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1.  Lectins Identify Glycan Biomarkers on Glioblastoma-Derived Cancer Stem Cells 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;21(13):2374-2386.
Glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly aggressive primary brain tumor with a poor prognosis. Despite aggressive therapy with surgery, radiotherapy, and chemotherapy, nearly all patients succumb to disease within 2 years. Several studies have supported the presence of stem-like cells in brain tumor cultures that are CD133-positive, are capable of self-renewal, and give rise to all cell types found within the tumor, potentially perpetuating growth. CD133 is a widely accepted marker for glioma-derived cancer stem cells; however, its reliability has been questioned, creating a need for other identifiers of this biologically important subpopulation. We used a panel of 20 lectins to identify differences in glycan expression found in the glycocalyx of undifferentiated glioma-derived stem cells and differentiated cells that arise from them. Fluorescently labeled lectins that specifically recognize α-N-acetylgalactosamine (GalNAc) and α-N-acetylglucosamine (GlcNAc) differentially bound to the cell surface based on the state of cellular differentiation. GalNAc and GlcNAc were highly expressed on the surface of undifferentiated cells and showed markedly reduced expression over a 12-day duration of differentiation. Additionally, the GalNAc-recognizing lectin Dolichos biflorus agglutinin was capable of specifically selecting and sorting glioma-derived stem cell populations from an unsorted tumor stock and this subpopulation had proliferative properties similar to CD133+ cells in vitro and also had tumor-forming capability in vivo. Our preliminary results on a single cerebellar GBM suggest that GalNAc and GlcNAc are novel biomarkers for identifying glioma-derived stem cells and can be used to isolate cancer stem cells from unsorted cell populations, thereby creating new cell lines for research or clinical testing.
PMCID: PMC3425159  PMID: 22435486
2.  Transforming Fusions of FGFR and TACC Genes in Human Glioblastoma 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2012;337(6099):1231-1235.
The brain tumor glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is among the most lethal forms of human cancer. Here, we report that a small subset of GBMs (3.1%; 3 of 97 tumors examined) harbors oncogenic chromosomal translocations that fuse in-frame the tyrosine kinase coding domains of fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) genes (FGFR1 or FGFR3) to the transforming acidic coiled-coil (TACC) coding domains of TACC1 or TACC3, respectively. The FGFR-TACC fusion protein displays oncogenic activity when introduced into astrocytes or stereotactically transduced in the mouse brain. The fusion protein, which localizes to mitotic spindle poles, has constitutive kinase activity and induces mitotic and chromosomal segregation defects and triggers aneuploidy. Inhibition of FGFR kinase corrects the aneuploidy, and oral administration of an FGFR inhibitor prolongs survival of mice harboring intracranial FGFR3-TACC3–initiated glioma. FGFR-TACC fusions could potentially identify a subset of GBM patients who would benefit from targeted FGFR kinase inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3677224  PMID: 22837387
3.  Molecular Subtypes of Glioblastoma Are Relevant to Lower Grade Glioma 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91216.
Gliomas are the most common primary malignant brain tumors in adults with great heterogeneity in histopathology and clinical course. The intent was to evaluate the relevance of known glioblastoma (GBM) expression and methylation based subtypes to grade II and III gliomas (ie. lower grade gliomas).
Gene expression array, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array and clinical data were obtained for 228 GBMs and 176 grade II/II gliomas (GII/III) from the publically available Rembrandt dataset. Two additional datasets with IDH1 mutation status were utilized as validation datasets (one publicly available dataset and one newly generated dataset from MD Anderson). Unsupervised clustering was performed and compared to gene expression subtypes assigned using the Verhaak et al 840-gene classifier. The glioma-CpG Island Methylator Phenotype (G-CIMP) was assigned using prediction models by Fine et al.
Unsupervised clustering by gene expression aligned with the Verhaak 840-gene subtype group assignments. GII/IIIs were preferentially assigned to the proneural subtype with IDH1 mutation and G-CIMP. GBMs were evenly distributed among the four subtypes. Proneural, IDH1 mutant, G-CIMP GII/III s had significantly better survival than other molecular subtypes. Only 6% of GBMs were proneural and had either IDH1 mutation or G-CIMP but these tumors had significantly better survival than other GBMs. Copy number changes in chromosomes 1p and 19q were associated with GII/IIIs, while these changes in CDKN2A, PTEN and EGFR were more commonly associated with GBMs.
GBM gene-expression and methylation based subtypes are relevant for GII/III s and associate with overall survival differences. A better understanding of the association between these subtypes and GII/IIIs could further knowledge regarding prognosis and mechanisms of glioma progression.
PMCID: PMC3948818  PMID: 24614622
4.  A high-performance spatial database based approach for pathology imaging algorithm evaluation 
Algorithm evaluation provides a means to characterize variability across image analysis algorithms, validate algorithms by comparison with human annotations, combine results from multiple algorithms for performance improvement, and facilitate algorithm sensitivity studies. The sizes of images and image analysis results in pathology image analysis pose significant challenges in algorithm evaluation. We present an efficient parallel spatial database approach to model, normalize, manage, and query large volumes of analytical image result data. This provides an efficient platform for algorithm evaluation. Our experiments with a set of brain tumor images demonstrate the application, scalability, and effectiveness of the platform.
