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1.  A high density of tertiary lymphoid structure B cells in lung tumors is associated with increased CD4+ T cell receptor repertoire clonality 
Oncoimmunology  2015;4(12):e1051922.
T and B cell receptor (TCR and BCR, respectively) Vβ or immunoglobulin heavy chain complementarity-determining region 3 sequencing allows monitoring of repertoire changes through recognition, clonal expansion, affinity maturation, and T or B cell activation in response to antigen. TCR and BCR repertoire analysis can advance understanding of antitumor immune responses in the tumor microenvironment. TCR and BCR repertoires of sorted CD4+, CD8+ or CD19+ cells in tumor, non-tumoral distant tissue (NT), and peripheral compartments (blood/draining lymph node [P]) from 47 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients (agemedian = 68 y) were sequenced. The clonotype spectra were assessed among different tissues and correlated with clinical and immunological parameters. In all tissues, CD4+ and CD8+ TCR repertoires had greater clonality relative to CD19+ BCR. CD4+ T cells exhibited greater clonality in NT compared to tumor (p = 0.002) and P (p < 0.001), concentrated among older patients (age > 68). Younger patients exhibited greater CD4+ T cell diversity in P compared to older patients (p = 0.05), and greater CD4+ T cell clonality in tumor relative to P (p < 0.001), with fewer shared clonotypes between tumor and P than older patients (p = 0.04). More interestingly, greater CD4+ and CD8+ T cell clonality in tumor and P, respectively (both p = 0.05), correlated with high density of tumor-associated tertiary lymphoid structure (TLS) B cells, a biomarker of higher overall survival in NSCLC. Results indicate distinct adaptive immune responses in NSCLC, where peripheral T cell diversity is modulated by age, and tumor T cell clonal expansion is favored by the presence of TLSs in the tumor microenvironment.
doi:10.1080/2162402X.2015.1051922
PMCID: PMC4635865  PMID: 26587322
deep sequencing; non-small cell lung cancer; TCR/BCR repertoire; tertiary lymphoid structure
2.  HERC5 is a prognostic biomarker for post-liver transplant recurrent human hepatocellular carcinoma 
Background and aims
Orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) can be an effective treatment option for certain patients with early stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) meeting Milan, UCSF, or Hangzhou criteria. However, HCC recurrence rates post-OLT range from 20 to 40 %, with limited follow-up options. Elucidating genetic drivers common to primary and post-OLT recurrent tumors may further our understanding and help identify predictive biomarkers of recurrence—both to ultimately help manage clinical decisions for patients undergoing OLT.
Methods
Whole exome and RNA sequencing in matched primary and recurrent tumors, normal adjacent tissues, and blood from four Chinese HCC patients was conducted. SiRNA knockdown and both qRT-PCR and Western assays were performed on PLCPRF5, SNU449 and HEPG2 cell lines; immunohistochemistry and RNA Sequencing were conducted on the primary tumors of Chinese HCC patients who experienced tumor recurrence post-OLT (n = 9) or did not experience tumor recurrence (n = 12).
Results
In three independent HCC studies of patients undergoing transplantation (n = 21) or surgical resection (n = 242, n = 44) of primary tumors (total n = 307), HERC5 mRNA under-expression correlated with shorter: time to tumor recurrence (p = 0.007 and 0.02) and overall survival (p = 0.0063 and 0.023), even after adjustment for relevant clinical variables. HERC5 loss drives CCL20 mRNA and protein over-expression and associates with regulatory T cell infiltration as measured by FOXP3 expression. Further, matched primary and recurrent tumors from the 4 HCC patients indicated clonal selection advantage of Wnt signaling activation and CDKN2A inactivation.
Conclusions
HERC5 plays a crucial role in HCC immune evasion and has clinical relevance as a reproducible prognostic marker for risk of tumor recurrence and survival in patients.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0743-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1186/s12967-015-0743-2
PMCID: PMC4676172  PMID: 26653219
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Orthotopic liver transplantation; Whole exome; HERC5
3.  Germinal center reentries of BCL2-overexpressing B cells drive follicular lymphoma progression 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2014;124(12):5337-5351.
