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1.  Exquisite Sensitivity of TP53 Mutant and Basal Breast Cancers to a Dose-Dense Epirubicin−Cyclophosphamide Regimen 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(3):e90.
In breast cancers, only a minority of patients fully benefit from the different chemotherapy regimens currently in use. Identification of markers that could predict the response to a particular regimen would thus be critically important for patient care. In cell lines or animal models, tumor protein p53 (TP53) plays a critical role in modulating the response to genotoxic drugs. TP53 is activated in response to DNA damage and triggers either apoptosis or cell-cycle arrest, which have opposite effects on cell fate. Yet, studies linking TP53 status and chemotherapy response have so far failed to unambiguously establish this paradigm in patients. Breast cancers with a TP53 mutation were repeatedly shown to have a poor outcome, but whether this reflects poor response to treatment or greater intrinsic aggressiveness of the tumor is unknown.
Methods and Findings
In this study we analyzed 80 noninflammatory breast cancers treated by frontline (neoadjuvant) chemotherapy. Tumor diagnoses were performed on pretreatment biopsies, and the patients then received six cycles of a dose-dense regimen of 75 mg/m2 epirubicin and 1,200 mg/m2 cyclophosphamide, given every 14 days. After completion of chemotherapy, all patients underwent mastectomies, thus allowing for a reliable assessment of chemotherapy response. The pretreatment biopsy samples were used to determine the TP53 status through a highly efficient yeast functional assay and to perform RNA profiling. All 15 complete responses occurred among the 28 TP53-mutant tumors. Furthermore, among the TP53-mutant tumors, nine out of ten of the highly aggressive basal subtypes (defined by basal cytokeratin [KRT] immunohistochemical staining) experienced complete pathological responses, and only TP53 status and basal subtype were independent predictors of a complete response. Expression analysis identified many mutant TP53-associated genes, including CDC20, TTK, CDKN2A, and the stem cell gene PROM1, but failed to identify a transcriptional profile associated with complete responses among TP53 mutant tumors. In patients with unresponsive tumors, mutant TP53 status predicted significantly shorter overall survival. The 15 patients with responsive TP53-mutant tumors, however, had a favorable outcome, suggesting that this chemotherapy regimen can overcome the poor prognosis generally associated with mutant TP53 status.
This study demonstrates that, in noninflammatory breast cancers, TP53 status is a key predictive factor for response to this dose-dense epirubicin–cyclophosphamide regimen and further suggests that the basal subtype is exquisitely sensitive to this association. Given the well-established predictive value of complete responses for long-term survival and the poor prognosis of basal and TP53-mutant tumors treated with other regimens, this chemotherapy could be particularly suited for breast cancer patients with a mutant TP53, particularly those with basal features.
Hugues de The and colleagues report thatTP53 status is a predictive factor for responsiveness in breast cancers to a dose-dense epirubicin-cyclophosphamide chemotherapy regimen, and suggests that this regimen might be well suited for patientsTP53 mutant tumors.
Editors' Summary
One woman in eight will develop breast cancer during her life. As with other cancers, breast cancer arises when cells accumulate genetic changes (mutations) that allow them to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. These altered cells are called malignant cells. The normal human breast contains several types of cell, any of which can become malignant. In addition, there is more than one route to malignancy—different sets of genes can be mutated. As a result, breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease that cannot be cured with a single type of treatment. Ideally, oncologists would like to know before they start treating a patient which therapeutic approach is going to be successful for that individual. Recently, researchers have begun to identify molecular changes that might eventually allow oncologists to make such rational treatment decisions. For example, laboratory studies in cell lines or animals indicate that the status of a gene called TP53 determines the chemotherapy agents (drugs that preferentially kill rapidly dividing cancer cells) to which cells respond. p53, the protein encoded by TP53, is a tumor suppressor. That is, in normal cells it prevents unregulated growth by controlling the expression of proteins involved in cell division and cell death. Consequently, p53 is often inactivated during cancer development.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although laboratory studies have linked TP53 status to chemotherapy responses, little is known about this relationship in human breast cancers. The clinical studies that have investigated whether TP53 status affects chemotherapy responses have generally found that patients whose tumors contain mutant TP53 have a poorer response to therapy and/or a shorter survival time than those whose tumors contain normal TP53. In this study, the researchers have asked whether TP53 status affects tumor responses to a dose-intense chemotherapy regimen (frequent, high doses of drugs) given to women with advanced noninflammatory breast cancer before surgery. This type of treatment is called neoadjuvant chemotherapy and is used to shrink tumors before surgery.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected breast tumor samples from 80 women before starting six fortnightly cycles of chemotherapy with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide. After this, each woman had her affected breast removed and examined to see whether the chemotherapy had killed the tumor cells. The researchers determined which original tumor samples contained mutated TP53 and used a technique called microarray expression profiling to document gene expression patterns in them. Overall, 28 tumors contained mutated TP53. Strikingly, all 15 tumors that responded completely to neoadjuvant chemotherapy (no tumor cells detectable in the breast tissue after chemotherapy) contained mutated TP53. Nine of these responsive tumors were basal-cell–like breast tumors, a particularly aggressive type of breast cancer; only one basal-cell–like, TP53-mutated tumor did not respond to chemotherapy. Patients whose tumors were unresponsive to the neoadjuvant chemotherapy but contained mutated TP53 tended to die sooner than those whose tumors contained normal TP53 or those with chemotherapy-responsive TP53-mutated tumors. Finally, expression profiling identified changes in the expression of many p53-regulated genes, but did not identify an expression profile in the TP53-mutated tumors unique to those that responded to chemotherapy.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that noninflammatory breast tumors containing mutant TP53—in particular, basal-cell–like tumors—are very sensitive to dose-dense epirubicin and cyclophosphamide chemotherapy. Intensive regimens of this type have rarely been used in previous studies, which might explain the apparent contradiction between these results and the generally poor response to chemotherapy of TP53-mutated breast tumors. More tumors now need to be examined to confirm the association between complete response, TP53 status and basal-cell–like tumors. In addition, although complete tumor responses generally predict good overall survival, longer survival studies than those reported here are needed to show that the tumor response to this particular neoadjuvant chemotherapy regimen translates into improved overall survival. If the present results can be confirmed and extended, dose-dense neoadjuvant chemotherapy with epirubicin and cyclophosphamide could considerably improve the outlook for patients with aggressive TP53-mutant, basal-cell–like breast tumors.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
The US National Cancer Institute provides patient and physician information on breast cancer and general information on understanding cancer
Cancer Research UK offers patient information on cancer and breast cancer
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has pages on breast cancer
Emory University's CancerQuest discusses the biology of cancer, including the role of tumor suppressor proteins
Wikipedia has pages on p53 (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1831731  PMID: 17388661
2.  Molecular characteristics of endometrial cancer coexisting with peritoneal malignant mesothelioma in Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome 
BMC Cancer  2015;15:8.
Endometrial cancer that occurs concurrently with peritoneal malignant mesothelioma (PMM) is difficult to diagnose preoperatively.
Case presentation
A postmenopausal woman had endometrial cancer extending to the cervix, vagina and pelvic lymph nodes, and PMM in bilateral ovaries, cul-de-sac, and multiple peritoneal sites. Adjuvant therapies included chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Targeted, massively parallel DNA sequencing and molecular inversion probe microarray analysis revealed a germline TP53 mutation compatible with Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome, somatic mutations of PIK3CA in the endometrial cancer, and a somatic mutation of GNA11 and JAK3 in the PMM. Large-scale genomic amplifications and some deletions were found in the endometrial cancer. The patient has been stable for 24 months after therapy. One of her four children was also found to carry the germline TP53 mutation.