The paper describes an approach and platform for evaluation of pathology image analysis algorithms. The platform facilitates algorithm evaluation through a high-performance database built on the Pathology Analytic Imaging Standards (PAIS) data model.
(1) Develop a framework to support algorithm evaluation by modeling and managing analytical results and human annotations from pathology images; (2) Create a robust data normalization tool for converting, validating, and fixing spatial data from algorithm or human annotations; (3) Develop a set of queries to support data sampling and result comparisons; (4) Achieve high performance computation capacity via a parallel data management infrastructure, parallel data loading and spatial indexing optimizations in this infrastructure.
Materials and Methods:
We have considered two scenarios for algorithm evaluation: (1) algorithm comparison where multiple result sets from different methods are compared and consolidated; and (2) algorithm validation where algorithm results are compared with human annotations. We have developed a spatial normalization toolkit to validate and normalize spatial boundaries produced by image analysis algorithms or human annotations. The validated data were formatted based on the PAIS data model and loaded into a spatial database. To support efficient data loading, we have implemented a parallel data loading tool that takes advantage of multi-core CPUs to accelerate data injection. The spatial database manages both geometric shapes and image features or classifications, and enables spatial sampling, result comparison, and result aggregation through expressive structured query language (SQL) queries with spatial extensions. To provide scalable and efficient query support, we have employed a shared nothing parallel database architecture, which distributes data homogenously across multiple database partitions to take advantage of parallel computation power and implements spatial indexing to achieve high I/O throughput.
Our work proposes a high performance, parallel spatial database platform for algorithm validation and comparison. This platform was evaluated by storing, managing, and comparing analysis results from a set of brain tumor whole slide images. The tools we develop are open source and available to download.
Pathology image algorithm validation and comparison are essential to iterative algorithm development and refinement. One critical component is the support for queries involving spatial predicates and comparisons. In our work, we develop an efficient data model and parallel database approach to model, normalize, manage and query large volumes of analytical image result data. Our experiments demonstrate that the data partitioning strategy and the grid-based indexing result in good data distribution across database nodes and reduce I/O overhead in spatial join queries through parallel retrieval of relevant data and quick subsetting of datasets. The set of tools in the framework provide a full pipeline to normalize, load, manage and query analytical results for algorithm evaluation.
PMCID: PMC3624706  PMID: 23599905
Algorithm validation; parallel database; pathology imaging; spatial database
5.  Metabolomic Profiling Reveals Potential Markers and Bioprocesses Altered in Bladder Cancer Progression 
Cancer research  2011;71(24):7376-7386.
While alterations in xenobiotic metabolism are considered causal in the development of bladder cancer (BCa), the precise mechanisms involved are poorly understood. In this study, we used high-throughput mass spectrometry to measure over 2,000 compounds in 58 clinical specimens, identifying 35 metabolites which exhibited significant changes in BCa. This metabolic signature distinguished both normal and benign bladder from BCa. Exploratory analyses of this metabolomic signature in urine showed promise in distinguishing BCa from controls, and also non-muscle from muscle-invasive BCa. Subsequent enrichment-based bioprocess mapping revealed alterations in phase I/II metabolism and suggested a possible role for DNA methylation in perturbing xenobiotic metabolism in BCa. In particular, we validated tumor-associated hypermethylation in the CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 promoters of BCa tissues by bisulfite sequence analysis and methylation-specific PCR, and also by in vitro treatment of T-24 BCa cell line with the DNA demethylating agent 5-aza-2′-deoxycytidine. Further, we showed that expression of CYP1A1 and CYP1B1 was reduced significantly in an independent cohort of BCa specimens compared to matched benign adjacent tissues. In summary, our findings identified candidate diagnostic and prognostic markers and highlighted mechanisms associated with the silencing of xenobiotic metabolism. The metabolomic signature we describe offers potential as a urinary biomarker for early detection and staging of BCa, highlighting the utility of evaluating metabolomic profiles of cancer to gain insights into bioprocesses perturbed during tumor development and progression.
PMCID: PMC3249241  PMID: 21990318
6.  Intravascular Thrombosis in Central Nervous System Malignancies: A Potential Role in Astrocytoma Progression to Glioblastoma 
The presence of necrosis within a diffuse glioma is a powerful predictor of poor prognosis, yet little is known of its origins. Intravascular thrombosis is a frequent finding in glioblastoma [GBM; World Health Organization (WHO) grade IV] specimens and could potentially be involved in astrocytoma progression to GBM or represent a surrogate marker of GBM histology. We investigated whether intravascular thrombosis was more frequent or prominent in GBM than other central nervous system (CNS) malignancies and considered its prognostic significance in anaplastic astrocytoma (AA; WHO grade III), which lacks necrosis. Histologic sections were examined for thrombosis, necrosis and microvascular hyperplasia from each of 297 CNS tumors, including 103 GBMs, 46 AAs, 20 diffuse astrocytoma (DAs; WHO grade II), eight anaplastic oligodendrogliomas (AOs; WHO grade III), 20 oligodendrogliomas (ODs; WHO grade II), 49 metastatic carcinomas (METs), 31 primary central nervous system lymphomas (PCNSLs) and 20 medulloblastomas (MBs). Among newly diagnosed tumors, thrombosis was present in 92% of GBM resections, significantly greater than other types of CNS malignancies. Of tumors with thrombosis, GBMs had a higher frequency of affected vessels than AAs, DAs, AOs, ODs and MBs, but had a frequency similar to METs and PCNSLs. The sensitivity of thrombosis for the diagnosis of GBM in this set of tumors was 92% and the specificity was 91%. Intravascular thrombosis was uncommon in AAs and was only noted in stereotactic biopsies. This subset of patients had shorter survivals than those AAs without thrombosis. Thus, intravascular thrombosis is more frequent in GBM than other CNS malignancies. When present in AAs, it appears to indicate aggressive clinical behavior.
