Genetic analyses in Drosophila epithelia have suggested that the phenomenon of “cell competition” could participate in organ homeostasis. It has been speculated that competition between different cell populations within a growing organ might play a role as either tumor promoter or tumor suppressor, depending on the cellular context. The evolutionarily conserved Hippo (Hpo) signaling pathway regulates organ size and prevents hyperplastic disease from flies to humans by restricting the activity of the transcriptional cofactor Yorkie (yki). Recent data indicate also that mutations in several Hpo pathway members provide cells with a competitive advantage by unknown mechanisms. Here we provide insight into the mechanism by which the Hpo pathway is linked to cell competition, by identifying dMyc as a target gene of the Hpo pathway, transcriptionally upregulated by the activity of Yki with different binding partners. We show that the cell-autonomous upregulation of dMyc is required for the supercompetitive behavior of Yki-expressing cells and Hpo pathway mutant cells, whereas the relative levels of dMyc between Hpo pathway mutant cells and wild-type neighboring cells are critical for determining whether cell competition promotes a tumor-suppressing or tumor-inducing behavior. All together, these data provide a paradigmatic example of cooperation between tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes in tumorigenesis and suggest a dual role for cell competition during tumor progression depending on the output of the genetic interactions occurring between confronted cells.
One of the major challenges of developmental biology and cancer research is to get a better understanding of how different signals regulate proper organ growth and prevent tumor formation. Even though there is a strong correlation between tumor progression and Myc family misexpression or Hippo signaling pathway malfunction, the relationship between these organ growth regulators remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the Hippo signaling pathway controls the transcription of Drosophila dmyc. Furthermore, we show that the misregulated expression of dMyc in Hippo mutant cells elicits their proliferative expansion at the expense of normal surrounding cells. These findings reveal a molecular mechanism of cooperation between oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that favors both tumor progression and wild-type tissue elimination. Additionally, our findings indicate a dual role for cell competition during the tumour progression depending on the cellular context.
Neoplastic overgrowth depends on the cooperation of several mutations ultimately leading to major rearrangements in cellular behaviour. Precancerous cells are often removed by cell death from normal tissues in the early steps of the tumourigenic process, but the molecules responsible for such a fundamental safeguard process remain in part elusive. With the aim to investigate the molecular crosstalk occurring between precancerous and normal cells in vivo, we took advantage of the clonal analysis methods that are available in Drosophila for studying the phenotypes due to lethal giant larvae (lgl) neoplastic mutation induced in different backgrounds and tissues.
We observed that lgl mutant cells growing in wild-type imaginal wing discs show poor viability and are eliminated by Jun N-terminal Kinase (JNK)-dependent cell death. Furthermore, they express very low levels of dMyc oncoprotein compared with those found in the surrounding normal tissue. Evidence that this is a cause of lgl mutant cells elimination was obtained by increasing dMyc levels in lgl mutant clones: their overgrowth potential was indeed re-established, with mutant cells overwhelming the neighbouring tissue and forming tumourous masses displaying several cancer hallmarks. Moreover, when lgl mutant clones were induced in backgrounds of slow-dividing cells, they upregulated dMyc, lost apical-basal cell polarity and were able to overgrow. Those phenotypes were abolished by reducing dMyc levels in the mutant clones, thereby confirming its key role in lgl-induced tumourigenesis. Furthermore, we show that the eiger-dependent Intrinsic Tumour Suppressor pathway plays only a minor role in eliminating lgl mutant cells in the wing pouch; lgl-/- clonal death in this region is instead driven mainly by dMyc-induced Cell Competition.