Molecular characterization of the coexistent tumors not only helps us make the definite diagnosis, but also provides information to select targeted therapies if needed in the future. Identification of germline TP53 mutation further urged us to monitor future development of malignancies in this patient and encourage cancer screening in her family.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12885-015-1010-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4312462  PMID: 25588929
Endometrial cancer; Peritoneal malignant mesothelioma; Massively parallel DNA sequencing; Molecular inversion probe microarray
3.  Familial adenomatous polyposis 
Familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP) is characterized by the development of many tens to thousands of adenomas in the rectum and colon during the second decade of life. FAP has an incidence at birth of about 1/8,300, it manifests equally in both sexes, and accounts for less than 1% of colorectal cancer (CRC) cases. In the European Union, prevalence has been estimated at 1/11,300-37,600. Most patients are asymptomatic for years until the adenomas are large and numerous, and cause rectal bleeding or even anemia, or cancer develops. Generally, cancers start to develop a decade after the appearance of the polyps. Nonspecific symptoms may include constipation or diarrhea, abdominal pain, palpable abdominal masses and weight loss. FAP may present with some extraintestinal manifestations such as osteomas, dental abnormalities (unerupted teeth, congenital absence of one or more teeth, supernumerary teeth, dentigerous cysts and odontomas), congenital hypertrophy of the retinal pigment epithelium (CHRPE), desmoid tumors, and extracolonic cancers (thyroid, liver, bile ducts and central nervous system). A less aggressive variant of FAP, attenuated FAP (AFAP), is characterized by fewer colorectal adenomatous polyps (usually 10 to 100), later age of adenoma appearance and a lower cancer risk. Some lesions (skull and mandible osteomas, dental abnormalities, and fibromas on the scalp, shoulders, arms and back) are indicative of the Gardner variant of FAP. Classic FAP is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner and results from a germline mutation in the adenomatous polyposis (APC) gene. Most patients (~70%) have a family history of colorectal polyps and cancer. In a subset of individuals, a MUTYH mutation causes a recessively inherited polyposis condition, MUTYH-associated polyposis (MAP), which is characterized by a slightly increased risk of developing CRC and polyps/adenomas in both the upper and lower gastrointestinal tract. Diagnosis is based on a suggestive family history, clinical findings, and large bowel endoscopy or full colonoscopy. Whenever possible, the clinical diagnosis should be confirmed by genetic testing. When the APC mutation in the family has been identified, genetic testing of all first-degree relatives should be performed. Presymptomatic and prenatal (amniocentesis and chorionic villous sampling), and even preimplantation genetic testing is possible. Referral to a geneticist or genetic counselor is mandatory. Differential diagnoses include other disorders causing multiple polyps (such as Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, familial juvenile polyps or hyperplastic polyposis, hereditary mixed polyposis syndromes, and Lynch syndrome). Cancer prevention and maintaining a good quality of life are the main goals of management and regular and systematic follow-up and supportive care should be offered to all patients. By the late teens or early twenties, colorectal cancer prophylactic surgery is advocated. The recommended alternatives are total proctocolectomy and ileoanal pouch or ileorectal anastomosis for AFAP. Duodenal cancer and desmoids are the two main causes of mortality after total colectomy, they need to be identified early and treated. Upper endoscopy is necessary for surveillance to reduce the risk of ampullary and duodenal cancer. Patients with progressive tumors and unresectable disease may respond or stabilize with a combination of cytotoxic chemotherapy and surgery (when possible to perform). Adjunctive therapy with celecoxib has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency in patients with FAP. Individuals with FAP carry a 100% risk of CRC; however, this risk is reduced significantly when patients enter a screening-treatment program.
PMCID: PMC2772987  PMID: 19822006
4.  TP53 p.R337H prevalence in a series of Brazilian hereditary breast cancer families 
Approximately 5-10% of breast cancers are hereditary. Among hereditary syndromes, Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome (HBOC) and Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) have received the most attention. HBOC is due to mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and is characterized by breast adenocarcinoma and/or epithelial ovarian carcinoma. LFS is associated with germline mutations in TP53; the most frequent cancer types associated with this syndrome are sarcoma, breast cancer, leukemia, brain tumors and adrenocortical carcinomas. Other cancers related to LFS are found at lower frequencies. In Brazil, especially in the southern part of the country, a specific mutation in the TP53 gene, TP53 p.R337H, occurs at a high frequency in childhood adrenocortical tumors. It has been proposed that this mutation increases breast cancer risk in southern Brazilian women.
We carried out a case-control study to determine the prevalence of the TP53 p.R337H mutation in 28 female cancer patients attended at the Cancer Genetic Counseling Service of the General Hospital of the University of São Paulo Medical School of Ribeirão Preto who fulfilled Hereditary Breast and Ovary Cancer Syndrome genetic test criteria compared to healthy woman (controls). TP53 p.R337H mutation status was determined using the High Resolution Melting (HRM) method, followed by DNA sequencing. Fisher’s test was used to compare the prevalence of TP53 p.R337H in the patient and control groups.
Two of the breast cancer cases (7.1%) and none of the controls carried the TP53 p.R337H mutation. At the time of the investigation, both cases fulfilled testing criteria for Hereditary Breast and Ovary Cancer Syndrome but not Li-Fraumeni or Li-Fraumeni-like Syndrome, based on genetic testing criteria of NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (v.1.2010).
We suggest that genetic screening of Brazilian breast cancer patients who fulfill Hereditary Breast and Ovary Cancer Syndrome criteria and have a family history that includes other tumors of the LFS/LFL spectrum be tested for the TP53 p.R337H mutation.
PMCID: PMC3995619  PMID: 24625245
Breast cancer; TP53 mutation; BRCA1; High resolution melting
5.  Genetic polymorphisms and gene-dosage effect in ovarian cancer risk and response to paclitaxel/cisplatin chemotherapy 
Ovarian malignancies are often diagnosed in advanced stage and at the same time resistance to treatment, both intrinsic and developed during treatment, is sometimes observed. These facts underscore the need for new markers of ovarian cancer risk, as well as markers of treatment effectiveness.
In this study we genotyped 225 ovarian cancer patients, 64 breast and ovarian cancer patients and 348 healthy controls. In total, 12 polymorphic variants and 2 deletions in PGR, ABCB1, ABCG2, GSTT1, GSTM1, GSTP1, ATM, TP53 and ATP7B genes were analyzed using ASA-PCR, RFLP-PCR, multiplex-PCR and sequencing.
Ten genetic polymorphisms were significantly associated with the risk of developing ovarian carcinoma in at least one of the groups under study. Impact of PGR gene polymorphisms on ovarian cancer risk was specific only for the group of the BRCA1 mutation carriers (in presence of p.Val660Leu variant- OR 2,82; p = 0,010), which confirms the difference in modulation of ovarian cancer risk between sporadic and hereditary malignancies, including the breast-ovarian cancer group (as a cancer-prone group). The analyses showed also the importance of ATP7B gene in ovarian carcinogenesis, both studied variants of which significantly modulated the ovarian cancer risk in all groups excluding the group with BRCA1 mutation. Cumulative risk analysis revealed 3 unfavorable variants that increased significantly the risk of developing ovarian cancer (p.Ile1145 = ABCB1+ p.Asp1853Asn ATM+ p.Ser406Ala ATP7B- OR 7,47; p = 0,002) and significantly modified the progression free survival (PFS) of the patients, and also two favorable genotypes which protected against ovarian cancer (p.Arg952Lys ATP7B+ p.Arg72Pro TP53- OR 0,50; p = 0,008). PFS analysis for carriers of favorable versus unfavorable genotypes emphasized the impact of the regulation of cell cycle (p.Asp1853Asn ATM) and active transport of xenobiotics (p.Ser894Ala/Thr ABCB1) on the risk of disease progression (HR 3,81; p = 0,010) after paclitaxel/cisplatin chemotherapy.
