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1.  Multiple tumor-suppressor genes on chromosome 3p contribute to head and neck squamous cell carcinoma tumorigenesis 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(7):689-693.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality. There has been a great interest in finding specific genomic changes which contribute to HNSCC tumorigenesis, especially within the chromosome 3p area, where high frequency of LOH (loss of heterozygosity) has been reported. However, tumorsuppressor genes that may account for the frequent LOH remain to be identified. Recently, one systematic study of genomic sequencing was performed on breast and colorectal cancers and 189 candidate cancer genes (CAN-genes) were reported. Among those CAN-genes, 13 genes are located on chromosome 3p. To investigate whether any of the 13 CAN-genes on chromosome 3p is relevant to HNSCC tumorigenesis, we examined their mutational profiles in eight HNSCC cell lines and 12 tumor-normal pairs of human HNSCC in this study. Three of the 13 CAN-genes, ALS2CL, EPHA3 and CMYA1, each was found to harbor a missense mutation (1/20, 5% for each of the three genes). The mutations appeared hemizygous and SNP array analyses showed that these missense mutations are accompanied by LOH on the remaining allele.
In summary, our data offer further support that ALS2CL, EPHA3 and CMYA1 are bona-fide tumor-suppressor genes and contribute to the tumorigenesis of HNSCC. Our data suggest that multiple tumor-suppressor genes are likely to be involved in accounting for the high LOH on chromosome 3p in HNSCC.
PMCID: PMC3093810  PMID: 20657180
Chr3p; HNSCC; ALS2CL; EPHA3; CMYA1; tumor-suppressor gene; LOH; CAN-genes
2.  Novel mutant-enriched Sequencing Identified High Frequency of PIK3CA Mutations in Pharyngeal Cancer 
We previously reported four PIK3CA mutations in 38 head and neck cancer samples; three of which were identified in six pharyngeal cancer samples. To determine the mutation frequency of PIK3CA in pharyngeal cancer, we studied 24 additional cases of pharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in this study. Using both direct genomic DNA sequencing and novel mutant-enriched sequencing methods developed specifically for the three hot-spot mutations (H1047R, E545K and E452K) of PIK3CA, we detected five mutations of PIK3CA in the 24 pharyngeal cancers (20.8%). Three of the five mutations had been missed by the conventional sequencing method and were subsequently detected by novel mutant-enriched sequencing methods. We showed that the mutant-enriched sequencing method for the H1047R hot-spot mutation can identify the mutation in a mixed population of mutant and wild-type DNA sequences at 1:360 ratios. These novel mutant-enriched sequencing methods allow the detection of the PIK3CA hot-spot mutations in clinical specimens which often contain limited tumor tissues (i.e. biopsy specimens).
The data further supports that oncogenic PIK3CA may play a critical role in pharyngeal carcinogenesis, and the mutant-enriched sequencing methods for PIK3CA are sensitive and reliable ways to detect PIK3CA mutations in clinical samples. Because PIK3CA and its pathway are potential targets for chemotherapy and radiation therapy, and frequent somatic mutation of PIK3CA has been identified in many human cancer types (e.g. breast cancer, colorectal cancer), the abilities to detect PIK3CA mutations with enhanced sensitivities have great potential impacts on target therapies for many cancer types.
PMCID: PMC2792983  PMID: 17990317
mutant-enriched sequencing method; PIK3CA oncogene; hot-spot mutation; pharyngeal cancer; HNSCC
3.  Role of promoter hypermethylation in Cisplatin treatment response of male germ cell tumors 
Molecular Cancer  2004;3:16.
Male germ cell tumor (GCT) is a highly curable malignancy, which exhibits exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin treatment. The genetic pathway(s) that determine the chemotherapy sensitivity in GCT remain largely unknown.
We studied epigenetic changes in relation to cisplatin response by examining promoter hypermethylation in a cohort of resistant and sensitive GCTs. Here, we show that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes is associated with resistance. The promoter hypermethylation and/or the down-regulated expression of MGMT is seen in the majority of tumors. We hypothesize that these epigenetic alterations affecting MGMT play a major role in the exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin, characteristic of GCTs. We also demonstrate that cisplatin treatment induce de novo promoter hypermethylation in vivo. In addition, we show that the acquired cisplatin resistance in vitro alters the expression of specific genes and the highly resistant cells fail to reactivate gene expression after treatment to demethylating and histone deacetylase inhibiting agents.
Our findings suggest that promoter hypermethylation of RASSF1A and HIC1 genes play a role in resistance of GCT, while the transcriptional inactivation of MGMT by epigenetic alterations confer exquisite sensitivity to cisplatin. These results also implicate defects in epigenetic pathways that regulate gene transcription in cisplatin resistant GCT.
PMCID: PMC420487  PMID: 15149548

Results 1-3 (3)