Colorectal cancer arises as a consequence of the accumulation of genetic alterations (gene mutations, gene amplification, and so on) and epigenetic alterations (aberrant DNA methylation, chromatin modifications, and so on) that transform colonic epithelial cells into colon adenocarcinoma cells. The loss of genomic stability and resulting gene alterations are key molecular pathogenic steps that occur early in tumorigenesis; they permit the acquisition of a sufficient number of alterations in tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes that transform cells and promote tumor progression. Two predominant forms of genomic instability that have been identified in colon cancer are microsatellite instability and chromosome instability. Substantial progress has been made to identify causes of chromosomal instability in colorectal cells and to determine the effects of the different forms of genomic instability on the biological and clinical behavior of colon tumors. In addition to genomic instability, epigenetic instability results in the aberrant methylation of tumor suppressor genes. Determining the causes and roles of genomic and epigenomic instability in colon tumor formation has the potential to yield more effective prevention strategies and therapeutics for patients with colorectal cancer.
Cancer is a genetic disorder in which gene alterations are selected to provide growth advantage by oncogene activation and/or tumor suppressor gene inactivation. Even marked intra-tumor variation in the histologic pattern, which is common in gastric carcinoma, is considered a result of distinct oncogenic pathways coexisting together. The present review describes that most gastric carcinomas arise through two distinct genetic pathways: microsatellite instability targeting the mononucleotide tracts within coding regions of cancer-related genes and chromosomal deletion involving tumor suppressor genes. With regard to malignant phenotypes, microsatellite instability is associated with the intestinal histological type and chromosomal deletion is correlated with the growth pattern of gastric carcinoma. Moreover, the genetic instability would in turn lead to an increase in alterations of cancer-related genes. The corresponding cells gradually manifest diverse neoplastic properties, thus bringing about consecutive subclonal evolution of more malignant cells. We now have some dues leading to the characterization of phenotypic complexity of gastric carcinoma based on gene-inactivation mechanisms.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a heterogeneous disease, developing through a multipathway sequence of events guided by clonal selections. Pathways included in the development of CRC may be broadly categorized into (a) genomic instability, including chromosomal instability (CIN), microsatellite instability (MSI), and CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP), (b) genomic mutations including suppression of tumour suppressor genes and activation of tumour oncogenes, (c) microRNA, and (d) epigenetic changes. As cancer becomes more advanced, invasion and metastases are facilitated through the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), with additional genetic alterations. Despite ongoing identification of genetic and epigenetic markers and the understanding of alternative pathways involved in the development and progression of this disease, CRC remains the second highest cause of malignancy-related mortality in Canada. The molecular events that underlie the tumorigenesis of primary and metastatic colorectal carcinoma are detailed in this manuscript.
Genomic DNA copy number aberrations are frequent in solid tumors, although the underlying causes of chromosomal instability in tumors remain obscure. Genes likely to have genomic instability phenotypes when mutated (e.g. those involved in mitosis, replication, repair, and telomeres) are rarely mutated in chromosomally unstable sporadic tumors, even though such mutations are associated with some heritable cancer prone syndromes.
We applied array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) to the analysis of breast tumors. The variation in the levels of genomic instability amongst tumors prompted us to investigate whether alterations in processes/genes involved in maintenance and/or manipulation of the genome were associated with particular types of genomic instability.
We discriminated three breast tumor subtypes based on genomic DNA copy number alterations. The subtypes varied with respect to level of genomic instability. We find that shorter telomeres and altered telomere related gene expression are associated with amplification, implicating telomere attrition as a promoter of this type of aberration in breast cancer. On the other hand, the numbers of chromosomal alterations, particularly low level changes, are associated with altered expression of genes in other functional classes (mitosis, cell cycle, DNA replication and repair). Further, although loss of function instability phenotypes have been demonstrated for many of the genes in model systems, we observed enhanced expression of most genes in tumors, indicating that over expression, rather than deficiency underlies instability.
Many of the genes associated with higher frequency of copy number aberrations are direct targets of E2F, supporting the hypothesis that deregulation of the Rb pathway is a major contributor to chromosomal instability in breast tumors. These observations are consistent with failure to find mutations in sporadic tumors in genes that have roles in maintenance or manipulation of the genome.