The unfavorable genetic variants could facilitate carcinogenic process and once their carriers developed malignancy, their chances of survival were smaller. Our analyses also showed a strong gene-dosage effect with the decrease of progression-free survival for the carriers of two unfavorable genetic factors.
PMCID: PMC4320471  PMID: 25591549
Ovarian cancer; Pharmacogenetics; Cancer susceptibility; Clinical course; Treatment outcome
6.  Altered-function p53 missense mutations identified in breast cancers can have subtle effects on transactivation 
Molecular cancer research : MCR  2010;8(5):701-716.
Mutations of the sequence-specific master regulator p53 that alter transactivation function from promoter response elements (REs) could result in changes in the strength of gene activation or spectra of genes regulated. Such mutations in this tumor suppressor might lead to dramatic phenotypic changes and diversification of cell responses to stress. We have determined “functional fingerprints” of sporadic breast cancer-related p53 mutants many of which are also associated with familial cancer proneness such as the Li-Fraumeni Syndrome and germline BRCA1/2 mutant-associated cancers. The ability of p53, wild type and mutants, to transactivate from 11 human target REs has been assessed at variable expression levels using a cellular, isogenomic yeast model system that allows for the rapid analysis of p53 function using a qualitative and a quantitative reporter. Among 50 missense mutants, 29 were classified as loss-of-function. The remaining 21 retained transactivation towards at least one RE. At high levels of galactose induced p53 expression, 12/21 mutants that retain transactivation appeared similar to WT. When the level of galactose was reduced, transactivation defects could be revealed suggesting that some breast cancer related mutants can have subtle changes in transcription. These findings have been compared with clinical data from an ongoing neoadjuvant chemotherapy treatment trial for locally advanced breast tumors. The functional and nonfunctional missense mutations may distinguish tumors in terms of demographics, appearance and relapse, implying that heterogeneity in the functionality of specific p53 mutations could impact clinical behavior and outcome.
PMCID: PMC2873663  PMID: 20407015
p53; breast cancer; altered-function mutations
7.  CREG1 enhances p16INK4a-induced cellular senescence 
Cell Cycle  2011;10(3):518-530.
Cellular senescence is an irreversible growth arrest that is activated in normal cells upon shortening of telomere and other cellular stresses. Bypassing cellular senescence is a necessary step for cells to become immortal during oncogenic transformation. During the spontaneous immortalization of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) fibroblasts, we found that CREG1 (Cellular Repressor of E1A-stimulated Genes 1) expression was decreased during immortalization and increased in senescence. Moreover, we found that repression of CREG1 expression occurs via an epigenetic mechanism, promoter DNA methylation. Ectopic expression of CREG1 in the immortal LFS cell lines decreases cell proliferation but does not directly induce senescence. We confirmed this in osteosarcoma and fibrosarcoma cancer cell lines, cancers commonly seen in Li-Fraumeni Syndrome. In addition, we found that p16INK4a is also downregulated in immortal cells and that coexpression of CREG1 and p16INK4a, an inhibitor of CDK4/6 and Rb phosphorylation, has a greater effect than either CREG1 and p16INK4a alone to reduce cell growth, induce cell cycle arrest and cellular senescence in immortal LFS fibroblasts, osteosarcoma and fibrosarcoma cell lines. Moreover, cooperation of CREG1 and p16INK4a inhibits the expression of cyclin A and cyclin B by inhibiting promoter activity, thereby decreasing mRNA and protein levels; these proteins are required for S-phase entry and G2/M transition. In conclusion, this is the first evidence to demonstrate that CREG1 enhances p16INK4a-induced senescence by transcriptional repression of cell cycle-regulated genes.
PMCID: PMC3230516  PMID: 21263217
CREG1; p16INK4a; cellular immortalization; cellular senescence; Li-Fraumeni syndrome
8.  Comparable frequency of BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 germline mutations in a multi-ethnic Asian cohort suggests TP53 screening should be offered together with BRCA1/2 screening to early-onset breast cancer patients 
Germline TP53 mutations cause an increased risk to early-onset breast cancer in Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) families and the majority of carriers identified through breast cancer cohorts have LFS or Li-Fraumeni-like (LFL) features. However, in Asia and in many low resource settings, it is challenging to obtain accurate family history and we, therefore, sought to determine whether the presence of early-onset breast cancer is an appropriate selection criteria for germline TP53 testing.
A total of 100 patients with early-onset breast cancer (≤ 35 years) treated at University Malaya Medical Centre between 2003 and 2009, were analyzed for germline mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 by full DNA sequencing. Of the mutations identified, we examined their likely pathogenicity on the basis of prevalence in a case-control cohort, co-segregation analyses and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in tumor tissues.
We identified 11 BRCA1 (11%) and 6 BRCA2 (6%) germline carriers among early-onset breast cancer patients. Of the 83 BRCA-negative patients, we identified four exonic variants and three intronic variants in TP53. Of these, two exonic variants are clinically relevant (E346X and p. G334_R335dup6) and two novel missense mutations (A138V and E285K) are likely to be clinically relevant, on the basis of co-segregation and loss of heterozygosity (LOH). Notably, E285K was found in two unrelated individuals and haplotype analyses suggest a founder effect. Two of the three intronic variants are likely benign based on their prevalence in a control population. Clinically relevant TP53 germline mutations were identified in three of the four patients (75%) with a family history of at least two LFS-linked cancers (breast, bone or soft tissue sarcoma, brain tumors or adrenocortical cancer); 1 of the 17 patients (6%) with a family history of breast cancer only, and 1 of the 62 patients (< 2%) with no family history of breast or LFS-linked cancers.
Our study reports germline BRCA1, BRCA2 and TP53 mutations are found in early-onset breast cancer patients at 11%, 6% and 5% respectively, suggesting that TP53 mutation screening should be considered for these patients. However, we find that even in low resource Asian settings where family history is poorly reported, germline TP53 mutations are found predominantly among breast cancer patients with a family history of LFS-linked cancers.
PMCID: PMC3446401  PMID: 22507745
9.  Mutation analysis of the CHK2 gene in families with hereditary breast cancer 
British Journal of Cancer  2001;85(2):209-212.
Recently CHK2 was functionally linked to the p53 pathway, and mutations in these two genes seem to result in a similar Li–Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) or Li–Fraumeni-like syndrome (LFL) multi-cancer phenotype frequently including breast cancer. As CHK2 has been found to bind and regulate BRCA1, the product of one of the 2 known major susceptibility genes to hereditary breast cancer, it also more directly makes CHK2 a suitable candidate gene for hereditary predisposition to breast cancer. Here we have screened 79 Finnish hereditary breast cancer families for germline CHK2 alterations. Twenty-one of these families also fulfilled the criteria for LFL or LFS. All families had previously been found negative for germline BRCA1 BRCA2 and TP53 mutations, together explaining about 23% of hereditary predisposition to breast cancer in our country. Only one missense-type mutation, Ile157→Thr157, was detected. The high Ile157 → Thr157mutation frequency (6.5%) observed in healthy controls and the lack of other mutations suggest that CHK2 does not contribute significantly to the hereditary breast cancer or LFL-associated breast cancer risk, at least not in the Finnish population. For Ile157 → Thr157our result deviates from what has been reported previously. © 2001 Cancer Research Campaign
PMCID: PMC2364033  PMID: 11461078
hereditary breast cancer; CHK2 mutations; Li–Fraumeni-like syndrome
10.  Hereditary Breast Cancer: The Era of New Susceptibility Genes 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:747318.
