest that amplification is far more common a mechanism of oncogene activation than previously believed and that specific regions of the genome are hotspots of amplification.
gene amplification; array CGH; gene expression; integrative analysis; lung cancer; EGFR signaling
Lung cancer is a complex spectrum of diseases characterized by extensive genomic instability, which can be detected among both histological subtypes and different foci within a tumor. Conventional and cutting edge investigative technologies have uncovered scores of genomic changes in individual specimens that have been used to characterize specific molecular subtypes. Oncogenes with predominant roles in lung cancer include EGFR, MYC and RAS family members, PIK3CA, NKX2-1 and ALK; tumor suppressor genes include TP53, RB1, CDKN2, and a cluster of genes mapped at 3p. MicroRNA regulators also have been linked to lung cancer. The functional role of the recurrent genomic changes in lung tumors has been explored, which has led to a better understanding of cell growth, differentiation and apoptotic pathways. Additionally, this knowledge has supported the development of novel therapeutics and translational tools for selection of patients for personalized therapy.
chromosomal aberrations; gene amplification; gene fusion; oncogene; tumor suppressor gene; microRNA