Our results provide the first evidence that dMyc oncoprotein is required in lgl tumour suppressor mutant tissue to promote invasive overgrowth in larval and adult epithelial tissues. Moreover, we show that dMyc abundance inside versus outside the mutant clones plays a key role in driving neoplastic overgrowth.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate in a phase I-II trial whether low doses of recombinant human interleukin 2 (rHuIL-2) over a prolonged period of time are safe and effective in eradicating or controlling minimal residual disease in children with neuroblastoma given high-dose chemotherapy (HDCT) and autologous stem cell transplantation (ASCT). From January 1992 to July 1996, 17 consecutive patients, with either stage IV or relapsed neuroblastoma, were enrolled. Patients received rHuIL-2 after a median time interval (min-max) of 105 days (56-153) after HDCT and ASCT. The protocol consisted of 2 'priming' courses of rHuIL-2 at escalating doses administered intravenously at 72-h intervals, followed by 'maintenance' with 11 monthly and six bimonthly boosting 5-day courses administered subcutaneously on an outpatient basis. At April 1997, 7 out of the 17 patients had completed the treatment schedule, four had discontinued treatment because of toxicity and four because of relapse; the remaining two patients are still on treatment, having completed 15 courses. Expansion of T lymphocytes, together with an increase in both natural killer cells and in activated T lymphocytes was evidenced. After a median (min-max) follow-up time of 30 (16-64) months, 12 out of 17 patients are alive and well. Two patients relapsed and died 14 and 35 months after transplant. Three patients are alive after having relapsed at 41, 21 and 13 months. The actuarial 2-year event-free survival and overall survival are 67% and 92% respectively. Intermittent administration of low doses of rHuIL-2 given for a long period of time is well tolerated and seems capable of controlling minimal residual disease after HDCT and ASCT in children with high-risk neuroblastoma.
Ewing Sarcoma Family Tumours (ESFT) are rare in early childhood. The aim of this study was to report the clinical characteristics and outcome of children under 6 years of age affected by ESFT of the bone in Italy.
The records of all the children diagnosed with osseous ESFT in centres members of the Associazione Italiana di Ematologia ed Oncologia Pediatrica (AIEOP) from 1990 to 2008 were reviewed. The Kaplan–Meier method was used for estimating overall and progression-free survival (OS, PFS) curves; multivariate analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards regression model.
This study includes 62 patients. An axial primary localization was present in 66% of patients, with the primary site in the chest wall in 34%. Fourteen (23%) patients presented metastatic disease. The 5-year OS and PFS were 73% (95% confidence interval, CI, 58–83%) and 72% (95% CI 57–83%) for patients with localized disease and 38% (95% CI 17–60%) and 21% (95% CI 5–45%) for patients with metastatic disease. Metastatic spread, skull/pelvis/spine primary localization, progression during treatment and no surgery predicted worse survival (P<0.01), while patients treated in the last decade had better survival (P = 0.002). In fact, the 5-year OS and PFS for patients diagnosed in the period 2000–2008 were 89% (95% CI 71–96%) and 86% (95% CI 66–94%), respectively.
The axial localization is the most common site of ESFT in pre-scholar children. Patients treated in the most recent period have an excellent outcome.
Glioblastoma is the most aggressive brain tumor that may occur in adults. Regardless of the huge improvements in surgery and molecular therapy, the outcome of neoplasia remains poor. MicroRNAs are small molecules involved in several cellular processes, and their expression is altered in the vast majority of tumors. Several studies reported the expression of different miRNAs in glioblastoma, but one of the most critical point in understanding glioblastoma miRNAs profile is the comparison of these studies. In this paper, we focused our attention on the non-neoplastic references used for determining miRNAs expression. The aim of this study was to investigate if using three different non-neoplastic brain references (normal adjacent the tumor, commercial total RNA, and epileptic specimens) could provide discrepant results. The analysis of 19 miRNAs was performed using Real-Time PCR, starting from the set of samples described above and the expression values compared. Moreover, the three different normal RNAs were used to determine the miRNAs profile in 30 glioblastomas. The data showed that different non-neoplastic controls could lead to different results and emphasize the importance of comparing miRNAs profiles obtained using the same experimental condition.
Allergy to citrus fruits is often associated with pollinosis and sensitization to other plants due to a phenomenon of cross-reactivity. The aims of the present study were to highlight the cross-reactivity among citrus and the major allergenic pollens/fruits, throughout clinical and molecular investigations, and to evaluate the sensitization frequency to citrus fruits in a population of children and adults with pollinosis. We found a relevant percentage of sensitisation (39%) to citrus fruits in the patients recruited and in all of them the IgE-mediated mechanism has been confirmed by the positive response to the prick-to-prick test. RT-PCR experiments showed the expression of Cit s 1, Cit s 3 and a profilin isoform, already described in apple, also in Citrus clementine pollen. Data of multiple sequence alignments demonstrated that Citrus allergens shared high percentage identity values with other clinically relevant species (i.e. Triticum aestivum, Malus domestica), confirming the possible cross-allergenicity citrus/grasses and citrus/apple. Finally, a novelty of the present work has been the expression of two phospholipaseA2 isoforms (PLA2 α and β) in Citrus as well as in Triticum pollens; being PLA2 able to generate pro-inflammatory factors, this enzyme could participate in the activation of the allergenic inflammatory cascade.
