Genomic translocation events frequently underlie cancer development through generation of gene fusions with oncogenic properties. Identification of such fusion transcripts by transcriptome sequencing might help to discover new potential therapeutic targets. We developed TRUP (Tumor-specimen suited RNA-seq Unified Pipeline) (https://github.com/ruping/TRUP), a computational approach that combines split-read and read-pair analysis with de novo assembly for the identification of chimeric transcripts in cancer specimens. We apply TRUP to RNA-seq data of different tumor types, and find it to be more sensitive than alternative tools in detecting chimeric transcripts, such as secondary rearrangements in EML4-ALK-positive lung tumors, or recurrent inactivating rearrangements affecting RASSF8.
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Pulmonary carcinoids are rare neuroendocrine tumors of the lung. The molecular alterations underlying the pathogenesis of these tumors have not been systematically studied so far. Here we perform gene copy number analysis (n=54), genome/exome (n=44) and transcriptome (n=69) sequencing of pulmonary carcinoids and observe frequent mutations in chromatin-remodeling genes. Covalent histone modifiers and subunits of the SWI/SNF complex are mutated in 40% and 22.2% of the cases respectively, with MEN1, PSIP1 and ARID1A being recurrently affected. In contrast to small-cell lung cancer and large-cell neuroendocrine tumors, TP53 and RB1 mutations are rare events, suggesting that pulmonary carcinoids are not early progenitor lesions of the highly aggressive lung neuroendocrine tumors but arise through independent cellular mechanisms. These data also suggest that inactivation of chromatin remodeling genes is sufficient to drive transformation in pulmonary carcinoids.
The excision repair cross-complementation group 1 (ERCC1) protein is a potential prognostic biomarker of the efficacy of cisplatin-based chemotherapy in non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Although several ongoing trials are evaluating the level of expression of ERCC1, no consensus has been reached regarding a method for evaluation.
We used the 8F1 antibody to measure the level of expression of ERCC1 protein by means of immunohistochemical analysis in a validation set of samples obtained from 494 patients in two independent phase 3 trials (the National Cancer Institute of Canada Clinical Trials Group JBR.10 and the Cancer and Leukemia Group B 9633 trial from the Lung Adjuvant Cisplatin Evaluation Biology project). We compared the results of repeated staining of the entire original set of samples obtained from 589 patients in the International Adjuvant Lung Cancer Trial Biology study, which had led to the initial correlation between the absence of ERCC1 expression and platinum response, with our previous results in the same tumors. We mapped the epitope recognized by 16 commercially available ERCC1 antibodies and investigated the capacity of the different ERCC1 isoforms to repair platinum-induced DNA damage.
We were unable to validate the predictive effect of immunostaining for ERCC1 protein. The discordance in the results of staining for ERCC1 suggested a change in the performance of the 8F1 antibody since 2006. We found that none of the 16 antibodies could distinguish among the four ERCC1 protein isoforms, whereas only one isoform produced a protein that had full capacities for nucleotide excision repair and cisplatin resistance.
Immunohistochemical analysis with the use of currently available ERCC1 antibodies did not specifically detect the unique functional ERCC1 isoform. As a result, its usefulness in guiding therapeutic decision making is limited. (Funded by Eli Lilly and others.)