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer in men and the second most common cancer in women worldwide. Both genetic and epigenetic alterations are common in CRC and are the driving force of tumorigenesis. The adenoma-carcinoma sequence was proposed in the 1980s that described transformation of normal colorectal epithelium to an adenoma and ultimately to an invasive and metastatic tumor. Initial genetic changes start in an early adenoma and accumulate as it transforms to carcinoma. Chromosomal instability, microsatellite instability and CpG island methylator phenotype pathways are responsible for genetic instability in colorectal cancer. Chromosomal instability pathway consist of activation of proto-oncogenes (KRAS) and inactivation of at least three tumor suppression genes, namely loss of APC, p53 and loss of heterozogosity (LOH) of long arm of chromosome 18. Mutations of TGFBR and PIK3CA genes have also been recently described. Herein we briefly discuss the basic concepts of genetic integrity and the consequences of defects in the DNA repair relevant to CRC. Epigenetic alterations, essential in CRC tumorigenesis, are also reviewed alongside clinical information relevant to CRC.
Several scientists have proposed that DNA repair deficiencies and the induction of a mutator phenotype are responsible for the generation of multiple mutagenic alterations in cancer cells. I propose that exposure to environmental carcinogens can induce DNA lesions, elicit infidelity of DNA repair, and cause the instability phenomenon and the subsequent consequences. Using cell lines derived from mammary glands of irradiated mice, my laboratory conducted sequential studies to document genetic events leading to the development of malignant cells in vitro. We found that aneuploidy and extensive chromosome breaks and rearrangements occurred early. This is followed by inactivation of the retinoblastoma tumor-suppressor gene, amplification of the myc oncogene, and expression of the tumorigenic phenotype. Our observation of chromosome instability at the early phase of transformation is consistent with the mutator phenotype. We suggest that a cause of the instability is infidelity of DNA repair, and we have developed a challenge assay to elucidate this phenomenon. In this assay, cells are challenged to repair radiation-induced DNA lesions. In one of our studies, lymphocytes from cigarette smokers and nonsmokers were exposed to gamma rays in vitro. Cells from smokers had significantly more rearranged chromosomes than cells from nonsmokers after the challenge. These data suggest that smokers have infidelity of DNA repair and that this repair problem is a cause of health effects in smokers. In an in vitro study, lymphocytes were exposed to mitomycin C or to nickel acetate and then irradiated with gamma rays. Significantly increased frequencies of rearranged chromosomes were detected with low doses of mitomycin C and nickel, which do not cause chromosome damage by themselves.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
The development of genomic instability is an important step in generating the multiple genetic changes required for cancer. One consequence of genomic instability is the overexpression of oncogenes due to gene amplification. One mechanism for gene amplification is the breakage/fusion/bridge (B/F/B) cycle that involves the repeated fusion and breakage of chromosomes following the loss of a telomere. B/F/B cycles have been associated with low-copy gene amplification in human cancer cells, and have been proposed to be an initiating event in high-copy gene amplification. We have found that spontaneous telomere loss on a marker chromosome 16 in a human tumor cell line results in sister chromatid fusion and prolonged periods of chromosome instability. The high rate of anaphase bridges involving chromosome 16 demonstrates that this instability results from B/F/B cycles. The amplification of subtelomeric DNA on the marker chromosome provides conclusive evidence that B/F/B cycles initiated by spontaneous telomere loss are a mechanism for gene amplification in human cancer cells.
chromosome fusion; breakage/fusion/bridge cycles; DNA amplification; telomere; chromosome instability; ES, embryonic stem; HSV-tk, herpes simplex virus thymidine kinase; bp, base pair; PNA, peptide nucleic acid; B/F/B, breakage/fusion/bridge; DAPI, 4,6-diamino-2-phenylindole; BAC, bacterial artificial chromosome; DM, double minute
Unravelling the molecular mechanisms underlying gastric carcinogenesis is one of the major challenges in cancer genomics. Gastric cancer is a very complex and heterogeneous disease, and although much has been learned about the different genetic changes that eventually lead to its development, the detailed mechanisms still remain unclear. Malignant transformation of gastric cells is the consequence of a multistep process involving different genetic and epigenetic changes in numerous genes in combination with host genetic background and environmental factors. The majority of gastric adenocarcinomas are characterized by genetic instability, either microsatellite instability (MSI) or chromosomal instability (CIN). It is believed that chromosome destabilizations occur early in tumour progression. This review summarizes the most common genetic alterations leading to instability in sporadic gastric cancers and its consequences.