Breast cancer is the most common malignancy among females. 5%–10% of breast cancer cases are hereditary and are caused by pathogenic mutations in the considered reference BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. As sequencing technologies evolve, more susceptible genes have been discovered and BRCA1 and BRCA2 predisposition seems to be only a part of the story. These new findings include rare germline mutations in other high penetrant genes, the most important of which include TP53 mutations in Li-Fraumeni syndrome, STK11 mutations in Peutz-Jeghers syndrome, and PTEN mutations in Cowden syndrome. Furthermore, more frequent, but less penetrant, mutations have been identified in families with breast cancer clustering, in moderate or low penetrant genes, such as CHEK2, ATM, PALB2, and BRIP1. This paper will summarize all current data on new findings in breast cancer susceptibility genes.
PMCID: PMC3618918  PMID: 23586058
11.  A Case of Late-Onset Li-Fraumeni-like Syndrome with Unilateral Breast Cancer 
Annals of Laboratory Medicine  2013;33(3):212-216.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a rare, inherited syndrome associated with increased risk of various early-onset tumors. Since the introduction of classic LFS criteria, various criteria have been proposed to include patients with incomplete LFS features, which make up Li-Fraumeni-like syndromes (LFL). Germline missense mutations of TP53 are the primary cause of LFS and LFL. Mutations mostly reside in the DNA-binding domain of the gene and have a dominant-negative effect (DNE) over alternate wild-type alleles. Germline TP53 mutation c.566C>T results in the missense mutation GCC (Ala) to GTC (Val) at codon 189 (A189V) and has been reported in a case of multiple primary colon tumors. Herein we report a second case of the same mutation in a breast cancer patient, who has familial history of late-onset malignancies. Due to the relatively late onset of malignancies, neither case fulfils previously defined criteria for the syndrome. Mutational analysis for breast tissue in this patient showed a loss of heterozygosity. These clinical features may suggest a relatively weak DNE of A189V compared to other TP53 mutations, and in silico predictions and in vitro findings of the function of A189V mutant protein are conflicting. Considering the increased risk of malignancies and the therapeutic implications for patients who have a TP53 mutation, care must be taken when treating those who are suspected of possessing cancer-prone traits due to TP53 mutation, especially when there is a family history of late-onset cancer with low penetrance.
PMCID: PMC3646199  PMID: 23667851
Li-Fraumeni syndrome; LFS; Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome; LFL; TP53; Breast cancer; Late onset; Penetrance
12.  Enrichment of osteosarcoma stem cells by chemotherapy 
Chinese Journal of Cancer  2011;30(6):426-432.
Osteosarcoma is the most common primary malignant bone cancer in children and adolescents. Emerging evidence has suggested that the capability of a tumor to grow is driven by a small subset of cells within a tumor, termed cancer stem cells (CSCs). Although several methods have been explored to identify or enrich CSCs in osteosarcoma, these methods sometimes seem impractical, and chemotherapy enrichment for CSCs in osteosarcoma is rarely investigated. In the present study, we found that short exposure to chemotherapy could change the morphology of osteosarcoma cells and increase sarcosphere formation in vitro, as well as increase tumor formation in vivo. Furthermore, methotrexate (MTX)-resistant U2OS/MTX300 osteosarcoma cells were larger in size and grew much more tightly than parental U2OS cells. More importantly, U2OS/MTX300 cells possessed a higher potential to generate sarcospheres in serum-free conditions compared to parental U2OS cells. Also, U2OS/MTX300 cells exhibited the side population (SP) phenotype and expressed CSC surface markers CD117 and Stro-1. Notably, U2OS/MTX300 cells showed a substantially higher tumorigenicity in nude mice relative to U2OS cells. Therefore, we conclude that chemotherapy enrichment is a feasible and practical way to enrich osteosarcoma stem cells.
PMCID: PMC4013417  PMID: 21627865
Osteosarcoma; chemotherapy; cancer stem cell; methotrexate enrichment
13.  Dysfunctional KEAP1–NRF2 Interaction in Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e420.
Nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (NRF2) is a redox-sensitive transcription factor that positively regulates the expression of genes encoding antioxidants, xenobiotic detoxification enzymes, and drug efflux pumps, and confers cytoprotection against oxidative stress and xenobiotics in normal cells. Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1) negatively regulates NRF2 activity by targeting it to proteasomal degradation. Increased expression of cellular antioxidants and xenobiotic detoxification enzymes has been implicated in resistance of tumor cells against chemotherapeutic drugs.
Methods and Findings
Here we report a systematic analysis of the KEAP1 genomic locus in lung cancer patients and cell lines that revealed deletion, insertion, and missense mutations in functionally important domains of KEAP1 and a very high percentage of loss of heterozygosity at 19p13.2, suggesting that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 in lung cancer is a common event. Sequencing of KEAP1 in 12 cell lines and 54 non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) samples revealed somatic mutations in KEAP1 in a total of six cell lines and ten tumors at a frequency of 50% and 19%, respectively. All the mutations were within highly conserved amino acid residues located in the Kelch or intervening region domain of the KEAP1 protein, suggesting that these mutations would likely abolish KEAP1 repressor activity. Evaluation of loss of heterozygosity at 19p13.2 revealed allelic losses in 61% of the NSCLC cell lines and 41% of the tumor samples. Decreased KEAP1 activity in cancer cells induced greater nuclear accumulation of NRF2, causing enhanced transcriptional induction of antioxidants, xenobiotic metabolism enzymes, and drug efflux pumps.
This is the first study to our knowledge to demonstrate that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 is a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC. Loss of KEAP1 function leading to constitutive activation of NRF2-mediated gene expression in cancer suggests that tumor cells manipulate the NRF2 pathway for their survival against chemotherapeutic agents.
Biallelic inactivation ofKEAP1, a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC, is associated with activation of the NRF2 pathway which leads to expression of genes that contribute to resistance against chemotherapeutic drugs.
Editors' Summary
Lung cancer is the most common cause of cancer-related death worldwide. More than 150,000 people in the US alone die every year from this disease, which can be split into two basic types—small cell lung cancer and non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Four out of five lung cancers are NSCLCs, but both types are mainly caused by smoking. Exposure to chemicals in smoke produces changes (or mutations) in the genetic material of the cells lining the lungs that cause the cells to grow uncontrollably and to move around the body. In more than half the people who develop NSCLC, the cancer has spread out of the lungs before it is diagnosed, and therefore can't be removed surgically. Stage IV NSCLC, as this is known, is usually treated with chemotherapy—toxic chemicals that kill the fast-growing cancer cells. However, only 2% of people with stage IV NSCLC are still alive two years after their diagnosis, mainly because their cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy. They do this by making proteins that destroy cancer drugs (detoxification enzymes) or that pump them out of cells (efflux pumps) and by making antioxidants, chemicals that protect cells against the oxidative damage caused by many chemotherapy agents.
Why Was This Study Done?