PMCID: PMC2610479  PMID: 18093251
astrocytoma; brain tumor; glioblastoma; hypoxia; necrosis; thrombosis
7.  Temozolomide in the treatment of high-grade gliomas in children: a report from the Children's Oncology Group 
Neuro-Oncology  2011;13(3):317-323.
To determine whether temozolomide is an active agent in the treatment of children with high-grade astrocytomas and whether survival is influenced by the expression of the O6-methylguanine-methyltransferase gene (MGMT) in these patients. In the Children's Oncology Group study ACNS0126, 107 patients with a diagnosis of anaplastic astrocytoma (AA), glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), or gliosarcoma were enrolled. All patients underwent concomitant chemoradiotherapy with temozolomide, followed by adjuvant chemotherapy with temozolomide. The outcomes were compared with those of children treated in Children's Cancer Group (CCG) study CCG-945. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue was available in 71 cases for immunohistochemical analysis of MGMT expression. Ninety patients were deemed eligible, 31 with AA, 55 with GBM, and 4 with other eligible diagnoses. The 3-year event-free survival (EFS) and overall survival (OS) rates were 11 ± 3% and 22 ± 5%, respectively. There was no evidence that temozolomide given during radiation therapy and as adjuvant therapy resulted in improved EFS compared with that found in CCG-945 (p = 0.98). The 3-year EFS rate for AA was 13 ± 6% in ACNS0126 compared with 22 ± 5.5% in CCG-945 (p = 0.95). The 3-year EFS rate for GBM was 7 ± 4% in ACNS0126 compared with 15 ± 5% in CCG-945 (p = 0.77). The 2-year EFS rate was 17 ± 5% among patients without MGMT overexpression and 5 ± 4% among those with MGMT overexpression (p = 0.045). Temozolomide failed to improve outcome in children with high-grade astrocytomas. MGMT overexpression was adversely associated with survival.
PMCID: PMC3064602  PMID: 21339192
High-grade glioma; temozolomide; pediatric brain tumors
8.  P14ARF inhibits human glioblastoma–induced angiogenesis by upregulating the expression of TIMP3 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(4):1283-1295.
Malignant gliomas are the most common and the most lethal primary brain tumors in adults. Among malignant gliomas, 60%–80% show loss of P14ARF tumor suppressor activity due to somatic alterations of the INK4A/ARF genetic locus. The tumor suppressor activity of P14ARF is in part a result of its ability to prevent the degradation of P53 by binding to and sequestering HDM2. However, the subsequent finding of P14ARF loss in conjunction with TP53 gene loss in some tumors suggests the protein may have other P53-independent tumor suppressor functions. Here, we report what we believe to be a novel tumor suppressor function for P14ARF as an inhibitor of tumor-induced angiogenesis. We found that P14ARF mediates antiangiogenic effects by upregulating expression of tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinase–3 (TIMP3) in a P53-independent fashion. Mechanistically, this regulation occurred at the gene transcription level and was controlled by HDM2-SP1 interplay, where P14ARF relieved a dominant negative interaction of HDM2 with SP1. P14ARF-induced expression of TIMP3 inhibited endothelial cell migration and vessel formation in response to angiogenic stimuli produced by cancer cells. The discovery of this angiogenesis regulatory pathway may provide new insights into P53-independent P14ARF tumor-suppressive mechanisms that have implications for the development of novel therapies directed at tumors and other diseases characterized by vascular pathology.
PMCID: PMC3314443  PMID: 22378045
9.  Inhibition of the Ca2+ release channel, IP3R subtype 3 by caffeine slows glioblastoma invasion and migration and extends survival 
Cancer Research  2010;70(3):1173-1183.
Ca2+ signaling is an important determining factor in many cellular processes, especially in cancer cell proliferation, motility and invasion. Glioblastoma is the deadliest brain cancer with its average survival time of less than a year, with the most prominent cellular feature being the ability of these cells to migrate to and invade the neighboring tissue. We hypothesized that disturbing the Ca2+ signaling pathway would decrease the propensity for these cells to migrate. Thus, we investigated the detailed Ca2+ signaling pathway of the glioblastoma cells in response to various receptor tyrosine kinases (RTK) and G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR) agonists. Here we report that caffeine, which is a well-known activator of ryanodine receptors (RyRs), paradoxically inhibits inositol-1, 4, 5-triphospate receptor(IP3R)-mediated Ca2+ increase by selectively targeting IP3R subtype 3(IP3R3), whose mRNA expression is significantly increased in glioblastoma cells. Consequently, by inhibiting IP3R3-mediated Ca2+ release, caffeine was found to inhibit the invasion and migration of various glioblastoma cell lines in scrape motility, Matrigel invasion, soft agar, and brain slice implantation assays. In a mouse xenograft model of glioblastoma, caffeine intake via drinking water greatly increased mean survival duration of subject animals. These findings propose IP3R3 as a novel target for glioblastoma treatment and that caffeine may be a useful adjunct therapy that slows glioblastoma invasion and migration by selectively targeting IP3R3.
