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1.  Telomere maintenance is pivotal for high-risk neuroblastoma 
Cell Cycle  2015;15(3):311-312.
PMCID: PMC4943683  PMID: 26653081
ATRX; genetic etiology; MYCN; neuroblastoma; rearrangement; telomere maintenance; TERT
2.  Influence of Ocean Acidification on a Natural Winter-to-Summer Plankton Succession: First Insights from a Long-Term Mesocosm Study Draw Attention to Periods of Low Nutrient Concentrations 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(8):e0159068.
Every year, the oceans absorb about 30% of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) leading to a re-equilibration of the marine carbonate system and decreasing seawater pH. Today, there is increasing awareness that these changes–summarized by the term ocean acidification (OA)–could differentially affect the competitive ability of marine organisms, thereby provoking a restructuring of marine ecosystems and biogeochemical element cycles. In winter 2013, we deployed ten pelagic mesocosms in the Gullmar Fjord at the Swedish west coast in order to study the effect of OA on plankton ecology and biogeochemistry under close to natural conditions. Five of the ten mesocosms were left unperturbed and served as controls (~380 μatm pCO2), whereas the others were enriched with CO2-saturated water to simulate realistic end-of-the-century carbonate chemistry conditions (~760 μatm pCO2). We ran the experiment for 113 days which allowed us to study the influence of high CO2 on an entire winter-to-summer plankton succession and to investigate the potential of some plankton organisms for evolutionary adaptation to OA in their natural environment. This paper is the first in a PLOS collection and provides a detailed overview on the experimental design, important events, and the key complexities of such a “long-term mesocosm” approach. Furthermore, we analyzed whether simulated end-of-the-century carbonate chemistry conditions could lead to a significant restructuring of the plankton community in the course of the succession. At the level of detail analyzed in this overview paper we found that CO2-induced differences in plankton community composition were non-detectable during most of the succession except for a period where a phytoplankton bloom was fueled by remineralized nutrients. These results indicate: (1) Long-term studies with pelagic ecosystems are necessary to uncover OA-sensitive stages of succession. (2) Plankton communities fueled by regenerated nutrients may be more responsive to changing carbonate chemistry than those having access to high inorganic nutrient concentrations and may deserve particular attention in future studies.
PMCID: PMC4985126  PMID: 27525979
3.  Integrative genome analyses identify key somatic driver mutations of small cell lung cancer 
Peifer, Martin | Fernández-Cuesta, Lynnette | Sos, Martin L | George, Julie | Seidel, Danila | Kasper, Lawryn H | Plenker, Dennis | Leenders, Frauke | Sun, Ruping | Zander, Thomas | Menon, Roopika | Koker, Mirjam | Dahmen, Ilona | Müller, Christian | Di Cerbo, Vincenzo | Schildhaus, Hans-Ulrich | Altmüller, Janine | Baessmann, Ingelore | Becker, Christian | de Wilde, Bram | Vandesompele, Jo | Böhm, Diana | Ansén, Sascha | Gabler, Franziska | Wilkening, Ines | Heynck, Stefanie | Heuckmann, Johannes M | Lu, Xin | Carter, Scott L | Cibulskis, Kristian | Banerji, Shantanu | Getz, Gad | Park, Kwon-Sik | Rauh, Daniel | Grütter, Christian | Fischer, Matthias | Pasqualucci, Laura | Wright, Gavin | Wainer, Zoe | Russell, Prudence | Petersen, Iver | Chen, Yuan | Stoelben, Erich | Ludwig, Corinna | Schnabel, Philipp | Hoffmann, Hans | Muley, Thomas | Brockmann, Michael | Engel-Riedel, Walburga | Muscarella, Lucia A | Fazio, Vito M | Groen, Harry | Timens, Wim | Sietsma, Hannie | Thunnissen, Erik | Smit, Egbert | Heideman, Daniëlle AM | Snijders, Peter JF | Cappuzzo, Federico | Ligorio, Claudia | Damiani, Stefania | Field, John | Solberg, Steinar | Brustugun, Odd Terje | Lund-Iversen, Marius | Sänger, Jörg | Clement, Joachim H | Soltermann, Alex | Moch, Holger | Weder, Walter | Solomon, Benjamin | Soria, Jean-Charles | Validire, Pierre | Besse, Benjamin | Brambilla, Elisabeth | Brambilla, Christian | Lantuejoul, Sylvie | Lorimier, Philippe | Schneider, Peter M | Hallek, Michael | Pao, William | Meyerson, Matthew | Sage, Julien | Shendure, Jay | Schneider, Robert | Büttner, Reinhard | Wolf, Jürgen | Nürnberg, Peter | Perner, Sven | Heukamp, Lukas C | Brindle, Paul K | Haas, Stefan | Thomas, Roman K
Nature genetics  2012;44(10):1104-1110.
Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive lung tumor subtype with poor survival1–3. We sequenced 29 SCLC exomes, two genomes and 15 transcriptomes and found an extremely high mutation rate of 7.4±1 protein-changing mutations per million basepairs. Therefore, we conducted integrated analyses of the various data sets to identify pathogenetically relevant mutated genes. In all cases we found evidence for inactivation of TP53 and RB1 and identified recurrent mutations in histone-modifying genes, CREBBP, EP300, and MLL. Furthermore, we observed mutations in PTEN, in SLIT2, and EPHA7, as well as focal amplifications of the FGFR1 tyrosine kinase gene. Finally, we detected many of the alterations found in humans in SCLC tumors from p53/Rb1-deficient mice4. Our study implicates histone modification as a major feature of SCLC, reveals potentially therapeutically tractable genome alterations, and provides a generalizable framework for identification of biologically relevant genes in the context of high mutational background.