It has recently been demonstrated that memory B cells can reenter and reengage germinal center (GC) reactions, opening the possibility that multi-hit lymphomagenesis gradually occurs throughout life during successive immunological challenges. Here, we investigated this scenario in follicular lymphoma (FL), an indolent GC-derived malignancy. We developed a mouse model that recapitulates the FL hallmark t(14;18) translocation, which results in constitutive activation of antiapoptotic protein B cell lymphoma 2 (BCL2) in a subset of B cells, and applied a combination of molecular and immunofluorescence approaches to track normal and t(14;18)+ memory B cells in human and BCL2-overexpressing B cells in murine lymphoid tissues. BCL2-overexpressing B cells required multiple GC transits before acquiring FL-associated developmental arrest and presenting as GC B cells with constitutive activation–induced cytidine deaminase (AID) mutator activity. Moreover, multiple reentries into the GC were necessary for the progression to advanced precursor stages of FL. Together, our results demonstrate that protracted subversion of immune dynamics contributes to early dissemination and progression of t(14;18)+ precursors and shapes the systemic presentation of FL patients.
doi:10.1172/JCI72415
PMCID: PMC4348942  PMID: 25384217
4.  Increased IR-A/IR-B ratio in non-small cell lung cancers associates with lower epithelial-mesenchymal transition signature and longer survival in squamous cell lung carcinoma 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:131.
Background
To evaluate the insulin receptor isoform mRNA expression status in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.
Methods
RNA-seq data from 614 NSCLC [355 adenocarcinomas (LUAD) and 259 squamous cell carcinomas (LUSC)] and 92 normal lung specimens were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) to evaluate the mRNA expression of insulin receptor isoform A (IR-A) and insulin receptor isoform B (IR-B). The differential expression status of the insulin receptor isoforms in NSCLC patients was confirmed using qRT-PCR assays with lung cancer cDNA arrays and primary tumor samples.
Results
The mRNA expression levels of IR-B were significantly lower in some NSCLC samples compared to normal lung specimens, including both LUAD and LUSC. Notably, no IR-B transcripts were detected - only the IR-A isoform was expressed in 11% of NSCLC patients. This decrease in IR-B expression contributed to an elevated IR-A/IR-B ratio, which was also associated with lower epithelial-mesenchymal transition gene signatures in NSCLC and longer patient survival under standard of care in LUSC. In addition to NSCLC, RNA-seq data from TCGA revealed a similar increase in IR-A/IR-B ratio in many other cancer types, with high prevalence in acute myeloid leukemia, glioblastoma multiforme, and brain lower grade glioma.
Conclusions
Our results indicate a common reduction of the mRNA expression level of IR-B and an increased IR-A/IR-B mRNA ratio in NSCLC and other tumor types. The relationship of altered IR-A/IR-B ratios with cancer progression and patient survival should be prospectively explored in future studies.
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-131
PMCID: PMC3974050  PMID: 24571613
5.  Circulating Tumor Cells: Application as a Biomarker for Molecular Characterization and Predictor of Survival in an All-Comer Solid Tumor Phase I Clinical Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e58557.
Purpose
Clinical development of cancer drugs has a low success rate. Prognostic and predictive biomarkers using minimally invasive approaches hold promise for increasing the probability of success by enabling disease characterization, patient selection and early detection of drug treatment effect. Enumeration and molecular characterization of circulating tumor cells (CTC) may address some of these needs, and thus were evaluated for utility in a Phase I solid tumor clinical study.
Experimental Design
Blood samples for CTC analysis were obtained from 24 cancer patients in a multi-center all-comer Phase I study of MEDI-575, a novel anti-PDGFRα antibody. Samples were taken at screening and analyzed for enumeration of CTC using the CellSearch® platform and for molecular characterization using a novel quantitative RT-PCR assay.
Results
Fifty-nine percent of the patients showed at least 1 CTC per 7.5 ml of blood at baseline. Progression-free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS) of patients with 0 CTCs at baseline were longer than PFS and Os for patients with 1-3 and >3 CTCs (8.8 versus 1.4 and 1.3 months PFS, P = 0.02; 9.0 vs 7.4 and 3.5 months OS, P = 0.20, respectively). Patients with 0 CTC showed a greater percentage of stable disease than the other 2 groups with 1-3 and >3 CTCs (57% vs 29% and 0%). The multimarker qRT-PCR method detected CTC in 40% of the patients, and 80% of these patients were positive for pre-selected drug target genes.
