Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (136)

Clipboard (0)

Select a Filter Below

more »
Year of Publication
more »
1.  pVAC-Seq: A genome-guided in silico approach to identifying tumor neoantigens 
Genome Medicine  2016;8:11.
Cancer immunotherapy has gained significant momentum from recent clinical successes of checkpoint blockade inhibition. Massively parallel sequence analysis suggests a connection between mutational load and response to this class of therapy. Methods to identify which tumor-specific mutant peptides (neoantigens) can elicit anti-tumor T cell immunity are needed to improve predictions of checkpoint therapy response and to identify targets for vaccines and adoptive T cell therapies. Here, we present a flexible, streamlined computational workflow for identification of personalized Variant Antigens by Cancer Sequencing (pVAC-Seq) that integrates tumor mutation and expression data (DNA- and RNA-Seq). pVAC-Seq is available at
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13073-016-0264-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4733280  PMID: 26825632
2.  RNA-sequencing reveals oligodendrocyte and neuronal transcripts in microglia relevant to central nervous system disease 
Glia  2014;63(4):531-548.
Expression profiling of distinct central nervous system (CNS) cell populations has been employed to facilitate disease classification and to provide insights into the molecular basis of brain pathology. One important cell type implicated in a wide variety of CNS disease states is the resident brain macrophage (microglia). In these studies, microglia are often isolated from dissociated brain tissue by flow sorting procedures (FACS) or from postnatal glial cultures by mechanic isolation. Given the highly dynamic and state-dependent functions of these cells, the use of FACS or short-term culture methods may not accurately capture the biology of brain microglia. In the current study, we performed RNA-sequencing using Cx3cr1+/GFP labeled microglia isolated from the brainstem of 6-week old mice to compare the transcriptomes of FACS-sorted versus laser-captured (LCM) microglia. While both isolation techniques resulted in a large number of shared (common) transcripts, we identified transcripts unique to FACS-isolated and LCM-captured microglia. In particular, ~50% of these LCM-isolated microglial transcripts represented genes typically associated with neurons and glia. While these transcripts clearly localized to microglia using complementary methods, they were not translated into protein. Following the induction of murine experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), increased oligodendrocyte and neuronal transcripts were detected in microglia, while only the myelin basic protein oligodendrocyte transcript was increased in microglia after traumatic brain injury (TBI). Collectively, these findings have implications for the design and interpretation of microglia transcriptome-based investigations.
PMCID: PMC4331255  PMID: 25258010
laser-capture microdissection; fluorescence-activated cell sorting; macrophage
3.  Association Between Mutation Clearance After Induction Therapy and Outcomes in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
JAMA  2015;314(8):811-822.
Tests that predict outcomes for patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are imprecise, especially for those with intermediate risk AML.
To determine whether genomic approaches can provide novel prognostic information for adult patients with de novo AML.
Whole-genome or exome sequencing was performed on samples obtained at disease presentation from 71 patients with AML (mean age, 50.8 years) treated with standard induction chemotherapy at a single site starting in March 2002, with follow-up through January 2015. In addition, deep digital sequencing was performed on paired diagnosis and remission samples from 50 patients (including 32 with intermediate-risk AML), approximately 30 days after successful induction therapy. Twenty-five of the 50 were from the cohort of 71 patients, and 25 were new, additional cases.
Whole-genome or exome sequencing and targeted deep sequencing. Risk of identification based on genetic data.
Mutation patterns (including clearance of leukemia-associated variants after chemotherapy) and their association with event-free survival and overall survival.
Analysis of comprehensive genomic data from the 71 patients did not improve outcome assessment over current standard-of-care metrics. In an analysis of 50 patients with both presentation and documented remission samples, 24 (48%) had persistent leukemia-associated mutations in at least 5%of bone marrow cells at remission. The 24 with persistent mutations had significantly reduced event-free and overall survival vs the 26 who cleared all mutations. Patients with intermediate cytogenetic risk profiles had similar findings. Digital Sequencing (n=50)Intermediate CytogeneticRisk Profile (n=32)PersistentMutations(n=24)ClearedMutations(n=26)HR(95% CI)PersistentMutations(n=14)ClearedMutations(n=18)HR(95% CI)Event-free survival,median (95% CI), mo6.0(3.7–9.6)17.9(11.3–40.4)3.67(1.93–7.11)8.8(3.7–14.6)25.6(11.4-notestimable)3.32(1.44–7.67)Overall survival,median (95% CI), mo10.5(7.5–22.2)42.2(20.6-notestimable)2.86(1.39–5.88)19.3(7.5–42.3)46.8(22.6-notestimable)2.88(1.11–7.45)
The detection of persistent leukemia-associated mutations in at least 5%of bone marrow cells in day 30 remission samples was associated with a significantly increased risk of relapse, and reduced overall survival. These data suggest that this genomic approach may improve risk stratification for patients with AML.