PMCID: PMC4915822  PMID: 22941188
small-cell lung cancer; cancer genome; integrated analysis
4.  Telomerase activation by genomic rearrangements in high-risk neuroblastoma 
Nature  2015;526(7575):700-704.
Neuroblastoma is a malignant paediatric tumour of the sympathetic nervous system1. Roughly half of these tumours regress spontaneously or are cured by limited therapy. By contrast, high-risk neuroblastomas have an unfavourable clinical course despite intensive multimodal treatment, and their molecular basis has remained largely elusive2–4. Here we have performed whole-genome sequencing of 56 neuroblastomas (high-risk, n = 39; low-risk, n = 17) and discovered recurrent genomic rearrangements affecting a chromosomal region at 5p15.33 proximal of the telomerase reverse transcriptase gene (TERT). These rearrangements occurred only in high-risk neuroblastomas (12/39, 31%) in a mutually exclusive fashion with MYCN amplifications and ATRX mutations, which are known genetic events in this tumour type1,2,5. In an extended case series (n = 217), TERT rearrangements defined a subgroup of high-risk tumours with particularly poor outcome. Despite a large structural diversity of these rearrangements, they all induced massive transcriptional upregulation of TERT. In the remaining high-risk tumours, TERT expression was also elevated in MYCN-amplified tumours, whereas alternative lengthening of telomeres was present in neuroblastomas without TERT or MYCN alterations, suggesting that telomere lengthening represents a central mechanism defining this subtype. The 5p15.33 rearrangements juxtapose the TERT coding sequence to strong enhancer elements, resulting in massive chromatin remodelling and DNA methylation of the affected region. Supporting a functional role of TERT, neuroblastoma cell lines bearing rearrangements or amplified MYCN exhibited both upregulated TERT expression and enzymatic telomerase activity. In summary, our findings show that remodelling of the genomic context abrogates transcriptional silencing of TERT in high-risk neuroblastoma and places telomerase activation in the centre of transformation in a large fraction of these tumours.
PMCID: PMC4881306  PMID: 26466568
5.  An 18 gene expression-based score classifier predicts the clinical outcome in stage 4 neuroblastoma 
The prognosis of children with metastatic stage 4 neuroblastoma (NB) has remained poor in the past decade.
Patients and methods
Using microarray analyses of 342 primary tumors, we here developed and validated an easy to use gene expression-based risk score including 18 genes, which can robustly predict the outcome of stage 4 patients.
This classifier was a significant predictor of overall survival in two independent validation cohorts [cohort 1 (n = 214): P = 6.3 × 10−5; cohort 2 (n = 27): P = 3.1 × 10−2]. The prognostic value of the risk score was validated by multivariate analysis including the established markers age and MYCN status (P = 0.027). In the pooled validation cohorts (n = 241), integration of the risk score with the age and/or MYCN status identified subgroups with significantly differing overall survival (ranging from 35 to 100 %).
Together, the 18-gene risk score classifier can identify patients with stage 4 NB with favorable outcome and may therefore improve risk assessment and treatment stratification of NB patients with disseminated disease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-016-0896-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4870777  PMID: 27188717
Neuroblastoma; Risk score; Prognosis; Microarray
6.  The mitochondrial genetic landscape in neuroblastoma from tumor initiation to relapse 
Oncotarget  2015;7(6):6620-6625.
Little is known about changes within the mitochondrial (mt) genome during tumor progression in general and during initiation and progression of neuroblastoma (NB) in particular. Whole exome sequencing of corresponding healthy tissue, primary tumor and relapsed tumor from 16 patients with NB revealed that most NB harbor tumor-specific mitochondrial variants. In relapsed tumors, the status of mt variants changed in parallel to the status of nuclear variants, as shown by increased number and spatio-temporal differences of tumor-specific variants, and by a concomitant decrease of germline variants. As mt variants are present in most NB patients, change during relapse and have a higher copy number compared to nuclear variants, they represent a promising new source of biomarkers for monitoring and phylogenetic analysis of NB.
PMCID: PMC4872737  PMID: 26735174
mitochondrial variants; neuroblastoma; tumor progression; next generation sequencing; phylogenetic analysis
7.  Anti-ALK Antibodies in Patients with ALK-Positive Malignancies Not Expressing NPM-ALK 
Journal of Cancer  2016;7(11):1383-1387.
Patients with Nucleophosmin (NPM)- Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase (ALK) fusion positive Anaplastic Large Cell Lymphoma produce autoantibodies against ALK indicative of an immune response against epitopes of the chimeric fusion protein. We asked whether ALK-expression in other malignancies induces specific antibodies. Antibodies against ALK were detected in sera of one of 50 analysed ALK-expressing neuroblastoma patients, 13 of 21 ALK positive non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) patients, 13 of 22 ALK translocation-positive, but NPM-ALK-negative lymphoma patients and one of one ALK-positive rhabdomyosarcoma patient, but not in 20 healthy adults. These data suggest that boosting a pre-existent anti-ALK immune response may be more feasible for patients with ALK-positive NSCLC, lymphomas and rhabdomyosarcomas than for tumours expressing wild-type ALK.
