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1.  Comparison of Pre-Analytical FFPE Sample Preparation Methods and Their Impact on Massively Parallel Sequencing in Routine Diagnostics 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e104566.
Over the last years, massively parallel sequencing has rapidly evolved and has now transitioned into molecular pathology routine laboratories. It is an attractive platform for analysing multiple genes at the same time with very little input material. Therefore, the need for high quality DNA obtained from automated DNA extraction systems has increased, especially to those laboratories which are dealing with formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) material and high sample throughput. This study evaluated five automated FFPE DNA extraction systems as well as five DNA quantification systems using the three most common techniques, UV spectrophotometry, fluorescent dye-based quantification and quantitative PCR, on 26 FFPE tissue samples. Additionally, the effects on downstream applications were analysed to find the most suitable pre-analytical methods for massively parallel sequencing in routine diagnostics. The results revealed that the Maxwell 16 from Promega (Mannheim, Germany) seems to be the superior system for DNA extraction from FFPE material. The extracts had a 1.3–24.6-fold higher DNA concentration in comparison to the other extraction systems, a higher quality and were most suitable for downstream applications. The comparison of the five quantification methods showed intermethod variations but all methods could be used to estimate the right amount for PCR amplification and for massively parallel sequencing. Interestingly, the best results in massively parallel sequencing were obtained with a DNA input of 15 ng determined by the NanoDrop 2000c spectrophotometer (Thermo Fisher Scientific, Waltham, MA, USA). No difference could be detected in mutation analysis based on the results of the quantification methods. These findings emphasise, that it is particularly important to choose the most reliable and constant DNA extraction system, especially when using small biopsies and low elution volumes, and that all common DNA quantification techniques can be used for downstream applications like massively parallel sequencing.
PMCID: PMC4126727  PMID: 25105902
2.  Squamous Cell Carcinoma of the Pancreas in a Patient with Germline BRCA2 Mutation-Response to Neoadjuvant Radiochemotherapy 
Primary squamous cell carcinoma of the pancreas is a rare malignant neoplasia, accounting for approximately 0.5–2% of all malignant pancreatic tumors. These lesions are characterized by poor prognosis. Here we report on a case of a 57-year-old female patient with known BRCA2 germline mutation presenting with primary squamous cell carcinoma of the pancreas as the only malignancy. The tumor was locally advanced at the first presentation but responded almost completely to neoadjuvant radio-chemotherapy. Our case highlights the facts (i) that pancreatic carcinomas belong to the tumor spectrum of patients with the BRCA2-associated hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) and (ii) that tumors of the pancreas can represent the first or even the only manifestation of HBOC. Furthermore, this case of a nonkeratinizing squamous cell carcinoma indicates that HBOC-associated carcinomas of the pancreas might be characterized by a broader morphological spectrum than was previously thought. Since BRCA mutations cause deficiency of DNA double-strand breakage repair in tumors, neoadjuvant treatment regimens might become a reasonable option in HBOC-associated pancreatic carcinomas. To our knowledge, this is the first reported case of a primary pancreatic squamous cell carcinoma in a patient with this particular genetic background of BRCA2-associated HBOC.
PMCID: PMC4052146  PMID: 24959366
3.  Tuberous-sclerosis complex-related cell signaling in the pathogenesis of lung cancer 
Diagnostic Pathology  2014;9:48.
Hamartin (TSC1) and tuberin (TSC2), encoded by the tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) genes, form a tumor-suppressor heterodimer which is implicated in PI3K-Akt signaling and acts as a functional inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Dysregulation of mTOR has been assigned to carcinogenesis and thus may be involved in cancer development. We have addressed the role of hamartin, phospho-tuberin (p-TSC2) and phospho-mTOR (p-mTOR) in a series of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small cell lung cancer (SCLC) samples.
We collected 166 NSCLC and SCLC samples for immunohistochemical studies and performed western blot analyses in NSCLC and SCLC cell lines as well as comparative analyses with EGFR phosphorylation and downstream effectors.
In cell lines we found an inverse correlation between hamartin and p-mTOR expression. In surgical specimens cytoplasmic hamartin expression was observed in more than 50% of adenocarcinoma (AC) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) compared to 14% of SCLC. P-mTOR and p-TSC2 staining was found in a minority of cases.
There was a significant correlation between p-EGFR Tyr-1068, p-EGFR Tyr-992 and hamartin, and also between p-mTOR and p-EGFR Tyr-1173 in AC. In SCC an inverse correlation between hamartin and p-EGFR Tyr-992 was detected. Phosphorylation of TSC2 was associated with expression of MAP-Kinase. Hamartin, p-TSC2 and p-mTOR expression was not dependant of the EGFR mutation status. Hamartin expression is associated with poorer survival in SCC and SCLC.