Conclusion
CTC enumeration of patients in an all-comer study is feasible and may allow for patient stratification for PFS and Os to evaluate the clinical response of investigational agents. Gene expression profiling of isolated CTC may provide a means for molecular characterization of selected tumor targets.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0058557
PMCID: PMC3749129  PMID: 23990866
6.  The CEA/CD3-Bispecific Antibody MEDI-565 (MT111) Binds a Nonlinear Epitope in the Full-Length but Not a Short Splice Variant of CEA 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36412.
MEDI-565 (also known as MT111) is a bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE®) antibody in development for the treatment of patients with cancers expressing carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA). MEDI-565 binds CEA on cancer cells and CD3 on T cells to induce T-cell mediated killing of cancer cells. To understand the molecular basis of human CEA recognition by MEDI-565 and how polymorphisms and spliced forms of CEA may affect MEDI-565 activity, we mapped the epitope of MEDI-565 on CEA using mutagenesis and homology modeling approaches. We found that MEDI-565 recognized a conformational epitope in the A2 domain comprised of amino acids 326–349 and 388–410, with critical residues F326, T328, N333, V388, G389, P390, E392, I408, and N410. Two non-synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs10407503, rs7249230) were identified in the epitope region, but they are found at low homozygosity rates. Searching the National Center for Biotechnology Information GenBank® database, we further identified a single, previously uncharacterized mRNA splice variant of CEA that lacks a portion of the N-terminal domain, the A1 and B1 domains, and a large portion of the A2 domain. Real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis of multiple cancers showed widespread expression of full-length CEA in these tumors, with less frequent but concordant expression of the CEA splice variant. Because the epitope was largely absent from the CEA splice variant, MEDI-565 did not bind or mediate T-cell killing of cells solely expressing this form of CEA. In addition, the splice variant did not interfere with MEDI-565 binding or activity when co-expressed with full-length CEA. Thus MEDI-565 may broadly target CEA-positive tumors without regard for expression of the short splice variant of CEA. Together our data suggest that MEDI-565 activity will neither be impacted by SNPs nor by a splice variant of CEA.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036412
PMCID: PMC3344869  PMID: 22574157
7.  Opposing Roles of Membrane and Soluble Forms of the Receptor for Advanced Glycation End Products in Primary Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(8):1311-1320.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common respiratory pathogen in infants and the older population, causes pulmonary inflammation and airway occlusion that leads to impairment of lung function. Here, we have established a role for receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) in RSV infection. RAGE-deficient (ager−/−) mice were protected from RSV-induced weight loss and inflammation. This protection correlated with an early increase in type I interferons, later decreases in proinflammatory cytokines, and a reduction in viral load. To assess the contribution of soluble RAGE (sRAGE) to RSV-induced disease, wild-type and ager−/− mice were given doses of sRAGE following RSV infection. Of interest, sRAGE treatment prevented RSV-induced weight loss and neutrophilic inflammation to a degree similar to that observed in ager−/− mice. Our work further elucidates the roles of RAGE in the pathogenesis of respiratory infections and highlights the opposing roles of membrane and sRAGE in modulating the host response to RSV infection.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir826
PMCID: PMC3308901  PMID: 22262795
8.  Altered Expression of Insulin Receptor Isoforms in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26177.
Purpose
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) signaling through human insulin receptor isoform A (IR-A) contributes to tumorigenesis and intrinsic resistance to anti-IGF1R therapy. In the present study, we (a) developed quantitative TaqMan real time-PCR-based assays (qRT-PCR) to measure human insulin receptor isoforms with high specificity, (b) evaluated isoform expression levels in molecularly-defined breast cancer subtypes, and (c) identified the IR-A:IR-B mRNA ratio as a potential biomarker guiding patient stratification for anti-IGF therapies.
Experimental Design
mRNA expression levels of IR-A and IR-B were measured in 42 primary breast cancers and 19 matched adjacent normal tissues with TaqMan qRT-PCR assays. The results were further confirmed in 165 breast cancers. The tumor samples were profiled using whole genome microarrays and subsequently subtyped using the PAM50 breast cancer gene signature. The relationship between the IR-A:IR-B ratio and cancer subtype, as well as markers of proliferation were characterized.