PMCID: PMC4964121  PMID: 27471553
ALK-antibody titre; NSCLC; neuroblastoma; lymphoma
8.  Integrative omics reveals MYCN as a global suppressor of cellular signalling and enables network-based therapeutic target discovery in neuroblastoma 
Oncotarget  2015;6(41):43182-43201.
Despite intensive study, many mysteries remain about the MYCN oncogene's functions. Here we focus on MYCN's role in neuroblastoma, the most common extracranial childhood cancer. MYCN gene amplification occurs in 20% of cases, but other recurrent somatic mutations are rare. This scarcity of tractable targets has hampered efforts to develop new therapeutic options. We employed a multi-level omics approach to examine MYCN functioning and identify novel therapeutic targets for this largely un-druggable oncogene. We used systems medicine based computational network reconstruction and analysis to integrate a range of omic techniques: sequencing-based transcriptomics, genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation, siRNA screening and interaction proteomics, revealing that MYCN controls highly connected networks, with MYCN primarily supressing the activity of network components. MYCN's oncogenic functions are likely independent of its classical heterodimerisation partner, MAX. In particular, MYCN controls its own protein interaction network by transcriptionally regulating its binding partners.
Our network-based approach identified vulnerable therapeutically targetable nodes that function as critical regulators or effectors of MYCN in neuroblastoma. These were validated by siRNA knockdown screens, functional studies and patient data. We identified β-estradiol and MAPK/ERK as having functional cross-talk with MYCN and being novel targetable vulnerabilities of MYCN-amplified neuroblastoma. These results reveal surprising differences between the functioning of endogenous, overexpressed and amplified MYCN, and rationalise how different MYCN dosages can orchestrate cell fate decisions and cancerous outcomes. Importantly, this work describes a systems-level approach to systematically uncovering network based vulnerabilities and therapeutic targets for multifactorial diseases by integrating disparate omic data types.
PMCID: PMC4791225  PMID: 26673823
MYC (c-MYC); neuroblastoma; transcriptional regulation; mRNA sequencing (mRNA-seq); 4sU-seq
9.  Loss of the Coffin-Lowry syndrome-associated gene RSK2 alters ERK activity, synaptic function and axonal transport in Drosophila motoneurons 
Disease Models & Mechanisms  2015;8(11):1389-1400.
Plastic changes in synaptic properties are considered as fundamental for adaptive behaviors. Extracellular-signal-regulated kinase (ERK)-mediated signaling has been implicated in regulation of synaptic plasticity. Ribosomal S6 kinase 2 (RSK2) acts as a regulator and downstream effector of ERK. In the brain, RSK2 is predominantly expressed in regions required for learning and memory. Loss-of-function mutations in human RSK2 cause Coffin-Lowry syndrome, which is characterized by severe mental retardation and low IQ scores in affected males. Knockout of RSK2 in mice or the RSK ortholog in Drosophila results in a variety of learning and memory defects. However, overall brain structure in these animals is not affected, leaving open the question of the pathophysiological consequences. Using the fly neuromuscular system as a model for excitatory glutamatergic synapses, we show that removal of RSK function causes distinct defects in motoneurons and at the neuromuscular junction. Based on histochemical and electrophysiological analyses, we conclude that RSK is required for normal synaptic morphology and function. Furthermore, loss of RSK function interferes with ERK signaling at different levels. Elevated ERK activity was evident in the somata of motoneurons, whereas decreased ERK activity was observed in axons and the presynapse. In addition, we uncovered a novel function of RSK in anterograde axonal transport. Our results emphasize the importance of fine-tuning ERK activity in neuronal processes underlying higher brain functions. In this context, RSK acts as a modulator of ERK signaling.
Summary: Mutations in the human kinase RSK2 are associated with severe mental retardation (Coffin-Lowry syndrome). Here, the function of Drosophila RSK in synaptic plasticity is described, which might help in understanding the complex pathophysiology.
PMCID: PMC4631788  PMID: 26398944
Drosophila; Motoneuron; Neuromuscular junction; RSK; MAPK signaling; Synapse; Axonal transport
11.  Comparison of RNA-seq and microarray-based models for clinical endpoint prediction 
Genome Biology  2015;16(1):133.
Gene expression profiling is being widely applied in cancer research to identify biomarkers for clinical endpoint prediction. Since RNA-seq provides a powerful tool for transcriptome-based applications beyond the limitations of microarrays, we sought to systematically evaluate the performance of RNA-seq-based and microarray-based classifiers in this MAQC-III/SEQC study for clinical endpoint prediction using neuroblastoma as a model.
We generate gene expression profiles from 498 primary neuroblastomas using both RNA-seq and 44 k microarrays. Characterization of the neuroblastoma transcriptome by RNA-seq reveals that more than 48,000 genes and 200,000 transcripts are being expressed in this malignancy. We also find that RNA-seq provides much more detailed information on specific transcript expression patterns in clinico-genetic neuroblastoma subgroups than microarrays. To systematically compare the power of RNA-seq and microarray-based models in predicting clinical endpoints, we divide the cohort randomly into training and validation sets and develop 360 predictive models on six clinical endpoints of varying predictability. Evaluation of factors potentially affecting model performances reveals that prediction accuracies are most strongly influenced by the nature of the clinical endpoint, whereas technological platforms (RNA-seq vs. microarrays), RNA-seq data analysis pipelines, and feature levels (gene vs. transcript vs. exon-junction level) do not significantly affect performances of the models.