The incidence of lung adenocarcinoma has been remarkably increasing in recent years due to the introduction of filter cigarettes and secondary-hand smoking because the people are more exposed to higher amounts of nitrogen oxides, especially 4-(methylnitrosamino)-1-(3-pyridyl)-1-butanone(NNK), which is widely applied in animal model of lung tumors. In NNK-induced lung tumors, genetic mutation, chromosome instability, gene methylation, and activation of oncogenes have been found so as to disrupt the expression profiles of some proteins or enzymes in various cellular signal pathways. Transgenic animal with specific alteration of lung cancer-related molecules have also been introduced to clarify the molecular mechanisms of NNK in the pathogenesis and development of lung tumors. Based on these animal models, many antioxidant ingredients and antitumor chemotherapeutic agents have been proved to suppress the NNK-induced lung carcinogenesis. In the future, it is necessary to delineate the most potent biomarkers of NNK-induced lung tumorigenesis, and to develop efficient methods to fight against NNK-associated lung cancer using animal models.
Most of the colorectal cancer (CRC) cases are sporadic, only 25% of the patients have a family history of the disease, and major genes causing syndromes predisposing to CRC only account for 5-6% of the total cases. The following subtypes can be recognized: MIN (microsatellite instability), CIN (chromosomal instability), and CIMP (CpG island methylator phenotype). CIN occurs in 80–85% of CRC. Chromosomal instability proceeds through two major mechanisms, missegregation that results in aneuploidy through the gain or loss of whole chromosomes, and unbalanced structural rearrangements that lead to the loss and/or gain of chromosomal regions. The loss of heterozygosity that occur in the first phases of the CRC cancerogenesis (in particular for the genes on 18q) as well as the alteration of methylation pattern of multiple key genes can drive the development of colorectal cancer by facilitating the acquisition of multiple tumor-associated mutations and the instability phenotype.
DNA aberrations that cause colorectal cancer (CRC) occur in multiple steps that involve microsatellite instability (MSI) and chromosomal instability (CIN). Herein, we studied CRCs from AA patients for their CIN and MSI status.
Array CGH was performed on 30 AA colon tumors. The MSI status was established. The CGH data from AA were compared to published lists of 41 TSG and oncogenes in Caucasians and 68 cancer genes, proposed via systematic sequencing for somatic mutations in colon and breast tumors. The patient-by-patient CGH profiles were organized into a maximum parsimony cladogram to give insights into the tumors' aberrations lineage.
The CGH analysis revealed that CIN was independent of age, gender, stage or location. However, both the number and nature of aberrations seem to depend on the MSI status. MSI-H tumors clustered together in the cladogram. The chromosomes with the highest rates of CGH aberrations were 3, 5, 7, 8, 20 and X. Chromosome X was primarily amplified in male patients. A comparison with Caucasians revealed an overall similar aberration profile with few exceptions for the following genes; THRB, RAF1, LPL, DCC, XIST, PCNT, STS and genes on the 20q12-q13 cytoband. Among the 68 CAN genes, all showed some level of alteration in our cohort.
Chromosome X amplification in male patients with CRC merits follow-up. The observed CIN may play a distinctive role in CRC in AAs. The clustering of MSI-H tumors in global CGH data analysis suggests that chromosomal aberrations are not random.
Genetic instability is a hallmark of tumours and preneoplastic lesions. The predominant form of genome instability in human cancer is chromosome instability (CIN). CIN is characterized by chromosomal aberrations, gains or losses of whole chromosomes (aneuploidy), and it is often associated with centrosome amplification. Centrosomes control cell division by forming a bipolar mitotic spindle and play an essential role in the maintenance of chromosomal stability.
