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1.  Association of prediagnostic physical activity with survival following breast cancer diagnosis: influence of TP53 mutation status 
Cancer causes & control : CCC  2013;24(12):10.1007/s10552-013-0294-x.
Physical activity both before and after breast cancer diagnosis has been associated with improved survival. However, it is not clear whether this association differs by molecular features of the tumor or by recency of the physical activity to the time of diagnosis.
We examined the association of prediagnostic physical activity with survival in a cohort of 1,170 women with primary, incident, and histologically confirmed breast cancer, examining tumor molecular subtypes. Cox regression models were used to estimate hazard ratios (HR) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CI).
Mean follow-up time was 87.4 months after breast cancer diagnosis; there were 170 deaths identified. Compared with inactive patients (<3 hours/ week), women with higher average lifetime physical activity (>6 hours/ week) had reduced risk of all-cause mortality (adjusted HR = 0.61, 95% CI, 0.40-0.95; p trend = 0.04). There were no clear differences in the associations for lifetime and more recent physical activity. Lifetime physical activity was also weakly associated with decreased risk of breast cancer-specific mortality. Higher lifetime physical activity was associated with reduced risk of all-cause mortality among women with ER-positive tumors (HR = 0.52, 95% CI, 0.29-0.93), and mutant TP53 tumors (HR = 0.22, 95% CI, 0.06-0.72); however, no statistically significant interactions were observed for ER or TP53 status.
Our study further supports that prediagnostic physical activity improves overall survival following breast cancer, and suggests that the associations of prediagnostic physical activity with survival following breast cancer may vary by molecular features of the tumor, particularly ER and TP53 status.
PMCID: PMC3860883  PMID: 24068557
physical activity; breast cancer survival; TP53 mutation; epidemiology
2.  Prevalence of the TP53 p.R337H Mutation in Breast Cancer Patients in Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99893.
Germline TP53 mutations predispose individuals to multiple cancers and are associated with Li-Fraumeni/Li-Fraumeni-Like Syndromes (LFS/LFL). The founder mutation TP53 p.R337H is detected in 0.3% of the general population in southern Brazil. This mutation is associated with an increased risk of childhood adrenal cortical carcinoma (ACC) but is also common in Brazilian LFS/LFL families. Breast Cancer (BC) is one of the most common cancers diagnosed in TP53 mutation carriers. We have assessed the prevalence of p.R337H in two groups: (1) 59 BC affected women with a familial history (FH) suggestive of hereditary cancer syndrome but no LFS/LFL features; (2) 815 BC affected women unselected for cancer FH, diagnosed with BC at or before age 45 or at age 55 or older. Among group 1 and group 2 patients, 2/59 (3.4%, CI95%: 0.4%–11.7%) and 70/815 (8.6%, CI95%: 6.8%–10.7%), respectively, were p.R337H carriers in the germline. The prevalence of p.R337H was higher in women diagnosed with BC at or before age 45 (12.1%, CI95%: 9.1%–15.8%) than at age 55 or older (5.1%, CI95%: 3.2%–7.7%), p<0.001). The Brazilian founder p.R337H haplotype was detected in all carriers analysed. These results suggest that inheritance of p.R337H may significantly contribute to the high incidence of BC in Brazil, in addition to its recently demonstrated impact on the risk of childhood ACC.
PMCID: PMC4061038  PMID: 24936644
3.  The profile and contribution of rare germline copy number variants to cancer risk in Li-Fraumeni patients negative for TP53 mutations 
The Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is an inherited rare cancer predisposition syndrome characterized by a variety of early-onset tumors. Although germline mutations in the tumor suppressor gene TP53 account for over 50% of the families matching LFS criteria, the lack of TP53 mutation in a significant proportion of LFS families, suggests that other types of inherited alterations must contribute to their cancer susceptibility. Recently, increases in copy number variation (CNV) have been reported in LFS individuals, and are also postulated to contribute to LFS phenotypic variability.
Seventy probands from families fulfilling clinical criteria for either Li-Fraumeni or Li-Fraumeni-like (LFS/LFL) syndromes and negative for TP53 mutations were screened for germline CNVs.
We found a significantly increased number of rare CNVs, which were smaller in size and presented higher gene density compared to the control group. These data were similar to the findings we reported previously on a cohort of patients with germline TP53 mutations, showing that LFS/LFL patients, regardless of their TP53 status, also share similar CNV profiles.
These results, in conjunction with our previous analyses, suggest that both TP53-negative and positive LFS/LFL patients present a broad spectrum of germline genetic alterations affecting multiple loci, and that the genetic basis of LFS/LFL predisposition or penetrance in many cases might reside in germline transmission of CNVs.