T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) is an aggressive malignant hematological disorder arising in the thymus from T-cell progenitors. T-ALL mainly affects children and young adults, and remains fatal in 20% of adolescents and 50% of adults, despite progress in polychemotherapy protocols. Therefore, innovative targeted therapies are desperately needed for patients with a dismal prognosis. Aberrant activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling is a common event in T-ALL patients and portends a poor prognosis. Preclinical studies have highlighted that modulators of PI3K/Akt/mTOR signaling could have a therapeutic relevance in T-ALL. However, the best strategy for inhibiting this highly complex signal transduction pathway is still unclear, as the pharmaceutical companies have disclosed an impressive array of small molecules targeting this signaling network at different levels. Here, we demonstrate that a dual PI3K/PDK1 inhibitor, NVP-BAG956, displayed the most powerful cytotoxic effects against T-ALL cell lines and primary patients samples, when compared with a pan class I PI3K inhibitor (GDC-0941), an allosteric Akt inhibitor (MK-2206), an mTORC1 allosteric inhibitor (RAD-001), or an ATP-competitive mTORC1/mTORC2 inhibitor (KU-63794). Moreover, we also document that combinations of some of the aforementioned drugs strongly synergized against T-ALL cells at concentrations well below their respective IC50. This observation indicates that vertical inhibition at different levels of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR network could be considered as a future innovative strategy for treating T-ALL patients.
acute leukemia; targeted therapy; signal transduction modulators; PI3K/PDK1; vertical inhibition
Playing a strategic role in the host immune function, the intestinal microbiota has been recently hypothesized to be involved in the etiology of atopy. In order to investigate the gastrointestinal microbial ecology of atopic disease, here we performed a pilot comparative molecular analysis of the faecal microbiota in atopic children and healthy controls.
Nineteen atopic children and 12 healthy controls aged 4–14 years were enrolled. Stools were collected and the faecal microbiota was characterized by means of the already developed phylogenetic microarray platform, HTF-Microbi.Array, and quantitative PCR. The intestinal microbiota of atopic children showed a significant depletion in members of the Clostridium cluster IV, Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, Akkermansia muciniphila and a corresponding increase of the relative abundance of Enterobacteriaceae.
Depleted in key immunomodulatory symbionts, the atopy-associated microbiota can represent an inflammogenic microbial consortium which can contribute to the severity of the disease. Our data open the way to the therapeutic manipulation of the intestinal microbiota in the treatment of atopy by means of pharmaceutical probiotics.
The use of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) requires the testing for hot spot mutations of the molecular effectors downstream the membrane-bound tyrosine kinases since their wild type status is expected for response to TKI therapy. We report a novel assay that we have called Allele Specific Locked Nucleic Acid quantitative PCR (ASLNAqPCR). The assay uses LNA-modified allele specific primers and LNA-modified beacon probes to increase sensitivity, specificity and to accurately quantify mutations. We designed primers specific for codon 12/13 KRAS mutations and BRAF V600E, and validated the assay with 300 routine samples from a variety of sources, including cytology specimens. All were analyzed by ASLNAqPCR and Sanger sequencing. Discordant cases were pyrosequenced. ASLNAqPCR correctly identified BRAF and KRAS mutations in all discordant cases and all had a mutated/wild type DNA ratio below the analytical sensitivity of the Sanger method. ASLNAqPCR was 100% specific with greater accuracy, positive and negative predictive values compared with Sanger sequencing. The analytical sensitivity of ASLNAqPCR is 0.1%, allowing quantification of mutated DNA in small neoplastic cell clones. ASLNAqPCR can be performed in any laboratory with real-time PCR equipment, is very cost-effective and can easily be adapted to detect hot spot mutations in other oncogenes.