However, whether centrosome amplification could directly cause aneuploidy is not fully established. Also, alterations in genes required for mitotic progression could be involved in CIN.
A major candidate is represented by Aurora-A/STK15 that associates with centrosomes and is overexpressed in several types of human tumour.
Centrosome amplification were induced by hydroxyurea treatment and visualized by immunofluorescence microscopy. Aurora-A/STK15 ectopic expression was achieved by retroviral infection and puromycin selection in HCT116 tumour cells. Effects of Aurora-A/STK15 depletion on centrosome status and ploidy were determined by Aurora-A/STK15 transcriptional silencing by RNA interference. Changes in the expression levels of some mitotic genes were determined by Real time RT-PCR.
We investigated whether amplification of centrosomes and overexpression of Aurora-A/STK15 induce CIN using as a model system a colon carcinoma cell line (HCT116). We found that in HCT116 cells, chromosomally stable and near diploid cells harbouring a MIN phenotype, centrosome amplification induced by hydroxyurea treatment is neither maintained nor induces aneuploidy. On the contrary, ectopic overexpression of Aurora-A/STK15 induced supernumerary centrosomes and aneuploidy. Aurora-A/STK15 transcriptional silencing by RNA interference in cells ectopically overexpressing this kinase promptly decreased cell numbers with supernumerary centrosomes and aneuploidy.
Our results show that centrosome amplification alone is not sufficient to induce chromosomal instability in colon cancer cells with a MIN phenotype. Alternatively, centrosome amplification has to be associated with alterations in genes regulating mitosis progression such as Aurora-A/STK15 to trigger CIN.
Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) are a life-threatening complication of solid organ transplantation or, more rarely, hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The majority of PTLD is of B-cell origin and associated with Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) infection. PTLD generally display involvement of extranodal sites, aggressive histology and aggressive clinical behavior. The molecular pathogenesis of PTLD involves infection by oncogenic viruses, namely EBV, as well as genetic or epigenetic alterations of several cellular genes. At variance with lymphoma arising in immunocompetent hosts, whose genome is relatively stable, a fraction of PTLD are characterized by microsatellite instability as a consequence of defects in the DNA mismatch repair mechanism. Apart from microsatellite instability, molecular alterations of cellular genes recognized in PTLD include alterations of cMYC, BCL6, TP53, DNA hypermethylation, and aberrant somatic hypermutation of protooncogenes. The occurrence of IGV mutations in the overwhelming majority of PTLD documents that malignant transformation targets germinal centre (GC) B-cells and their descendants both in EBV–positive and EBV–negative cases. Analysis of phenotypic markers of B-cell histogenesis, namely BCL6, MUM1 and CD138, allows further distinction of PTLD histogenetic categories. PTLD expressing the BCL6+/MUM1+/-/CD138− profile reflect B-cells actively experiencing the GC reaction, and comprise diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) centroblastic and Burkitt lymphoma. PTLD expressing the BCL6−/MUM1+/CD138− phenotype putatively derive from B-cells that have concluded the GC reaction, and comprise the majority of polymorphic PTLD and a fraction of DLBCL immunoblastic. A third group of PTLD is reminiscent of post-GC and preterminally differentiated B-cells that show the BCL6−/MUM1+/CD138+ phenotype, and are morphologically represented by either polymorphic PTLD or DLBCL immunoblastic.
Carcinogenesis typically involves multiple somatic mutations in caretaker (DNA repair) and gatekeeper (tumor suppressors and oncogenes) genes. Analysis of mutation spectra of the tumor suppressor that is most commonly mutated in human cancers, p53, unexpectedly suggested that somatic evolution of the p53 gene during tumorigenesis is dominated by positive selection for gain of function. This conclusion is supported by accumulating experimental evidence of evolution of new functions of p53 in tumors. These findings prompted a genome-wide analysis of possible positive selection during tumor evolution.
A comprehensive analysis of probable somatic mutations in the sequences of Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) from malignant tumors and normal tissues was performed in order to access the prevalence of positive selection in cancer evolution. For each EST, the numbers of synonymous and non-synonymous substitutions were calculated. In order to identify genes with a signature of positive selection in cancers, these numbers were compared to: i) expected numbers and ii) the numbers for the respective genes in the ESTs from normal tissues.