PMCID: PMC4022048  PMID: 24775443
Li Fraumeni syndrome; Rare CNVs; Familial cancer
5.  Identification of Osteopontin as a Novel Marker for Early Hepatocellular Carcinoma 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;55(2):483-490.
This study was to identify a biomarker that could improve α-fetoprotein (AFP) performance in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) surveillance among patients with cirrhosis. We performed proteomic profiling of plasma from patients with cirrhosis or HCC and validated selected candidate HCC biomarkers in two geographically distinct cohorts in order to include HCC of different etiologies. Mass spectrometry profiling of highly fractionated plasma from 18 cirrhosis and 17 HCC patients identified osteopontin (OPN) as significantly upregulated in HCC cases compared to cirrhosis controls. OPN levels were subsequently measured in 312 plasma samples collected from 131 HCC patients, 76 cirrhosis patients, 52 chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and B (CHB) patients and 53 healthy controls, in two independent cohorts. OPN plasma levels were significantly elevated in HCC patients compared to cirrhosis, CHC, CHB or healthy controls, in both cohorts. OPN alone or in combination with AFP had significantly better area under the receiver operating characteristic curve compared to AFP in comparing cirrhosis and HCC in both cohorts. OPN overall performance remained higher than AFP in comparing cirrhosis and the following HCC groups: HCV-related HCC, HBV-associated HCC and early HCC. OPN had also a good sensitivity in AFP negative HCC. In a pilot prospective study including 22 patients who developed HCC during follow-up, OPN was already elevated a year prior to diagnosis. Conclusion: OPN was more sensitive than AFP for the diagnosis of HCC in all studied HCC groups. In addition, OPN performance remained intact in samples collected a year prior to diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3914762  PMID: 21953299
biomarker; HCC; early detection; OPN
6.  Transcriptional regulation of thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) by the tumor suppressor protein p53 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(24):4570-4578.
Thymine DNA glycosylase (TDG) belongs to the superfamily of uracil DNA glycosylases (UDG) and is the first enzyme in the base-excision repair pathway (BER) that removes thymine from G:T mismatches at CpG sites. This glycosylase activity has also been found to be critical for active demethylation of genes involved in embryonic development. Here we show that wild-type p53 transcriptionally regulates TDG expression. Chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and luciferase assays indicate that wild-type p53 binds to a domain of TDG promoter containing two p53 consensus response elements (p53RE) and activates its transcription. Next, we have used a panel of cell lines with different p53 status to demonstrate that TDG mRNA and protein expression levels are induced in a p53-dependent manner under different conditions. This panel includes isogenic breast and colorectal cancer cell lines with wild-type or inactive p53, esophageal squamous cell carcinoma cell lines lacking p53 or expressing a temperature-sensitive p53 mutant and normal human bronchial epithelial cells. Induction of TDG mRNA expression is accompanied by accumulation of TDG protein in both nucleus and cytoplasm, with nuclear re-localization occurring upon DNA damage in p53-competent, but not -incompetent, cells. These observations suggest a role for p53 activity in TDG nuclear translocation. Overall, our results show that TDG expression is directly regulated by p53, suggesting that loss of p53 function may affect processes mediated by TDG, thus negatively impacting on genetic and epigenetic stability.
PMCID: PMC3562302  PMID: 23165212
TDG; p53; base-excision repair; glycosylase; transcriptional regulation; mutator phenotype; epigenetic stability
7.  Impact of Delay to Cryopreservation on RNA Integrity and Genome-Wide Expression Profiles in Resected Tumor Samples 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79826.
The quality of tissue samples and extracted mRNA is a major source of variability in tumor transcriptome analysis using genome-wide expression microarrays. During and immediately after surgical tumor resection, tissues are exposed to metabolic, biochemical and physical stresses characterized as “warm ischemia”. Current practice advocates cryopreservation of biosamples within 30 minutes of resection, but this recommendation has not been systematically validated by measurements of mRNA decay over time. Using Illumina HumanHT-12 v3 Expression BeadChips, providing a genome-wide coverage of over 24,000 genes, we have analyzed gene expression variation in samples of 3 hepatocellular carcinomas (HCC) and 3 lung carcinomas (LC) cryopreserved at times up to 2 hours after resection. RNA Integrity Numbers (RIN) revealed no significant deterioration of mRNA up to 2 hours after resection. Genome-wide transcriptome analysis detected non-significant gene expression variations of −3.5%/hr (95% CI: −7.0%/hr to 0.1%/hr; p = 0.054). In LC, no consistent gene expression pattern was detected in relation with warm ischemia. In HCC, a signature of 6 up-regulated genes (CYP2E1, IGLL1, CABYR, CLDN2, NQO1, SCL13A5) and 6 down-regulated genes (MT1G, MT1H, MT1E, MT1F, HABP2, SPINK1) was identified (FDR <0.05). Overall, our observations support current recommendation of time to cryopreservation of up to 30 minutes and emphasize the need for identifying tissue-specific genes deregulated following resection to avoid misinterpreting expression changes induced by warm ischemia as pathologically significant changes.