Our findings confirm the inhibitory role of the tuberous sclerosis complex for mTOR activation in lung cancer cell lines. These results reveal hamartin expression in a substantial subset of NSCLC and SCLC specimens, which may be due to EGFR signaling but is not dependant on EGFR mutations. Our data provide evidence for a functional role of the tuberous sclerosis complex in lung cancer.
Virtual slides
The virtual slide(s) for this article can be found here:
PMCID: PMC3975884  PMID: 24593867
Tuberous sclerosis complex; TSC; EGFR; Hamartin; Tuberin; Lung cancer
4.  Comparison of high resolution melting analysis, pyrosequencing, next generation sequencing and immunohistochemistry to conventional Sanger sequencing for the detection of p.V600E and non-p.V600E BRAF mutations 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:13.
The approval of vemurafenib in the US 2011 and in Europe 2012 improved the therapy of not resectable or metastatic melanoma. Patients carrying a substitution of valine to glutamic acid at codon 600 (p.V600E) or a substitution of valine to leucine (p.V600K) in BRAF show complete or partial response. Therefore, the precise identification of the underlying somatic mutations is essential. Herein, we evaluate the sensitivity, specificity and feasibility of six different methods for the detection of BRAF mutations.
Samples harboring p.V600E mutations as well as rare mutations in BRAF exon 15 were compared to wildtype samples. DNA was extracted from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues by manual micro-dissection and automated extraction. BRAF mutational analysis was carried out by high resolution melting (HRM) analysis, pyrosequencing, allele specific PCR, next generation sequencing (NGS) and immunohistochemistry (IHC). All mutations were independently reassessed by Sanger sequencing. Due to the limited tumor tissue available different numbers of samples were analyzed with each method (82, 72, 60, 72, 49 and 82 respectively).
There was no difference in sensitivity between the HRM analysis and Sanger sequencing (98%). All mutations down to 6.6% allele frequency could be detected with 100% specificity. In contrast, pyrosequencing detected 100% of the mutations down to 5% allele frequency but exhibited only 90% specificity. The allele specific PCR failed to detect 16.3% of the mutations eligible for therapy with vemurafenib. NGS could analyze 100% of the cases with 100% specificity but exhibited 97.5% sensitivity. IHC showed once cross-reactivity with p.V600R but was a good amendment to HRM.
Therefore, at present, a combination of HRM and IHC is recommended to increase sensitivity and specificity for routine diagnostic to fulfill the European requirements concerning vemurafenib therapy of melanoma patients.
PMCID: PMC3893431  PMID: 24410877
HRM; cobas® BRAF V600 test; therascreen® BRAF pyro kit; Immunohistochemistry; Next generation sequencing; BRAF mutational analysis
5.  Integrative DNA methylation and gene expression analysis in high-grade soft tissue sarcomas 
Genome Biology  2013;14(12):r137.
High-grade soft tissue sarcomas are a heterogeneous, complex group of aggressive malignant tumors showing mesenchymal differentiation. Recently, soft tissue sarcomas have increasingly been classified on the basis of underlying genetic alterations; however, the role of aberrant DNA methylation in these tumors is not well understood and, consequently, the usefulness of methylation-based classification is unclear.
We used the Infinium HumanMethylation27 platform to profile DNA methylation in 80 primary, untreated high-grade soft tissue sarcomas, representing eight relevant subtypes, two non-neoplastic fat samples and 14 representative sarcoma cell lines. The primary samples were partitioned into seven stable clusters. A classification algorithm identified 216 CpG sites, mapping to 246 genes, showing different degrees of DNA methylation between these seven groups. The differences between the clusters were best represented by a set of eight CpG sites located in the genes SPEG, NNAT, FBLN2, PYROXD2, ZNF217, COL14A1, DMRT2 and CDKN2A. By integrating DNA methylation and mRNA expression data, we identified 27 genes showing negative and three genes showing positive correlation. Compared with non-neoplastic fat, NNAT showed DNA hypomethylation and inverse gene expression in myxoid liposarcomas, and DNA hypermethylation and inverse gene expression in dedifferentiated and pleomorphic liposarcomas. Recovery of NNAT in a hypermethylated myxoid liposarcoma cell line decreased cell migration and viability.
Our analysis represents the first comprehensive integration of DNA methylation and transcriptional data in primary high-grade soft tissue sarcomas. We propose novel biomarkers and genes relevant for pathogenesis, including NNAT as a potential tumor suppressor in myxoid liposarcomas.
