Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is a highly aggressive lung neoplasm with extremely poor clinical outcomes and no approved targeted treatments. To elucidate the mechanisms responsible for driving the SCLC phenotype in hopes of revealing novel therapeutic targets, we studied copy number and methylation profiles of SCLC. We found disruption of the E2F/Rb pathway was a prominent feature deregulated in 96% of the SCLC samples investigated and was strongly associated with increased expression of EZH2, an oncogene and core member of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Through its catalytic role in the PRC2 complex, EZH2 normally functions to epigenetically silence genes during development, however, it aberrantly silences genes in human cancers. We provide evidence to support that EZH2 is functionally active in SCLC tumours, exerts pro-tumourigenic functions in vitro, and is associated with aberrant methylation profiles of PRC2 target genes indicative of a “stem-cell like” hypermethylator profile in SCLC tumours. Furthermore, lentiviral-mediated knockdown of EZH2 demonstrated a significant reduction in the growth of SCLC cell lines, suggesting EZH2 has a key role in driving SCLC biology. In conclusion, our data confirm the role of EZH2 as a critical oncogene in SCLC, and lend support to the prioritization of EZH2 as a potential therapeutic target in clinical disease.
Pheochromocytomas are rare tumors generally arising in the medullary region of the adrenal gland. These tumors release excessive epinephrine and norepinephrine resulting in hypertension and cardiovascular crises for which surgery is the only definitive treatment. Molecular mechanisms that control tumor development and hormone production are poorly understood, and progress has been hampered by the lack of human cellular model systems. To study pheochromocytomas, we developed a stable progenitor pheochromocytoma cell line derived from a primary human tumor.
After IRB approval and written informed consent, human pheochromocytoma tissue was excised, minced, dispersed enzymatically, and cultured in vitro. Primary pheochromocytoma cells were infected with a lentivirus vector carrying the catalytic subunit of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT). The hTERT immortalized cells (hPheo1) have been passaged >300 population doublings. The resulting cell line was characterized morphologically, biochemically and for expression of neuroendocrine properties. The expression of marker enzymes and proteins was assessed by immunofluorescence staining and immunoblotting. Telomerase activity was determined by using the telomeric repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) assay.
We have established a human pheochromocytoma precursor cell line that expresses the neuroendocrine marker, chromogranin A, when differentiated in the presence of bone morphogenic protein 4 (BMP4), nerve growth factor (NGF), and dexamethasone. Phenylethanolamine N-methyltransferase (PNMT) expression is also detected with this differentiation regimen. CD-56 (also known as NCAM, neural cell adhesion molecule) is expressed in these cells, but CD31 (also known as PECAM-1, a marker of endothelial cells) is negative.
We have maintained hTERT-immortalized progenitor cells derived from a pheochromocytoma (hPheo1) in culture for over 300 population doublings. This progenitor human cell line is normal diploid except for a deletion in the p16 region and has inducible neuroendocrine biomarkers. These cells should be a valuable reagent for studying mechanisms of tumor development and for testing novel therapeutic approaches.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) mutations were reported in different cancers. However, the nature and role of mtDNA mutation in never-smoker lung cancer patients including patients with EGFR and KRAS gene mutation are unknown. In the present study, we sequenced entire mitochondrial genome (16.5 kb) in matched normal and tumors obtained from 30 never-smoker and 30 current-smoker lung cancer patients, and determined the mtDNA content. All the patients’ samples were sequenced for KRAS (exon 2) and EGFR (exon 19 and 21) gene mutation. The impact of forced overexpression of a respiratory complex-I gene mutation was evaluated in a lung cancer cell line. We observed significantly higher (P=0.006) mtDNA mutation in the never-smokers compared to the current-smoker lung cancer patients. MtDNA mutation was significantly higher (P=0.026) in the never-smoker Asian compared to the current-smoker Caucasian patients’ population. MtDNA mutation was significantly (P=0.007) associated with EGFR gene mutation in the never-smoker patients. We also observed a significant increase (P=0.037) in mtDNA content among the never-smoker lung cancer patients. The majority of the coding mtDNA mutations targeted respiratory complex-I and forced overexpression of one of these mutations resulted in increased in vitro proliferation, invasion and superoxide production in lung cancer cells. We observed a higher prevalence and new relationship between mtDNA alterations among never-smoker lung cancer patients and EGFR gene mutation. Moreover, a representative mutation produced strong growth effects after forced overexpression in lung cancer cells. Signature mtDNA mutations provide a basis to develop novel biomarkers and therapeutic strategies for never-smoker lung cancer patients.