To improve the outlook for patients with lung cancer, researchers need to discover exactly how cancer cells become resistant to chemotherapy drugs. Detoxification enzymes, efflux pumps, and antioxidants normally protect cells from environmental toxins and from oxidants produced by the chemical processes of life. Their production is regulated by nuclear factor erythroid-2 related factor 2 (NRF2). The activity of this transcription factor (a protein that controls the expression of other proteins) is controlled by the protein Kelch-like ECH-associated protein 1 (KEAP1). KEAP1 holds NRF2 in the cytoplasm of the cell (the cytoplasm surrounds the cell's nucleus, where the genetic material is stored) when no oxidants are present and targets it for destruction. When oxidants are present, KEAP1 no longer interacts with NRF2, which moves into the nucleus and induces the expression of the proteins that protect the cell against oxidants and toxins. In this study, the researchers investigated whether changes in KEAP1 might underlie the drug resistance seen in lung cancer.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers looked carefully at the gene encoding KEAP1 in tissue taken from lung tumors and in several lung cancer cell lines—tumor cells that have been grown in a laboratory. They found mutations in parts of KEAP1 known to be important for its function in half the cell lines and a fifth of the tumor samples. They also found that about half of the samples had lost part of one copy of the KEAP1 gene—cells usually have two copies of each gene. Five of the six tumors with KEAP1 mutations had also lost one copy of KEAP1—geneticists call this biallelic inactivation. This means that these tumors should have no functional KEAP1. When the researchers checked this by staining the tumors for NRF2, they found that the tumor cells had more NRF2 than normal cells and that it accumulated in the nucleus. In addition, the tumor cells made more detoxification enzymes, efflux proteins, and antioxidants than normal cells. Finally, the researchers showed that lung cancer cells with KEAP1 mutations were more resistant to chemotherapy drugs than normal lung cells were.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results indicate that biallelic inactivation of KEAP1 is a frequent genetic alteration in NSCLC and suggest that the loss of KEAP1 activity is one way that lung tumors can increase their NRF2 activity and develop resistance to chemotherapeutic drugs. More lung cancer samples need to be examined to confirm this result, and similar studies need to be done in other cancers to see whether loss of KEAP1 activity is a common mechanism by which tumors become resistant to chemotherapy. If such studies confirm that high NRF2 activity (either through mutation or by some other route) is often associated with a poor tumor response to chemotherapy, then the development of NRF2 inhibitors might help to improve treatment outcomes in patients with chemotherapy-resistant tumors.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
US National Cancer Institute information on lung cancer and on cancer treatment
MedlinePlus entries on small cell lung cancer and NSCLC Cancer Research UK information on lung cancer
Wikipedia entries on lung cancer and chemotherapy (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1584412  PMID: 17020408
14.  Chemotherapy-resistant osteosarcoma is highly susceptible to IL-15-activated allogeneic and autologous NK cells 
Cancer Immunology, Immunotherapy  2011;60(4):575-586.
High-grade osteosarcoma occurs predominantly in adolescents and young adults and has an overall survival rate of about 60%, despite chemotherapy and surgery. Therefore, novel treatment modalities are needed to prevent or treat recurrent disease. Natural killer (NK) cells are lymphocytes with cytotoxic activity toward virus-infected or malignant cells. We explored the feasibility of autologous and allogeneic NK cell–mediated therapies for chemotherapy-resistant and chemotherapy-sensitive high-grade osteosarcoma. The expression by osteosarcoma cells of ligands for activating NK cell receptors was studied in vitro and in vivo, and their contribution to NK cell–mediated cytolysis was studied by specific antibody blockade. Chromium release cytotoxicity assays revealed chemotherapy-sensitive and chemotherapy-resistant osteosarcoma cell lines and osteosarcoma primary cultures to be sensitive to NK cell–mediated cytolysis. Cytolytic activity was strongly enhanced by IL-15 activation and was dependent on DNAM-1 and NKG2D pathways. Autologous and allogeneic activated NK cells lysed osteosarcoma primary cultures equally well. Osteosarcoma patient–derived NK cells were functionally and phenotypically unimpaired. In conclusion, osteosarcoma cells, including chemoresistant variants, are highly susceptible to lysis by IL-15-induced NK cells from both allogeneic and autologous origin. Our data support the exploitation of NK cells or NK cell–activating agents in patients with high-grade osteosarcoma.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00262-010-0965-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3061210  PMID: 21240486
Osteosarcoma; Immunotherapy; NK cells; Bone sarcoma
15.  Increased Oxidative Damage in Carriers of the Germline TP53 p.R337H Mutation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47010.
Germline mutations in TP53 are the underlying defect of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) and Li-Fraumeni-like (LFL) Syndrome, autosomal dominant disorders characterized by predisposition to multiple early onset cancers. In Brazil, a variant form of LFS/LFL is commonly detected because of the high prevalence of a founder mutation at codon 337 in TP53 (p.R337H). The p53 protein exerts multiple roles in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and cellular anti-oxidant defense systems. Herein, we analyzed the redox parameters in blood samples from p.R337H mutation carriers (C, n = 17) and non-carriers (NC, n = 17). We identified a significant increase in erythrocyte GPx activity and in plasma carbonyl content,an indicator of protein oxidative damage, in mutation carriers compared to non-carriers (P = 0.048 and P = 0.035, respectively). Mutation carriers also showed a four-fold increase in plasma malondialdehyde levels, indicating increased lipid peroxidation (NC = 40.20±0.71, C = 160.5±0.88, P<0.0001). Finally, carriers showed increased total antioxidant status but a decrease in plasma ascorbic acid content. The observed imbalance could be associated with deregulated cell bioenergetics and/or with increased inflammatory stress, two effects that may result from loss of wild-type p53 function. These findings provide the first evidence that oxidative damage occurs in carriers of a germline TP53 mutation, and these may have important implications regarding our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for germline TP53 p.R337H mutation-associated carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3467233  PMID: 23056559
16.  KRAS Testing for Anti-EGFR Therapy in Advanced Colorectal Cancer 
Executive Summary
In February 2010, the Medical Advisory Secretariat (MAS) began work on evidence-based reviews of the literature surrounding three pharmacogenomic tests. This project came about when Cancer Care Ontario (CCO) asked MAS to provide evidence-based analyses on the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of three oncology pharmacogenomic tests currently in use in Ontario.
Evidence-based analyses have been prepared for each of these technologies. These have been completed in conjunction with internal and external stakeholders, including a Provincial Expert Panel on Pharmacogenomics (PEPP). Within the PEPP, subgroup committees were developed for each disease area. For each technology, an economic analysis was also completed by the Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment Collaborative (THETA) and is summarized within the reports.
The following reports can be publicly accessed at the MAS website at: or at
Gene Expression Profiling for Guiding Adjuvant Chemotherapy Decisions in Women with Early Breast Cancer: An Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Mutation (EGFR) Testing for Prediction of Response to EGFR-Targeting Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitor (TKI) Drugs in Patients with Advanced Non-Small-Cell Lung Cancer: an Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis
K-RAS testing in Treatment Decisions for Advanced Colorectal Cancer: an Evidence-Based and Economic Analysis.
The objective of this systematic review is to determine the predictive value of KRAS testing in the treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) with two anti-EGFR agents, cetuximab and panitumumab. Economic analyses are also being conducted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of KRAS testing.
Clinical Need: Condition and Target Population
Metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) is usually defined as stage IV disease according to the American Joint Committee on Cancer tumour node metastasis (TNM) system or stage D in the Duke’s classification system. Patients with advanced colorectal cancer (mCRC) either present with metastatic disease or develop it through disease progression.
KRAS (Kristen-RAS, a member of the rat sarcoma virus (ras) gene family of oncogenes) is frequently mutated in epithelial cancers such as colorectal cancer, with mutations occurring in mutational hotspots (codons 12 and 13) of the KRAS protein. Involved in EGFR-mediated signalling of cellular processes such as cell proliferation, resistance to apoptosis, enhanced cell motility and neoangiogenesis, a mutation in the KRAS gene is believed to be involved in cancer pathogenesis. Such a mutation is also hypothesized to be involved in resistance to targeted anti-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor with tyrosine kinase activity) treatments such as cetuximab and panitumumab, hence, the important in evaluating the evidence on the predictive value of KRAS testing in this context.