PMCID: PMC4054884  PMID: 24345474
6.  Filariasis of the Axilla in a Patient Returning from Travel Abroad: A Case Report 
Breast Care  2012;7(6):487-489.
The term filariasis comprises a group of parasitic infections caused by helminths belonging to different genera in the superfamily Filaroidea. The human parasites occur mainly in tropical and subtropical regions, but filariae are also found in temperate climates, where they can infect wild and domestic animals. Humans are rarely infected by these zoonotic parasites.
Patients and Methods
A 55-year-old patient presented with a new-onset, subcutaneous, non-tender palpable mass in the right axilla. Ultrasonography showed a 1.3-cm, solid, singular encapsulated node. Sonography of the breast on both sides, axilla and lymphatic drainage on the left side, lymphatic drainage on the right side, and mammography on both sides were without pathological findings. The node was excised under local anesthesia as the patient refused minimal invasive biopsy.
On histopathological examination, the tail of a parasite of the group of filariae was found. The patient revealed that she had stayed in Africa and Malaysia for professional reasons. 6 months before the time of diagnosis, she had also suffered from a fever and poor general condition after a trip abroad. The patient was referred for further treatment to the Institute for Tropical Medicine at the University of Dusseldorf, where a treatment with ivermectin was conducted on the basis of positive staining with antibodies against filariae.
Our case demonstrates the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration between breast center, pathology, and other specialties such as microbiology and tropical medicine.
PMCID: PMC3971795  PMID: 24715832
Filariasis; Breast; Axilla
The lancet oncology  2010;12(1):49-55.
Lynch syndrome is caused by germline mutations in mismatch repair genes (MSH2, MLH1, MSH6 or PMS2), which lead to a high risk of predominantly colorectal and endometrial cancer. Recently, we found that also constitutional 3′ end deletions of EPCAM can cause Lynch syndrome through epigenetic silencing of MSH2 in EPCAM expressing tissues. This results in a tissue specific MSH2-deficiency, which may evoke a different cancer risk and spectrum. To optimize the care for EPCAM deletion carriers we studied their cancer risk and spectrum.
Clinical data of 194 carriers from 41 EPCAM families were systematically collected and compared to those of 431 carriers from 91 families with mutations in MLH1, MSH2, or MSH6.
EPCAM deletion carriers exhibited a 75% [95%CI 65–85%] cumulative risk of colorectal cancer before the age of 70 years, with a mean age at diagnosis of 43 years, which is comparable to that of carriers of a combined EPCAM-MSH2 deletion (69% [95%CI 47-91%], p=0·8609) or of a mutation in MSH2 (77% [95%CI 64-90%], p=0·5892) or MLH1 (79% [95%CI 68-90%], p=0·5492) and higher than that of MSH6 mutation carriers (50% [95%CI 38-62%], p<0·0001). In contrast, women with EPCAM deletions (n=87) exhibited a 12% [95%CI 0-27%] cumulative risk of endometrial cancer, which is significantly lower than in carriers of a combined EPCAM-MSH2 deletion (55% [95%CI 20-90%], p<0·0001) or of a mutation in MSH2 (51% [95%CI 33-69%], p=0·0006) or MSH6 (34% [95%CI 20-48%], p=0·0309) and lower than in MLH1 (33% [95%CI 15-51%] p=0·1193) mutation carriers. This risk seems to be restricted to large deletions that extend close to the MSH2 gene promoter. Overall, a relatively high incidence of duodenal (n=3) and pancreatic (n=4) cancers was observed.
EPCAM deletion carriers do have a high risk of colorectal cancer. Only those with deletions extending close to the MSH2 promoter have an increased risk of endometrial cancer. These results underscore the impact of mosaic MSH2-deficiency on cancer risk and are indicative for a protocol revision for surveillance and preventive surgery in EPCAM deletion carriers.
PMCID: PMC3670774  PMID: 21145788
Lynch syndrome; cancer risk; TACSTD1; EPCAM; MSH2; genotype-phenotype correlation
8.  The KDM1A histone demethylase is a promising new target for the epigenetic therapy of medulloblastoma 
Medulloblastoma is a leading cause of childhood cancer-related deaths. Current aggressive treatments frequently lead to cognitive and neurological disabilities in survivors. Novel targeted therapies are required to improve outcome in high-risk medulloblastoma patients and quality of life of survivors. Targeting enzymes controlling epigenetic alterations is a promising approach recently bolstered by the identification of mutations in histone demethylating enzymes in medulloblastoma sequencing efforts. Hypomethylation of lysine 4 in histone 3 (H3K4) is also associated with a dismal prognosis for medulloblastoma patients. Functional characterization of important epigenetic key regulators is urgently needed.