Lung cancer; never-smokers; MtDNA mutation; Respiratory Complex-I; EGFR mutation
Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is a lethal malignancy that can develop from the premalignant condition, Barrett’s esophagus (BE). Currently, there are no validated simple methods to predict which patients will progress to EAC. A better understanding of the genetic mechanisms driving EAC tumorigenesis is needed to identify new therapeutic targets and develop biomarkers capable of identifying high-risk patients that would benefit from aggressive neoadjuvant therapy. We employed an integrative genomics approach to identify novel genes involved in EAC biology that may serve as useful clinical markers.
Whole genome tiling-path array CGH was used to identify significant regions of copy number (CN) alteration in 20 EACs and 10 matching BE tissues. CN and gene expression data were integrated to identify candidate oncogenes within regions of amplification and multiple additional sample cohorts were assessed to validate candidate genes.
We identified RFC3 as a novel, candidate oncogene activated by amplification in ~25% of EAC samples. RFC3 was also amplified in BE from a patient whose EAC harbored amplification, and was differentially expressed between non-malignant and EAC tissues. CN gains were detected in other cancer types and RFC3 knockdown inhibited proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of cancer cells with increased CN, but had little effect on those without. Moreover, high RFC3 expression was associated with poor patient outcome in multiple cancer types.
RFC3 is a candidate oncogene amplified in EAC. RFC3 DNA amplification is also prevalent in other epithelial cancer types and RFC3 expression could serve as a prognostic marker.
RFC3; esophageal adenocarcinoma; Barrett’s esophagus; DNA amplification
Arsenic is a well-known human carcinogen, which potentially affects ~160 million people worldwide via exposure to unsafe levels in drinking water. Lungs are one of the main target organs for arsenic-related carcinogenesis. These tumors exhibit particular features, such as squamous cell-type specificity and high incidence among never smokers. Arsenic-induced malignant transformation is mainly related to the biotransformation process intended for the metabolic clearing of the carcinogen, which results in specific genetic and epigenetic alterations that ultimately affect key pathways in lung carcinogenesis. Based on this, lung tumors induced by arsenic exposure could be considered an additional subtype of lung cancer, especially in the case of never-smokers, where arsenic is a known etiological agent. In this article, we review the current knowledge on the various mechanisms of arsenic carcinogenicity and the specific roles of this metalloid in signaling pathways leading to lung cancer.
Arsenic; Arsenite; Lung cancer; Epigenetic; Reactive oxygen species; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases; NFE2-related factor 2
The cause of lung cancer is generally attributed to tobacco smoking. However lung cancer in never smokers accounts for 10 to 25% of all lung cancer cases. Arsenic, asbestos and radon are three prominent non-tobacco carcinogens strongly associated with lung cancer. Exposure to these agents can lead to genetic and epigenetic alterations in tumor genomes, impacting genes and pathways involved in lung cancer development. Moreover, these agents not only exhibit unique mechanisms in causing genomic alterations, but also exert deleterious effects through common mechanisms, such as oxidative stress, commonly associated with carcinogenesis. This article provides a comprehensive review of arsenic, asbestos, and radon induced molecular mechanisms responsible for the generation of genetic and epigenetic alterations in lung cancer. A better understanding of the mode of action of these carcinogens will facilitate the prevention and management of lung cancer related to such environmental hazards.