We demonstrate that RNA-seq outperforms microarrays in determining the transcriptomic characteristics of cancer, while RNA-seq and microarray-based models perform similarly in clinical endpoint prediction. Our findings may be valuable to guide future studies on the development of gene expression-based predictive models and their implementation in clinical practice.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-015-0694-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4506430  PMID: 26109056
12.  MYCN amplification confers enhanced folate dependence and methotrexate sensitivity in neuroblastoma 
Oncotarget  2015;6(17):15510-15523.
MYCN amplification occurs in 20% of neuroblastomas and is strongly related to poor clinical outcome. We have identified folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism as highly upregulated in neuroblastoma tumors with MYCN amplification and have validated this finding experimentally by showing that MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cell lines have a higher requirement for folate and are significantly more sensitive to the antifolate methotrexate than cell lines without MYCN amplification. We have demonstrated that methotrexate uptake in neuroblastoma cells is mediated principally by the reduced folate carrier (RFC; SLC19A1), that SLC19A1 and MYCN expression are highly correlated in both patient tumors and cell lines, and that SLC19A1 is a direct transcriptional target of N-Myc. Finally, we assessed the relationship between SLC19A1 expression and patient survival in two independent primary tumor cohorts and found that SLC19A1 expression was associated with increased risk of relapse or death, and that SLC19A1 expression retained prognostic significance independent of age, disease stage and MYCN amplification. This study adds upregulation of folate-mediated one-carbon metabolism to the known consequences of MYCN amplification, and suggests that this pathway might be targeted in poor outcome tumors with MYCN amplification and high SLC19A1 expression.
PMCID: PMC4558167  PMID: 25860940
MYCN; MYC; SLC19A1; methotrexate; neuroblastoma
13.  The novel intubating laryngeal tube (iLTS-D) is comparable to the intubating laryngeal mask (Fastrach) – a prospective randomised manikin study 
Supraglottic devices are helpful for inexperienced providers who perform ventilation in emergency situations. Most supraglottic devices do not allow secondary tracheal intubation through the device. The novel intubating laryngeal tube (iLTS-D®) and the intubating laryngeal mask (Fastrach™) are devices that offer supraglottic ventilation and secondary tracheal intubation.
We evaluated the novel iLTS-D and compared it to the established Fastrach using a manikin-based study. Participants used both devices in a randomised order. The participants conducted four consecutive trials on a manikin. One trial was composed of the following procedures. First, participants ventilated the manikin using either iLTS-D or Fastrach. ‘Time to ventilation’, success rates and number of attempts were recorded for the supraglottic device. Second, participants intubated the manikin through the previously inserted supraglottic device. ‘Time to tracheal ventilation’, success rate and tube localisation were recorded. The primary endpoint was the results of the final fourth trial, which mirrored the standardised training of trials 1, 2 and 3.
A total of 64 participants were enrolled. All of the participants successfully inserted both devices on their first attempt in trial 4. Fastrach was applied 1 s faster in trial 4 than the iLTS-D (median ‘time to ventilation’ Fastrach: 13.5 s., iLTS-D: 14.5 s., p = 0.04). All participants successfully intubated through both devices in trial 4. There was no difference in ‘time to tracheal ventilation’ by tracheal intubation between either device (median ‘time to tracheal ventilation’: Fastrach: 14.0 s., iLTS-D: 14.0 s., p = 0.16).
The iLTS-D performed similarly to the ILMA in insertion and intubation times in a manikin setting.
PMCID: PMC4459456  PMID: 26051498
Airway management; Intubation; Laryngeal mask; Tracheal tube; Patient simulation
14.  Difficult intubation and outcome after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a registry-based analysis 
Airway management during resuscitation attempts is pivotal for treating hypoxia, and endotracheal intubation is the standard procedure. This German Resuscitation Registry analysis investigates the influence of airway management on primary outcomes after out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, in a physician-based emergency system.
A total of 8512 patients recorded in the German Resuscitation Registry (2007–2011) were analyzed. The Return of Spontaneous Circulation After Cardiac Arrest (RACA) score was used to compare observed return of spontaneous circulation (ROSC) rates with the ROSC predicted by the score and to analyze factors influencing the primary outcome. Patients were classified into three groups: difficult intubation, impossible intubation, and a control group with normal airways.
The observed ROSC matched the predicted ROSC in the group with difficult airways. The impossible intubation group had lower ROSC rates (31.3 % vs. 40.5 %; P < 0.05). Impossible intubation was more frequent in men (OR 2.28; 95 % CI, 1.43–3.63; P = 0.001), young patients (OR 2.18; 95 % CI, 1.26–3.76; P = 0.005) and those with trauma (OR 2.22; 95 % CI, 1.01–4.85; P = 0.046). Fewer impossible intubations were reported when the emergency physicians were anesthesiologists (OR 0.65; 95 % CI, 0.44–0.96; P = 0.028). If a supraglottic airway device was not used in the impossible intubation group, the observed ROSC (18.0 %; 95 % CI, 7.4–28.6 %) was poorer than predicted (38.2 %) (P < 0.05).