PMCID: PMC4621257  PMID: 26305651
4.  Genomics of Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cancer journal (Sudbury, Mass.)  2011;17(6):487-491.
The acute myeloid leukemia (AML) genome has been the subject of intensive research over the past four decades. New technologies, enabling characterization of the AML genome at increased resolution, have revealed deeper layers of complexity that have provided insights into the biological basis of this disease, nominated targets for therapy, and identified biomarkers predictive of response to therapy or long-term prognosis. Still, our understanding of AML genomics is incomplete. Recent publications have demonstrated that whole genome sequencing (WGS) of primary AML samples is feasible and can detect novel, clinically relevant mutations. New insights are emerging from this work, including the clonal heterogeneity of this disease and clonal evolution that occurs over time. Some of the novel mutations are highly recurrent (>20% of patients), but there appears to be a continuum of mutation frequency down to rare (<5%) or even singleton mutations that may be relevant for the biology of this disease. Large cohorts of well-annotated samples are needed to establish mutation frequencies, implicate biological pathways, and demonstrate genotype:phenotype correlations. Although many technical and logistical challenges must be overcome, the capacity of WGS to detect all classes of inherited and acquired genetic abnormalities makes it an attractive candidate for development as a clinical diagnostic test.
PMCID: PMC3240851  PMID: 22157292
acute myeloid leukemia; genomics; next generation sequencing
5.  Patterns and functional implications of rare germline variants across 12 cancer types 
Nature Communications  2015;6:10086.
Large-scale cancer sequencing data enable discovery of rare germline cancer susceptibility variants. Here we systematically analyse 4,034 cases from The Cancer Genome Atlas cancer cases representing 12 cancer types. We find that the frequency of rare germline truncations in 114 cancer-susceptibility-associated genes varies widely, from 4% (acute myeloid leukaemia (AML)) to 19% (ovarian cancer), with a notably high frequency of 11% in stomach cancer. Burden testing identifies 13 cancer genes with significant enrichment of rare truncations, some associated with specific cancers (for example, RAD51C, PALB2 and MSH6 in AML, stomach and endometrial cancers, respectively). Significant, tumour-specific loss of heterozygosity occurs in nine genes (ATM, BAP1, BRCA1/2, BRIP1, FANCM, PALB2 and RAD51C/D). Moreover, our homology-directed repair assay of 68 BRCA1 rare missense variants supports the utility of allelic enrichment analysis for characterizing variants of unknown significance. The scale of this analysis and the somatic-germline integration enable the detection of rare variants that may affect individual susceptibility to tumour development, a critical step toward precision medicine.
Published sequencing data sets of cancer samples could be used to identify genetic variants associated with the risk of developing cancer. Here, Lu et al. analyse over 4,000 tumour-normal pairs to reveal variable frequencies of inherited susceptibilities across 12 cancer types and find enrichment of functionally validated missense variants of unknown significance.
PMCID: PMC4703835  PMID: 26689913
7.  Challenges of sequencing human genomes 
Briefings in Bioinformatics  2010;11(5):484-498.
Massively parallel sequencing technologies continue to alter the study of human genetics. As the cost of sequencing declines, next-generation sequencing (NGS) instruments and datasets will become increasingly accessible to the wider research community. Investigators are understandably eager to harness the power of these new technologies. Sequencing human genomes on these platforms, however, presents numerous production and bioinformatics challenges. Production issues like sample contamination, library chimaeras and variable run quality have become increasingly problematic in the transition from technology development lab to production floor. Analysis of NGS data, too, remains challenging, particularly given the short-read lengths (35–250 bp) and sheer volume of data. The development of streamlined, highly automated pipelines for data analysis is critical for transition from technology adoption to accelerated research and publication. This review aims to describe the state of current NGS technologies, as well as the strategies that enable NGS users to characterize the full spectrum of DNA sequence variation in humans.