Prostate adenocarcinoma (CaP) patients are classified into low-, intermediate-, and high-risk groups that reflect relative survival categories. While there are accepted treatment regimens for low- and high-risk patients, intermediate-risk patients pose a clinical dilemma, as treatment outcomes are highly variable for these individuals. A better understanding of the factors that regulate the progression of CaP is required to delineate risk. For example, aberrant activation of the Hedgehog (Hh) pathway is implicated in CaP progression. Here, we identify the serine protease inhibitor protease nexin 1 (PN1) as a negative regulator of Hh signaling in prostate. Using human CaP cell lines and a mouse xenograft model of CaP, we demonstrate that PN1 regulates Hh signaling by decreasing protein levels of the Hh ligand Sonic (SHH) and its downstream effectors. Furthermore, we show that SHH expression enhanced tumor growth while overexpression of PN1 inhibited tumor growth and angiogenesis in mice. Finally, using comparative genome hybridization, we found that genetic alterations in Hh pathway genes correlated with worse clinical outcomes in intermediate-risk CaP patients, indicating the importance of this pathway in CaP.
IKBKB (IKK-β/IKK-2), which activates NF-κB, is a substrate of the KEAP1-CUL3-RBX1 E3-ubiquitin ligase complex, implicating this complex in regulation of NF-κB signaling. We investigated complex component gene disruption as a novel genetic mechanism of NF-κB activation in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
644 tumor- and 90 cell line-genomes were analyzed for gene-dosage status of the individual complex components and IKBKB. Gene expression of these genes, and NF-κB target genes were analyzed in 48 tumors. IKBKB protein levels were assessed in tumors with and without complex or IKBKB genetic disruption. Complex component knockdown was performed to assess effects of the E3-ligase complex on IKBKB and NF-κB levels, and phenotypic importance of IKBKB expression was measured by pharmacological inhibition.
We observed strikingly frequent genetic disruption (42%) and aberrant expression (63%) of the E3-ligase complex and IKBKB in the samples examined. While both adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas showed complex disruption, the patterns of gene disruption differed. IKBKB levels were elevated with complex disruption, knockdown of complex components increased activated forms of IKBKB and NF-κB proteins, and IKBKB inhibition detriments cell viability, highlighting the biological significance of complex disruption. NF-κB target genes were overexpressed in samples with complex disruption, further demonstrating the effect of complex disruption on NF-κB activity.
Gene dosage alteration is a prominent mechanism that disrupts each component of the KEAP1-CUL3-RBX1 complex and its NF-κB stimulating substrate, IKBKB. Here we show that, multiple component disruption of this complex represents a novel mechanism of NF-κB activation in NSCLC.
KEAP1; CUL3; RBX1; IKBKB; NF-κB signaling; genetic disruption
Advances in high-throughput, genome-wide profiling technologies have allowed for an unprecedented view of the cancer genome landscape. Specifically, high-density microarrays and sequencing-based strategies have been widely utilized to identify genetic (such as gene dosage, allelic status, and mutations in gene sequence) and epigenetic (such as DNA methylation, histone modification, and micro-RNA) aberrations in cancer. Although the application of these profiling technologies in unidimensional analyses has been instrumental in cancer gene discovery, genes affected by low-frequency events are often overlooked. The integrative approach of analyzing parallel dimensions has enabled the identification of (a) genes that are often disrupted by multiple mechanisms but at low frequencies by any one mechanism and (b) pathways that are often disrupted at multiple components but at low frequencies at individual components. These benefits of using an integrative approach illustrate the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. As efforts have now turned toward parallel and integrative multidimensional approaches for studying the cancer genome landscape in hopes of obtaining a more insightful understanding of the key genes and pathways driving cancer cells, this review describes key findings disseminating from such high-throughput, integrative analyses, including contributions to our understanding of causative genetic events in cancer cell biology.