Outcomes after resuscitation attempts are poorer when endotracheal intubation is not possible. Predictive factors for impossible intubation are male gender, younger age, and trauma. Supraglottic airway devices should be used at an early stage whenever these negative factors are present.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13049-015-0124-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4457979  PMID: 26048574
Intubation; Out-of-hospital cardiac arrest; Resuscitation; Airwaymanagement
15.  Absence of telomerase reverse transcriptase promoter mutations in neuroblastoma 
Biomedical Reports  2015;3(4):443-446.
Maintenance of telomere length is a critical hallmark of malignant transformation. While silenced in somatic cells, telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT), the catalytic subunit of telomerase, is frequently overexpressed in malignant cells thereby maintaining their telomere length. Specific point mutations in the TERT promoter region have recently been identified in melanoma and other tumor entities resulting in high TERT expression. Neuroblastoma is the most common extracranial tumor of childhood, arising from neural-crest progenitor cells. TERT overexpression has been observed in the majority of neuroblastoma. Taking into consideration that TERT promoter mutations are frequently described in neural-crest-derived tumors such as melanoma, as well as a variety of other neuronal tumors, the present study analyzed the frequency of TERT promoter mutations in primary neuroblastoma and neuroblastoma cell lines. In 131 neuroblastoma primary tumors representing the whole spectrum of neuroblastoma, no TERT promoter mutations were detected. However, in 3 out of 19 neuroblastoma cell lines the previously described C228T TERT promoter mutation was present. In conclusion, the TERT promoter mutations are not a frequent mechanism of TERT overexpression in neuroblastoma.
PMCID: PMC4486810  PMID: 26171145
neuroblastoma; telomerase reverse transcriptase; alternative lengthening of telomeres; telomeres; sequencing
16.  Percutaneous extracorporeal life support for patients in therapy refractory cardiogenic shock: initial results of an interdisciplinary team† 
Therapy refractory cardiogenic shock is associated with dismal outcome. Percutaneous implantation of an extracorporeal life support (ECLS) system achieves immediate cardiopulmonary stabilization, sufficient end-organ perfusion and reduction of subsequent multiorgan failure (MOF).
Forty-one patients undergoing percutaneous ECLS implantation for cardiogenic shock from February 2012 until August 2013 were retrospectively analysed. Mean age was 52 ± 13 years, 6 (15%) were female. Mean pH values obtained before ECLS implantation were 7.15 ± 0.24, mean lactate concentration was 11.7 ± 6.4 mmol/l. Levels obtained 6 h after ECLS implantation were 7.30 ± 0.14 and 8.7 ± 5.0 mmol/l, respectively. In 23 patients (56%) cardiogenic shock resulted from an acute coronary syndrome in 13 (32%) from cardiomyopathy, in 5 (12%) from other causes. Twenty-seven (66%) had been resuscitated, in 14 (34%) implantation was performed under ongoing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Of note, 97% of the acute coronary syndrome patients underwent percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) either before ECLS implantation or under ECLS support. Extracorporeal life support implantation was performed on scene (Emergency Department, Cath Lab, Intensive Care Unit) by a senior cardiac surgeon and a trained perfusionist, in 8 cases (20%) in the referring hospital.
Thirty-day mortality was 51% [21 patients, due to MOF (n = 14), cerebral complications (n = 6) and heart failure (n = 1)]. Logistic regression analysis identified 6-h pH values as an independent risk factor of 30-day mortality (P < 0.001, OR = 0.000, 95% CI 0.000–0.042). Neither CPR nor implantation under ongoing CPR resulted in significant differences. In 26 cases (63%), the ECLS system could be explanted, after mean support of 169 ± 67 h. Seven of these patients received cardiac surgery [ventricular assist device implantation (n = 4), heart transplantation (n = 1), other procedures (n = 2)].
Due to the evolution of transportable ECLS systems and percutaneous techniques implantation on scene is feasible. Extracorporeal life support may serve as a bridge-to-decision and bridge-to-treatment device. Neurological evaluation before ventricular assist device implantation and PCI under stable conditions are possible. Despite substantial mortality, ECLS implantation in selected patients by an experienced team offers additional support to conventional therapy as well as CPR and allows survival in patients that otherwise most likely would have died. This concept has to be implemented in cardiac survival networks in the future.
PMCID: PMC3930215  PMID: 24336784
Extracorporeal life support; Cardiogenic shock; Myocardial infarction; Cardiomyopathy
17.  Meeting the International Health Regulations (2005) surveillance core capacity requirements at the subnational level in Europe: the added value of syndromic surveillance 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:107.
The revised World Health Organization’s International Health Regulations (2005) request a timely and all-hazard approach towards surveillance, especially at the subnational level. We discuss three questions of syndromic surveillance application in the European context for assessing public health emergencies of international concern: (i) can syndromic surveillance support countries, especially the subnational level, to meet the International Health Regulations (2005) core surveillance capacity requirements, (ii) are European syndromic surveillance systems comparable to enable cross-border surveillance, and (iii) at which administrative level should syndromic surveillance best be applied?