PMCID: PMC3273964  PMID: 20103623
Large multimodal datasets such as The Cancer Genome Atlas present an opportunity to perform correlative studies of tissue morphology and genomics to explore the morphological phenotypes associated with gene expression and genetic alterations. In this paper we present an investigation of Cancer Genome Atlas data that correlates morphology with recently discovered molecular subtypes of glioblastoma. Using image analysis to segment and extract features from millions of cells, we calculate high-dimensional morphological signatures to describe trends of nuclear morphology and cytoplasmic staining in whole-slide images. We illustrate the similarities between the analysis of these signatures and predictive studies of gene expression, both in terms of limited sample size and high-dimensionality. Our top-down analysis demonstrates the power of morphological signatures to predict clinically-relevant molecular tumor subtypes, with 85.4% recognition of the proneural subtype. A complementary bottom-up analysis shows that self-aggregating clusters have statistically significant associations with tumor subtype and reveals the existence of remarkable structure in the morphological signature space of glioblastomas.
PMCID: PMC3241612  PMID: 22183148
bioinformatics; in silico; digital pathology; image analysis; microscopy
11.  Mismatch Repair Deficiency Is an Uncommon Mechanism of Alkylator Resistance in Pediatric Malignant Gliomas: A Report From the Children's Oncology Group 
Pediatric blood & cancer  2010;55(6):1066-1071.
Alkylating agents are commonly used in the treatment of childhood malignant gliomas. Overexpression of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT)constitutes an important mechanism for resistance to such agents, and MGMT status has been associated with outcome in several recent trials. Deficiency in mismatch repair (MMR)function has been implicated in preclinical studies as an additional potential mechanism of resistance to methylating agents, such as temozolomide, independent of tumor MGMT status. However, the frequency of this abnormality as a clinical resistance mechanism in childhood malignant gliomas has not been well characterized.
To address this issue, we examined the frequency of microsatellite instability (MSI), a marker of defective MMR, in a series of 68 tumors, derived from newly diagnosed patients treated on the Children's Cancer Group 945 study, and the Children's Oncology Group ACNS0126 and 0423 studies. MSI was assessed using a panel of six microsatellite markers, including BAT-25, BAT-26, CAT-25, D2S123, D5S346, and D17S250. MGMT immunoreactivity was assessed in parallel to allow comparison of the relative incidence of MGMT overexpression and MSI.
Only three tumors had high-level MSI involving three or more markers; the remainder had no MSI at any of the loci examined. These children did not have unusual features in terms of their outcome. In contrast to the infrequency of MSI, 25 tumors (37%)exhibited MGMT overexpression as assessed by immunohistochemistry. None of the tumors with MSI exhibited overexpression of MGMT.
MMR deficiency is an infrequent contributor to initial alkylator resistance in children with malignant gliomas. Pediatr Blood Cancer.
PMCID: PMC3036982  PMID: 20589656
anaplastic glioma; childhood; glioblastoma; MGMT; microsatellite instability; mismatch repair; treatment resistance
12.  Cancer susceptibility variants and the risk of adult glioma in a US case–control study 
Journal of neuro-oncology  2011;104(2):535-542.
Malignant gliomas are the most common and deadly brain tumors. Although their etiology remains elusive, recent studies have narrowed the search for genetic loci that influence risk. We examined variants implicated in recent cancer genome-wide association studies (GWAS) for associations with glioma risk in a US case–control study. Cases were identified from neurosurgical and neuro-oncology clinics at major academic centers in the Southeastern US. Controls were identified from the community or were friends or other associates of cases. We examined a total of 191 susceptibility variants in genes identified in published cancer GWAS including glioma. A total of 639 glioma cases and 649 controls, all Caucasian, were included in analysis. Cases were enrolled a median of 1 month following diagnosis. Among glioma GWAS-identified variants, we detected associations in CDKN2B, RTEL1, TERT and PHLDB1, whereas we did not find overall associations for CCDC26. Results showed clear heterogeneity according to histologic subtypes of glioma, with TERT and RTEL variants a feature of astrocytic tumors and glioblastoma (GBM), CCDC26 and PHLDB1 variants a feature of astrocytic and oligodendroglial tumors, and CDKN2B variants most prominent in GBM. No examined variant in other cancer GWAS was found to be related to risk after adjustment for multiple comparisons. These results suggest that GWAS-identified SNPs in glioma mark different molecular etiologies in glioma. Stratification by broad histological subgroups may shed light on molecular mechanisms and assist in the discovery of novel loci in future studies of genetic susceptibility variants in glioma.
PMCID: PMC3138895  PMID: 21203894
Genotype; Glioma; Susceptibility; Single nucleotide polymorphism
13.  Progesterone Inhibits the Growth of Human Neuroblastoma: In Vitro and In Vivo Evidence 
Molecular Medicine  2011;17(9-10):1084-1094.