miRNAs are small molecules involved in gene regulation. Each tissue shows a characteristic miRNAs epression profile that could be altered during neoplastic transformation. Glioblastoma is the most aggressive brain tumour of the adult with a high rate of mortality. Recognizing a specific pattern of miRNAs for GBM could provide further boost for target therapy. The availability of fresh tissue for brain specimens is often limited and for this reason the possibility of starting from formalin fixed and paraffin embedded tissue (FFPE) could very helpful even in miRNAs expression analysis. We analysed a panel of 19 miRNAs in 30 paired samples starting both from FFPE and Fresh/Frozen material. Our data revealed that there is a good correlation in results obtained from FFPE in comparison with those obtained analysing miRNAs extracted from Fresh/Frozen specimen. In the few cases with a not good correlation value we noticed that the discrepancy could be due to dissection performed in FFPE samples. To the best of our knowledge this is the first paper demonstrating that the results obtained in miRNAs analysis using Real-Time PCR starting from FFPE specimens of glioblastoma are comparable with those obtained in Fresh/Frozen samples.
We describe 2 cases of children with malignant disease who developed severe mucositis with perineal necrotizing fasciitis during severe neutropenia after chemotherapy. Treatment with topical negative pressure therapy with silver foam dressing, together with large spectrum antibiotics, resolved the problem with complete closure of the wound after 30 and 36 days of treatment, respectively.
negative pressure treatment; necrotizing fasciitis; chemotherapy; pediatric.
Cow's milk allergy (CMA) is the most frequent food allergy in childhood; the trend of CMA is often characterized by a progressive improvement to achieve tolerance in the first 4 to 5 years of life.
It has been observed that specific IgE (sIgE) towards cow's milk proteins decrease when the age increases.
Although food allergy can be easily diagnosed, it is difficult to predict the outcome of the oral food challenge (OFC), that remains the gold standard in the diagnosis of food allergy, by allergometric tests.
We considered 44 children with CMA diagnosed through OFC who returned to our Allergy and Immunology Pediatric Department between January to December 2010 to evaluate the persistence of allergy or the achievement of tolerance.
On the basis of the history, we performed both allergometric skin tests and OFC in children that were still following a milk-free diet, whereas only allergometric skin tests those that had already undergone spontaneous introduction of milk protein at home without presenting symptoms.
The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between the persistence of CMA or the acquisition of tolerance and the results of the end point prick test (EPT).
Results and Discussion
The OFC with cow's milk was performed on 30 children, 4 children were excluded because of a history of severe reactions to cow's milk, and 10 because they had spontaneously already taken milk food derivates at home without problems. 16/30 (53%) children showed clinical reactions and the challenge was stopped, 14/30 (47%) did not have any reaction.
Comparing the mean wheal diameter of every EPT's dilution between the group of allergic children and the tolerant ones, we obtained a significant difference (p < 0.05) for the first 4 dilutions.
We have also calculated sensitivity (SE), specificity (SP), the positive predictive value (PPV) and the negative predictive value (NPV) for each EPT dilution.
EPT is a safe and cheap test, easy to be executed and that could provide good prediction of the outcome of OFC; so it might be used to avoid OFC-induced anaphylaxis in children affected by CMA. It can also help avoiding dietetic restrictions in tolerant children who show sensitization towards cow's milk proteins.
Cow's milk proteins allergy; end point prick test; food oral challenge; tolerance
Genetic studies in Drosophila melanogaster reveal an important role for Myc in controlling growth. Similar studies have also shown how components of the insulin and target of rapamycin (TOR) pathways are key regulators of growth. Despite a few suggestions that Myc transcriptional activity lies downstream of these pathways, a molecular mechanism linking these signaling pathways to Myc has not been clearly described. Using biochemical and genetic approaches we tried to identify novel mechanisms that control Myc activity upon activation of insulin and TOR signaling pathways.
Our biochemical studies show that insulin induces Myc protein accumulation in Drosophila S2 cells, which correlates with a decrease in the activity of glycogen synthase kinase 3-beta (GSK3β ) a kinase that is responsible for Myc protein degradation. Induction of Myc by insulin is inhibited by the presence of the TOR inhibitor rapamycin, suggesting that insulin-induced Myc protein accumulation depends on the activation of TOR complex 1. Treatment with amino acids that directly activate the TOR pathway results in Myc protein accumulation, which also depends on the ability of S6K kinase to inhibit GSK3β activity. Myc upregulation by insulin and TOR pathways is a mechanism conserved in cells from the wing imaginal disc, where expression of Dp110 and Rheb also induces Myc protein accumulation, while inhibition of insulin and TOR pathways result in the opposite effect. Our functional analysis, aimed at quantifying the relative contribution of Myc to ommatidial growth downstream of insulin and TOR pathways, revealed that Myc activity is necessary to sustain the proliferation of cells from the ommatidia upon Dp110 expression, while its contribution downstream of TOR is significant to control the size of the ommatidia.