Despite the ongoing criticism on the usefulness of syndromic surveillance which is related to its clinically nonspecific output, we demonstrate that it was a suitable supplement for timely assessment of the impact of three different public health emergencies affecting Europe. Subnational syndromic surveillance analysis in some cases proved to be of advantage for detecting an event earlier compared to national level analysis. However, in many cases, syndromic surveillance did not detect local events with only a small number of cases.
The European Commission envisions comparability of surveillance output to enable cross-border surveillance. Evaluated against European infectious disease case definitions, syndromic surveillance can contribute to identify cases that might fulfil the clinical case definition but the approach is too unspecific to comply to complete clinical definitions. Syndromic surveillance results still seem feasible for comparable cross-border surveillance as similarly defined syndromes are analysed.
We suggest a new model of implementing syndromic surveillance at the subnational level. In this model, syndromic surveillance systems are fine-tuned to their local context and integrated into the existing subnational surveillance and reporting structure. By enhancing population coverage, events covering several jurisdictions can be identified at higher levels. However, the setup of decentralised and locally adjusted syndromic surveillance systems is more complex compared to the setup of one national or local system.
We conclude that syndromic surveillance if implemented with large population coverage at the subnational level can help detect and assess the local and regional effect of different types of public health emergencies in a timely manner as required by the International Health Regulations (2005).
PMCID: PMC4324797  PMID: 25879869
Public health surveillance; Europe; World Health Organization
18.  Small Molecule Inhibitors of Aurora-A Induce Proteasomal Degradation of N-Myc in Childhood Neuroblastoma 
Cancer cell  2013;24(1):75-89.
Amplification of MYCN is a driver mutation in a subset of human neuroendocrine tumors including neuroblastoma. No small molecules that target N-Myc, the protein encoded by MYCN, are clinically available. N-Myc forms a complex with the Aurora-A kinase, which protects N-Myc from proteasomal degradation. Although stabilization of N-Myc does not require the catalytic activity of Aurora-A, we show here that two Aurora-A inhibitors, MLN8054 and MLN8237, disrupt the Aurora-A/N-Myc complex and promote degradation of N-Myc mediated by the Fbxw7 ubiquitin ligase. Disruption of the Aurora-A/N-Myc complex inhibits N-Myc-dependent transcription, correlating with tumor regression and prolonged survival in a mouse model of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma. We conclude that Aurora-A is an accessible target that makes destabilization of N-Myc a viable therapeutic strategy.
PMCID: PMC4298657  PMID: 23792191
19.  An investigation of biomarkers derived from legacy microarray data for their utility in the RNA-seq era 
Genome Biology  2014;15(12):3273.
Gene expression microarray has been the primary biomarker platform ubiquitously applied in biomedical research, resulting in enormous data, predictive models, and biomarkers accrued. Recently, RNA-seq has looked likely to replace microarrays, but there will be a period where both technologies co-exist. This raises two important questions: Can microarray-based models and biomarkers be directly applied to RNA-seq data? Can future RNA-seq-based predictive models and biomarkers be applied to microarray data to leverage past investment?
We systematically evaluated the transferability of predictive models and signature genes between microarray and RNA-seq using two large clinical data sets. The complexity of cross-platform sequence correspondence was considered in the analysis and examined using three human and two rat data sets, and three levels of mapping complexity were revealed. Three algorithms representing different modeling complexity were applied to the three levels of mappings for each of the eight binary endpoints and Cox regression was used to model survival times with expression data. In total, 240,096 predictive models were examined.
Signature genes of predictive models are reciprocally transferable between microarray and RNA-seq data for model development, and microarray-based models can accurately predict RNA-seq-profiled samples; while RNA-seq-based models are less accurate in predicting microarray-profiled samples and are affected both by the choice of modeling algorithm and the gene mapping complexity. The results suggest continued usefulness of legacy microarray data and established microarray biomarkers and predictive models in the forthcoming RNA-seq era.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0523-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4290828  PMID: 25633159
20.  A Three-Gene Expression Signature Model for Risk Stratification of Patients with Neuroblastoma 
Neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumor with contrasting clinical courses. Despite elaborate stratification strategies, precise clinical risk assessment still remains a challenge. The purpose of this study was to develop a PCR-based predictor model to improve clinical risk assessment of patients with neuroblastoma.
Experimental Design
The model was developed using real-time PCR gene expression data from 96 samples and tested on separate expression data sets obtained from real-time PCR and microarray studies comprising 362 patients.
On the basis of our prior study of differentially expressed genes in favorable and unfavorable neuroblastoma subgroups, we identified three genes, CHD5, PAFAH1B1, and NME1, strongly associated with patient outcome. The expression pattern of these genes was used to develop a PCR-based single-score predictor model. The model discriminated patients into two groups with significantly different clinical outcome [set 1: 5-year overall survival (OS): 0.93 ± 0.03 vs. 0.53 ± 0.06, 5-year event-free survival (EFS): 0.85 ± 0.04 vs. 0.042 ± 0.06, both P < 0.001; set 2 OS: 0.97 ± 0.02 vs. 0.61 ± 0.1, P = 0.005, EFS: 0.91 ± 0.8 vs. 0.56 ± 0.1, P = 0.005; and set 3 OS: 0.99 ± 0.01 vs. 0.56 ± 0.06, EFS: 0.96 ± 0.02 vs. 0.43 ± 0.05, both P < 0.001]. Multivariate analysis showed that the model was an independent marker for survival (P < 0.001, for all). In comparison with accepted risk stratification systems, the model robustly classified patients in the total cohort and in different clinically relevant risk subgroups.