We investigated the antitumorogenic effects of progesterone (P4) in a human neuroblastoma (SK-N-AS) cell line in vitro and in a mouse xenograft model of neuroblastoma. The safety of P4 was tested in rat primary cortical neurons and human foreskin fibroblasts (HFF-1). At high doses, P4 significantly (P < 0.05) decreased SK-N-AS cell viability in vitro, and this effect was not blocked either by 5α-reductase inhibitor, finasteride or the P4 receptor antagonist RU486. Even at very high doses, P4 did not induce any cell death in healthy primary cortical neurons or HFF-1. The bioavailability of P4 24 h after the last injection in the serum of treated animals was significantly (P < 0.05) higher (10–33 μg/mL) than in untreated animals. In nude mice, P4 (50 and 100 mg/kg) inhibited neuroblastoma growth by ~50% over 8 d of treatment. No drug toxicity was observed in the mice, as measured by body weight and activity. P4 suppressed the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and matrix metalloproteinases (MMP-9, MMP-2), which are involved in tumor vascular development. High-dose P4 inhibited tumor growth by suppressing cell proliferation and inducing apoptosis, as evidenced by the expression of proliferating cell nuclear antigen and cleaved caspase-3. P4 significantly increased the expression of P4 receptor isoform-A and suppressed phospho-Akt (Ser437) expression. In conclusion, at high doses, P4 effectively inhibits the growth of solid neuroblastoma tumor and has high bioavailability, selective toxicity and a high margin of safety, making it a possible candidate for further study as a potential clinical treatment of neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3188857  PMID: 21695351
14.  Discovery of a Pro-neurogenic, Neuroprotective Chemical 
Cell  2010;142(1):39-51.
An in vivo screen was performed in search of chemicals capable of enhancing neuron formation in the hippocampus of adult mice. Eight of 1,000 small molecules tested enhanced neuron formation in the subgranular zone of the dentate gyrus. Among these was an aminopropyl carbazole, designated P7C3, endowed with favorable pharmacological properties. In vivo studies gave evidence that P7C3 exerts its pro-neurogenic activity by protecting newborn neurons from apoptosis. Mice missing the gene encoding neuronal PAS domain protein 3 (NPAS3) are devoid of hippocampal neurogenesis and display malformation and electrophysiological dysfunction of the dentate gyrus. Prolonged administration of P7C3 to npas3-/- mice corrected these deficits by normalizing levels of apoptosis of newborn hippocampal neurons. Prolonged administration of P7C3 to aged rats also enhanced neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus, impeded neuron death, and preserved cognitive capacity as a function of terminal aging.
PMCID: PMC2930815  PMID: 20603013
15.  Machine-Based Morphologic Analysis of Glioblastoma Using Whole-Slide Pathology Images Uncovers Clinically Relevant Molecular Correlates 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81049.
Pathologic review of tumor morphology in histologic sections is the traditional method for cancer classification and grading, yet human review has limitations that can result in low reproducibility and inter-observer agreement. Computerized image analysis can partially overcome these shortcomings due to its capacity to quantitatively and reproducibly measure histologic structures on a large-scale. In this paper, we present an end-to-end image analysis and data integration pipeline for large-scale morphologic analysis of pathology images and demonstrate the ability to correlate phenotypic groups with molecular data and clinical outcomes. We demonstrate our method in the context of glioblastoma (GBM), with specific focus on the degree of the oligodendroglioma component. Over 200 million nuclei in digitized pathology slides from 117 GBMs in the Cancer Genome Atlas were quantitatively analyzed, followed by multiplatform correlation of nuclear features with molecular and clinical data. For each nucleus, a Nuclear Score (NS) was calculated based on the degree of oligodendroglioma appearance, using a regression model trained from the optimal feature set. Using the frequencies of neoplastic nuclei in low and high NS intervals, we were able to cluster patients into three well-separated disease groups that contained low, medium, or high Oligodendroglioma Component (OC). We showed that machine-based classification of GBMs with high oligodendroglioma component uncovered a set of tumors with strong associations with PDGFRA amplification, proneural transcriptional class, and expression of the oligodendrocyte signature genes MBP, HOXD1, PLP1, MOBP and PDGFRA. Quantitative morphologic features within the GBMs that correlated most strongly with oligodendrocyte gene expression were high nuclear circularity and low eccentricity. These findings highlight the potential of high throughput morphologic analysis to complement and inform human-based pathologic review.
PMCID: PMC3827469  PMID: 24236209
16.  Tuberous sclerosis complex suppression in cerebellar development and medulloblastoma: separate regulation of mTOR activity and p27Kip1 localization 
Cancer research  2009;69(18):7224-7234.
During development, proliferation of cerebellar granule neuron precursors (CGNPs), candidate cells-of-origin for the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma, requires signaling by Sonic hedgehog (Shh) and insulin-like growth factor (IGF), whose pathways are also implicated in medulloblastoma. One of the consequences of IGF signaling is inactivation of the mTOR-suppressing Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC), comprised of TSC1 and TSC2, leading to increased mRNA translation. We show that mice in which TSC function is impaired display increased mTOR pathway activation, enhanced CGNP proliferation, GSK-3α/β inactivation, and cytoplasmic localization of the cyclin-dependent kinase (cdk) inhibitor p27Kip1, which has been proposed to cause its inactivation or gain of oncogenic functions. We observed the same characteristics in wild-type primary cultures of CGNPs in which TSC1 and/or TSC2 were knocked down, and in mouse medulloblastomas induced by ectopic Shh pathway activation. Moreover, Shh-induced mouse medulloblastomas manifested Akt-mediated TSC2 inactivation, and the mutant TSC2 allele synergized with aberrant Shh signaling to increase medulloblastoma incidence in mice. Driving exogenous TSC2 expression in Shh-induced medulloblastoma cells corrected p27Kip1 localization and reduced proliferation. GSK-3α/β inactivation in the tumors in vivo and in primary CGNP cultures was mTOR-dependent, whereas p27Kip1 cytoplasmic localization was regulated upstream of mTOR, by TSC2. These results indicate that a balance between Shh mitogenic signaling and TSC function regulating new protein synthesis and cdk inhibition is essential for normal development and prevention of tumor formation or expansion.