Our study presents novel evidence that Myc activity acts downstream of insulin and TOR pathways to control growth in Drosophila. At the biochemical level we found that both these pathways converge at GSK3β to control Myc protein stability, while our genetic analysis shows that insulin and TOR pathways have different requirements for Myc activity during development of the eye, suggesting that Myc might be differentially induced by these pathways during growth or proliferation of cells that make up the ommatidia.
There has been a noticeable annual increase in the number of children coming to Italy for medical treatment, just like it has happened in the rest of the European Union. In Italy, the assistance to children suffering from cancer is assured by the current network of 54 centres members of the Italian Association of Paediatric Haematology and Oncology (AIEOP), which has kept records of all demographic and clinical data in the database of Mod.1.01 Registry since 1989.
We used the information stored in the already mentioned database to assess the impact of immigration of foreign children with cancer on centres' activity, with the scope of drawing a map of the assistance to these cases.
Out of 14,738 cases recorded by all centres in the period from 1999 to 2008, 92.2% were born and resident in Italy, 4.1% (608) were born abroad and living abroad and 3.7% (538) were born abroad and living in Italy. Foreign children cases have increased over the years from 2.5% in 1999 to. 8.1% in 2008.
Most immigrant children came from Europe (65.7%), whereas patients who came from America, Asia and Oceania amounted to 13.2%, 10.1%, 0.2%, respectively. The immigrant survival rate was lower compared to that of children who were born in Italy. This is especially true for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia patients entered an AIEOP protocol, who showed a 10-years survival rate of 71.0% vs. 80.7% (p < 0.001) for immigrants and patients born in Italy, respectively.
Children and adolescents are an increasingly important part of the immigration phenomenon, which occurs in many parts of the world. In Italy the vast majority of children affected by malignancies are treated in AIEOP centres. Since immigrant children are predominantly treated in northern Italy, these centres have developed a special expertise in treating immigrant patients, which is certainly very useful for the entire AIEOP network.
Even if the overall survival of children with cancer is significantly improved over these decades, the cure rate of high-risk pediatric solid tumors such as neuroblastoma, Ewing's sarcoma family tumors or rhabdomiosarcoma remain challenging. Autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) allows chemotherapy dose intensification beyond marrow tolerance and has become a fundamental tool in the multimodal therapeutical approach of these patients. Anyway this procedure does not allow to these children an event-free survival approaching more than 50% at 5 years. New concepts of allogeneic HSCT and in particular HLA-mismatched HSCT for high risk solid tumors do not rely on escalation of chemotherapy intensity and tumor load reduction but rather on a graft-versus-tumor effect. We here report an experimental study design of HLA-mismatched HSCT for the treatment of pediatric solid tumors and the inherent preliminary results.
HLA-mismatched hematopoietic stem cell tranplantation; childhood; solid tumors.
Genome-wide association studies of pooled DNA samples were shown to be a valuable tool to identify candidate SNPs associated to a phenotype. No such study was up to now applied to childhood allergic asthma, even if the very high complexity of asthma genetics is an appropriate field to explore the potential of pooled GWAS approach.
We performed a pooled GWAS and individual genotyping in 269 children with allergic respiratory diseases comparing allergic children with and without asthma. We used a modular approach to identify the most significant loci associated with asthma by combining silhouette statistics and physical distance method with cluster-adapted thresholding. We found 97% concordance between pooled GWAS and individual genotyping, with 36 out of 37 top-scoring SNPs significant at individual genotyping level. The most significant SNP is located inside the coding sequence of C5, an already identified asthma susceptibility gene, while the other loci regulate functions that are relevant to bronchial physiopathology, as immune- or inflammation-mediated mechanisms and airway smooth muscle contraction. Integration with gene expression data showed that almost half of the putative susceptibility genes are differentially expressed in experimental asthma mouse models.
Combined silhouette statistics and cluster-adapted physical distance threshold analysis of pooled GWAS data is an efficient method to identify candidate SNP associated to asthma development in an allergic pediatric population.