Integrative analysis; Cancer genome; Sequencing; Microarray
Lung cancer biology has traditionally focused on genomic and epigenomic deregulation of protein-coding genes to identify oncogenes and tumor suppressors diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Another important layer of cancer biology has emerged in the form of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), which are major regulators of key cellular processes such as proliferation, RNA splicing, gene regulation, and apoptosis. In the past decade, microRNAs (miRNAs) have moved to the forefront of ncRNA cancer research, while the role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is emerging. Here we review the mechanisms by which miRNAs and lncRNAs are deregulated in lung cancer, the technologies that can be applied to detect such alterations, and the clinical potential of these RNA species. An improved comprehension of lung cancer biology will come through the understanding of the interplay between deregulation of non-coding RNAs, the protein-coding genes they regulate, and how these interactions influence cellular networks and signalling pathways.
For therapeutic purposes, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) has traditionally been regarded as a single disease. However, recent evidence suggest that the two major subtypes of NSCLC, adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) respond differently to both molecular targeted and new generation chemotherapies. Therefore, identifying the molecular differences between these tumor types may impact novel treatment strategy. We performed the first large-scale analysis of 261 primary NSCLC tumors (169 AC and 92 SqCC), integrating genome-wide DNA copy number, methylation and gene expression profiles to identify subtype-specific molecular alterations relevant to new agent design and choice of therapy. Comparison of AC and SqCC genomic and epigenomic landscapes revealed 778 altered genes with corresponding expression changes that are selected during tumor development in a subtype-specific manner. Analysis of >200 additional NSCLCs confirmed that these genes are responsible for driving the differential development and resulting phenotypes of AC and SqCC. Importantly, we identified key oncogenic pathways disrupted in each subtype that likely serve as the basis for their differential tumor biology and clinical outcomes. Downregulation of HNF4α target genes was the most common pathway specific to AC, while SqCC demonstrated disruption of numerous histone modifying enzymes as well as the transcription factor E2F1. In silico screening of candidate therapeutic compounds using subtype-specific pathway components identified HDAC and PI3K inhibitors as potential treatments tailored to lung SqCC. Together, our findings suggest that AC and SqCC develop through distinct pathogenetic pathways that have significant implication in our approach to the clinical management of NSCLC.
Pain in Chinese American cancer patients is examined with the objective of describing the epidemiology of pain in this population to address unmet clinical needs for culturally relevant interventions.
After completing this course, the reader will be able to:
Discuss the prevalence of frequent or persistent pain among non-English-speaking Chinese American cancer patients.Identify factors that were significantly associated with increased pain intensity and pain-related distress in the population studied.
This article is available for continuing medical education credit at CME.TheOncologist.com
Little is known about cancer pain in Chinese Americans. The objective of this study was to describe the epidemiology of pain in this population. This information is needed to identify and address unmet clinical needs for culturally relevant interventions targeting pain and its consequences.
A consecutive sample of underserved ethnic Chinese patients in a large community-based oncology practice was screened for persistent or frequent pain. Those patients with pain completed translated instruments assessing demographics, linguistic acculturation, disease-related characteristics, and pain-related characteristics.
Of 312 patients screened, 178 (57.1%) reported frequent or persistent pain, 175 were eligible, and 170 participated. Most participants (85.9%) were born in China and 84.7% overall spoke Cantonese only. The most common cancers were gastrointestinal (28.2%), lung (21.8%), breast (20.6%), head and neck (12.9%), and genitourinary (4.7%); 43.5% had metastatic disease. The mean worst pain severity on a 0–10 numeric scale was 4.7 (standard deviation, 2.4), with 28.2% of patients rating their worst pain at ≥7 of 10. Although 37.6% used opioids and 47.1% used nonopioids, 45.8% reported “little” or “no” pain relief from medications. Complementary or alternative medicine therapies for cancer pain were used by 35.8%. In multiple regression analyses, worst pain was positively associated with acculturation to the English language and opioid therapy, and pain-related distress was positively associated with opioid therapy.
Pain is prevalent among community-dwelling, ethnic Chinese American cancer patients. Additional studies are needed to confirm these results and investigate the finding that higher linguistic acculturation is associated with reports of more intense pain.