We examined the role of the H3K4 modifying enzyme, KDM1A, in medulloblastoma, an enzyme also associated with malignant progression in the closely related tumor, neuroblastoma. Re-analysis of gene expression data and immunohistochemistry of tissue microarrays of human medulloblastomas showed strong KDM1A overexpression in the majority of tumors throughout all molecular subgroups. Interestingly, KDM1A knockdown in medulloblastoma cell lines not only induced apoptosis and suppressed proliferation, but also impaired migratory capacity. Further analyses revealed bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) as a major KDM1A target gene. BMP2 is known to be involved in development and differentiation of granule neuron precursor cells (GNCPs), one potential cell of origin for medulloblastoma. Treating medulloblastoma cells with the specific KDM1A inhibitor, NCL-1, significantly inhibited growth in vitro.
We provide the first evidence that a histone demethylase is functionally involved in the regulation of the malignant phenotype of medulloblastoma cells, and lay a foundation for future evaluation of KDM1A-inihibiting therapies in combating medulloblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3893444  PMID: 24252778
LSD1; Histone modification; Bone morphogenetic protein 2; SMAD5; NCL-1; Migration
9.  Deficiency in four and one half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2) aggravates liver fibrosis in mice 
BMC Gastroenterology  2013;13:8.
Four and one half LIM domain protein 2 (FHL2) has been reported to be a key regulator in many cellular processes being associated with fibrogenesis such as cell migration and contraction. Moreover, hepatic FHL2 is involved in regulation pathways mediating proliferation and cell death machineries. We here investigated the role of FHL2 in the setting of experimental and clinical liver fibrosis.
FHL2−/− and wild type (wt) mice were challenged with CCl4. Fibrotic response was assessed by quantitative real time PCR (qRT-PCR) of fibrotic marker genes, measurement of hydroxyproline content and histological methods. Murine FHL2−/− and hepatic stellate cells (HSC) were isolated and investigated via immunofluorescence. Human fibrotic and normal liver samples were analysed immunohistochemically using antibodies directed against FHL2.
FHL2−/− mice displayed aggravated liver fibrosis compared to wt mice. However, immunofluorescence revealed no significant morphological changes in cultured FHL2−/− and wt myofibroblasts (MFB). In human liver samples, FHL2 was strongly expressed both in the nucleus and cytoplasm in MFB of fibrotic livers. In contrast, FHL2 expression was absent in normal liver tissue.
Deficiency of FHL2 results in aggravation of murine liver fibrosis. In human liver samples, FHL2 is expressed in activated HSCs and portal fibroblasts in human fibrotic livers, pointing to a central role of FHL2 for human hepatic fibrogenesis as well.
PMCID: PMC3562203  PMID: 23311569
10.  Prognostic Impact of [18F]Fluorothymidine and [18F]Fluoro-D-Glucose Baseline Uptakes in Patients with Lung Cancer Treated First-Line with Erlotinib 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53081.
3′-deoxy-3′-[18F]fluoro-L-thymidine (FLT) and 2′-deoxy-2′-[18F]fluoro-D-glucose (FDG) are used to visualize proliferative and metabolic activity of tumors. In this study we aimed at evaluating the prognostic value of FLT and FDG uptake measured by positron emission tomography (PET) in patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) prior to systemic therapy with erlotinib. FLT and FDG maximum standardized uptake (SUVmax) values per patient were analyzed in 40 chemotherapy naive patients with advanced NSCLC (stage IV) before treatment with erlotinib. Prior therapy median SUVmax was 6.6 for FDG and 3.0 for FLT, respectively. In univariate analysis, patients with an FDG SUVmax <6.6 had a significantly better overall survival (16.3 months [95% confidence interval [CI] 7.1–25.4 months]) compared to patients with an FDG SUVmax ≥6.6 (3.1 months [95% CI 0.6–5.5 months]) (p<0.001, log rank). Similarly, low FLT uptake (SUVmax <3.0) was associated with significantly longer survival (10.3 months (0–23.3 months, 95% CI) compared to high FLT uptake (3.4 months (0–8.1 months, 95% CI) (p = 0.027). The independent prognostic value of baseline FDG uptake was demonstrated in multivariate analysis (p = 0.05, Cox regression). These data suggest that baseline SUVmax values for both FDG and FLT PET might be further developed as markers for prognostic stratification of patients in advanced NSCLC treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI) directed against the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Trial Registration, Identifier: NCT00568841
PMCID: PMC3537767  PMID: 23308140
11.  Association Between TAS2R38 Gene Polymorphisms and Colorectal Cancer Risk: A Case-Control Study in Two Independent Populations of Caucasian Origin 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20464.