PMCID: PMC2745891  PMID: 19738049
TSC; Sonic hedgehog, cerebellum; medulloblastoma; p27Kip1; mTOR
17.  The Proneural Molecular Signature Is Enriched in Oligodendrogliomas and Predicts Improved Survival among Diffuse Gliomas 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12548.
The Cancer Genome Atlas Project (TCGA) has produced an extensive collection of ‘-omic’ data on glioblastoma (GBM), resulting in several key insights on expression signatures. Despite the richness of TCGA GBM data, the absence of lower grade gliomas in this data set prevents analysis genes related to progression and the uncovering of predictive signatures. A complementary dataset exists in the form of the NCI Repository for Molecular Brain Neoplasia Data (Rembrandt), which contains molecular and clinical data for diffuse gliomas across the full spectrum of histologic class and grade. Here we present an investigation of the significance of the TCGA consortium's expression classification when applied to Rembrandt gliomas. We demonstrate that the proneural signature predicts improved clinical outcome among 176 Rembrandt gliomas that includes all histologies and grades, including GBMs (log rank test p = 1.16e-6), but also among 75 grade II and grade III samples (p = 2.65e-4). This gene expression signature was enriched in tumors with oligodendroglioma histology and also predicted improved survival in this tumor type (n = 43, p = 1.25e-4). Thus, expression signatures identified in the TCGA analysis of GBMs also have intrinsic prognostic value for lower grade oligodendrogliomas, and likely represent important differences in tumor biology with implications for treatment and therapy. Integrated DNA and RNA analysis of low-grade and high-grade proneural gliomas identified increased expression and gene amplification of several genes including GLIS3, TGFB2, TNC, AURKA, and VEGFA in proneural GBMs, with corresponding loss of DLL3 and HEY2. Pathway analysis highlights the importance of the Notch and Hedgehog pathways in the proneural subtype. This demonstrates that the expression signatures identified in the TCGA analysis of GBMs also have intrinsic prognostic value for low-grade oligodendrogliomas, and likely represent important differences in tumor biology with implications for treatment and therapy.
PMCID: PMC2933229  PMID: 20838435
18.  Heterozygosity for Pten Promotes Tumorigenesis in a Mouse Model of Medulloblastoma 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(5):e10849.
Recent publications have described an important role for cross talk between PI-3 kinase and sonic hedgehog signaling pathways in the pathogenesis of medulloblastoma.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We crossed mice with constitutive activation of Smoothened, SmoA1, with Pten deficient mice. Both constitutive and conditional Pten deficiency doubled the incidence of mice with symptoms of medulloblastoma and resulted in decreased survival. Analysis revealed a clear separation of gene signatures, with up-regulation of genes in the PI-3 kinase signaling pathway, including downstream activation of angiogenesis in SmoA1+/−; Pten +/− medulloblastomas. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry confirmed reduced or absent Pten, Akt activation, and increased angiogenesis in Pten deficient tumors. Down-regulated genes included genes in the sonic hedgehog pathway and tumor suppressor genes. SmoA1+/−; Pten +/+ medulloblastomas appeared classic in histology with increased proliferation and diffuse staining for apoptosis. In contrast, Pten deficient tumors exhibited extensive nodularity with neuronal differentiation separated by focal areas of intense staining for proliferation and virtually absent apoptosis. Examination of human medulloblastomas revealed low to absent PTEN expression in over half of the tumors. Kaplan-Meier analysis confirmed worse overall survival in patients whose tumor exhibited low to absent PTEN expression.
This suggests that PTEN expression is a marker of favorable prognosis and mouse models with activation of PI-3 kinase pathways may be important tools for preclinical evaluation of promising agents for the treatment of medulloblastoma.
PMCID: PMC2877103  PMID: 20520772
19.  Depletion of Peripheral Macrophages and Brain Microglia Increases Brain Tumor Titers of Oncolytic Viruses 
Cancer research  2007;67(19):9398-9406.
Clinical trials have proven oncolytic virotherapy to be safe but not effective. We have shown that oncolytic viruses (OV) injected into intracranial gliomas established in rodents are rapidly cleared, and this is associated with up-regulation of markers (CD68 and CD163) of cells of monocytic lineage (monocytes/microglia/macrophages). However, it is unclear whether these cells directly impede intratumoral persistence of OV through phagocytosis and whether they infiltrate the tumor from the blood or the brain parenchyma. To investigate this, we depleted phagocytes with clodronate liposomes (CL) in vivo through systemic delivery and ex vivo in brain slice models with gliomas. Interestingly, systemic CL depleted over 80% of peripheral CD163+ macrophages in animal spleen and peripheral blood, thereby decreasing intratumoral infiltration of these cells, but CD68+ cells were unchanged. Intratumoral viral titers increased 5-fold. In contrast, ex vivo CL depleted only CD68+ cells from brain slices, and intratumoral viral titers increased 10-fold. These data indicate that phagocytosis by both peripheral CD163+ and brain-resident CD68+ cells infiltrating tumor directly affects viral clearance from tumor. Thus, improved therapeutic efficacy may require modulation of these innate immune cells. In support of this new therapeutic paradigm, we observed intratumoral up-regulation of CD68+ and CD163+ cells following treatment with OV in a patient with glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC2850558  PMID: 17909049
20.  Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor and PTEN Modulate Tissue Factor Expression in Glioblastoma through JunD/Activator Protein-1 Transcriptional Activity 
Cancer research  2009;69(6):2540-2549.