PMCID: PMC2980933  PMID: 20519329
massively parallel sequencing; next generation sequencing; human genome; variant detection; short read alignment; whole genome sequencing
8.  RNA Sequencing of Tumor-Associated Microglia Reveals Ccl5 as a Stromal Chemokine Critical for Neurofibromatosis-1 Glioma Growth1 
Neoplasia (New York, N.Y.)  2015;17(10):776-788.
Solid cancers develop within a supportive microenvironment that promotes tumor formation and growth through the elaboration of mitogens and chemokines. Within these tumors, monocytes (macrophages and microglia) represent rich sources of these stromal factors. Leveraging a genetically engineered mouse model of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) low-grade brain tumor (optic glioma), we have previously demonstrated that microglia are essential for glioma formation and maintenance. To identify potential tumor-associated microglial factors that support glioma growth (gliomagens), we initiated a comprehensive large-scale discovery effort using optimized RNA-sequencing methods focused specifically on glioma-associated microglia. Candidate microglial gliomagens were prioritized to identify potential secreted or membrane-bound proteins, which were next validated by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction as well as by RNA fluorescence in situ hybridization following minocycline-mediated microglial inactivation in vivo. Using these selection criteria, chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 5 (Ccl5) was identified as a chemokine highly expressed in genetically engineered Nf1 mouse optic gliomas relative to nonneoplastic optic nerves. As a candidate gliomagen, recombinant Ccl5 increased Nf1-deficient optic nerve astrocyte growth in vitro. Importantly, consistent with its critical role in maintaining tumor growth, treatment with Ccl5 neutralizing antibodies reduced Nf1 mouse optic glioma growth and improved retinal dysfunction in vivo. Collectively, these findings establish Ccl5 as an important microglial growth factor for low-grade glioma maintenance relevant to the development of future stroma-targeted brain tumor therapies.
PMCID: PMC4656811  PMID: 26585233
9.  DGIdb 2.0: mining clinically relevant drug–gene interactions 
Nucleic Acids Research  2015;44(Database issue):D1036-D1044.
The Drug–Gene Interaction Database (DGIdb, is a web resource that consolidates disparate data sources describing drug–gene interactions and gene druggability. It provides an intuitive graphical user interface and a documented application programming interface (API) for querying these data. DGIdb was assembled through an extensive manual curation effort, reflecting the combined information of twenty-seven sources. For DGIdb 2.0, substantial updates have been made to increase content and improve its usefulness as a resource for mining clinically actionable drug targets. Specifically, nine new sources of drug–gene interactions have been added, including seven resources specifically focused on interactions linked to clinical trials. These additions have more than doubled the overall count of drug–gene interactions. The total number of druggable gene claims has also increased by 30%. Importantly, a majority of the unrestricted, publicly-accessible sources used in DGIdb are now automatically updated on a weekly basis, providing the most current information for these sources. Finally, a new web view and API have been developed to allow searching for interactions by drug identifiers to complement existing gene-based search functionality. With these updates, DGIdb represents a comprehensive and user friendly tool for mining the druggable genome for precision medicine hypothesis generation.
PMCID: PMC4702839  PMID: 26531824
10.  Caenorhabditis elegans glp-4 Encodes a Valyl Aminoacyl tRNA Synthetase 
G3: Genes|Genomes|Genetics  2015;5(12):2719-2728.
Germline stem cell proliferation is necessary to populate the germline with sufficient numbers of cells for gametogenesis and for signaling the soma to control organismal properties such as aging. The Caenorhabditis elegans gene glp-4 was identified by the temperature-sensitive allele bn2 where mutants raised at the restrictive temperature produce adults that are essentially germ cell deficient, containing only a small number of stem cells arrested in the mitotic cycle but otherwise have a morphologically normal soma. We determined that glp-4 encodes a valyl aminoacyl transfer RNA synthetase (VARS-2) and that the probable null phenotype is early larval lethality. Phenotypic analysis indicates glp-4(bn2ts) is partial loss of function in the soma. Structural modeling suggests that bn2 Gly296Asp results in partial loss of function by a novel mechanism: aspartate 296 in the editing pocket induces inappropriate deacylation of correctly charged Val-tRNAval. Intragenic suppressor mutations are predicted to displace aspartate 296 so that it is less able to catalyze inappropriate deacylation. Thus glp-4(bn2ts) likely causes reduced protein translation due to decreased levels of Val-tRNAval. The germline, as a reproductive preservation mechanism during unfavorable conditions, signals the soma for organismal aging, stress and pathogen resistance. glp-4(bn2ts) mutants are widely used to generate germline deficient mutants for organismal studies, under the assumption that the soma is unaffected. As reduced translation has also been demonstrated to alter organismal properties, it is unclear whether changes in aging, stress resistance, etc. observed in glp-4(bn2ts) mutants are the result of germline deficiency or reduced translation.