Lung cancer remains one of the leading causes for cancer-related death in developed countries. In lung adenocarcinomas, EGFR mutations and EML4-ALK fusions are associated with response to EGFR and ALK inhibition. By contrast, therapeutically exploitable genetic alterations have been lacking in squamous-cell lung cancer. We conducted a systematic search for alterations that are therapeutically amenable and performed high-resolution gene-copy number analyses in a set of 232 lung cancer specimens. We identified frequent and focal FGFR1 amplification in squamous-cell lung cancer (n=155), but not in other lung cancer subtypes, and confirmed its presence in an independent cohort of squamous-cell lung cancer samples employing FISH (22% of cases). Using cell-based screening with the FGFR inhibitor (PD173074) in a large (n=83) panel of lung cancer cell lines, we demonstrated that this compound inhibited growth (p=0.0002) and induced apoptosis (p=0.008) specifically in those lung cancer cells carrying amplified FGFR1. We validated the dependency on FGFR1 of FGFR1-amplified cell lines by knockdown of FGFR1 and by ectopic expression of a resistance allele of FGFR1 (FGFR1V561M), which rescued FGFR1-amplified cells from PD173074-mediated cytotoxicity. Finally we showed that inhibition of FGFR1 with a small molecule led to significant tumor shrinkage in vivo. Focal FGFR1 amplification is common in squamous-cell lung cancer and associated with tumor growth and survival, suggesting that FGFR inhibitors may be a viable therapeutic option in this cohort of patients.
The transcription factor E2F1 belongs to the E2F family and plays a crucial role during cell cycle progression and apoptosis. Ser/Arg-Rich (SR) proteins are a family of RNA-binding phosphoproteins that control both constitutive and alternative pre-mRNA splicing events. We previously identified the SR protein SRSF2 as a new transcriptional target of E2F1 and demonstrated that both proteins cooperate to induce apoptosis in non-small cell lung carcinoma. In this study, we postulated that SRSF2 is also involved in the proliferative functions of E2F1. Using IHC, we first demonstrate that SRSF2 and its phosphorylated form (P-SRSF2) are overexpressed in neuroendocrine lung tumors that are highly proliferative tumors expressing high levels of E2F1. Importantly, we show a direct correlation between cyclin E, an E2F1-target gene controlling S phase, and P-SRSF2 proteins levels (p = 0.0083), suggesting a role of SRSF2 in E2F1-mediated cellular proliferation. Accordingly, using neuroendocrine lung carcinoma cell lines, we demonstrate that SRSF2 is a cell cycle-regulated protein involved in entry and progression into S phase. We also provide evidence that SRSF2 interacts with E2F1 and stimulates its transcriptional control of cell cycle target genes such as cyclin E. Finally, we show that inhibition of AKT signaling pathway prevents SRSF2 phosphorylation and activity toward E2F1 transcriptional function. Taken together, these results identify a new role of SRSF2 in the control of cell cycle progression and reinforce the functional link between SRSF2 and E2F1 proteins.
AKT; cellular proliferation; E2F1; neuroendocrine lung tumors; p45SKP2; SRSF2
Splicing abnormalities frequently occur in cancer. A key role as splice site choice regulator is played by the members of the SR (Ser/Arg-rich) family of proteins. We recently demonstrated that SRSF2 is involved in cisplatin-mediated apoptosis of human lung carcinoma cell lines. In this study, by using immunohistochemistry, we demonstrate that the SR proteins SRSF1 and SRSF2 are overexpressed in 63% and 65% of lung adenocarcinoma (ADC) as well as in 68% and 91% of squamous cell lung carcinoma (SCC), respectively, compared to normal lung epithelial cells. In addition, we show that SRSF2 overexpression correlates with high level of phosphorylated SRSF2 in both ADC (p<0.0001) and SCC (p = 0.02), indicating that SRSF2 mostly accumulates under a phosphorylated form in lung tumors. Consistently, we further show that the SR-phosphorylating kinases SRPK1 and SRPK2 are upregulated in 92% and 94% of ADC as well as in 72% and 68% of SCC, respectively. P-SRSF2 and SRPK2 scores are correlated in ADC (p = 0.01). Using lung adenocarcinoma cell lines, we demonstrate that SRSF1 overexpression leads to a more invasive phenotype, evidenced by activation of PI3K/AKT and p42/44MAPK signaling pathways, increased growth capacity in soft agar, acquisition of mesenchymal markers such as E cadherin loss, vimentin and fibronectin gain, and increased resistance to chemotherapies. Finally, we provide evidence that high levels of SRSF1 and P-SRSF2 proteins are associated with extensive stage (III–IV) in ADC. Taken together, these results indicate that a global deregulation of pre-mRNA splicing regulators occurs during lung tumorigenesis and does not predict same outcome in both Non Small Cell Lung Carcinoma histological sub-types, likely contributing to a more aggressive phenotype in adenocarcinoma.