Cancer pain; Ethnic Chinese; Chinese American; Underserved; Acculturation; Disparities
Recent evidence suggests that the observed clinical distinctions between lung tumors in smokers and never smokers (NS) extend beyond specific gene mutations, such as EGFR, EML4-ALK, and KRAS, some of which have been translated into targeted therapies. However, the molecular alterations identified thus far cannot explain all of the clinical and biological disparities observed in lung tumors of NS and smokers. To this end, we performed an unbiased genome-wide, comparative study to identify novel genomic aberrations that differ between smokers and NS.
High resolution whole genome DNA copy number profiling of 69 lung adenocarcinomas from smokers (n = 39) and NS (n = 30) revealed both global and regional disparities in the tumor genomes of these two groups. We found that NS lung tumors had a greater proportion of their genomes altered than those of smokers. Moreover, copy number gains on chromosomes 5q, 7p, and 16p occurred more frequently in NS. We validated our findings in two independently generated public datasets. Our findings provide a novel line of evidence distinguishing genetic differences between smoker and NS lung tumors, namely, that the extent of segmental genomic alterations is greater in NS tumors. Collectively, our findings provide evidence that these lung tumors are globally and genetically different, which implies they are likely driven by distinct molecular mechanisms.
Arsenic is a potent human carcinogen. Around one hundred million people worldwide have potentially been exposed to this metalloid at concentrations considered unsafe. Exposure occurs generally through drinking water from natural geological sources, making it difficult to control this contamination. Arsenic biotransformation is suspected to have a role in arsenic-related health effects ranging from acute toxicities to development of malignancies associated with chronic exposure. It has been demonstrated that arsenic exhibits preference for induction of squamous cell carcinomas in the human, especially skin and lung cancer. Interestingly, keratins emerge as a relevant factor in this arsenic-related squamous cell-type preference. Additionally, both genomic and epigenomic alterations have been associated with arsenic-driven neoplastic process. Some of these aberrations, as well as changes in other factors such as keratins, could explain the association between arsenic and squamous cell carcinomas in humans.
Arsenic is a metalloid, that is, considered to be a human carcinogen. Millions of individuals worldwide are chronically exposed through drinking water, with consequences ranging from acute toxicities to development of malignancies, such as skin and lung cancer. Despite well-known arsenic-related health effects, the molecular mechanisms involved are not fully understood; however, the arsenic biotransformation process, which includes methylation changes, is thought to play a key role. This paper explores the relationship of arsenic exposure with cancer development and summarizes current knowledge of the potential mechanisms that may contribute to the neoplastic processes observed in arsenic exposed human populations.
Once thought to be a part of the ‘dark matter’ of the genome, long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as an integral functional component of the mammalian transcriptome. LncRNAs are a novel class of mRNA-like transcripts which, despite no known protein-coding potential, demonstrate a wide range of structural and functional roles in cellular biology. However, the magnitude of the contribution of lncRNA expression to normal human tissues and cancers has not been investigated in a comprehensive manner. In this study, we compiled 272 human serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) libraries to delineate lncRNA transcription patterns across a broad spectrum of normal human tissues and cancers. Using a novel lncRNA discovery pipeline we parsed over 24 million SAGE tags and report lncRNA expression profiles across a panel of 26 different normal human tissues and 19 human cancers. Our findings show extensive, tissue-specific lncRNA expression in normal tissues and highly aberrant lncRNA expression in human cancers. Here, we present a first generation atlas for lncRNA profiling in cancer.
Somatic mutations and copy number alterations (as a result of deletion or amplification of large portions of a chromosome) are major drivers of human lung cancers. Detailed analysis of lung cancer–associated chromosomal amplifications could identify novel oncogenes. By performing an integrative cytogenetic and gene expression analysis of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines and tumors, we report here the identification of a frequently recurring amplification at chromosome 11 band p13. Within this region, only TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6) exhibited concomitant mRNA overexpression and gene amplification in lung cancers. Inhibition of TRAF6 in human lung cancer cell lines suppressed NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. In these lung cancer cell lines, RAS required TRAF6 for its oncogenic capabilities. Furthermore, TRAF6 overexpression in NIH3T3 cells resulted in NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. Our findings show that TRAF6 is an oncogene that is important for RAS-mediated oncogenesis and provide a mechanistic explanation for the previously apparent importance of constitutive NF-κB activation in RAS-driven lung cancers.