Hypoxia and necrosis are fundamental features of glioblastoma (GBM) and their emergence is critical for the rapid biological progression of this fatal tumor; yet, underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. We have suggested that vaso-occlusion following intravascular thrombosis could initiate or propagate hypoxia and necrosis in GBM. Tissue factor (TF), the main cellular initiator of coagulation, is overexpressed in GBMs and likely favors a thrombotic microenvironment. Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) amplification and PTEN loss are two common genetic alterations seen in GBM but not in lower-grade astrocytomas that could be responsible for TF up-regulation. The most frequent EGFR mutation in GBM involves deletion of exons 2 to 7, resulting in the expression of a constitutively active receptor, EGFRvIII. Here, we show that overexpression of EGFR or EGFRvIII in human glioma cells causes increased basal TF expression and that stimulation of EGFR by its ligand, EGF, leads to a marked dose-dependent up-regulation of TF. In all cases, increased TF expression led to accelerated plasma coagulation in vitro. EGFR-mediated TF expression depended most strongly on activator protein-1 (AP-1) transcriptional activity and was associated with c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) and JunD activation. Restoration of PTEN expression in PTEN-deficient GBM cells diminished EGFR-induced TF expression by inhibiting JunD/AP-1 transcriptional activity. PTEN mediated this effect by antagonizing phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity, which in turn attenuated both Akt and JNK activities. These mechanisms are likely at work in vivo, as EGFR expression was highly correlated with TF expression in human high-grade astrocytoma specimens.
PMCID: PMC2759716  PMID: 19276385
21.  Silencing of TMS1/ASC promotes resistance to anoikis in breast epithelial cells 
Cancer research  2009;69(5):1706-1711.
Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is characterized by ductal epithelial cells that have filled the luminal space of the breast duct and survive despite loss of extracellular matrix contact. In normal epithelial cells, the loss of such contact triggers a form of apoptosis known as detachment-induced apoptosis or “anoikis.” TMS1/ASC is a bipartite adaptor molecule that participates in inflammatory and apoptotic signaling pathways. Epigenetic silencing of TMS1 has been observed in a significant proportion of human breast and other cancers, but the mechanism by which TMS1 silencing contributes to carcinogenesis is unknown. Here we examined the role of TMS1 in anoikis. We found that TMS1 expression is induced in response to loss of substratum interactions in breast epithelial cells. siRNA-mediated knockdown of TMS1 leads to anoikis resistance, due in part to the persistent activation of ERK and an impaired ability to upregulate the BH3-only protein Bim. We further show that the detachment-induced cleavage of procaspase-8, a newly described mediator of cellular adhesion, is significantly inhibited in the absence of TMS1. These data demonstrate a novel upstream role for TMS1 in the promotion of anoikis, and suggest that silencing of TMS1 may contribute to the pathogenesis of breast cancer by allowing epithelial cells to bypass cell death in the early stages of breast cancer development. This conclusion is supported by in vivo data showing that TMS1 is selectively downregulated in the aberrant epithelial cells filling the lumen of the breast duct in a subset of primary DCIS lesions.
PMCID: PMC2837082  PMID: 19223547
DCIS; breast cancer; apoptosis; caspase-8; Bim
22.  Vasculostatin inhibits intracranial glioma growth and negatively regulates in vivo angiogenesis through a CD36-dependent mechanism 
Cancer research  2009;69(3):1212-1220.
Angiogenesis is a critical physiological process that is appropriated during tumorigenesis. Little is known about how this process is specifically regulated in the brain. Brain Angiogenesis Inhibitor-1 (BAI1) is a primarily brain specific seven-transmembrane protein that contains five anti-angiogenic thrombospondin type-1 repeats (TSR). We recently showed that BAI1 is cleaved at a conserved proteolytic cleavage site releasing a soluble, 120 kDa anti-angiogenic factor called Vasculostatin (Vstat120). Vstat120 has been shown to inhibit in vitro angiogenesis and suppress subcutaneous tumor growth. Here, we examine its effect on intracranial growth of malignant gliomas and further study the mechanism of its anti-tumor effects. First, we show that expression of Vstat120 strongly suppresses the intracranial growth of malignant gliomas, even in the presence of the strong pro-angiogenic stimulus mediated by the oncoprotein Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor variant III (EGFRvIII). This tumor suppressive effect is accompanied by a decrease in vascular density in the tumors, suggesting a potent anti-angiogenic effect in the brain. Second, and consistent with this interpretation, we find that treatment with Vstat120 reduces the migration of cultured microvascular endothelial cells in vitro and inhibits corneal angiogenesis in vivo. Third, we demonstrate that these anti-vascular effects are critically dependent on the presence of the cell surface receptor CD36 on endothelial cells in vitro and in vivo, supporting a role of the Vstat120 TSRs in mediating these effects. These results advance the understanding of brain-specific angiogenic regulation, and suggest that Vstat120 has therapeutic potential in the treatment of brain tumors and other intra-cerebral vasculopathies.