KRAS Mutation Testing in Advanced Colorectal Cancer
Both cetuximab and panitumumab are indicated by Health Canada in the treatment of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer whose tumours are WT for the KRAS gene. Cetuximab may be offered as monotherapy in patients intolerant to irinotecan-based chemotherapy or in patients who have failed both irinotecan and oxaliplatin-based regimens and who received a fluoropyrimidine. It can also be administered in combination with irinotecan in patients refractory to other irinotecan-based chemotherapy regimens. Panitumumab is only indicated as a single agent after failure of fluoropyrimidine-, oxaliplatin-, and irinotecan-containing chemotherapy regimens.
In Ontario, patients with advanced colorectal cancer who are refractory to chemotherapy may be offered the targeted anti-EGFR treatments cetuximab or panitumumab. Eligibility for these treatments is based on the KRAS status of their tumour, derived from tissue collected from surgical or biopsy specimens. It is believed that KRAS status is not affected by treatments, therefore, for patients for whom surgical tissue is available for KRAS testing, additional biopsies prior to treatment with these targeted agents is not necessary. For patients that have not undergone surgery or for whom surgical tissue is not available, a biopsy of either the primary or metastatic site is required to determine their KRAS status. This is possible as status at the metastatic and primary tumour sites is considered to be similar.
Research Question
To determine if there is predictive value of KRAS testing in guiding treatment decisions with anti-EGFR targeted therapies in advanced colorectal cancer patients refractory to chemotherapy.
Research Methods
Literature Search
The Medical Advisory Secretariat followed its standard procedures and on May 18, 2010, searched the following electronic databases: Ovid MEDLINE, EMBASE, Ovid MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews and The International Network of Agencies for Health Technology Assessment database.
The subject headings and keywords searched included colorectal cancer, cetuximab, panitumumab, and KRAS testing. The search was further restricted to English-language articles published between January 1, 2009 and May 18, 2010 resulting in 1335 articles for review. Excluded were case reports, comments, editorials, nonsystematic reviews, and letters. Studies published from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2008 were identified in a health technology assessment conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), published in 2010. In total, 14 observational studies were identified for inclusion in this EBA: 4 for cetuximab monotherapy, 7 for the cetuximab-irinotecan combination therapy, and 3 to be included in the review for panitumumab monotherapy
Inclusion Criteria
English-language articles, and English or French-language HTAs published from January 2005 to May 2010, inclusive.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) or observational studies, including single arm treatment studies that include KRAS testing.
Studies with data on main outcomes of interest, overall and progression-free survival.
Studies of third line treatment with cetuximab or panitumumab in patients with advanced colorectal cancer refractory to chemotherapy.
For the cetuximab-irinotecan evaluation, studies in which at least 70% of patients in the study received this combination therapy.
Exclusion Criteria
Studies whose entire sample was included in subsequent publications which have been included in this EBA.
Studies in pediatric populations.
Case reports, comments, editorials, or letters.
Outcomes of Interest
Overall survival (OS), median
Progression-free-survival (PFS), median.
Response rates.
Adverse event rates.
Quality of life (QOL).
Summary of Findings of Systematic Review
Cetuximab or Panitumumab Monotherapy
Based on moderate GRADE observational evidence, there is improvement in PFS and OS favouring patients without the KRAS mutation (KRAS wildtype, or KRAS WT) compared to those with the mutation.
Cetuximab-Irinotecan Combination Therapy
There is low GRADE evidence that testing for KRAS may optimize survival benefits in patients without the KRAS mutation (KRAS wildtype, or KRAS WT) compared to those with the mutation.
However, cetuximab-irinotecan combination treatments based on KRAS status discount any effect of cetuximab in possibly reversing resistance to irinotecan in patients with the mutation, as observed effects were lower than for patients without the mutation. Clinical experts have raised concerns about the biological plausibility of this observation and this conclusion would, therefore, be regarded as hypothesis generating.
Economic Analysis
Cost-effectiveness and budget impact analyses were conducted incorporating estimates of effectiveness from this systematic review. Evaluation of relative cost-effectiveness, based on a decision-analytic cost-utility analysis, assessed testing for KRAS genetic mutations versus no testing in the context of treatment with cetuximab monotherapy, panitumumab monotherapy, cetuximab in combination with irinotecan, and best supportive care.
Of importance to note is that the cost-effectiveness analysis focused on the impact of testing for KRAS mutations compared to no testing in the context of different treatment options, and does not assess the cost-effectiveness of the drug treatments alone.
KRAS status is predictive of outcomes in cetuximab and panitumumab monotherapy, and in cetuximab-irinotecan combination therapy.
While KRAS testing is cost-effective for all strategies considered, it is not equally cost-effective for all treatment options.
PMCID: PMC3377508  PMID: 23074403
17.  Genetically engineered mouse models and human osteosarcoma 
Osteosarcoma is the most common form of bone cancer. Pivotal insight into the genes involved in human osteosarcoma has been provided by the study of rare familial cancer predisposition syndromes. Three kindreds stand out as predisposing to the development of osteosarcoma: Li-Fraumeni syndrome, familial retinoblastoma and RecQ helicase disorders, which include Rothmund-Thomson Syndrome in particular. These disorders have highlighted the important roles of P53 and RB respectively, in the development of osteosarcoma. The association of OS with RECQL4 mutations is apparent but the relevance of this to OS is uncertain as mutations in RECQL4 are not found in sporadic OS. Application of the knowledge or mutations of P53 and RB in familial and sporadic OS has enabled the development of tractable, highly penetrant murine models of OS. These models share many of the cardinal features associated with human osteosarcoma including, importantly, a high incidence of spontaneous metastasis. The recent development of these models has been a significant advance for efforts to improve our understanding of the genetics of human OS and, more critically, to provide a high-throughput genetically modifiable platform for preclinical evaluation of new therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC3523007  PMID: 23036272
Osteosarcoma; p53; Rb; Mouse models
18.  Management of Refractory Metastatic Anal Squamous Cell Carcinoma Following Disease Progression on Traditional Chemoradiation Therapy 
Case Study
Ms. S.G., a 56-year-old woman with a poorly differentiated squamous cell carcinoma of the anal canal, American Joint Committee on Cancer stage III (T2, N1, M0), was initially diagnosed in December, 2007 at an outside institution after she had noted blood in her stool for approximately 6 months. Her medical history was unremarkable. She had no known history of HIV or other sexually transmitted diseases. At the time of presentation, Ms. S.G. had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status of 1 related to cancer-related pain. Her appetite and weight were both stable.
A complete colonoscopy demonstrated a large, immobile, ulcerated, firm, 4-cm lesion in the distal rectum, arising from the anal canal. Initial staging positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) scan revealed a hypermetabolic inferior anorectal mass with left perirectal and presacral nodal metastases. There was no definite evidence of distant metastatic disease.
Ms. S.G. received chemoradiation treatment following her diagnostic studies, with a total dose of 45 Gy over 26 fractions to the pelvis with concurrent infusional fluorouracil (5-FU; 2, 450 mg over 7 days) and mitomycin C (12 mg/m2 on day 1) at an outside institution. However, during her chemoradiation therapy, Ms. S.G. experienced a 3-week treatment break due to severe radiation dermatitis, as recommended by her outside treating oncologist.