We identified 112 genes with a signature of positive selection in cancers, i.e., a significantly elevated ratio of non-synonymous to synonymous substitutions, in tumors as compared to 37 such genes in an approximately equal-sized EST collection from normal tissues. A substantial fraction of the tumor-specific positive-selection candidates have experimentally demonstrated or strongly predicted links to cancer.
The results of EST analysis should be interpreted with extreme caution given the noise introduced by sequencing errors and undetected polymorphisms. Furthermore, an inherent limitation of EST analysis is that multiple mutations amenable to statistical analysis can be detected only in relatively highly expressed genes. Nevertheless, the present results suggest that positive selection might affect a substantial number of genes during tumorigenic somatic evolution.
Colorectal cancers (CRC)-and probably all cancers-are caused by alterations in genes. This includes activation of oncogenes and inactivation of tumor suppressor genes (TSGs). There are many ways to achieve these alterations. Oncogenes are frequently activated by point mutation, gene amplification, or changes in the promoter (typically caused by chromosomal rearrangements). TSGs are typically inactivated by mutation, deletion, or promoter methylation, which silences gene expression. About 15% of CRC is associated with loss of the DNA mismatch repair system, and the resulting CRCs have a unique phenotype that is called microsatellite instability, or MSI. This paper reviews the types of genetic alterations that can be found in CRCs and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and focuses upon the epigenetic alterations that result in promoter methylation and the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP). The challenge facing CRC research and clinical care at this time is to deal with the heterogeneity and complexity of these genetic and epigenetic alterations, and to use this information to direct rational prevention and treatment strategies.
Colorectal cancer; promoter methylation; CIMP; Lynch syndrome; HNPCC; microsatellite instability; chromosomal instability; hepatocellular carcinoma
Chromosomal instability is a hallmark of many tumor types. Complex chromosomal rearrangements with associated gene amplification, known as complicons, characterize many hematologic and solid cancers. While chromosomal aberrations, including complicons, are useful diagnostic and prognostic cancer markers, their molecular origins are not known. Although accumulating evidence has implicated DNA double strand break repair in suppression of oncogenic genome instability, the genomic elements required for chromosome rearrangements, especially complex lesions, have not been elucidated. Using a mouse model of B-lineage lymphoma, characterized by complicon formation involving the immunoglobulin heavy chain (Igh) locus and the c-myc oncogene, we have now investigated the requirement for specific genomic segments as donors for complex rearrangements. We now demonstrate that specific DNA double strand breaks, occurring within a narrow segment of Igh are necessary to initiate complicon formation. By contrast, neither specific DNA breaks nor the powerful intronic enhancer Eμ are required for complicon-independent oncogenesis. This study is the first to delineate mechanisms of complex versus simple instability, and the first to identify specific chromosomal elements required for complex chromosomal aberrations. These findings will illuminate genomic cancer susceptibility and risk factors.
The cancer genome contains many gene alterations. How cancer cells acquire these alterations is a matter for discussion. One hypothesis is that cancer cells obtain mutations in genome stability genes at an early stage of tumor development, which results in genetic instability and generates a gene pool that enhances cellular proliferation and survival. Another hypothesis puts its emphasis on the natural selection of gene mutations for fitness. Recent data for systematic cancer genome sequencing shows that mutations in stability genes are rare in human sporadic cancers. Instead, many “passenger” mutations that do not drive the carcinogenesis process have been found in the cancer genome. Both the hypotheses mentioned above fall short in explaining recent data. Recently, many studies demonstrate the role of the tumor microenvironment, especially hypoxia and reoxygenation, in genetic instability. In this review, literature will be presented which supports a third hypothesis, i.e. that hypoxia/re-oxygenation induces genetic instability.