PMCID: PMC4683644  PMID: 26464357
glp-4; valine-tRNA synthetase; C. elegans; germline; aging; stress resistance
11.  Whole-exome sequencing identifies rare, functional CFH variants in families with macular degeneration 
Human Molecular Genetics  2014;23(19):5283-5293.
We sequenced the whole exome of 35 cases and 7 controls from 9 age-related macular degeneration (AMD) families in whom known common genetic risk alleles could not explain their high disease burden and/or their early-onset advanced disease. Two families harbored novel rare mutations in CFH (R53C and D90G). R53C segregates perfectly with AMD in 11 cases (heterozygous) and 1 elderly control (reference allele) (LOD = 5.07, P = 6.7 × 10−7). In an independent cohort, 4 out of 1676 cases but none of the 745 examined controls or 4300 NHBLI Exome Sequencing Project (ESP) samples carried the R53C mutation (P = 0.0039). In another family of six siblings, D90G similarly segregated with AMD in five cases and one control (LOD = 1.22, P = 0.009). No other sample in our large cohort or the ESP had this mutation. Functional studies demonstrated that R53C decreased the ability of FH to perform decay accelerating activity. D90G exhibited a decrease in cofactor-mediated inactivation. Both of these changes would lead to a loss of regulatory activity, resulting in excessive alternative pathway activation. This study represents an initial application of the whole-exome strategy to families with early-onset AMD. It successfully identified high impact alleles leading to clearer functional insight into AMD etiopathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC4159152  PMID: 24847005
12.  The landscape of somatic mutations in Infant MLL rearranged acute lymphoblastic leukemias 
Nature genetics  2015;47(4):330-337.
Infant acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with MLL rearrangements (MLL-R) represents a distinct leukemia with a poor prognosis. To define its mutational landscape, we performed whole genome, exome, RNA and targeted DNA sequencing on 65 infants (47 MLL-R and 18 non-MLL-R) and 20 older children (MLL-R cases) with leukemia. Our data demonstrated infant MLL-R ALL to have one of the lowest frequencies of somatic mutations of any sequenced cancer, with the predominant leukemic clone carrying a mean of 1.3 non-silent mutations. Despite the paucity of mutations, activating mutations in kinase/PI3K/RAS signaling pathways were detected in 47%. Surprisingly, however, these mutations were often sub-clonal and frequently lost at relapse. In contrast to infant cases, MLL-R leukemia in older children had more somatic mutations (a mean of 6.5/case versus 1.3/case, P=7.15×10−5) and contained frequent mutations (45%) in epigenetic regulators, a category of genes that with the exception of MLL was rarely mutated in infant MLL-R ALL.
PMCID: PMC4553269  PMID: 25730765
13.  Sequencing the AML Genome, Transcriptome, and Epigenome 
Seminars in hematology  2014;51(4):250-258.
Leukemia is a disease that develops as a result of changes in the genomes of hematopoietic cells, a fact first appreciated by microscopic examination of the bone marrow cell chromosomes of affected patients. These studies revealed that specific subtypes of leukemia diagnosis correlated with specific chromosomal abnormalities, such as the t(15;17) of acute promyelocytic leukemia1 and the t(9;22) of chronic myeloid leukemia2. Over time, our genomic characterization of hematologic malignancies has moved beyond the resolution of the microscope to that of individual nucleotides in the analysis of whole genome sequencing data using state-of-the-art massively parallel sequencing (MPS) instruments and algorithmic analyses of the resulting data. In addition to studying the genomic sequence alterations that occur in patient’s genomes, these same instruments can decode the methylation landscape of the leukemia genome and the resulting RNA expression landscape of the leukemia transcriptome. Broad correlative analyses can then integrate these three data types to better inform researchers and clinicians about the biology of individual acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cases, facilitating improvements in care and prognosis.
PMCID: PMC4316686  PMID: 25311738
14.  Genomic landscape of pediatric adrenocortical tumors 
Nature communications  2015;6:6302.