We propose for the first time in neuroblastoma, a technically simple PCR-based predictor model that could help refine current risk stratification systems.
PMCID: PMC4240975  PMID: 22328561
21.  FOXP1 inhibits cell growth and attenuates tumorigenicity of neuroblastoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:840.
Segmental genomic copy number alterations, such as loss of 11q or 3p and gain of 17q, are well established markers of poor outcome in neuroblastoma, and have been suggested to comprise tumor suppressor genes or oncogenes, respectively. The gene forkhead box P1 (FOXP1) maps to chromosome 3p14.1, a tumor suppressor locus deleted in many human cancers including neuroblastoma. FoxP1 belongs to a family of winged-helix transcription factors that are involved in processes of cellular proliferation, differentiation and neoplastic transformation.
Microarray expression profiles of 476 neuroblastoma specimens were generated and genes differentially expressed between favorable and unfavorable neuroblastoma were identified. FOXP1 expression was correlated to clinical markers and patient outcome. To determine whether hypermethylation is involved in silencing of FOXP1, methylation analysis of the 5′ region of FOXP1 in 47 neuroblastomas was performed. Furthermore, FOXP1 was re-expressed in three neuroblastoma cell lines to study the effect of FOXP1 on growth characteristics of neuroblastoma cells.
Low expression of FOXP1 is associated with markers of unfavorable prognosis like stage 4, age >18 months and MYCN amplification and unfavorable gene expression-based classification (P < 0.001 each). Moreover, FOXP1 expression predicts patient outcome accurately and independently from well-established prognostic markers. Array-based CGH analysis of 159 neuroblastomas revealed that heterozygous loss of the FOXP1 locus was a rare event (n = 4), but if present, was associated with low FOXP1 expression. By contrast, DNA methylation analysis in 47 neuroblastomas indicated that hypermethylation is not regularly involved in FOXP1 gene silencing. Re-expression of FoxP1 significantly impaired cell proliferation, viability and colony formation in soft agar. Furthermore, induction of FOXP1 expression led to cell cycle arrest and apoptotic cell death of neuroblastoma cells.
Our results suggest that down-regulation of FOXP1 expression is a common event in high-risk neuroblastoma pathogenesis and may contribute to tumor progression and unfavorable patient outcome.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-840) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4251948  PMID: 25406647
FoxP1; Neuroblastoma; Tumor suppressor; Cell proliferation; Disease progression
22.  Novel in vitro inhibitory functions of potato tuber proteinaceous inhibitors 
Plant protease inhibitors are a structurally highly diverse and ubiquitous class of small proteins, which play various roles in plant development and defense against pests and pathogens. Particular isoforms inhibit in vitro proteases and other enzymes that are not their natural substrates, for example proteases that have roles in human diseases. Mature potato tubers are a rich source of several protease inhibitor families. Different cultivars have different inhibitor profiles. With the objective to explore the functional diversity of the natural diversity of potato protease inhibitors, we randomly selected and sequenced 9,600 cDNA clones originated from mature tubers of ten potato cultivars. Among these, 120 unique inhibitor cDNA clones were identified by homology searches. Eighty-eight inhibitors represented novel sequence variants of known plant protease inhibitor families. Most frequent were Kunitz-type inhibitors (KTI), potato protease inhibitors I and II (PIN), pectin methylesterase inhibitors, metallocarboxypeptidase inhibitors and defensins. Twenty-three inhibitors were functionally characterized after heterologous expression in the yeast Pichia pastoris. The purified recombinant proteins were tested for inhibitory activity on trypsin, eleven pharmacological relevant proteases and the non-proteolytic enzyme 5-lipoxygenase. Members of the KTI and PIN families inhibited pig pancreas elastase, β-Secretase, Cathepsin K, HIV-1 protease and potato 5-lipoxygenase. Our results demonstrate in vitro inhibitory diversity of small potato tuber proteins commonly known as protease inhibitors, which might have biotechnological or medical applications.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00438-014-0906-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4309916  PMID: 25260821
Potato (Solanum tuberosum L.); Tuber; Enzyme inhibitor; Protease inhibitor; Heterologous expression; Pichia pastoris
23.  Does Chronic Idiopathic Dizziness Reflect an Impairment of Sensory Predictions of Self-Motion? 
Most patients suffering from chronic idiopathic dizziness do not present signs of vestibular dysfunction or organic failures of other kinds. Hence, this kind of dizziness is commonly seen as psychogenic in nature, sharing commonalities with specific phobias, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety. A more specific concept put forward by Brandt and Dieterich (1) states that these patients suffer from dizziness because of an inadequate compensation of self-induced sensory stimulation. According to this hypothesis self-motion-induced reafferent visual stimulation is interpreted as motion in the world since a predictive signal reflecting the consequences of self-motion, needed to compensate the reafferent stimulus, is inadequate. While conceptually intriguing, experimental evidence supporting the idea of an inadequate prediction of the sensory consequences of own movements has as yet been lacking. Here we tested this hypothesis by applying it to the perception of background motion induced by smooth pursuit eye movements. As a matter of fact, we found the same mildly undercompensating prediction, responsible for the perception of slight illusory world motion (“Filehne illusion”) in the 15 patients tested and their age-matched controls. Likewise, the ability to adapt this prediction to the needs of the visual context was not deteriorated in patients. Finally, we could not find any correlation between measures of the individual severity of dizziness and the ability to predict. In sum, our results do not support the concept of a deviant prediction of self-induced sensory stimulation as cause of chronic idiopathic dizziness.