Tumor Hypoxia; Microsatellite Instability (MSI); Chromosomal Instability (CIN); Genetic Instability and Cancer Genes
Cancer develops following the accumulation of genetic and epigenetic alterations that inactivate tumor suppressor genes and activate proto-oncogenes. Dysregulated cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) activity has oncogenic potential in breast cancer due to its ability to inactivate key tumor suppressor networks and drive aberrant proliferation. Accumulation or over-expression of cyclin D1 (CCND1) occurs in a majority of breast cancers and over-expression of CCND1 leads to accumulation of activated CCND1/CDK2 complexes in breast cancer cells. We describe here the role of constitutively active CCND1/CDK2 complexes in human mammary epithelial cell (HMEC) transformation. A genetically-defined, stepwise HMEC transformation model was generated by inhibiting p16 and p53 with shRNA, and expressing exogenous MYC and mutant RAS. By replacing components of this model, we demonstrate that constitutive CCND1/CDK2 activity effectively confers anchorage independent growth by inhibiting p53 or replacing MYC or oncogenic RAS expression. These findings are consistent with several clinical observations of luminal breast cancer sub-types that show elevated CCND1 typically occurs in specimens that retain wild-type p53, do not amplify MYC, and contain no RAS mutations. Taken together, these data suggest that targeted inhibition of constitutive CCND1/CDK2 activity may enhance the effectiveness of current treatments for luminal breast cancer.
A variety of genetic and molecular alterations underlie the development and progression of colorectal neoplasia (CRN). Most of these cancers arise sporadically due to multiple somatic mutations and genetic instability. Genetic instability includes chromosomal instability (CIN) and microsatellite instability (MSI), which is observed in most hereditary non-polyposis colon cancers (HNPCCs) and accounts for a small proportion of sporadic CRN. Although many biomarkers have been used in the diagnosis and prediction of the clinical outcomes of CRNs, no single marker has established value. New markers and genes associated with the development and progression of CRNs are being discovered at an accelerated rate. CRN is a heterogeneous disease, especially with respect to the anatomic location of the tumor, race/ethnicity differences, and genetic and dietary interactions that influence its development and progression and act as confounders. Hence, efforts related to biomarker discovery should focus on identification of individual differences based on tumor stage, tumor anatomic location, and race/ethnicity; on the discovery of molecules (genes, mRNA transcripts, and proteins) relevant to these differences; and on development of therapeutic approaches to target these molecules in developing personalized medicine. Such strategies have the potential of reducing the personal and socio-economic burden of CRNs. Here, we systematically review molecular and other pathologic features as they relate to the development, early detection, diagnosis, prognosis, progression, and prevention of CRNs, especially colorectal cancers (CRCs).
Early detection; molecular diagnosis; prognosis; molecular staging; colorectal cancer
Bloom's syndrome (BS) is a genetic disorder characterized cellularly by increases in sister chromatid exchanges (SCEs) and numbers of micronuclei. BS is caused by mutation in the BLM DNA helicase gene and involves a greatly enhanced risk of developing the range of malignancies seen in the general population. With a mouse model for the disease, we set out to determine the relationship between genomic instability and neoplasia. We used a novel two-step analysis to investigate a panel of eight cell lines developed from mammary tumors that appeared in Blm conditional knockout mice. First, the panel of cell lines was examined for instability. High numbers of SCEs were uniformly seen in members of the panel, and several lines produced chromosomal instability (CIN) manifested by high numbers of chromosomal structural aberrations (CAs) and chromosome missegregation events. Second, to see if Blm mutation was responsible for the CIN, time-dependent analysis was conducted on a tumor line harboring a functional floxed Blm allele. The floxed allele was deleted in vitro, and mutant as well as control subclones were cultured for 100 passages. By passage 100, six of nine mutant subclones had acquired high CIN. Nine mutant subclones produced 50-fold more CAs than did nine control subclones. Finally, chromosome loss preceded the appearance of CIN, suggesting that this loss provides a potential mechanism for the induction of instability in mutant subclones. Such aneuploidy or CIN is a universal feature of neoplasia but has an uncertain function in oncogenesis. Our results show that Blm gene mutation produces this instability, strengthening a role for CIN in the development of human cancer.