Pediatric adrenocortical carcinoma is a rare malignancy with poor prognosis. Here we analyze 37 adrenocortical tumors (ACTs) by whole genome, whole exome and/or transcriptome sequencing. Most cases (91%) show loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of chromosome 11p, with uniform selection against the maternal chromosome. IGF2 on chromosome 11p is overexpressed in 100% of the tumors. TP53 mutations and chromosome 17 LOH with selection against wild-type TP53 are observed in 28 ACTs (76%). Chromosomes 11p and 17 undergo copy-neutral LOH early during tumorigenesis, suggesting tumor-driver events. Additional genetic alterations include recurrent somatic mutations in ATRX and CTNNB1 and integration of human herpesvirus-6 in chromosome 11p. A dismal outcome is predicted by concomitant TP53 and ATRX mutations and associated genomic abnormalities, including massive structural variations and frequent background mutations. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the nature, timing and potential prognostic significance of key genetic alterations in pediatric ACT and outline a hypothetical model of pediatric adrenocortical tumorigenesis.
PMCID: PMC4352712  PMID: 25743702
15.  Clinical Significance of CTNNB1 Mutation and Wnt Pathway Activation in Endometrioid Endometrial Carcinoma 
Endometrioid endometrial carcinoma (EEC) is the most common form of endometrial carcinoma. The heterogeneous clinical course of EEC is an obstacle to individualized patient care.
We performed an integrated analysis on the multiple-dimensional data types including whole-exome and RNA sequencing, RPPA profiling, and clinical data from 271 EEC cases in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to identify molecular fingerprints that may account for this clinical heterogeneity. Significance analysis of microarray was used to identify marker genes of each subtype that were subject to pathway analysis. Association of molecular subtypes with clinical features and mutation data was analyzed with the Mann Whitney, Chi-square, Fisher’s exact, and Kruskal-Wallis tests. Survival analysis was evaluated with log-rank test. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Four transcriptome subtypes with distinct clinicopathologic characteristics and mutation spectra were identified from the TCGA dataset and validated in an independent sample cohort of 184 EEC cases. Cluster II consisted of younger, obese patients with low-grade EEC but diminished survival. CTNNB1 exon 3 mutations were present in 87.0% (47/54) of Cluster II (P < .001) that exhibited a low overall mutation rate; this was statistically significantly associated with Wnt/β-catenin signaling activation (P < .001). High expression levels of CTNNB1 (P = .001), MYC (P = .01), and CCND1 (P = .01) were associated with poorer overall survival in low-grade EEC tumors.
CTNNB1 exon 3 mutations are likely a driver that characterize an aggressive subset of low-grade and low-stage EEC occurring in younger women.
PMCID: PMC4200060  PMID: 25214561
16.  Development and verification of the PAM50-based Prosigna breast cancer gene signature assay 
BMC Medical Genomics  2015;8:54.
The four intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer, defined by differential expression of 50 genes (PAM50), have been shown to be predictive of risk of recurrence and benefit of hormonal therapy and chemotherapy. Here we describe the development of Prosigna™, a PAM50-based subtype classifier and risk model on the NanoString nCounter Dx Analysis System intended for decentralized testing in clinical laboratories.
514 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast cancer patient samples were used to train prototypical centroids for each of the intrinsic subtypes of breast cancer on the NanoString platform. Hierarchical cluster analysis of gene expression data was used to identify the prototypical centroids defined in previous PAM50 algorithm training exercises. 304 FFPE patient samples from a well annotated clinical cohort in the absence of adjuvant systemic therapy were then used to train a subtype-based risk model (i.e. Prosigna ROR score). 232 samples from a tamoxifen-treated patient cohort were used to verify the prognostic accuracy of the algorithm prior to initiating clinical validation studies.
The gene expression profiles of each of the four Prosigna subtype centroids were consistent with those previously published using the PCR-based PAM50 method. Similar to previously published classifiers, tumor samples classified as Luminal A by Prosigna had the best prognosis compared to samples classified as one of the three higher-risk tumor subtypes. The Prosigna Risk of Recurrence (ROR) score model was verified to be significantly associated with prognosis as a continuous variable and to add significant information over both commonly available IHC markers and Adjuvant! Online.