Molecular sensing in the lingual mucosa and in the gastro-intestinal tract play a role in the detection of ingested harmful drugs and toxins. Therefore, genetic polymorphisms affecting the capability of initiating these responses may be critical for the subsequent efficiency of avoiding and/or eliminating possible threats to the organism. By using a tagging approach in the region of Taste Receptor 2R38 (TAS2R38) gene, we investigated all the common genetic variation of this gene region in relation to colorectal cancer risk with a case-control study in a German population (709 controls and 602 cases) and in a Czech population (623 controls and 601 cases). We found that there were no significant associations between individual SNPs of the TAS2R38 gene and colorectal cancer in the Czech or in the German population, nor in the joint analysis. However, when we analyzed the diplotypes and the phenotypes we found that the non-taster group had an increased risk of colorectal cancer in comparison to the taster group. This association was borderline significant in the Czech population, (OR = 1.28, 95% CI 0.99–1.67; Pvalue = 0.058) and statistically significant in the German population (OR = 1.36, 95% CI 1.06–1.75; Pvalue = 0.016) and in the joint analysis (OR = 1.34, 95% CI 1.12–1.61; Pvalue = 0.001). In conclusion, we found a suggestive association between the human bitter tasting phenotype and the risk of CRC in two different populations of Caucasian origin.
PMCID: PMC3107225  PMID: 21674048
12.  Web-based database for the management of tissue specimens in a transregional histological research facility 
Diagnostic Pathology  2011;6:17.
In the setting of a histological research core facility sample tracking and project specific archiving of tissue specimens and communication of related data is of central importance.
Over a 24-month period 10 laboratories from two transregional research centers submitted in excess of 3000 tissue samples for histological processing and evaluation to our core facility. A web based database was set up to overcome the logistical problem of managing samples with inconsistent, duplicate and missing labels and to allow for efficient sample tracking, archiving and communication with the collaborating research laboratories. The database allows the users to remotely generate unique sample identifiers and enter sample annotation prior to sample processing. Furthermore the database facilitates communication about experimental set-up results and media files such as histological images.
Our newly constructed web based portal is an important tool for the management of research samples of our histological core facility and facilitates significantly interdisciplinary and transregional research. It is freely available for scientific use.
PMCID: PMC3061891  PMID: 21392381
13.  qPCR in gastrointestinal stromal tumors: Evaluation of reference genes and expression analysis of KIT and the alternative receptor tyrosine kinases FLT3, CSF1-R, PDGFRB, MET and AXL 
BMC Molecular Biology  2010;11:100.
Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) represent the most common mesenchymal tumors of the gastrointestinal tract. About 85% carry an activating mutation in the KIT or PDGFRA gene. Approximately 10% of GIST are so-called wild type GIST (wt-GIST) without mutations in the hot spots. In the present study we evaluated appropriate reference genes for the expression analysis of formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded and fresh frozen samples from gastrointestinal stromal tumors. We evaluated the gene expression of KIT as well as of the alternative receptor tyrosine kinase genes FLT3, CSF1-R, PDGFRB, AXL and MET by qPCR. wt-GIST were compared to samples with mutations in KIT exon 9 and 11 and PDGFRA exon 18 in order to evaluate whether overexpression of these alternative RTK might contribute to the pathogenesis of wt-GIST.
Gene expression variability of the pooled cDNA samples is much lower than the single reverse transcription cDNA synthesis. By combining the lowest variability values of fixed and fresh tissue, the genes POLR2A, PPIA, RPLPO and TFRC were chosen for further analysis of the GIST samples. Overexpression of KIT compared to the corresponding normal tissue was detected in each GIST subgroup except in GIST with PDGFRA exon 18 mutation. Comparing our sample groups, no significant differences in the gene expression levels of FLT3, CSF1R and AXL were determined. An exception was the sample group with KIT exon 9 mutation. A significantly reduced expression of CSF1R, FLT3 and PDGFRB compared to the normal tissue was detected. GIST with mutations in KIT exon 9 and 11 and in PDGFRA exon 18 showed a significant PDGFRB downregulation.
As the variability of expression levels for the reference genes is very high comparing fresh frozen and formalin-fixed tissue there is a strong need for validation in each tissue type. None of the alternative receptor tyrosine kinases analyzed is associated with the pathogenesis of wild-type or mutated GIST. It remains to be clarified whether an autocrine or paracrine mechanism by overexpression of receptor tyrosine kinase ligands is responsible for the tumorigenesis of wt-GIST.