PMCID: PMC3835918  PMID: 24278187
8.  Hormonal Therapy and Risk of Breast Cancer in Mexican Women 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79695.
The use of hormonal therapies, including hormonal contraceptives (HC) and postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT) have been shown to influence breast cancer (BC) risk. However, the variations of these effects among populations and ethnic groups are not completely documented, especially among Hispanic women. We evaluated the association between HC and premenopausal BC risk, and between HRT and postmenopausal BC risk in Mexican women. Data from a Mexican multi-center population-based case–control study ofwomen aged 35 to 69 years were analysed. A total of 1000 cases and 1074 matched controls were recruited between 2004 and 2007. Information on hormonal therapy was collected through a structured questionnaire. Results were analysed using conditional logistic regression models. Overall, HC were used by 422/891 (47.3%) premenopausal women and HRT was used by 220/1117 (19.7%) postmenopausal women. For HC, odds ratios (ORs) for BC were 1.11 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.82, 1.49) for current users and 1.68 (95% CI: 0.67, 4.21) for ever-users. No clear effect of duration of use was observed. For HRT, the OR for BC was significantly increased in ever users (OR: 1.45; 95% CI: 1.01, 2.08). A non-significant increased risk was observed for combined estrogen/progestin, (OR =  1.85; 95% CI: 0.84, 4.07) whereas no effect was observed for the use of estrogen alone (OR = 1.14; 95% CI: 0.68, 1.91). Our results indicate that, HC had a non-significant effect on the risk of pre-menopausal BC, but suggested that injected contraceptives may slightly increase the risk, whereas HRT had a significant effect on post-menopausal BC in this population. This study provides new information about the effects of HC and HRT on BC risk in a Mexican population, which may be of relevance for the population of Latin America as a whole.
PMCID: PMC3829873  PMID: 24260282
9.  Li-Fraumeni syndrome: report of a clinical research workshop and creation of a research consortium 
Cancer genetics  2012;205(10):479-487.
Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS) is a rare dominantly inherited cancer predisposition syndrome that was first described in 1969. In most families, it is caused by germline mutations in the TP53 gene and is characterized by early onset of multiple specific cancers and very high lifetime cumulative cancer risk. Despite significant progress in understanding the molecular biology of TP53, the optimal clinical management of this syndrome is poorly defined. We convened a workshop on November 2, 2010, at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, bringing together clinicians and scientists, as well as individuals from families with LFS, to review the state of the science, address clinical management issues, stimulate collaborative research, and engage the LFS family community. This workshop also led to the creation of the Li-Fraumeni Exploration (LiFE) Research Consortium.
PMCID: PMC3593717  PMID: 22939227
Li-Fraumeni syndrome; hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome; TP53 mutations
10.  20-Years of Population-Based Cancer Registration in Hepatitis B and Liver Cancer Prevention in The Gambia, West Africa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75775.
The Gambia Hepatitis Intervention Study (GHIS) was designed as a randomised control trial of infant hepatitis B vaccination applied to public health policy, with the main goal of preventing primary liver cancer later in adult life in The Gambia. To that effect, the National Cancer Registry of The Gambia (NCR), a population-based cancer registry (PBCR), was established in 1986 to actively collect data on all cancer diagnosis nation-wide. We extracted 20-years (1990-2009) of data to assess for the first time, the evolution of the most common cancers, also describe and demonstrate the role of the PBCR in a hepatitis B and liver cancer prevention programme in this population.
Methods and Findings
We estimated Age-Standardised Incidence Rates (ASR (W)) of the most common cancers registered during the period by gender. The registration period was divided into four 5-year intervals and incidence rates were estimated for each interval. The most common cancers in males were liver, prostate, lung plus bronchus, non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) and stomach, accounting for 60%, 5%, 4%, 5% and 3%, respectively. Similarly, cancers of the cervix uteri, liver, breast and NHL, were the most common in females, accounting for 33%, 24%, 11% and 4% of the female cancers, respectively.