PMCID: PMC2659670  PMID: 19176395
Brain Angiogenesis Inhibitor 1 (BAI1); Vasculostatin; brain tumor; glioma
23.  Human BRE1 Is an E3 Ubiquitin Ligase for Ebp1 Tumor Suppressor 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2009;20(3):757-768.
Human Bre1, an E3 ligase for H2B monoubiquitination, binds p53 and enhances activator-dependent transcription. Ebp1, an ErbB3 receptor-binding protein, inhibits cell proliferation and acts as a tumor suppressor. Here, we show that hBre1 acts as an E3 ubiquitin ligase for Ebp1 tumor suppressor and promotes its polyubiquitination and degradation. Ebp1 is polyubiquitinated in cancer cells, which is regulated by its phosphorylation. We identified hBre1 acting as an E3 ligase for Ebp1 and increasing its polyubiquitination. Depletion of hBre1 blocks Ebp1's polyubiquitination and elevates its protein level, preventing cancer proliferation. hBre1 binds Ebp1 and suppresses its repressive effect on E2F-1. Moreover, Ebp1 protein level is substantially diminished in human cancers. It is robustly phosphorylated and localized in the nucleus of primary gliomas, correlating with hBre1 subcellular residency. Thus, hBre1 inhibits Ebp1's tumor suppressive activity through mediating its polyubiquitination and degradation.
PMCID: PMC2633391  PMID: 19037095
24.  Early Growth Response Gene-1 Regulates Hypoxia-Induced Expression of Tissue Factor in Glioblastoma Multiforme through Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1–Independent Mechanisms 
Cancer research  2006;66(14):7067-7074.
Hypoxia strongly up-regulates tissue factor and promotes plasma clotting by glioblastoma multiforme, but transcriptional mechanisms remain undefined. Here, we investigated the potential roles of early growth response gene-1 (Egr-1), Sp1, nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB), activator protein-1 (AP-1), and hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) in the hypoxic regulation of tissue factor by glioblastoma multiforme cells in vitro. Hypoxia (1% O2) strongly induced Egr-1 mRNA within 1 hour and led to nuclear localization of Egr-1 protein. Using luciferase reporter plasmids in glioma cells, we found that hypoxia dramatically increased luciferase activity in cells with constructs containing Egr-1-binding sites but not in cells with constructs containing AP-1- or NF-κB-binding sites. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays revealed hypoxia-induced Egr-1, but not Sp1, binding to oligonucleotides containing the Egr-1/Sp1 motif of tissue factor gene promoter. Using an expression vector containing the minimal tissue factor promoter (−111 to +14 bp) and small interfering RNA (siRNA) directed at Egr-1 and Sp1 mRNAs, we found that Egr-1 was required for maximal hypoxic induction of promoter activity. Forced overexpression of Egr-1 but not Sp1 by cDNA transfection caused up-regulation of tissue factor in glioma cells under normoxia (21% O2), whereas siRNA directed at Egr-1 strongly attenuated hypoxia-induced tissue factor expression. To examine the effects of HIF-1α on tissue factor expression, we used glioma cells stably transfected with a HIF-1α siRNA expression vector and found that HIF-1α mRNA silencing did not affect tissue factor expression under hypoxia. We conclude that hypoxic up-regulation of tissue factor in glioblastoma multiforme cells depends largely on Egr-1 and is independent of HIF-1.
PMCID: PMC2610484  PMID: 16849552
25.  Targeted Cancer Gene Therapy Using a Hypoxia Inducible Factor–Dependent Oncolytic Adenovirus Armed with Interleukin-4 
Cancer research  2007;67(14):6872-6881.
There is a need for novel therapies targeting hypoxic cells in tumors. These cells are associated with tumor resistance to therapy and express hypoxia inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), a transcription factor that mediates metabolic adaptation to hypoxia and activates tumor angiogenesis. We previously developed an oncolytic adenovirus (HYPR-Ad) for the specific killing of hypoxic/HIF-active tumor cells, which we now armed with an interleukin-4 gene (HYPR-Ad-IL4). We designed HYPR-Ad-IL4 by cloning the Ad E1A viral replication and IL-4 genes under the regulation of a bidirectional hypoxia/HIF-responsive promoter. The IL-4 cytokine was chosen for its ability to induce a strong host antitumor immune response and its potential antiangiogenic activity. HYPR-Ad-IL4 induced hypoxia-dependent IL-4 expression, viral replication, and conditional cytolysis of hypoxic, but not normoxic cells. The treatment of established human tumor xenografts with HYPR-Ad-IL4 resulted in rapid and maintained tumor regression with the same potency as that of wild-type dl309-Ad. HYPR-Ad-IL4–treated tumors displayed extensive necrosis, fibrosis, and widespread viral replication. Additionally, these tumors contained a distinctive leukocyte infiltrate and prominent hypoxia. The use of an oncolytic Ad that locally delivers IL-4 to tumors is novel, and we expect that HYPR-Ad-IL4 will have broad therapeutic use for all solid tumors that have hypoxia or active HIF, regardless of tissue origin or genetic alterations.
PMCID: PMC2262867  PMID: 17638898

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