PMCID: PMC3014927  PMID: 21171987
14.  Polymorphisms in CTNNBL1 in relation to colorectal cancer with evolutionary implications 
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is a complex disease related to environmental and genetic risk factors. Several studies have shown that susceptibility to complex diseases can be mediated by ancestral alleles. Using RNAi screening, CTNNBL1 was identified as a putative regulator of the Wnt signaling pathway, which plays a key role in colorectal carcinogenesis. Recently, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CTNNBL1 have been associated with obesity, a known risk factor for CRC. We investigated whether genetic variation in CTNNBL1 affects susceptibility to CRC and tested for signals of recent selection. We applied a tagging SNP approach that cover all known common variation in CTNNBL1 (allele frequency >5%; r2>0.8). A case-control study was carried out using two well-characterized study populations: a hospital-based Czech population composed of 751 sporadic cases and 755 controls and a family/early onset-based German population (697 cases and 644 controls). Genotyping was performed using allele specific PCR based TaqMan® assays (Applied Biosystems, Weiterstadt, Germany). In the Czech cohort, containing sporadic cases, the ancestral alleles of three SNPs showed evidence of association with CRC: rs2344481 (OR 1.44, 95%CI 1.06-1.95, dominant model), rs2281148 (OR 0.59, 95%CI 0.36-0.96, dominant model) and rs2235460 (OR 1.38, 95%CI 1.01-1.89, AA vs. GG). The associations were less prominent in the family/early onset-based German cohort. Data derived from several databases and statistical tests consistently pointed to a likely shaping of CTNNBL1 by positive selection. Further studies are needed to identify the actual function of CTNNBL1 and to validate the association results in other populations.
PMCID: PMC3077237  PMID: 21537400
Colorectal cancer; case-control study; ancestral-susceptibility model; selective pressure; CTNNBL1
15.  Polymorphisms of genes coding for ghrelin and its receptor in relation to colorectal cancer risk: a two-step gene-wide case-control study 
BMC Gastroenterology  2010;10:112.
Ghrelin, an endogenous ligand for the growth hormone secretagogue receptor (GHSR), has two major functions: the stimulation of the growth hormone production and the stimulation of food intake. Accumulating evidence also indicates a role of ghrelin in cancer development.
We conducted a case-control study to examine the association of common genetic variants in the genes coding for ghrelin (GHRL) and its receptor (GHSR) with colorectal cancer risk. Pairwise tagging was used to select the 11 polymorphisms included in the study. The selected polymorphisms were genotyped in 680 cases and 593 controls from the Czech Republic.
We found two SNPs associated with lower risk of colorectal cancer, namely SNPs rs27647 and rs35683. We replicated the two hits, in additional 569 cases and 726 controls from Germany.
A joint analysis of the two populations indicated that the T allele of rs27647 SNP exerted a protective borderline effect (Ptrend = 0.004).
PMCID: PMC2954942  PMID: 20920174
16.  Development and evaluation of an open source Delphi-based software for morphometric quantification of liver fibrosis 
Computer-based morphometry can minimize subjectivity in the assessment of liver fibrosis. An image processing program was developed with Delphi for the quantification of fibrosis in liver tissue samples stained with Sirius Red. Bile duct ligated and sham operated wild type C57BL/6 mice served as a model of time-dependent induction of liver fibrosis. Formation of fibrosis was determined with the developed software at day 0, 3, 7, 10, 14, 20, 30 and 60. The results were compared to a semi-quantitative scoring system.
Quantitative accumulation of collagen fibres was observed from day 3 to day 14, with a slight further increase thereafter. During ongoing fibrogenesis, there was a significant elevation of alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate transaminase (AST) and bilirubin. The results from our computer-based morphometric analysis were highly correlated with the results that were obtained in a standardized pathology semi-quantitative scoring system (R 2 = 0.89, n = 38).
Using our Delphi-based image analysing software, the morphometric assessment of fibrosis is as precise as semi-quantitative scoring by an experienced pathologist. This program can be a valuable tool in any kind of experimental or clinical setting for standardized quantitative assessment of fibrosis.
PMCID: PMC2903497  PMID: 20565730
17.  In vivo intratumor angiogenic treatment effects during taxane-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy of ovarian cancer 
BMC Cancer  2010;10:137.
The aim of our study was to analyze the effect of taxane-based chemotherapy on tumor angiogenesis in patients with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer.
Within a prospective phase II trial, 32 patients with stage IIIC and IV ovarian cancer were treated with either two or three cycles of neoadjuvant chemotherapy prior to cytoreductive surgery. Carboplatin (AUC5) and docetaxel (75 mg/m2) were administered intravenously in a 3-weekly schedule. Changes in intratumor microvessel density (MVD) were assessed with immunohistochemistry by staining pre- and posttreatment surgical tumor specimens with panendothelial, neovascular and lymphatic vessel markers.