The results from the training and verification data sets show that the FDA-cleared and CE marked Prosigna test provides an accurate estimate of the risk of distant recurrence in hormone receptor positive breast cancer and is also capable of identifying a tumor's intrinsic subtype that is consistent with the previously published PCR-based PAM50 assay. Subsequent analytical and clinical validation studies confirm the clinical accuracy and technical precision of the Prosigna PAM50 assay in a decentralized setting.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12920-015-0129-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4546262  PMID: 26297356
17.  Convergent loss of PTEN leads to clinical resistance to a PI3Kα inhibitor 
Nature  2014;518(7538):240-244.
The feasibility of performing broad and deep tumour genome sequencing has shed new light into tumour heterogeneity and provided important insights into the evolution of metastases arising from different clones1,2. To add an additional layer of complexity, tumour evolution may be influenced by selective pressure provided by therapy, in a similar fashion as it occurs in infectious diseases. Here, we have studied the tumour genomic evolution in a patient with metastatic breast cancer bearing an activating PIK3CA mutation. The patient was treated with the PI3Kα inhibitor BYL719 and achieved a lasting clinical response, although eventually progressed to treatment and died shortly thereafter. A rapid autopsy was performed and a total of 14 metastatic sites were collected and sequenced. All metastatic lesions, when compared to the pre-treatment tumour, had a copy loss of PTEN, and those lesions that became refractory to BYL719 had additional and different PTEN genetic alterations, resulting in the loss of PTEN expression. Acquired bi-allelic loss of PTEN was found in one additional patient treated with BYL719 whereas in two patients PIK3CA mutations present in the primary tumour were no longer detected at the time of progression. To functionally characterize our findings, inducible PTEN knockdown in sensitive cells resulted in resistance to BYL719, while simultaneous PI3Kp110β blockade reverted this resistance phenotype, both in cell lines and in PTEN-null xenografts derived from our patient. We conclude that parallel genetic evolution of separate sites with different PTEN genomic alterations leads to a convergent PTEN- null phenotype resistant to PI3Kα inhibition.
PMCID: PMC4326538  PMID: 25409150
18.  Genome Modeling System: A Knowledge Management Platform for Genomics 
PLoS Computational Biology  2015;11(7):e1004274.
In this work, we present the Genome Modeling System (GMS), an analysis information management system capable of executing automated genome analysis pipelines at a massive scale. The GMS framework provides detailed tracking of samples and data coupled with reliable and repeatable analysis pipelines. The GMS also serves as a platform for bioinformatics development, allowing a large team to collaborate on data analysis, or an individual researcher to leverage the work of others effectively within its data management system. Rather than separating ad-hoc analysis from rigorous, reproducible pipelines, the GMS promotes systematic integration between the two. As a demonstration of the GMS, we performed an integrated analysis of whole genome, exome and transcriptome sequencing data from a breast cancer cell line (HCC1395) and matched lymphoblastoid line (HCC1395BL). These data are available for users to test the software, complete tutorials and develop novel GMS pipeline configurations. The GMS is available at
PMCID: PMC4497734  PMID: 26158448
Neuro-Oncology  2014;16(Suppl 3):iii16.
BACKGROUND: The nuclear factor-kB (NF-kB) family of transcriptional regulators are central mediators of the cellular inflammatory response. Although constitutive NF-kB signaling is present in most human tumours, mutations in pathway members are rare, complicating efforts to understand and block aberrant NF-kB activity in cancer. METHODS: To identify additional genetic alterations that drive ependymoma, we sequenced the whole genomes (WGS) of 41 tumours and matched normal blood, and the transcriptomes (RNAseq) of 77 tumours. The transforming significance of alterations were tested in mouse NSCs that we showed previously to be cells of origin of ependymoma. RESULTS: Here, we show that more than two thirds of supratentorial ependymomas contain oncogenic fusions between RELA, the principal effector of canonical NF-kB signalling, and an uncharacterized gene, C11orf95. In each case, C11orf95-RELA fusions resulted from chromothripsis involving chromosome 11q13.1. C11orf95-RELA fusion proteins translocated spontaneously to the nucleus to activate NF-kB target genes, and rapidly transformed neural stem cells—the cell of origin of ependymoma—to form these tumours in mice. CONCLUSIONS: Our data identify the first highly recurrent genetic alteration of RELA in human cancer, and the C11orf95-RELA fusion protein as a potential therapeutic target in supratentorial ependymoma. SECONDARY CATEGORY: Neuropathology & Tumor Biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC4144525
20.  A surprising cross-species conservation in the genomic landscape of mouse and human oral cancer identifies a transcriptional signature predicting metastatic disease 
Improved understanding of the molecular basis underlying oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) aggressive growth has significant clinical implications. Herein, cross-species genomic comparison of carcinogen-induced murine and human OSCCs with indolent or metastatic growth yielded results with surprising translational relevance.