Cancer incidence has remained relatively stable over time, but as shown elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa the disease is a threat in The Gambia. The infection related cancers which are mostly preventable (HBV in men and HPV/HIV in women) were the most common. At the moment the data is not enough to detect an effect of hepatitis B vaccination on liver cancer incidence in The Gambia. However, we observed that monitoring case occurrence through PBCR is a key public health pre-requisite for rational planning and implementation of targeted interventions for improving the health of the population.
PMCID: PMC3787012  PMID: 24098724
12.  Protein Profiling in Hepatocellular Carcinoma by Label-Free Quantitative Proteomics in Two West African Populations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e68381.
Hepatocellular Carcinoma is the third most common cause of cancer related death worldwide, often diagnosed by measuring serum AFP; a poor performance stand-alone biomarker. With the aim of improving on this, our study focuses on plasma proteins identified by Mass Spectrometry in order to investigate and validate differences seen in the respective proteomes of controls and subjects with LC and HCC.
Mass Spectrometry analysis using liquid chromatography electro spray ionization quadrupole time-of-flight was conducted on 339 subjects using a pooled expression profiling approach. ELISA assays were performed on four significantly differentially expressed proteins to validate their expression profiles in subjects from the Gambia and a pilot group from Nigeria. Results from this were collated for statistical multiplexing using logistic regression analysis.
Twenty-six proteins were identified as differentially expressed between the three subject groups. Direct measurements of four; hemopexin, alpha-1-antitrypsin, apolipoprotein A1 and complement component 3 confirmed their change in abundance in LC and HCC versus control patients. These trends were independently replicated in the pilot validation subjects from Nigeria. The statistical multiplexing of these proteins demonstrated performance comparable to or greater than ALT in identifying liver cirrhosis or carcinogenesis. This exercise also proposed preliminary cut offs with achievable sensitivity, specificity and AUC statistics greater than reported AFP averages.
The validated changes of expression in these proteins have the potential for development into high-performance tests usable in the diagnosis and or monitoring of HCC and LC patients. The identification of sustained expression trends strengthens the suggestion of these four proteins as worthy candidates for further investigation in the context of liver disease. The statistical combinations also provide a novel inroad of analyses able to propose definitive cut-offs and combinations for evaluation of performance.
PMCID: PMC3728326  PMID: 23935864
13.  TP53 R249S mutation, genetic variations in HBX and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in The Gambia 
Carcinogenesis  2012;33(6):1219-1224.
In regions with high prevalence of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection and dietary aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) exposure, hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) often contain TP53 mutation at codon 249 (R249S). Furthermore, a C-terminal truncated HBx protein expressed from hepatocyte integrated HBV is associated with HCC development. This study evaluates the association between R249S and HBX status in relation to HCC in West African population. HBX (complete or 3′-truncated) and HBS genes were assessed by PCR in cell-free DNA (CFDNA) from plasma of subjects recruited in a hospital-based case–control study (325 controls, 78 cirrhotic patients and 198 HCC cases) conducted in The Gambia. These samples had been previously analyzed for R249S and HBV serological status. Complete HBX sequence was frequently detected in CFDNA of HCC-R249S positive (77%, 43/56) compared with HCC-R249S-negative cases (44%, 22/50). Conversely, the proportion of 3′-truncated HBX gene was significantly higher in HCC-R249S negative than positive cases (34%, 17/50, compared with 12%, 7/56) (χ2 = 12.12; P = 0.002; distribution of R249S negative and positive according to HBX status). Occult HBV infection (detected by PCR) was present in 24% of HCC previously considered as negative by HBV serology. Moreover, HBV mutation analysis revealed that double mutation at nucleotides 1762T/1764A was associated with diagnosis of cirrhosis or HCC {cirrhosis: odds ratio (OR): 9.50 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.50–60.11]; HCC: OR: 11.29 [95% CI 2.07–61.47]}. These findings suggest that in HCC from The Gambia, complete HBX sequences are often associated with the presence of TP53 R249S mutation.
PMCID: PMC3388490  PMID: 22759751
14.  TP53 p.R337H is a conditional cancer-predisposing mutation: further evidence from a homozygous patient 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:187.