Acute leukemia is the most common type of childhood and adolescence cancer, characterized by clonal proliferation of variably differentiated myeloid or lymphoid precursors. Recent insights into the molecular pathogenesis of leukemia have shown that epigenetic modifications, such as deacetylation of histones and DNA methylation, play crucial roles in leukemogenesis, by transcriptional silencing of critical genes. Histone deacetylases (HDACs) are potential targets in the treatment of leukaemia, and, as a consequence, inhibitors of HDACs (HDIs) are being studied for therapeutic purposes. HDIs promote or enhance several different anticancer mechanisms, such as apoptosis, cell cycle arrest, and cellular differentiation and, therefore, are in evidence as promising treatment for children and adolescents with acute leukemia, in monotherapy or in association with other anticancer drugs. Here we review the main preclinical and clinical studies regarding the use of HDIs in treating childhood and adolescence leukemia.
A second-generation of purine nucleoside analogs, starting with clofarabine, has been developed in the course of the search for new therapeutic agents for acute childhood leukemia, especially for refractory or relapsed disease. Clofarabine is a hybrid of fludarabine and cladribine, and has shown to have antileukemic activity in acute lymphoblastic leukemia as well as in myeloid disorders. As the only new antileukemic chemotherapeutic agent to enter clinical use in the last 10 years, clofarabine was approved as an orphan drug with the primary indication of use in pediatric patients. Toxicity has been tolerable in a heavily pretreated patient population, and clofarabine has been demonstrated to be safe, both as a single agent and in combination therapies. Liver dysfunction has been the most frequently observed adverse event, but this is generally reversible. Numerous Phase I and II trials have recently been conducted, and are still ongoing in an effort to find the optimal role for clofarabine in various treatment strategies. Concomitant use of clofarabine, cytarabine, and etoposide was confirmed to be safe and effective in two independent trials. Based on the promising results when used as a salvage regimen, clofarabine is now being investigated for its potential to become part of frontline protocols.
clofarabine; pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia; pediatric acute myeloid leukemia
Aneuploidy and translocations are hallmarks of B-progenitor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but many patients lack a recurring chromosomal alteration. Here we report a recurring interstitial deletion of the pseudoautosomal region 1 of chromosomes X and Y in B-progenitor ALL that juxtaposes the first, non-coding exon of P2RY8 to the coding region of CRLF2 (which encodes cytokine receptor like factor 2, or thymic stromal lymphopoietin receptor). The P2RY8-CRLF2 fusion was identified in 7% of B-progenitor ALL cases, and was identified in over 50% of ALL cases arising in patients with Down syndrome (53% of 75 cases). CRLF2 alteration was associated with the presence of activating JAK mutations, and expression of P2RY8-CRLF2 together with JAK2 mutants resulted in constitutive Jak-Stat activation and cytokine-independent growth of Ba/F3-IL7R cells, indicating that these two genetic lesions together contribute to leukemogenesis in B-progenitor ALL.
Recurrent, prognostically significant chromosomal abnormalities occur in approximately 75% of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), but only infrequently in children with Down syndrome (DS) and ALL. Recently, novel somatic activating mutations in Janus kinase 2 (JAK2) were reported in 18% of DS ALL. Here we report identification and clinical correlates of JAK2 mutations in an independent cohort. JAK2 activating mutations occurred in 10 of 53 DS ALL cases (18.9%). Mutations were overrepresented in males (p<0.03), occurred once in association with high hyperdiploidy, and were not significantly correlated with age, initial white blood count, or event-free survival. Our results confirm significance of JAK-STAT pathway activation in DS ALL.
Down syndrome; pediatric; acute lymphoblastic leukemia; JAK2
Epigenetic silencing of the MGMT gene by promoter methylation is associated with loss of MGMT expression, diminished DNA-repair activity and longer overall survival in patients with glioblastoma who, in addition to radiotherapy, received alkylating chemotherapy with carmustine or temozolomide. We describe and validate a rapid methylation sensitive quantitative PCR assay (MS-qLNAPCR) using Locked Nucleic Acid (LNA) modified primers and an imprinted gene as a reference.
An analysis was made of a database of 159 GBM patients followed between April 2004 and October 2008. After bisulfite treatment, methylated and unmethylated CpGs were recognized by LNA primers and molecular beacon probes. The SNURF promoter of an imprinted gene mapped on 15q12, was used as a reference. This approach was used because imprinted genes have a balanced copy number of methylated and unmethylated alleles, and this feature allows an easy and a precise normalization.