Experimental Design
Murine OSCC cell lines were subjected to next-generation sequencing (NGS) to define their mutational landscape, to define novel candidate cancer genes and to assess for parallels with known drivers in human OSCC. Expression arrays identified a mouse metastasis signature and we assessed its representation in 4 independent human datasets comprising 324 patients using weighted voting and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA). Kaplan-Meier analysis and multivariate Cox proportional hazards modeling were used to stratify outcomes. A qRT-PCR assay based on the mouse signature coupled to a machine-learning algorithm was developed and used to stratify an independent set of 31 patients with respect to metastatic lymphadenopathy.
NGS revealed conservation of human driver pathway mutations in mouse OSCC including in Trp53, MAPK, PI3K, NOTCH, JAK/STAT and FAT1–4. Moreover, comparative analysis between The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and mouse samples defined AKAP9, MED12L and MYH6 as novel putative cancer genes. Expression analysis identified a transcriptional signature predicting aggressiveness and clinical outcomes, which were validated in 4 independent human OSCC datasets. Finally, we harnessed the translational potential of this signature by creating a clinically feasible assay that stratified OSCC patients with a 93.5% accuracy.
These data demonstrate surprising cross-species genomic conservation that has translational relevance for human oral squamous cell cancer.
PMCID: PMC4096804  PMID: 24668645
21.  Age-related cancer mutations associated with clonal hematopoietic expansion 
Nature medicine  2014;20(12):1472-1478.
Several genetic alterations characteristic of leukemia and lymphoma have been detected in the blood of individuals without apparent hematological malignancies. We analyzed blood-derived sequence data from 2,728 individuals within The Cancer Genome Atlas, and discovered 77 blood-specific mutations in cancer-associated genes, the majority being associated with advanced age. Remarkably, 83% of these mutations were from 19 leukemia/lymphoma-associated genes, and nine were recurrently mutated (DNMT3A, TET2, JAK2, ASXL1, TP53, GNAS, PPM1D, BCORL1 and SF3B1). We identified 14 additional mutations in a very small fraction of blood cells, possibly representing the earliest stages of clonal expansion in hematopoietic stem cells. Comparison of these findings to mutations in hematological malignancies identified several recurrently mutated genes that may be disease initiators. Our analyses show that the blood cells of more than 2% of individuals (5–6% of people older than 70 years) contain mutations that may represent premalignant, initiating events that cause clonal hematopoietic expansion.
PMCID: PMC4313872  PMID: 25326804
22.  Checkpoint Blockade Cancer Immunotherapy Targets Tumour-Specific Mutant Antigens 
Nature  2014;515(7528):577-581.
The immune system plays key roles in determining the fate of developing cancers by not only functioning as a tumour promoter facilitating cellular transformation, promoting tumour growth and sculpting tumour cell immunogenicity1–6, but also as an extrinsic tumour suppressor that either destroys developing tumours or restrains their expansion1,2,7. Yet clinically apparent cancers still arise in immunocompetent individuals in part as a consequence of cancer induced immunosuppression. In many individuals, immunosuppression is mediated by Cytotoxic T-Lymphocyte Associated Antigen-4 (CTLA-4) and Programmed Death-1 (PD-1), two immunomodulatory receptors expressed on T cells8,9. Monoclonal antibody (mAb) based therapies targeting CTLA-4 and/or PD-1 (checkpoint blockade) have yielded significant clinical benefits—including durable responses—to patients with different malignancies10–13. However, little is known about the identity of the tumour antigens that function as the targets of T cells activated by checkpoint blockade immunotherapy and whether these antigens can be used to generate vaccines that are highly tumour-specific. Herein, we use genomics and bioinformatics approaches to identify tumour-specific mutant proteins as a major class of T cell rejection antigens following αPD-1 and/or αCTLA-4 therapy of mice bearing progressively growing sarcomas and show that therapeutic synthetic long peptide (SLP) vaccines incorporating these mutant epitopes induce tumour rejection comparably to checkpoint blockade immunotherapy. Whereas, mutant tumour antigen-specific T cells are present in progressively growing tumours, they are reactivated following treatment with αPD-1- and/or αCTLA-4 and display some overlapping but mostly treatment-specific transcriptional profiles rendering them capable of mediating tumour rejection. These results reveal that tumour-specific mutant antigens (TSMA) are not only important targets of checkpoint blockade therapy but also can be used to develop personalized cancer-specific vaccines and to probe the mechanistic underpinnings of different checkpoint blockade treatments.