Results
The mRNA expression levels of IR-A in the breast tumors were similar to those observed in the adjacent normal tissues, while the mRNA levels of IR-B were significantly decreased in tumors. The IR-A:IR-B ratio was significantly higher in luminal B breast cancer than in luminal A. Strong concordance between the IR-A:IR-B ratio and the composite Oncotype DX proliferation score was observed for stratifying the latter two breast cancer subtypes.
Conclusions
The reduction in IR-B expression is the key to the altered IR-A:IR-B ratio observed in breast cancer. The IR-A:IR-B ratio may have biomarker utility in guiding a patient stratification strategy for an anti-IGF therapeutic.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026177
PMCID: PMC3202518  PMID: 22046260
9.  Development of Potential Pharmacodynamic and Diagnostic Markers for Anti-IFN-α Monoclonal Antibody Trials in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus 
To identify potential pharmacodynamic biomarkers to guide dose selection in clinical trials using anti-interferon-alpha (IFN-α) monoclonal antibody (mAb) therapy for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), we used an Affymetrix human genome array platform and identified 110 IFN-α/β-inducible transcripts significantly upregulated in whole blood (WB) of 41 SLE patients. The overexpression of these genes was confirmed prospectively in 54 additional SLE patients and allowed for the categorization of the SLE patients into groups of high, moderate, and weak overexpressers of IFN-α/β-inducible genes. This approach could potentially allow for an accurate assessment of drug target neutralization in early trials of anti-IFN-α mAb therapy for SLE. Furthermore, ex vivo stimulation of healthy donor peripheral blood mononuclear cells with SLE patient serum and subsequent neutralization with anti-IFN-α mAb or anti-IFN-α receptor mAb showed that anti-IFN-α mAb has comparable effects of neutralizing the overexpression of type I IFN-inducible genes as that of anti-IFNAR mAb. These results suggest that IFN-α, and not other members of type I IFN family in SLE patients, is mainly responsible for the induction of type I IFN-inducible genes in WB of SLE patients. Taken together, these data strengthen the view of IFN-α as a therapeutic target for SLE.
doi:10.4061/2009/374312
PMCID: PMC2950308  PMID: 20948567
10.  A phase 1b clinical trial evaluating sifalimumab, an anti-IFN-α monoclonal antibody, shows target neutralisation of a type I IFN signature in blood of dermatomyositis and polymyositis patients 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2013;73(1):256-262.
Objective
To assess the pharmacodynamic effects of sifalimumab, an investigational anti-IFN-α monoclonal antibody, in the blood and muscle of adult dermatomyositis and polymyositis patients by measuring neutralisation of a type I IFN gene signature (IFNGS) following drug exposure.
Methods
A phase 1b randomised, double-blinded, placebo controlled, dose-escalation, multicentre clinical trial was conducted to evaluate sifalimumab in dermatomyositis or polymyositis patients. Blood and muscle biopsies were procured before and after sifalimumab administration. Selected proteins were measured in patient serum with a multiplex assay, in the muscle using immunohistochemistry, and transcripts were profiled with microarray and quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR assays. A 13-gene IFNGS was used to measure the pharmacological effect of sifalimumab.
Results
The IFNGS was suppressed by a median of 53–66% across three time points (days 28, 56 and 98) in blood (p=0.019) and 47% at day 98 in muscle specimens post-sifalimumab administration. Both IFN-inducible transcripts and proteins were prevalently suppressed following sifalimumab administration. Patients with 15% or greater improvement from baseline manual muscle testing scores showed greater neutralisation of the IFNGS than patients with less than 15% improvement in both blood and muscle. Pathway/functional analysis of transcripts suppressed by sifalimumab showed that leucocyte infiltration, antigen presentation and immunoglobulin categories were most suppressed by sifalimumab and highly correlated with IFNGS neutralisation in muscle.
Conclusions
Sifalimumab suppressed the IFNGS in blood and muscle tissue in myositis patients, consistent with this molecule's mechanism of action with a positive correlative trend between target neutralisation and clinical improvement. These observations will require confirmation in a larger trial powered to evaluate efficacy.
doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2012-202794
PMCID: PMC3888620  PMID: 23434567
Dermatomyositis; Polymyositis; Cytokines

Results 1-10 (10)