As with other epithelial cancers, lung cancer develops over a period of several years or decades via a series of progressive morphological changes accompanied by molecular alterations that commence in histologically normal epithelium. However the development of lung cancer presents certain unique features that complicates this evaluation. Anatomically the respiratory tree may be divided into central and peripheral compartments having different gross and histological anatomies as well as different functions. In addition, there are three major forms of lung cancer and many minor forms. Many of these forms arise predominantly in either the central or peripheral compartments. Squamous cell and small cell carcinomas predominantly arise in the central compartment, while adenocarcinomas predominantly arise peripherally. Large cell carcinomas are not a single entity but consist of poorly differentiated forms of the other types and, possibly, some truly undifferentiated “stem cell like” tumors. The multistage origin of squamous cell carcinomas, because of their central location, can be followed more closely than the peripherally arising adenocarcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas arise after a series of reactive, metaplastic, premalignant and preinvasive changes. However, long term observations indicate that not all tumors follow a defined histologic course, and the clinical course, especially of early lesions, is difficult to predict. Peripheral adenocarcinomas are believed to arise from precursor lesions known as atypical adenomatous hyperplasias and may have extensive in situ growth before becoming invasive. Small cell carcinomas are believed to arise from severely molecularly damaged epithelium without going through recognizable preneoplastic changes. The molecular changes that occur prior to the onset on invasive cancers are extensive. As documented in this chapter, they encompass all of the six classic Hallmarks of Cancer other than invasion and metastasis, which by definition occur beyond preneoplasia. A study of preinvasive lung cancer has yielded much valuable biologic information that impacts on clinical management.
Lung cancer; squamous cell carcinoma; adenocarcinomas; small cell lung carcinoma; preneoplasia; carcinoma in situ; atypical adenomatous hyperplasia; tumor suppressor genes; oncogenes; apoptosis; telomerase; angiogenesis
The success of anticancer chemotherapy relies at least in part on the induction of an immune response against tumor cells. Thus, tumors growing on mice that lack the pattern recognition receptor TLR4 or the purinergic receptor P2RX7 fail to respond to chemotherapy with anthracyclins or oxaliplatin in conditions in which the same neoplasms growing on immunocompetent mice would do so. Similarly, the therapeutic efficacy (measured as progression-free survival) of adjuvant chemotherapy with anthracyclins is reduced in breast cancer patients bearing loss-of-function alleles of TLR4 or P2RX7. TLR4 loss-of-function alleles also have a negative impact on the therapeutic outcome of oxaliplatin in colorectal cancer patients. Here, we report that loss-of-function TLR4 and P2RX7 alleles do not affect overall survival in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, irrespective of the administration and type of chemotherapy. The intrinsic characteristics of NSCLC (which near-to-always is chemoresistant and associated with poor prognosis) and/or the type of therapy that is employed to treat this malignancy (which near-to-always is based on cisplatin) may explain why two genes that affect the immune response to dying cells fail to influence the clinical progression of NSCLC patients.
IALT; calreticulin; immunogenic cell death; necrosis factor α; rs3751143; rs4986790; tumor
While genomically targeted therapies have improved outcomes for patients with lung adenocarcinoma, little is known about the genomic alterations which drive squamous cell lung cancer. Sanger sequencing of the tyrosine kinome identified mutations in the DDR2 kinase gene in 3.8% of squamous cell lung cancers and cell lines. Squamous lung cancer cell lines harboring DDR2 mutations were selectively killed by knock-down of DDR2 by RNAi or by treatment with the multi-targeted kinase inhibitor dasatinib. Tumors established from a DDR2 mutant cell line were sensitive to dasatinib in xenograft models. Expression of mutated DDR2 led to cellular transformation which was blocked by dasatinib. A squamous cell lung cancer patient with a response to dasatinib and erlotinib treatment harbored a DDR2 kinase domain mutation. These data suggest that gain-of-function mutations in DDR2 are important oncogenic events and are amenable to therapy with dasatinib. As dasatinib is already approved for use, these findings could be rapidly translated into clinical trials.