Mean values of MVD defined by CD31, CD34, CD105 and D2-40 antibodies showed 12.3, 21.0, 2.7 and 3.1 vessels per high power field (HPF) before chemotherapy and increased after treatment to 15.3, 21.8, 4.8 and 3.6 per HPF, respectively. These changes were significant for CD31 (p = 0.04) and for CD105 (p = 0.02).
Taxane-based chemotherapy appears to promote tumor vascularization when administered every 3 weeks. A possible explanation is the secondary recovery of MVD in response to immediate cytotoxic and antiangiogenic effects of the chemotherapy. If confirmed prospectively, these findings favor shorter treatment intervals of taxane-based chemotherapy to counteract proangiogenic recovery.
PMCID: PMC2873383  PMID: 20388201
18.  Targeted disruption of the mouse Csrp2 gene encoding the cysteine- and glycine-rich LIM domain protein CRP2 result in subtle alteration of cardiac ultrastructure 
The cysteine and glycine rich protein 2 (CRP2) encoded by the Csrp2 gene is a LIM domain protein expressed in the vascular system, particularly in smooth muscle cells. It exhibits a bimodal subcellular distribution, accumulating at actin-based filaments in the cytosol and in the nucleus. In order to analyze the function of CRP2 in vivo, we disrupted the Csrp2 gene in mice and analysed the resulting phenotype.
A ~17.3 kbp fragment of the murine Csrp2 gene containing exon 3 through 6 was isolated. Using this construct we confirmed the recently determined chromosomal localization (Chromosome 10, best fit location between markers D10Mit203 proximal and D10Mit150 central). A gene disruption cassette was cloned into exon 4 and a mouse strain lacking functional Csrp2 was generated. Mice lacking CRP2 are viable and fertile and have no obvious deficits in reproduction and survival. However, detailed histological and electron microscopic studies reveal that CRP2-deficient mice have subtle alterations in their cardiac ultrastructure. In these mice, the cardiomyocytes display a slight increase in their thickness, indicating moderate hypertrophy at the cellular level. Although the expression of several intercalated disc-associated proteins such as β-catenin, N-RAP and connexin-43 were not affected in these mice, the distribution of respective proteins was changed within heart tissue.
We conclude that the lack of CRP2 is associated with alterations in cardiomyocyte thickness and hypertrophy.
PMCID: PMC2529283  PMID: 18713466
19.  Loss of Swiss Cheese/Neuropathy Target Esterase Activity Causes Disruption of Phosphatidylcholine Homeostasis and Neuronal and Glial Death in Adult Drosophila 
The Drosophila Swiss cheese (sws) mutant is characterized by progressive degeneration of the adult nervous system, glial hyperwrapping, and neuronal apoptosis. The Swiss cheese protein (SWS) shares 39% sequence identity with human neuropathy target esterase (NTE), and a brain-specific deletion of SWS/NTE in mice causes a similar pattern of progressive neuronal degeneration. NTE reacts with organophosphate compounds that cause a paralyzing axonal degeneration in humans and has been shown to degrade endoplasmic reticulum-associated phosphatidylcholine (PtdCho) in cultured mammalian cells. However, its function within the nervous system has remained unknown. Here, we show that both the fly and mouse SWS proteins can rescue the defects that arise in sws mutant flies, whereas a point mutation in the proposed active site cannot restore SWS function. Overexpression of catalytically active SWS caused formation of abnormal intracellular membraneous structures and cell death. Cell-specific expression revealed that not only neurons but also glia depend autonomously on SWS. In wild-type flies, endogenous SWS was detected by immmunohistochemistry in the endoplasmic reticulum (the primary site of PtdCho processing) of neurons and in some glia. sws mutant flies lacked NTE-like esterase activity and had increased levels of PtdCho. Conversely, overexpression of SWS resulted in increased esterase activity and reduced PtdCho. We conclude that SWS is essential for membrane lipid homeostasis and cell survival in both neurons and glia of the adult Drosophila brain and that NTE may play an analogous role in vertebrates.
PMCID: PMC1182176  PMID: 15772346
Drosophila; NTE; neurodegeneration; organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy; phospholipids; ER
20.  Experimental small bowel preservation using Polysol: A new alternative to University of Wisconsin solution, Celsior and histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate solution? 
AIM: To evaluate the potential of Polysol, a newly developed preservation solution, in cold storage of small bowel grafts, compared with the current standards, University of Wisconsin solution (UW), Celsior and histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate solution (HTK).
METHODS: Male Wistar rats were used as donors. Small bowels were retrieved, flushed and then stored in the respective 4 solutions for 18 h at 4°C. Functional integrity of the grafts was evaluated by isolated reperfusion with oxygenated Krebs-Henseleit buffer at 37°C for 30 min in all 4 groups.