PMCID: PMC4279952  PMID: 25428507
23.  Genomic landscape of Ewing sarcoma defines an aggressive subtype with co-association of STAG2 and TP53 mutations 
Cancer discovery  2014;4(11):1342-1353.
Ewing sarcoma is a primary bone tumor initiated by EWSR1–ETS gene fusions. To identify secondary genetic lesions that contribute to tumor progression, we performed whole-genome sequencing of 112 Ewing sarcoma samples and matched germline DNA. Overall, Ewing sarcoma tumors had relatively few single-nucleotide variants, indels, structural variants and copy-number alterations. Apart from whole chromosome arm copy-number changes, the most common somatic mutations were detected in STAG2 (17%), CDKN2A (12%), TP53 (7%), EZH2, BCOR, and ZMYM3 (2.7% each). Strikingly, STAG2 mutations and CDKN2A deletions were mutually exclusive, as confirmed in Ewing sarcoma cell lines. In an expanded cohort of 299 patients with clinical data, we discovered that STAG2 and TP53 mutations are often concurrent and are associated with poor outcome. Finally, we detected subclonal STAG2 mutations in diagnostic tumors and expansion of STAG2 immuno-negative cells in relapsed tumors as compared with matched diagnostic samples.
PMCID: PMC4264969  PMID: 25223734
Ewing sarcoma; genomics; mutations; whole genome sequencing; prognostic
24.  TYK2 Protein-Coding Variants Protect against Rheumatoid Arthritis and Autoimmunity, with No Evidence of Major Pleiotropic Effects on Non-Autoimmune Complex Traits 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0122271.
Despite the success of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in detecting a large number of loci for complex phenotypes such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA) susceptibility, the lack of information on the causal genes leaves important challenges to interpret GWAS results in the context of the disease biology. Here, we genetically fine-map the RA risk locus at 19p13 to define causal variants, and explore the pleiotropic effects of these same variants in other complex traits. First, we combined Immunochip dense genotyping (n = 23,092 case/control samples), Exomechip genotyping (n = 18,409 case/control samples) and targeted exon-sequencing (n = 2,236 case/controls samples) to demonstrate that three protein-coding variants in TYK2 (tyrosine kinase 2) independently protect against RA: P1104A (rs34536443, OR = 0.66, P = 2.3x10-21), A928V (rs35018800, OR = 0.53, P = 1.2x10-9), and I684S (rs12720356, OR = 0.86, P = 4.6x10-7). Second, we show that the same three TYK2 variants protect against systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE, Pomnibus = 6x10-18), and provide suggestive evidence that two of the TYK2 variants (P1104A and A928V) may also protect against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD; Pomnibus = 0.005). Finally, in a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) assessing >500 phenotypes using electronic medical records (EMR) in >29,000 subjects, we found no convincing evidence for association of P1104A and A928V with complex phenotypes other than autoimmune diseases such as RA, SLE and IBD. Together, our results demonstrate the role of TYK2 in the pathogenesis of RA, SLE and IBD, and provide supporting evidence for TYK2 as a promising drug target for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
PMCID: PMC4388675  PMID: 25849893
25.  The translation of cancer genomics: time for a revolution in clinical cancer care 
Genome Medicine  2014;6(3):22.
The introduction of next-generation sequencing technologies has dramatically impacted the life sciences, perhaps most profoundly in the area of cancer genomics. Clinical applications of next-generation sequencing and associated methods are emerging from ongoing large-scale discovery projects that have catalogued hundreds of genes as having a role in cancer susceptibility, onset and progression. For example, discovery cancer genomics has confirmed that many of the same genes are altered by mutation, copy number gain or loss, or structural variation across multiple tumor types, resulting in a gain or loss of function that likely contributes to cancer development in these tissues. Beyond these frequently mutated genes, we now know there is a ‘long tail’ of less frequently mutated, but probably important, genes that play roles in cancer onset or progression. Here, I discuss some of the remaining barriers to clinical translation, and look forward to new applications of these technologies in cancer care.
PMCID: PMC4062062  PMID: 25031616

Results 1-25 (136)