Squamous cell lung cancer; DDR2; dasatinib; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; lung cancer genomics
This study determined whether expression levels of a panel of biologically relevant microRNAs can be used as prognostic or predictive biomarkers in patients who participated in the International Adjuvant Lung Cancer Trial (IALT), the largest randomized study conducted to date of adjuvant chemotherapy in patients with radically resected non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). Expression of miR-21, miR-29b, miR-34a/b/c, miR-155 and let-7a was determined by quantitative real-time PCR in paraffin embedded formalin fixed tumor specimens from 639 IALT patients. Prognostic and predictive value of microRNA expression for survival were studied using a Cox model, which included every factor used in the stratified randomization, clinicopathological prognostic factors and other factors statistically related to microRNA expression. Investigation of the expression pattern of microRNAs in situ was performed. We also analyzed association of TP53 mutation status and miR-34a/b/c expression, EGFR and KRAS mutation status and miR-21 and Let-7a expression, respectively. Finally, association of p16 and miR-29b expression was assessed. Overall, no significant association was found between any of the tested microRNAs and survival, with the exception of miR-21 where a deleterious prognostic effect of lowered expression was suggested. Otherwise, no single or combinatorial microRNA expression profile predicted response to adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy. Together, our results indicate that the miRNA expression patterns examined were neither predictive nor prognostic in a large patient cohort of radically resected NSCLC randomized to receive adjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy versus follow-up only.
non–small cell lung cancer; adjuvant chemotherapy; randomized trial; biomarker; drug resistance; microRNA
Treatment of EGFR-mutant non-small cell lung cancer patients with the tyrosine kinase inhibitors erlotinib or gefitinib results in high response rates and prolonged progression-free survival. Despite the development of sensitive mutation detection approaches, a thorough validation of these in a clinical setting has so far been lacking. We performed, in a clinical setting, a systematic validation of dideoxy ‘Sanger’ sequencing and pyrosequencing against massively parallel sequencing as one of the most sensitive mutation detection technologies available. Mutational annotation of clinical lung tumor samples revealed that of all patients with a confirmed response to EGFR inhibition, only massively parallel sequencing detected all relevant mutations. By contrast, dideoxy sequencing missed four responders and pyrosequencing missed two responders, indicating a dramatic lack of sensitivity of dideoxy sequencing, which is widely applied for this purpose. Furthermore, precise quantification of mutant alleles revealed a low correlation (r2 = 0.27) of histopathological estimates of tumor content and frequency of mutant alleles, thereby questioning the use of histopathology for stratification of specimens for individual analytical procedures. Our results suggest that enhanced analytical sensitivity is critically required to correctly identify patients responding to EGFR inhibition. More broadly, our results emphasize the need for thorough evaluation of all mutation detection approaches against massively parallel sequencing as a prerequisite for any clinical implementation.
Lung adenocarcinoma (AD) represents a predominant type of lung cancer demonstrating significant morphologic and molecular heterogeneity. We sought to understand this heterogeneity by utilizing gene expression analyses of 432 AD samples and examining associations between 27 known cancer-related pathways and the AD subtype, clinical characteristics and patient survival. Unsupervised clustering of AD and gene expression enrichment analysis reveals that cell proliferation is the most important pathway separating tumors into subgroups. Further, AD with increased cell proliferation demonstrate significantly poorer outcome and an increased solid AD subtype component. Additionally, we find that tumors with any solid component have decreased survival as compared to tumors without a solid component. These results lead to the potential to use a relatively simple pathological examination of a tumor in order to determine its aggressiveness and the patient's prognosis. Additional results suggest the ability to use a similar approach to determine a patient's sensitivity to targeted treatment. We then demonstrated the consistency of these findings using two independent AD cohorts from Asia (N = 87) and Europe (N = 89) using the identical analytic procedures.