Adrenocortical carcinomas (ACCs) are among the most common childhood cancers occurring in infants affected with the Li-Fraumeni and Li- Fraumeni-like (LFS/LFL) syndromes, which are caused by dominant germline mutations in the TP53 gene. In Brazil, a particular mutation, occurring in the tetramerisation domain of the gene, p.R337H, is exceedingly common due to a founder effect and is strongly associated with ACC. In this report, we describe the phenotype and long-term clinical follow-up of a female child diagnosed with ACC and homozygous for the TP53 p.R337H founder mutation.
Case presentation
At age 11 months, the patient was diagnosed with a virilising anaplastic adrenal cortical tumour, which was completely excised without disturbing the adrenal capsule. Family history was consistent with an LFL tumour pattern, and genotyping identified the TP53 p.R337H mutation in both alleles in genomic DNA from lymphocytes and fibroblasts. Haplotype analysis confirmed the occurrence of the mutation in the same founder haplotype previously described in other Brazilian patients. No other germline or somatic TP53 mutations or rearrangements were identified. At age 9 years, the child was asymptomatic and had no evidence of endocrine derangements. Full body and brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) failed to detect any suspicious proliferative lesions, and cardiopulmonary exercise testing results were within the normal reference for the child’s age, ruling out a major exercise capacity deficiency.
This is the first clinical and aerobic functional capacity documentation of a patient who carries two mutant TP53 alleles and no wild-type allele. Our results support the hypothesis that TP53 p.R337H, the most common TP53 mutation ever described in any population, is a conditional mutant. Furthermore, our observations over a long period of clinical follow-up suggest that TP53 p.R337H homozygotes do not have a more severe disease phenotype than do heterozygote carriers of the same mutation. Patients with the homozygous TP53 p.R337H genotype will require careful surveillance for lifetime cancer risk and for effects on metabolic capacity later in life.
PMCID: PMC3637265  PMID: 23570263
15.  Effects of Δ40p53, an isoform of p53 lacking the N-terminus, on transactivation capacity of the tumor suppressor protein p53 
BMC Cancer  2013;13:134.
The p53 protein is expressed as multiple isoforms that differ in their N- and C-terminus due to alternative splicing, promoter or codon initiation usage. Δ40p53 lacks the first 39 residues containing the main transcriptional activation domain, resulting from initiation of translation at AUG +40 in fully spliced p53 mRNA or in a specific variant mRNA retaining intron 2. Overexpression of Δ40p53 antagonizes wild-type p53 in vitro. However, animal models of Δ40p53 in mouse or Zebrafish have shown complex phenotypes suggestive of p53-dependent growth suppressive effects.
We have co-transfected expression vectors for p53 and Δ40p53 in p53-null cell lines Saos-2 and H1299 to show that Δ40p53 forms mixed oligomers with p53 that bind to DNA and modulate the transcription of a generic p53-dependent reporter gene.
In H1299 cells, co-expression of the two proteins induced a decrease in transcription with amplitude that depended upon the predicted composition of the hetero-tetramer. In Saos-2, a paradoxical effect was observed, with a small increase in activity for hetero-tetramers predicted to contain 1 or 2 monomers of Δ40p53 and a decrease at higher Δ40p53/p53 ratios. In this cell line, co-transfection of Δ40p53 prevented Hdm2-mediated degradation of p53.
Δ40p53 modulates transcriptional activity by interfering with the binding of Hdm2 to hetero-tetramers containing both Δ40p53 and p53. These results provide a basis for growth suppressive effects in animal models co-expressing roughly similar levels of p53 and Δ40p53.
PMCID: PMC3621643  PMID: 23514281
P53; Isoforms; Hdm2; Δ40p53; Oligomerization
16.  DNA methylation changes associated with risk factors in tumors of the upper aerodigestive tract 
Epigenetics  2012;7(3):270-277.
Cancers of the upper aerodigestive tract (UADT) are common forms of malignancy associated with tobacco and alcohol exposures, although human papillomavirus and nutritional deficiency are also important risk factors. While somatically acquired DNA methylation changes have been associated with UADT cancers, what triggers these events and precise epigenetic targets are poorly understood. In this study, we applied quantitative profiling of DNA methylation states in a panel of cancer-associated genes to a case-control study of UADT cancers. Our analyses revealed a high frequency of aberrant hypermethylation of several genes, including MYOD1, CHRNA3 and MTHFR in UADT tumors, whereas CDKN2A was moderately hypermethylated. Among differentially methylated genes, we identified a new gene (the nicotinic acetycholine receptor gene) as target of aberrant hypermethylation in UADT cancers, suggesting that epigenetic deregulation of nicotinic acetycholine receptors in non-neuronal tissues may promote the development of UADT cancers. Importantly, we found that sex and age is strongly associated with the methylation states, whereas tobacco smoking and alcohol intake may also influence the methylation levels in specific genes. This study identifies aberrant DNA methylation patterns in UADT cancers and suggests a potential mechanism by which environmental factors may deregulate key cellular genes involved in tumor suppression and contribute to UADT cancers.