Lung cancer cell lines have made a substantial contribution to lung cancer translational research and biomedical discovery. A systematic approach to initiating and characterizing cell lines from small cell and non–small cell lung carcinomas has led to the current collection of more than 200 lung cancer cell lines, a number that exceeds those for other common epithelial cancers combined. The ready availability and widespread dissemination of the lines to investigators worldwide have resulted in more than 9000 citations, including multiple examples of important biomedical discoveries. The high (but not perfect) genomic similarities between lung cancer cell lines and the lung tumor type from which they were derived provide evidence of the relevance of their use. However, major problems including misidentification or cell line contamination remain. Ongoing studies and new approaches are expected to reveal the full potential of the lung cancer cell line panel.
Chronic exposure to arsenic in drinking water poses a major global health concern. Populations exposed to high concentrations of arsenic-contaminated drinking water suffer serious health consequences, including alarming cancer incidence and death rates. Arsenic is biotransformed through sequential addition of methyl groups, acquired from s-adenosylmethionine (SAM). Metabolism of arsenic generates a variety of genotoxic and cytotoxic species, damaging DNA directly and indirectly, through the generation of reactive oxidative species and induction of DNA adducts, strand breaks and cross links, and inhibition of the DNA repair process itself. Since SAM is the methyl group donor used by DNA methyltransferases to maintain normal epigenetic patterns in all human cells, arsenic is also postulated to affect maintenance of normal DNA methylation patterns, chromatin structure, and genomic stability. The biological processes underlying the cancer promoting factors of arsenic metabolism, related to DNA damage and repair, will be discussed here.
X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) results in the differential marking of the active and inactive X with epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation. Consistent with the previous studies showing that CpG island-containing promoters of genes subject to XCI are approximately 50% methylated in females and unmethylated in males while genes which escape XCI are unmethylated in both sexes; our chromosome-wide (Methylated DNA ImmunoPrecipitation) and promoter-targeted methylation analyses (Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 array) showed the largest methylation difference (D = 0.12, p < 2.2 E−16) between male and female blood at X-linked CpG islands promoters. We used the methylation differences between males and females to predict XCI statuses in blood and found that 81% had the same XCI status as previously determined using expression data. Most genes (83%) showed the same XCI status across tissues (blood, fetal: muscle, kidney and nerual); however, the methylation of a subset of genes predicted different XCI statuses in different tissues. Using previously published expression data the effect of transcription on gene-body methylation was investigated and while X-linked introns of highly expressed genes were more methylated than the introns of lowly expressed genes, exonic methylation did not differ based on expression level. We conclude that the XCI status predicted using methylation of X-linked promoters with CpG islands was usually the same as determined by expression analysis and that 12% of X-linked genes examined show tissue-specific XCI whereby a gene has a different XCI status in at least one of the four tissues examined.
Electronic supplementary material
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Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as new players in the cancer paradigm demonstrating potential roles in both oncogenic and tumor suppressive pathways. These novel genes are frequently aberrantly expressed in a variety of human cancers, however the biological functions of the vast majority remain unknown. Recently, evidence has begun to accumulate describing the molecular mechanisms by which these RNA species function, providing insight into the functional roles they may play in tumorigenesis. In this review, we highlight the emerging functional role of lncRNAs in human cancer.
Chemotherapy resistance is a key contributor to the dismal prognoses for lung cancer patients. While the majority of studies have focused on sequence mutations and expression changes in protein-coding genes, recent reports have suggested that microRNA (miRNA) expression changes also play an influential role in chemotherapy response. However, the role of genetic alterations at miRNA loci in the context of chemotherapy response has yet to be investigated. In this study, we demonstrate the application of an integrative, multidimensional approach in order to identify miRNAs that are associated with chemotherapeutic resistance and sensitivity utilizing publicly available drug response, miRNA loci copy number, miRNA expression, and mRNA expression data from independent resources. By instigating a logical stepwise strategy, we have identified specific miRNAs that are associated with resistance to several chemotherapeutic agents and provide a proof of principle demonstration of how these various databases may be exploited to derive relevant pharmacogenomic results.