RESULTS: Polysol preservation exhibited the highest tissue ATP concentration and the lowest release of LDH. Malondialdehyde, an index for tissue lipid peroxidation, was also the lowest in Polysol. Tissue oxygen consumption was significantly higher in Polysol than in the others. Of interest, UW-storage promoted 10-fold higher apoptosis than in the others. Moreover, electron microscopy revealed that the mucosal villi/micro-villi formation and the cell organelles, including mitochondria, were both significantly better preserved in Polysol, while deleterious alterations were apparent in the others, most notably in UW. Although Celsior and HTK exhibited the better trend of results than UW in some parameters, but could not reach the over-all superiority to UW.
CONCLUSION: Cold storage using Polysol resulted in significantly better integrity and function of small bowel grafts than UW. Hence, Polysol may be a novel alternative for the small bowel preservation.
PMCID: PMC4250639  PMID: 17659727
Small bowel transplantation; Ischemia/reperfusion; Cold storage; Polysol; University of Wisconsin solution; Histidine-tryptophan-ketoglutarate solution; Celsior
21.  MSI-Testing in Hereditary Non-Polyposis Colorectal Carcinoma (HNPCC) 
Disease markers  2004;20(4-5):225-236.
Genomic instability at simple repeated sequences, termed microsatellite instability (MSI), plays an important role in the analysis of sporadic and hereditary colon cancers. In hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer syndrome (HNPCC) more than 90% of cases show MSI, whereas only 10–15% of sporadic colorectal cancers do so. Thus, microsatellite analysis is commonly used as the first diagnostic screening test for HNPCC. In 1997, an international collaborative workshop sponsored by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) proposed a set of guidelines for MSI-testing to improve reliability and reproducibility of the analysis as well to allow comparisons between different studies and different laboratories. In this review we assess the value of current protocols forMSI-testing and discuss some diagnostic pitfalls. Our findings support continued use of the MSI marker panel recommended in 1997. Additionally, MSI-testing should be improved by use of microdissection, which helps to identify additional patients with MSI due to enrichment of tumor cells and therefore increased sensitivity. In our view, immunohistochemical staining for mismatch repair protein expression is not a substitute for MSI-analysis but complements MSI screening and helps direct further testing. In summary, MSI-analysis is a highly sensitive and reliable screening method for HNPCC, that requires a well-equipped laboratory as well as an experienced pathologist. Integration of family history and histo-pathological features is also critical.
PMCID: PMC3839272  PMID: 15528788
MSI-analysis; laser microdissection; immunohistochemistry
22.  A subset of gastrointestinal stromal tumors previously regarded as wild-type tumors carries somatic activating mutations in KIT exon 8 (p.D419del) 
Modern Pathology  2013;26(7):1004-1012.
About 10–15% of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) carry wild-type sequences in all hot spots of KIT and platelet-derived growth factor receptor alpha (PDGFRA) (wt-GISTs). These tumors are currently defined by having no mutations in exons 9, 11, 13, and 17 of the KIT gene and exons 12, 14, and 18 of the PDGFRA gene. Until now, the analysis of further exons is not recommended. However, we have previously published a report on a KIT exon 8 germline mutation, which was associated with familial GIST and mastocytosis. We therefore investigated whether KIT exon 8 mutations might also occur in sporadic GIST. We screened a cohort of 145 wt-GISTs from a total of 1351 cases from our registry for somatic mutations in KIT exon 8. Two primary GISTs with an identical exon 8 mutation (p.D419del) were detected, representing 1.4% of all the cases analyzed. Based on all GISTs from our registry, the overall frequency of KIT exon 8 mutations was 0.15%. The first tumor originating in the small bowel of a 53-year-old male patient had mostly a biphasic spindled-epithelioid pattern with a high proliferative activity (14 mitoses/50 HPF) combined with a second low proliferative spindle cell pattern (4/50 HPF). The patient developed multiple peritoneal metastases 29 months later. The second case represented a jejunal GIST in a 67-year old woman who is relapse-free under adjuvant imatinib treatment. We conclude that about 1–2% of GISTs being classified as ‘wild type' so far might, in fact, carry KIT mutations in exon 8. Moreover, this mutational subtype was shown to be activating and imatinib sensitive in vitro. We therefore propose that screening for KIT exon 8 mutations should become a routine in the diagnostic work-up of GIST and that patients with an exon 8 mutation and a significant risk for tumor progression should be treated with imatinib.
PMCID: PMC3701292  PMID: 23599150
GIST; KIT exon 8; wild type

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