PMCID: PMC3335950  PMID: 22430803
DNA methylation; upper aerodigestive tract; cancer; risk factors; biomarkers
17.  Role of Obesity in the Risk of Breast Cancer: Lessons from Anthropometry 
Journal of Oncology  2013;2013:906495.
An estimated 1.38 million new cases of breast cancer (BC) are diagnosed each year in women worldwide. Of these, the majority are categorized as invasive ductal cell carcinoma. Subgroups of BC are frequently distinguished into five “intrinsic” subtypes, namely, luminal A, luminal B, normal-like, HER2-positive, and basal-like subtypes. Epidemiological evidence has shown that anthropometric factors are implicated in BC development. Overall consistent positive associations have been observed between high body mass index (BMI) and waist-to-hip ratio (WHR) and the risk of BC among postmenopausal women, while conflicting results persist for premenopausal BC, both for BMI and for other anthropometric parameters as well as across ethnic groups. Furthermore, some evidence suggests that body size, body shape, and weight gain during childhood or adolescence may play a role in the risk of BC. In this paper, we describe the evidence linking anthropometric indices at different ages and BC risk, in order to improve our understanding of the role of body fat distribution in the risk of BC, investigate differences in these associations according to menopausal status and ethnic groups, and discuss the potential biological mechanisms linking body size and BC risk.
PMCID: PMC3575614  PMID: 23431300
18.  Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) mutations and expression in squamous cell carcinoma of the esophagus in central Asia 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:602.
Esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) shows geographic variations in incidence, with high incidences (>50/105 person-years) in central Asia, including North Eastern Iran (Golestan) and Northern India (Kashmir). In contrast to Western countries, smoking does not appear to be a significant risk factor for ESCC in central Asia. In lung adenocarcinoma, activating mutations in the gene encoding epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) are frequent in tumors of never smokers of Asian origin, predicting therapeutic sensitivity to Egfr-targeting drugs.
In this study 152 cases of histologically confirmed ESCC from Iran (Tehran and Golestan Province) and North India (Kashmir Valley) have been analyzed for EGFR mutation by direct sequencing of exons 18–21. Egfr protein expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 34 samples from Tehran and HER2 mutations were analyzed in 54 cases from Kashmir.
A total of 14 (9.2%) EGFR variations were detected, including seven variations in exons. Among those, four (2.6%) were already documented in lung cancers, two were reported as polymorphisms and one was a potentially new activating mutation. All but one variation in introns were previously identified as polymorphisms. Over-expression of Egfr was detected in 22/34 (65%) of tested cases whereas no HER2 mutation was found in 54 cases from Kashmir.
Overall, EGFR mutations appear to be a rare event in ESCC in high incidence areas of central Asia, although a very small proportion of cases may harbor mutations predicting sensitivity to anti-Egfr drugs.
PMCID: PMC3543241  PMID: 23244191
Squamous cell carcinoma; Esophagus; EGFR mutations; Golestan; Kashmir
19.  The TP53 fertility network 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2012;35(4 Suppl):939-946.
The TP53 gene, first described in 1979, was identified as a tumor suppressor gene in 1989, when it became clear that its product, the p53 nuclear phosphoprotein, was frequently inactivated in many different forms of cancers. Nicknamed “guardian of the genome”, TP53 occupies a central node in stress response networks. The p53 protein has a key role as transcription factor in limiting oncogenesis through several growth suppressive functions, such as initiating apoptosis, senescence, or cell cycle arrest. The p53 protein is directly inactivated in about 50% of all tumors as a result of somatic gene mutations or deletions, and over 80% of tumors demonstrate dysfunctional p53 signaling. Beyond the undeniable importance of p53 as a tumor suppressor, an increasing number of new functions for p53 have been reported, including its ability to regulate energy metabolism, to control autophagy, and to participate in various aspects of differentiation and development. Recently, studies on genetic variations in TP53 among different populations have led to the notion that the p53 protein might play an important role in regulating fertility. This review summarizes current knowledge on the basic functions of different genes of the TP53 family and TP53 pathway with respect to fertility. We also provide original analyses based on genomic and genotype databases, providing further insights into the possible roles of the TP53 pathway in human reproduction.