Disease development and progression are characterized by frequent genetic and epigenetic aberrations including chromosomal rearrangements, copy number gains and losses and DNA methylation. Advances in high-throughput, genome-wide profiling technologies, such as microarrays, have significantly improved our ability to identify and detect these specific alterations. However as technology continues to improve, a limiting factor remains sample quality and availability. Furthermore, follow-up clinical information and disease outcome are often collected years after the initial specimen collection. Specimens, typically formalin-fixed and paraffin embedded (FFPE), are stored in hospital archives for years to decades. DNA can be efficiently and effectively recovered from paraffin-embedded specimens if the appropriate method of extraction is applied. High quality DNA extracted from properly preserved and stored specimens can support quantitative assays for comparisons of normal and diseased tissues and generation of genetic and epigenetic signatures 1. To extract DNA from paraffin-embedded samples, tissue cores or microdissected tissue are subjected to xylene treatment, which dissolves the paraffin from the tissue, and then rehydrated using a series of ethanol washes. Proteins and harmful enzymes such as nucleases are subsequently digested by proteinase K. The addition of lysis buffer, which contains denaturing agents such as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), facilitates digestion 2. Nucleic acids are purified from the tissue lysate using buffer-saturated phenol and high speed centrifugation which generates a biphasic solution. DNA and RNA remain in the upper aqueous phase, while proteins, lipids and polysaccharides are sequestered in the inter- and organic-phases respectively. Retention of the aqueous phase and repeated phenol extractions generates a clean sample. Following phenol extractions, RNase A is added to eliminate contaminating RNA. Additional phenol extractions following incubation with RNase A are used to remove any remaining enzyme. The addition of sodium acetate and isopropanol precipitates DNA, and high speed centrifugation is used to pellet the DNA and facilitate isopropanol removal. Excess salts carried over from precipitation can interfere with subsequent enzymatic assays, but can be removed from the DNA by washing with 70% ethanol, followed by centrifugation to re-pellet the DNA 3. DNA is re-suspended in distilled water or the buffer of choice, quantified and stored at -20°C. Purified DNA can subsequently be used in downstream applications which include, but are not limited to, PCR, array comparative genomic hybridization 4 (array CGH), methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and sequencing, allowing for an integrative analysis of tissue/tumor samples.
Clinical laboratories are adopting array genomic hybridization as a standard clinical test. A number of whole genome array genomic hybridization platforms are available, but little is known about their comparative performance in a clinical context.
We studied 30 children with idiopathic MR and both unaffected parents of each child using Affymetrix 500 K GeneChip SNP arrays, Agilent Human Genome 244 K oligonucleotide arrays and NimbleGen 385 K Whole-Genome oligonucleotide arrays. We also determined whether CNVs called on these platforms were detected by Illumina Hap550 beadchips or SMRT 32 K BAC whole genome tiling arrays and tested 15 of the 30 trios on Affymetrix 6.0 SNP arrays.
The Affymetrix 500 K, Agilent and NimbleGen platforms identified 3061 autosomal and 117 X chromosomal CNVs in the 30 trios. 147 of these CNVs appeared to be de novo, but only 34 (22%) were found on more than one platform. Performing genotype-phenotype correlations, we identified 7 most likely pathogenic and 2 possibly pathogenic CNVs for MR. All 9 of these putatively pathogenic CNVs were detected by the Affymetrix 500 K, Agilent, NimbleGen and the Illumina arrays, and 5 were found by the SMRT BAC array. Both putatively pathogenic CNVs identified in the 15 trios tested with the Affymetrix 6.0 were identified by this platform.
Our findings demonstrate that different results are obtained with different platforms and illustrate the trade-off that exists between sensitivity and specificity. The large number of apparently false positive CNV calls on each of the platforms supports the need for validating clinically important findings with a different technology.