The incidence of cutaneous malignant melanomas is growing faster than that of any other cancer and therefore posing a major heath threat worldwide. In melanocytic skin tumours, the feasibility of correlating a specific pathological stage with a corresponding genetic alteration provides a remarkable opportunity to study the multistep tumorigenesis model. This multistep melanoma tumorigenesis is best described as a continuum of transformation of the melanocytes, melanocytic dysplasia, and melanoma formation. These steps involve genotypic alterations including loss of tumour suppressor genes, microsatellite instability, and alterations of the mismatch repair system. This review seeks to examine melanoma tumorigenesis based on these genetic changes.
melanoma; allelic loss; microsatellite instability
Genetic instability is a defining feature of human cancer. The main type of genetic instability, chromosomal instability (CIN), enhances the rate of gross chromosomal changes during cell division. CIN is brought about by mutations of CIN genes, i.e. genes that are involved in maintaining the genomic integrity of the cell. A major question in cancer genetics is whether genetic instability is a cause and hence a driving force of tumorigenesis. A mathematical framework for studying the somatic evolution of cancer sheds light onto the causal relations between CIN and human cancer.
genetic instability; tumour suppressor genes; somatic evolution of cancer; mathematical modelling
Aims/Background: The development of colorectal cancer depends on at least two distinct pathways involving genetic instability, namely: chromosome instability (CIN) and microsatellite instability. Cyclin E is involved in aneuploidy and several cancer types show an abnormal number of chromosomes.
Methods: Cyclin E protein and mRNA values were analysed in human fetal skin fibroblasts and five colorectal cancer cell lines.
Results: Cells with an aberrant number of chromosomes had higher cyclin E mRNA values and a significant increase in protein concentrations.
Conclusions: These data suggest that cyclin E regulation is altered in aneuploid cells and is an important factor in the CIN pathway.
cyclin dependent kinase; cyclin; chromosome instability; colorectal cancer; aneuploidy
Cancer cells display widespread changes in DNA methylation that may lead to genetic instability by global hypomethylation and aberrant silencing of tumor suppressor genes by focal hypermethylation. In turn, altered DNA methylation patterns have been used to identify putative tumor suppressor genes.
In a methylation screening approach, we identified ECRG4 as a differentially methylated gene. We analyzed different cancer cells for ECRG4 promoter methylation by COBRA and bisulfite sequencing. Gene expression analysis was carried out by semi-quantitative RT-PCR. The ECRG4 coding region was cloned and transfected into colorectal carcinoma cells. Cell growth was assessed by MTT and BrdU assays. ECRG4 localization was analyzed by fluorescence microscopy and Western blotting after transfection of an ECRG4-eGFP fusion gene.
We found a high frequency of ECRG4 promoter methylation in various cancer cell lines. Remarkably, aberrant methylation of ECRG4 was also found in primary human tumor tissues, including samples from colorectal carcinoma and from malignant gliomas. ECRG4 hypermethylation associated strongly with transcriptional silencing and its expression could be re-activated in vitro by demethylating treatment with 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. Overexpression of ECRG4 in colorectal carcinoma cells led to a significant decrease in cell growth. In transfected cells, ECRG4 protein was detectable within the Golgi secretion machinery as well as in the culture medium.
ECRG4 is silenced via promoter hypermethylation in different types of human cancer cells. Its gene product may act as inhibitor of cell proliferation in colorectal carcinoma cells and may play a role as extracellular signaling molecule.
Most cancers progress with the accumulation of genetic mutations with time and this is frequently associated with the acquisition of genomic instability in the form of whole chromosome changes, chromosomal rearrangements, gene amplifications or smaller changes at the nucleotide level. Whole chromosome instability (W-CIN), characterised by aneuploidy, is a major form of genomic instability observed in human cancers and several lines of evidence now support the argument that W-CIN is a promoter of tumourigenesis rather than being a passenger event. The primary mechanism proposed for evolution of CIN is abnormalities in mitosis/cytokinesis. However, mutations in genes directly involved in controlling mitosis/cytokinesis are rare in human cancers and so the mechanisms underpinning the evolution of CIN in cancers are not currently clear. On the other hand, mutations in RAS or BRAF are frequently found in human cancers, many of which demonstrate CIN, suggesting a possible link between deregulated signaling through the RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathway and CIN. In this review, we focus on a potential relationship between deregulated RAS/RAF signaling and CIN, and discuss possible mechanisms connecting the two.
RAS; BRAF; CRAF; oncogenes; genome instability; aneuploidy; ERK; mouse models; cancer