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1.  Predictive Genes in Adjacent Normal Tissue Are Preferentially Altered by sCNV during Tumorigenesis in Liver Cancer and May Rate Limiting 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e20090.
In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) genes predictive of survival have been found in both adjacent normal (AN) and tumor (TU) tissues. The relationships between these two sets of predictive genes and the general process of tumorigenesis and disease progression remains unclear.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we have investigated HCC tumorigenesis by comparing gene expression, DNA copy number variation and survival using ∼250 AN and TU samples representing, respectively, the pre-cancer state, and the result of tumorigenesis. Genes that participate in tumorigenesis were defined using a gene-gene correlation meta-analysis procedure that compared AN versus TU tissues. Genes predictive of survival in AN (AN-survival genes) were found to be enriched in the differential gene-gene correlation gene set indicating that they directly participate in the process of tumorigenesis. Additionally the AN-survival genes were mostly not predictive after tumorigenesis in TU tissue and this transition was associated with and could largely be explained by the effect of somatic DNA copy number variation (sCNV) in cis and in trans. The data was consistent with the variance of AN-survival genes being rate-limiting steps in tumorigenesis and this was confirmed using a treatment that promotes HCC tumorigenesis that selectively altered AN-survival genes and genes differentially correlated between AN and TU.
This suggests that the process of tumor evolution involves rate-limiting steps related to the background from which the tumor evolved where these were frequently predictive of clinical outcome. Additionally treatments that alter the likelihood of tumorigenesis occurring may act by altering AN-survival genes, suggesting that the process can be manipulated. Further sCNV explains a substantial fraction of tumor specific expression and may therefore be a causal driver of tumor evolution in HCC and perhaps many solid tumor types.
PMCID: PMC3130029  PMID: 21750698
2.  Gene expression profiling spares early breast cancer patients from adjuvant therapy: derived and validated in two population-based cohorts 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(6):R953-R964.
Adjuvant breast cancer therapy significantly improves survival, but overtreatment and undertreatment are major problems. Breast cancer expression profiling has so far mainly been used to identify women with a poor prognosis as candidates for adjuvant therapy but without demonstrated value for therapy prediction.
We obtained the gene expression profiles of 159 population-derived breast cancer patients, and used hierarchical clustering to identify the signature associated with prognosis and impact of adjuvant therapies, defined as distant metastasis or death within 5 years. Independent datasets of 76 treated population-derived Swedish patients, 135 untreated population-derived Swedish patients and 78 Dutch patients were used for validation. The inclusion and exclusion criteria for the studies of population-derived Swedish patients were defined.
Among the 159 patients, a subset of 64 genes was found to give an optimal separation of patients with good and poor outcomes. Hierarchical clustering revealed three subgroups: patients who did well with therapy, patients who did well without therapy, and patients that failed to benefit from given therapy. The expression profile gave significantly better prognostication (odds ratio, 4.19; P = 0.007) (breast cancer end-points odds ratio, 10.64) compared with the Elston–Ellis histological grading (odds ratio of grade 2 vs 1 and grade 3 vs 1, 2.81 and 3.32 respectively; P = 0.24 and 0.16), tumor stage (odds ratio of stage 2 vs 1 and stage 3 vs 1, 1.11 and 1.28; P = 0.83 and 0.68) and age (odds ratio, 0.11; P = 0.55). The risk groups were consistent and validated in the independent Swedish and Dutch data sets used with 211 and 78 patients, respectively.
We have identified discriminatory gene expression signatures working both on untreated and systematically treated primary breast cancer patients with the potential to spare them from adjuvant therapy.
PMCID: PMC1410752  PMID: 16280042
3.  Colorectal cancers with microsatellite instability display mRNA expression signatures characteristic of increased immunogenicity 
Molecular Cancer  2004;3:21.
Colorectal cancers displaying high-degree microsatellite instability (MSI-H) have an improved prognosis compared to microsatellite stable (MSS) cancers. The observation of pronounced lymphocytic infiltrates suggests that MSI-H cancers are inherently more immunogenic. We aimed to compare the gene expression profiles of MSI-H and MSS cancers to provide evidence for an activated immune response in the former.
We analysed tissue from 133 colorectal cancer patients with full consent and Local Ethics Committee approval. Genomic DNA was analysed for microsatellite instability in BAT-26. High-quality RNA was used for microarray analysis on the Affymetrix® HG-U133A chip. Data was analysed on GeneSpring software version 6.0. Confirmatory real-time RT-PCR was performed on 28 MSI-H and 26 MSS cancers. A comparison of 29 MSI-H and 104 MSS cancers identified 2070 genes that were differentially expressed between the two groups [P < 0.005]. Significantly, many key immunomodulatory genes were up-regulated in MSI-H cancers. These included antigen chaperone molecules (HSP-70, HSP-110, Calreticulin, gp96), pro-inflammatory cytokines (Interleukin (IL)-18, IL-15, IL-8, IL-24, IL-7) and cytotoxic mediators (Granulysin, Granzyme A). Quantitative RT-PCR confirmed up-regulation of HSP-70 [P = 0.016], HSP-110 [P = 0.002], IL-18 [P = 0.004], IL-8 [0.002] and Granulysin [P < 0.0001].
The upregulation of a large number of genes implicated in immune response supports the theory that MSI-H cancers are immunogenic. The novel observation of Heat Shock Protein up-regulation in MSI-H cancer is highly significant in light of the recognised roles of these proteins in innate and antigen-specific immunogenicity. Increased mRNA levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cytotoxic mediators also indicate an activated anti-tumour immune response.
PMCID: PMC514528  PMID: 15298707

Results 1-3 (3)