Upon treatment completion, Ms. S.G. underwent a biopsy of the anal canal, which revealed no evidence of residual malignancy. As recommended by her treating oncologist, she received four additional cycles of adjuvant infusional 5-FU in combination with leucovorin. Shortly thereafter, Ms. S.G. developed progressive pelvic pain. She underwent a second PET/CT scan, revealing mixed findings: interval resolution of abnormal standardized uptake value (SUV) activity at the primary tumor in the anal canal, but an increase in the size and SUV of nodal disease within the left perirectal and presacral regions. A CT-guided biopsy noted a perirectal abscess requiring drainage but was inconclusive for disease recurrence; Ms. S.G. was treated with IV antibiotics.
Six weeks later, repeat radiographic imaging noted additional changes suspicious for regional recurrence, which was biopsy-confirmed. Ms. S.G. was subsequently referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center for consideration of salvage pelvic exenteration.
On physical exam a mass was palpated in the left lower quadrant, but there was no evidence of inguinal adenopathy. On digital rectal exam there was notable external erythema with a fixed mass and moderate sphincter tone. A chest CT scan showed no definite evidence of metastatic disease, but an MRI of the abdomen/pelvis indicated the presence of a complex partially necrotic mass (7.6 × 4.9 × 7.3 cm3) extending to the rectosigmoid junction, inseparable from the left lateral bowel wall, with partial encasement of the bowel. In addition, there was infiltration of the left piriformis muscle and cervix consistent with local recurrence. She was referred to medical oncology and radiation oncology for consideration of reirradiation with concurrent neoadjuvant chemotherapy for palliation and possible surgical resection.
In early December 2008, Ms. S.G. received intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), with a total dose of 27 Gy over 18 fractions. She received concurrent infusional 5-FU at 300 mg/m2/day, from Monday to Friday, on the days of radiation. She also received a weekly bolus dose of cisplatin at 20 mg/m2. The intent was to treat to 30 Gy, but the patient deferred further treatment early due to anorectal irritation. She then underwent restaging with a PET/CT scan and a pelvic MRI in February 2009, revealing radiographic partial response of the known pelvic recurrence and reduced pelvic pain (Figures 1A and 1B). Figure 1 Figure 1. Contrast-enhanced axial MRI image of the lower pelvis. (A) Pretreatment, complex mass at the rectosigmoid junction measuring approximately 7.6 × 4.9 × 7.3 cm3. (B) Posttreatment, large necrotic mass measuring 3–4 cm in greatest dimension.
Unfortunately, in the interim, she developed multiple bilateral liver lesions and punctate pulmonary nodules consistent with distant disease (Figures 2A, 2B, and 3A). Figure 2 Figure 2. Contrast-enhanced axial CT images of the lung. (A) Subcentimeter nodular opacity in the left upper lobe. (B) Subcentimeter opacity in the right upper lung lobe. Figure 3 Figure 3. Contrast-enhanced axial CT image of the liver. (A) Pretreatment, multiple bilateral liver lesions. (B) Posttreatment, near-complete resolution of liver lesions.
Ms. S.G. proceeded to undergo systemic chemotherapy with carboplatin at an area under the concentration-time curve of 5 and paclitaxel at 175 mg/m2 day 1, every 21 days. She tolerated the treatment well. After three cycles of chemotherapy, radiographic imaging indicated a mixed response to treatment: interval resolution of the pulmonary nodules, stability of disease in the pelvic mass, but progression of the hepatic metastases.
Given Ms. S.G.'s continuing excellent performance status, further treatment was recommended. Based on recent published literature, a regimen of cisplatin at 80 mg/m2 day 1, vinorelbine at 25 mg/m2 day 1 (repeated every 28 days), and weekly cetuximab (VCC) at 250 mg/m2 was initiated. Remarkably, following three cycles of treatment, despite receiving multiple prior lines of chemotherapy, her restaging CT scan demonstrated complete radiographic response of the intrathoracic disease, stable response of the anorectal mass, and near-complete resolution of the hepatic lesions (Figures 3A and 3B).
Overall, Ms. S.G. had tolerated her treatment very well. Given her response and tolerability, she was evaluated again for curative surgical resection. However, she opted to receive the VCC regimen closer to home and was lost to follow-up. Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain medical records confirming if she indeed received additional treatment as recommended. Ms. S.G. was noted to have passed away due to progression of her disease approximately 6 months later.
PMCID: PMC4093318  PMID: 25031942
19.  Heterogeneity in Li-Fraumeni families: p53 mutation analysis and immunohistochemical staining. 
Journal of Medical Genetics  1995;32(3):186-190.
We have screened two families for constitutional TP53 mutations, one family with Li-Fraumeni syndrome and the other with features of this syndrome. We report a germline mutation in exon 7 of the TP53 gene in the family with "Li-Fraumeni-like" syndrome. The mutation occurred at codon 245 and causes a Gly-Ser amino acid change. It was inherited by both affected and unaffected subjects. Malignant tumours from all members of this family showed strong positive nuclear immunohistochemical staining with antibodies CM-1 and DO1, directed against TP53. In contrast, no constitutional TP53 mutations were found in a "classic" Li-Fraumeni family. In this family positive staining was seen in both malignant and normal tissues. These results support previous findings that variants of the Li-Fraumeni syndrome exist since not all LFS families carry TP53 germline mutations. Secondly, immunohistochemical positivity is not synonymous with an underlying mutation and is therefore inadequate as an exclusive diagnostic marker.
PMCID: PMC1050314  PMID: 7783166
20.  Ectopically Expressed Variant Form of Sperm Mitochondria-Associated Cysteine-Rich Protein Augments Tumorigenicity of the Stem Cell Population of Lung Adenocarcinoma Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e69095.
Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs)/cancer-initiating cells (CICs) are defined as a small population of cancer cells that have self-renewal ability, differentiation ability and high tumor-initiating ability. CSCs/CICs are resistant to cancer therapies including chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Therefore, CSCs/CICs are thought to be responsible for cancer recurrence and distant metastasis after treatment. However, the molecular mechanisms of CSCs/CICs are still elusive. In this study, we isolated CSCs/CICs as side population (SP) cells from lung carcinoma, colon carcinoma and breast carcinoma cells and analyzed the molecular mechanisms of CSCs/CICs. cDNA micro-array screening and RT-PCR analysis revealed that sperm mitochondria-associated cysteine-rich protein (SMCP) is ectopically expressed in SP cells. 5′-Rapid amplification of cDNA end (RACE) analysis revealed that the SMCP transcript in SP cells was a variant form (termed vt2) which is composed from only one exon. SMCP vt2 was detected in only cancer cells, whereas the wild-type (vt1) form of SMCP was expressed in the testis. SMCP was shown to have a role in tumor initiation by SMCP overexpression and SMCP knockdown using siRNAs in lung cancer cells. Taken together, the initiation results indicate that an ectopically expressed variant form of SMCP has a role in tumor initiation of CSCs/CICs and that the variant form of SMCP might be a novel CSC/CIC marker and a potential and promising target of CSC/CIC-targeting therapy.
PMCID: PMC3823879  PMID: 24244262
21.  Li-Fraumeni-like syndrome associated with a large BRCA1 intragenic deletion 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:237.
Li-Fraumeni (LFS) and Li-Fraumeni-like (LFL) syndromes are associated to germline TP53 mutations, and are characterized by the development of central nervous system tumors, sarcomas, adrenocortical carcinomas, and other early-onset tumors. Due to the high frequency of breast cancer in LFS/LFL families, these syndromes clinically overlap with hereditary breast cancer (HBC). Germline point mutations in BRCA1, BRCA2, and TP53 genes are associated with high risk of breast cancer. Large rearrangements involving these genes are also implicated in the HBC phenotype.