PMCID: PMC3571437  PMID: 23412905
TP53; fertility; p53 network
20.  PAH exposure in esophageal tissue and risk of esophageal squamous cell carcinoma in northeastern Iran 
Gut  2010;59(9):1178-1183.
To evaluate the association of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure in esophageal epithelial tissue and esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) case status in an ESCC case-control study in a high-risk population in northeastern Iran.
Immunohistochemical staining of tissue microarrays (TMAs) of non-tumoral esophageal biopsies from ESCC cases and control subjects. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies 8E11 and 5D11, raised against benzo[a]pyrene (B[a]P) diol epoxide (BPDE)-I-modified guanosine and BPDE-I-modified DNA, respectively. Staining intensity was quantified by image analysis, and the average staining in three replicates was calculated.
Rural region in northeastern Iran.
Cases were patients with biopsy-proven ESCC. Controls were GI clinic patients with no endoscopic or biopsy evidence of ESCC.
Main outcome measure
Adjusted odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) for the association between antibody staining intensity and ESCC case status.
Cultured ESCC cells exposed to B[a]P in vitro showed dose-dependent staining with 8E11, but not with 5D11. With 8E11, sufficient epithelial tissue was available in the TMA cores to analyze 91 cases and 103 controls. Compared to the lowest quintile of 8E11 staining in the controls, adjusted ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 2.42, 5.77, 11.3, and 26.6 (5.21–135), respectively (P for trend < 0.001). With 5D11, 89 cases and 101 controls were analyzed. No association between staining and case status was observed (ORs (95% CIs) for the 2nd to 5th quintiles were 1.26, 0.88, 1.06, and 1.63 (0.63–4.21), P for trend = 0.40).
Dramatically higher levels of 8E11 staining were observed in non-tumoral esophageal epithelium from ESCC patients than from control subjects. This finding strengthens the evidence for a causal role for PAHs in esophageal carcinogenesis in northeastern Iran.
PMCID: PMC3505022  PMID: 20584779
esophageal squamous cell carcinoma; polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons; immunohistochemistry; tissue microarray
21.  Toward a roadmap in global biobanking for health 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2012;20(11):1105-1111.
Biobanks can have a pivotal role in elucidating disease etiology, translation, and advancing public health. However, meeting these challenges hinges on a critical shift in the way science is conducted and requires biobank harmonization. There is growing recognition that a common strategy is imperative to develop biobanking globally and effectively. To help guide this strategy, we articulate key principles, goals, and priorities underpinning a roadmap for global biobanking to accelerate health science, patient care, and public health. The need to manage and share very large amounts of data has driven innovations on many fronts. Although technological solutions are allowing biobanks to reach new levels of integration, increasingly powerful data-collection tools, analytical techniques, and the results they generate raise new ethical and legal issues and challenges, necessitating a reconsideration of previous policies, practices, and ethical norms. These manifold advances and the investments that support them are also fueling opportunities for biobanks to ultimately become integral parts of health-care systems in many countries. International harmonization to increase interoperability and sustainability are two strategic priorities for biobanking. Tackling these issues requires an environment favorably inclined toward scientific funding and equipped to address socio-ethical challenges. Cooperation and collaboration must extend beyond systems to enable the exchange of data and samples to strategic alliances between many organizations, including governmental bodies, funding agencies, public and private science enterprises, and other stakeholders, including patients. A common vision is required and we articulate the essential basis of such a vision herein.
PMCID: PMC3477856  PMID: 22713808
22.  Increased Oxidative Damage in Carriers of the Germline TP53 p.R337H Mutation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47010.
Germline mutations in TP53 are the underlying defect of Li-Fraumeni Syndrome (LFS) and Li-Fraumeni-like (LFL) Syndrome, autosomal dominant disorders characterized by predisposition to multiple early onset cancers. In Brazil, a variant form of LFS/LFL is commonly detected because of the high prevalence of a founder mutation at codon 337 in TP53 (p.R337H). The p53 protein exerts multiple roles in the regulation of oxidative metabolism and cellular anti-oxidant defense systems. Herein, we analyzed the redox parameters in blood samples from p.R337H mutation carriers (C, n = 17) and non-carriers (NC, n = 17). We identified a significant increase in erythrocyte GPx activity and in plasma carbonyl content,an indicator of protein oxidative damage, in mutation carriers compared to non-carriers (P = 0.048 and P = 0.035, respectively). Mutation carriers also showed a four-fold increase in plasma malondialdehyde levels, indicating increased lipid peroxidation (NC = 40.20±0.71, C = 160.5±0.88, P<0.0001). Finally, carriers showed increased total antioxidant status but a decrease in plasma ascorbic acid content. The observed imbalance could be associated with deregulated cell bioenergetics and/or with increased inflammatory stress, two effects that may result from loss of wild-type p53 function. These findings provide the first evidence that oxidative damage occurs in carriers of a germline TP53 mutation, and these may have important implications regarding our understanding of the mechanisms responsible for germline TP53 p.R337H mutation-associated carcinogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3467233  PMID: 23056559
23.  CHRNA5 as negative regulator of nicotine signaling in normal and cancer bronchial cells: effects on motility, migration and p63 expression 
Carcinogenesis  2011;32(9):1388-1395.