PMCID: PMC3820974  PMID: 24265626
dizziness; vertigo; chronic idiopathic dizziness; phobic postural vertigo; efference copy; smooth pursuit; self-motion perception; Filehne illusion
24.  Sensitive Detection of Viral Transcripts in Human Tumor Transcriptomes 
PLoS Computational Biology  2013;9(10):e1003228.
In excess of % of human cancer incidents have a viral cofactor. Epidemiological studies of idiopathic human cancers indicate that additional tumor viruses remain to be discovered. Recent advances in sequencing technology have enabled systematic screenings of human tumor transcriptomes for viral transcripts. However, technical problems such as low abundances of viral transcripts in large volumes of sequencing data, viral sequence divergence, and homology between viral and human factors significantly confound identification of tumor viruses. We have developed a novel computational approach for detecting viral transcripts in human cancers that takes the aforementioned confounding factors into account and is applicable to a wide variety of viruses and tumors. We apply the approach to conducting the first systematic search for viruses in neuroblastoma, the most common cancer in infancy. The diverse clinical progression of this disease as well as related epidemiological and virological findings are highly suggestive of a pathogenic cofactor. However, a viral etiology of neuroblastoma is currently contested. We mapped transcriptomes of neuroblastoma as well as positive and negative controls to the human and all known viral genomes in order to detect both known and unknown viruses. Analysis of controls, comparisons with related methods, and statistical estimates demonstrate the high sensitivity of our approach. Detailed investigation of putative viral transcripts within neuroblastoma samples did not provide evidence for the existence of any known human viruses. Likewise, de-novo assembly and analysis of chimeric transcripts did not result in expression signatures associated with novel human pathogens. While confounding factors such as sample dilution or viral clearance in progressed tumors may mask viral cofactors in the data, in principle, this is rendered less likely by the high sensitivity of our approach and the number of biological replicates analyzed. Therefore, our results suggest that frequent viral cofactors of metastatic neuroblastoma are unlikely.
Author Summary
Many human cancers are caused by infections with tumor viruses and identification of these pathogens is considered a critical contribution to cancer prevention. Deep sequencing enables us to systematically investigate viral nucleotide signatures in order to either verify or exclude the existence of viruses in idiopathic human cancers. We have developed Virana, a novel computational approach for identifying tumor viruses in human cancers that is applicable to a wide variety of tumors and viruses. Virana firstly addresses several important biological confounding factors that may hinder successful detection of these pathogens. We applied our approach in the first systematic search for cancer-causing viruses in metastatic neuroblastoma, the most common form of cancer in infancy. Although the heterogeneous clinical progression of this disease as well as epidemiological and virological findings are suggestive of a pathogenic cofactor, the viral etiology of neuroblastoma is currently contested. We conducted an analysis of experimental controls, comparisons with related approaches, as well as statistical analyses in order to validate our method. In spite of the high sensitivity of our approach, analyses of neuroblastoma transcriptomes did not provide evidence for the existence of any known or unknown human viruses. Our results therefore suggest that frequent viral cofactors of metastatic neuroblastoma are unlikely.
PMCID: PMC3789765  PMID: 24098097
25.  Clinical Significance of Tumor-Associated Inflammatory Cells in Metastatic Neuroblastoma 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2012;30(28):3525-3532.
Children diagnosed at age ≥ 18 months with metastatic MYCN-nonamplified neuroblastoma (NBL-NA) are at high risk for disease relapse, whereas those diagnosed at age < 18 months are nearly always cured. In this study, we investigated the hypothesis that expression of genes related to tumor-associated inflammatory cells correlates with the observed differences in survival by age at diagnosis and contributes to a prognostic signature.
Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) in localized and metastatic neuroblastomas (n = 71) were assessed by immunohistochemistry. Expression of 44 genes representing tumor and inflammatory cells was quantified in 133 metastatic NBL-NAs to assess age-dependent expression and to develop a logistic regression model to provide low- and high-risk scores for predicting progression-free survival (PFS). Tumors from high-risk patients enrolled onto two additional studies (n = 91) served as independent validation cohorts.
Metastatic neuroblastomas had higher infiltration of TAMs than locoregional tumors, and metastatic tumors diagnosed in patients at age ≥ 18 months had higher expression of inflammation-related genes than those in patients diagnosed at age < 18 months. Expression of genes representing TAMs (CD33/CD16/IL6R/IL10/FCGR3) contributed to 25% of the accuracy of a novel 14-gene tumor classification score. PFS at 5 years for children diagnosed at age ≥ 18 months with NBL-NA with a low- versus high-risk score was 47% versus 12%, 57% versus 8%, and 50% versus 20% in three independent clinical trials, respectively.
These data suggest that interactions between tumor and inflammatory cells may contribute to the clinical metastatic neuroblastoma phenotype, improve prognostication, and reveal novel therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC3675667  PMID: 22927533

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