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) of the lung is a frequent and aggressive cancer type. Gene amplifications, a known activating mechanism of oncogenes, target the 3q26-qter region as one of the most frequently gained/amplified genomic sites in SCC of various types. Here, we used array comparative genomic hybridization to delineate the consensus region of 3q26.3 amplifications in lung SCC. Recurrent amplifications occur in 20% of lung SCC (136 tumors in total) and map to a core region of 2 Mb (Megabases) that encompasses SOX2, a transcription factor gene. Intense SOX2 immunostaining is frequent in nuclei of lung SCC, indicating potential active transcriptional regulation by SOX2. Analyses of the transcriptome of lung SCC, SOX2-overexpressing lung epithelial cells and embryonic stem cells (ESCs) reveal that SOX2 contributes to activate ESC-like phenotypes and provide clues pertaining to the deregulated genes involved in the malignant phenotype. In cell culture experiments, overexpression of SOX2 stimulates cellular migration and anchorage-independent growth while SOX2 knockdown impairs cell growth. Finally, SOX2 over-expression in non-tumorigenic human lung bronchial epithelial cells is tumorigenic in immunocompromised mice. These results indicate that the SOX2 transcription factor, a major regulator of stem cell function, is also an oncogene and a driver gene for the recurrent 3q26.33 amplifications in lung SCC.
Although there is now evidence that the expression of centromeric (CT) and pericentric (PCT) sequences are key players in major genomic functions, their transcriptional status in human cells is still poorly known. The main reason for this lack of data is the complexity and high level of polymorphism of these repeated sequences, which hampers straightforward analyses by available transcriptomic approaches. Here a transcriptomic macro-array dedicated to the analysis of CT and PCT expression is developed and validated in heat-shocked (HS) HeLa cells. For the first time, the expression status of CT and PCT sequences is analyzed in a series of normal and cancer human cells and tissues demonstrating that they are repressed in all normal tissues except in the testis, where PCT transcripts are found. Moreover, PCT sequences are specifically expressed in HS cells in a Heat-Shock Factor 1 (HSF1)-dependent fashion, and we show here that another independent pathway, involving DNA hypo-methylation, can also trigger their expression. Interestingly, CT and PCT were found illegitimately expressed in somatic cancer samples, whereas PCT were repressed in testis cancer, suggesting that the expression of CT and PCT sequences may represent a good indicator of epigenetic deregulations occurring in response to environmental changes or in cell transformation.
p14ARF is a tumor suppressor that controls a well-described p53/Mdm2-dependent checkpoint in response to oncogenic signals. Here, new insights into the tumor-suppressive function of p14ARF are provided. We previously showed that p14ARF can induce a p53-independent G2 cell cycle arrest. In this study, we demonstrate that the activation of ATM/ATR/CHK signaling pathways contributes to this G2 checkpoint and highlight the interrelated roles of p14ARF and the Tip60 protein in the initiation of this DNA damage-signaling cascade. We show that Tip60 is a new direct p14ARF binding partner and that its expression is upregulated and required for ATM/CHK2 activation in response to p14ARF. Strikingly, both p14ARF and Tip60 products accumulate following a cell treatment with alkylating agents and are absolutely required for ATM/CHK2 activation in this setting. Moreover, and consistent with p14ARF being a determinant of CHK2 phosphorylation in lung carcinogenesis, a strong correlation between p14ARF and phospho-CHK2 (Thr68) protein expression is observed in human lung tumors (P < 0.00006). Overall, these data point to a novel regulatory pathway that mediates the p53-independent negative-cell-growth control of p14ARF. Inactivation of this pathway is likely to contribute to lung carcinogenesis.