Genome-wide association studies have linked lung cancer risk with a region of chromosome 15q25.1 containing CHRNA3, CHRNA5 and CHRNB4 encoding α3, α5 and β4 subunits of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChR), respectively. One of the strongest associations was observed for a non-silent single-nucleotide polymorphism at codon 398 in CHRNA5. Here, we have used pharmacological (antagonists) or genetic (RNA interference) interventions to modulate the activity of CHRNA5 in non-transformed bronchial cells and in lung cancer cell lines. In both cell types, silencing CHRNA5 or inhibiting receptors containing nAChR α5 with α-conotoxin MII exerted a nicotine-like effect, with increased motility and invasiveness in vitro and increasing calcium influx. The effects on motility were enhanced by addition of nicotine but blocked by inhibiting CHRNA7, which encodes the homopentameric receptor α7 subunit. Silencing CHRNA5 also decreased the expression of cell adhesion molecules P120 and ZO-1 in lung cancer cells as well as the expression of DeltaNp63α in squamous cell carcinoma cell lines. These results demonstrate a role for CHRNA5 in modulating adhesion and motility in bronchial cells, as well as in regulating p63, a potential oncogene in squamous cell carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3165122  PMID: 21586512
24.  Biospecimen Reporting for Improved Study Quality (BRISQ) 
Journal of proteome research  2011;10(8):3429-3438.
Human biospecimens are subject to a number of different collection, processing, and storage factors that can significantly alter their molecular composition and consistency. These biospecimen preanalytical factors, in turn, influence experimental outcomes and the ability to reproduce scientific results. Currently, the extent and type of information specific to the biospecimen preanalytical conditions reported in scientific publications and regulatory submissions varies widely. To improve the quality of research utilizing human tissues it is critical that information regarding the handling of biospecimens be reported in a thorough, accurate, and standardized manner. The Biospecimen Reporting for Improved Study Quality (BRISQ) recommendations outlined herein are intended to apply to any study in which human biospecimens are used. The purpose of reporting these details is to supply others, from researchers to regulators, with more consistent and standardized information to better evaluate, interpret, compare, and reproduce the experimental results. The BRISQ guidelines are proposed as an important and timely resource tool to strengthen communication and publications around biospecimen-related research and help reassure patient contributors and the advocacy community that the contributions are valued and respected.
PMCID: PMC3169291  PMID: 21574648
25.  Sources of Pre-Analytical Variations in Yield of DNA Extracted from Blood Samples: Analysis of 50,000 DNA Samples in EPIC 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39821.
The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and nutrition (EPIC) is a long-term, multi-centric prospective study in Europe investigating the relationships between cancer and nutrition. This study has served as a basis for a number of Genome-Wide Association Studies (GWAS) and other types of genetic analyses. Over a period of 5 years, 52,256 EPIC DNA samples have been extracted using an automated DNA extraction platform. Here we have evaluated the pre-analytical factors affecting DNA yield, including anthropometric, epidemiological and technical factors such as center of subject recruitment, age, gender, body-mass index, disease case or control status, tobacco consumption, number of aliquots of buffy coat used for DNA extraction, extraction machine or procedure, DNA quantification method, degree of haemolysis and variations in the timing of sample processing. We show that the largest significant variations in DNA yield were observed with degree of haemolysis and with center of subject recruitment. Age, gender, body-mass index, cancer case or control status and tobacco consumption also significantly impacted DNA yield. Feedback from laboratories which have analyzed DNA with different SNP genotyping technologies demonstrate that the vast majority of samples (approximately 88%) performed adequately in different types of assays. To our knowledge this study is the largest to date to evaluate the sources of pre-analytical variations in DNA extracted from peripheral leucocytes. The results provide a strong evidence-based rationale for standardized recommendations on blood collection and processing protocols for large-scale genetic studies.
PMCID: PMC3396633  PMID: 22808065

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