We have screened DNA copy number changes by MLPA on BRCA1, BRCA2, and TP53 genes in 23 breast cancer patients with a clinical diagnosis consistent with LFS/LFL; most of these families also met the clinical criteria for other HBC syndromes.
We found no DNA copy number alterations in the BRCA2 and TP53 genes, but we detected in one patient a 36.4 Kb BRCA1 microdeletion, confirmed and further mapped by array-CGH, encompassing exons 9–19. Breakpoints sequencing analysis suggests that this rearrangement was mediated by flanking Alu sequences.
This is the first description of a germline intragenic BRCA1 deletion in a breast cancer patient with a family history consistent with both LFL and HBC syndromes. Our results show that large rearrangements in these known cancer predisposition genes occur, but are not a frequent cause of cancer susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3502571  PMID: 22691290
Breast cancer; Copy number variation; MLPA; BRCA1 microdeletion; Li-Fraumeni syndrome
22.  TP53 p.R337H is a conditional cancer-predisposing mutation: further evidence from a homozygous patient 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:187.
Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) are among the most common childhood cancers occurring in infants affected with the Li-Fraumeni and Li- Fraumeni-like (LFS/LFL) syndromes, which are caused by dominant germline mutations in the TP53 gene. In Brazil, a particular mutation, occurring in the tetramerisation domain of the gene, p.R337H, is exceedingly common due to a founder effect and is strongly associated with ACC. In this report, we describe the phenotype and long-term clinical follow-up of a female child diagnosed with ACC and homozygous for the TP53 p.R337H founder mutation.
Case presentation
At age 11 months, the patient was diagnosed with a virilising anaplastic adrenal cortical tumour, which was completely excised without disturbing the adrenal capsule. Family history was consistent with an LFL tumour pattern, and genotyping identified the TP53 p.R337H mutation in both alleles in genomic DNA from lymphocytes and fibroblasts. Haplotype analysis confirmed the occurrence of the mutation in the same founder haplotype previously described in other Brazilian patients. No other germline or somatic TP53 mutations or rearrangements were identified. At age 9 years, the child was asymptomatic and had no evidence of endocrine derangements. Full body and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) failed to detect any suspicious proliferative lesions, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing results were within the normal reference for the child’s age, ruling out a major exercise capacity deficiency.
This is the first clinical and aerobic functional capacity documentation of a patient who carries two mutant TP53 alleles and no wild-type allele. Our results support the hypothesis that TP53 p.R337H, the most common TP53 mutation ever described in any population, is a conditional mutant. Furthermore, our observations over a long period of clinical follow-up suggest that TP53 p.R337H homozygotes do not have a more severe disease phenotype than do heterozygote carriers of the same mutation. Patients with the homozygous TP53 p.R337H genotype will require careful surveillance for lifetime cancer risk and for effects on metabolic capacity later in life.
PMCID: PMC3637265  PMID: 23570263
23.  The profile and contribution of rare germline copy number variants to cancer risk in Li-Fraumeni patients negative for TP53 mutations 
The Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is an inherited rare cancer predisposition syndrome characterized by a variety of early-onset tumors. Although germline mutations in the tumor suppressor gene TP53 account for over 50% of the families matching LFS criteria, the lack of TP53 mutation in a significant proportion of LFS families, suggests that other types of inherited alterations must contribute to their cancer susceptibility. Recently, increases in copy number variation (CNV) have been reported in LFS individuals, and are also postulated to contribute to LFS phenotypic variability.
Seventy probands from families fulfilling clinical criteria for either Li-Fraumeni or Li-Fraumeni-like (LFS/LFL) syndromes and negative for TP53 mutations were screened for germline CNVs.
We found a significantly increased number of rare CNVs, which were smaller in size and presented higher gene density compared to the control group. These data were similar to the findings we reported previously on a cohort of patients with germline TP53 mutations, showing that LFS/LFL patients, regardless of their TP53 status, also share similar CNV profiles.
These results, in conjunction with our previous analyses, suggest that both TP53-negative and positive LFS/LFL patients present a broad spectrum of germline genetic alterations affecting multiple loci, and that the genetic basis of LFS/LFL predisposition or penetrance in many cases might reside in germline transmission of CNVs.
PMCID: PMC4022048  PMID: 24775443
Li Fraumeni syndrome; Rare CNVs; Familial cancer
24.  Transcriptional Functionality of Germ Line p53 Mutants Influences Cancer Phenotype 
The TP53 tumor suppressor gene encodes a sequence-specific transcription factor that is able to transactivate several sets of genes, the promoters of which include appropriate response elements. Although human cancers frequently contain mutated p53, the alleles as well as the clinical expression are often heterogeneous. Germ line mutations of TP53 result in cancer proneness syndromes known as Li-Fraumeni, Li-Fraumeni – like, and nonsyndromic predisposition with or without family history. p53 mutants can be classified as partial deficiency alleles or severe deficiency alleles depending on their ability to transactivate a set of human target sequences, as measured using a standardized yeast-based assay (see have investigated the extent to which the functional features of p53 mutant alleles determine clinical features in patients who have inherited these alleles and have developed cancer.
Experimental Design
We retrieved clinical data from the IARC database (see for all cancer patients with germline p53 mutations and applied stringent statistical evaluations to compare the functional classification of p53 alleles with clinical phenotypes.
Our analyses reveal that partial deficiency alleles are associated with a milder family history (P = 0.007), a lower numbers of tumors (P = 0.007), and a delayed disease onset (median, 31 versus 15 years; P = 0.007) which could be related to distinct tumor spectra.
These findings establish for the first time significant correlations between the residual transactivation function of individual TP53 alleles and clinical variables in patients with inherited p53 mutations who develop cancer.
PMCID: PMC2128783  PMID: 17606709
25.  Suppression of Osteosarcoma Cell Invasion by Chemotherapy Is Mediated by Urokinase Plasminogen Activator Activity via Up-Regulation of EGR1 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16234.
The cellular and molecular mechanisms of tumour response following chemotherapy are largely unknown. We found that low dose anti-tumour agents up-regulate early growth response 1 (EGR1) expression. EGR1 is a member of the immediate-early gene group of transcription factors which modulate transcription of multiple genes involved in cell proliferation, differentiation, and development. It has been reported that EGR1 act as either tumour promoting factor or suppressor. We therefore examined the expression and function of EGR1 in osteosarcoma.
We investigated the expression of EGR1 in human osteosarcoma cell lines and biopsy specimens. We next examined the expression of EGR1 following anti-tumour agents treatment. To examine the function of EGR1 in osteosarcoma, we assessed the tumour growth and invasion in vitro and in vivo.
Real-time PCR revealed that EGR1 was down-regulated both in osteosarcoma cell lines and osteosarcoma patients' biopsy specimens. In addition, EGR1 was up-regulated both in osteosarcoma patient' specimens and osteosarcoma cell lines following anti-tumour agent treatment. Although forced expression of EGR1 did not prevent osteosarcoma growth, forced expression of EGR1 prevented osteosarcoma cell invasion in vitro. In addition, forced expression of EGR1 promoted down-regulation of urokinase plasminogen activator, urokinase receptor, and urokinase plasminogen activity. Xenograft mice models showed that forced expression of EGR1 prevents osteosarcoma cell migration into blood vessels.
These findings suggest that although chemotherapy could not prevent osteosarcoma growth in chemotherapy-resistant patients, it did prevent osteosarcoma cell invasion by down-regulation of urokinase plasminogen activity via up-regulation of EGR1 during chemotherapy periods.
PMCID: PMC3024416  PMID: 21283769

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