Concordance between already described nested MS-PCR and MS-qLNAPCR was found in 158 of 159 samples (99.4%). The MS-qLNAPCR assay showed a PCR efficiency of 102% and a sensitivity of 0.01% for LNA modified primers, while unmodified primers revealed lower efficiency (69%) and lower sensitivity (0.1%). MGMT promoter was found to be methylated using MS-qLNAPCR in 70 patients (44.02%), and completely unmethylated in 89 samples (55.97%). Median overall survival was of 24 months, being 20 months and 36 months, in patients with MGMT unmethylated and methylated, respectively. Considering MGMT methylation data provided by MS-qLNAPCR as a binary variable, overall survival was different between patients with GBM samples harboring MGMT promoter unmethylated and other patients with any percentage of MGMT methylation (p = 0.003). This difference was retained using other cut off values for MGMT methylation rate (i.e. 10% and 20% of methylated allele), while the difference was lost when 50% of MGMT methylated allele was used as cut-off.
We report and clinically validate an accurate, robust, and cost effective MS-qLNAPCR protocol for the detection and quantification of methylated MGMT alleles in GBM samples. Using MS-qLNAPCR we demonstrate that even low levels of MGMT promoter methylation have to be taken into account to predict response to temozolomide-chemotherapy.
At present no reports on gene expression profiling of liver metastases from colorectal cancer are available. We identified two different signatures using Affymetrix platform: epidermal growth factor receptor pathway was upregulated in metachronous lesions, whereas the pathway mainly related to angiogenesis was in synchronous lesions. Synchronous or metachronous liver metastases could be treated differently on the basis of different molecular pathways.
gene expression profiling; microarrays; colorectal cancer; liver metastases; epidermal growth factor receptor; cyclooxygenase-2
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) accounts for almost 4000 cases annually in the United States, approximately two thirds of which are in children and adolescents. Treatment results of ALL have improved considerably in the past decade, due to an optimal stratification of patients and a rational use of different antileukemic agents among which L-asparaginase (L-ASNase) plays a fundamental role. This drug has been used in pediatric ALL chemotherapy protocols for almost 3 decades. In the 1970s and 1980s a chemically modified form of this enzyme called pegasparaginase (PEG-ASNase) was rationally synthesized to decrease immunogenicity of the enzyme and prolong its half-life. The different advantages of PEG-ASNase have been demonstrated in many clinical studies, the last of which underline the utility of this drug in front-line therapy of ALL. In this review, we discuss the pharmacological advantages and clinical potential of PEG-ASNase and its important use in first-line treatment of ALL.
pegasparaginase; acute; lymphoblastic leukemia; pegylation
Drosophila lethal giant larvae (lgl) is a tumour suppressor gene whose function in establishing apical-basal cell polarity as well as in exerting proliferation control in epithelial tissues is conserved between flies and mammals. Individuals bearing lgl null mutations show a gradual loss of tissue architecture and an extended larval life in which cell proliferation never ceases and no differentiation occurs, resulting in prepupal lethality. When tissues from those individuals are transplanted into adult normal recipients, a subset of cells, possibly the cancer stem units, are again able to proliferate and give rise to metastases which migrate to distant sites killing the host. This phenotype closely resembles that of mammalian epithelial cancers, in which loss of cell polarity is one of the hallmarks of a malignant, metastatic behaviour associated with poor prognosis. Lgl protein shares with its human counterpart Human giant larvae-1 (Hugl-1) significant stretches of sequence similarity that we demonstrated to translate into a complete functional conservation, pointing out a role in cell proliferation control and tumorigenesis also for the human homologue. The functional conservation and the power of fly genetics, that allows the researcher to manipulate the fly genome at a level of precision that exceeds that of any other multicellular genetic system, make this Drosophila mutant a very suitable model in which to investigate the mechanisms underlying epithelial tumour formation, progression and metastatisation. In this review, we will summarise the results obtained in these later years using this model for the study of cancer biology. Moreover, we will discuss how recent advances in developmental genetics techniques have succeeded in enhancing the similarities between fly and human tumorigenesis, giving Drosophila a pivotal role in the study of such a complex genetic disease.
Lethal giant larvae; tumour suppressor; Drosophila; Hugl-1; epithelial cancers; animal model.