The cause of lung cancer is generally attributed to tobacco smoking. However lung cancer in never smokers accounts for 10 to 25% of all lung cancer cases. Arsenic, asbestos and radon are three prominent non-tobacco carcinogens strongly associated with lung cancer. Exposure to these agents can lead to genetic and epigenetic alterations in tumor genomes, impacting genes and pathways involved in lung cancer development. Moreover, these agents not only exhibit unique mechanisms in causing genomic alterations, but also exert deleterious effects through common mechanisms, such as oxidative stress, commonly associated with carcinogenesis. This article provides a comprehensive review of arsenic, asbestos, and radon induced molecular mechanisms responsible for the generation of genetic and epigenetic alterations in lung cancer. A better understanding of the mode of action of these carcinogens will facilitate the prevention and management of lung cancer related to such environmental hazards.
Lung cancer biology has traditionally focused on genomic and epigenomic deregulation of protein-coding genes to identify oncogenes and tumor suppressors diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Another important layer of cancer biology has emerged in the form of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs), which are major regulators of key cellular processes such as proliferation, RNA splicing, gene regulation, and apoptosis. In the past decade, microRNAs (miRNAs) have moved to the forefront of ncRNA cancer research, while the role of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) is emerging. Here we review the mechanisms by which miRNAs and lncRNAs are deregulated in lung cancer, the technologies that can be applied to detect such alterations, and the clinical potential of these RNA species. An improved comprehension of lung cancer biology will come through the understanding of the interplay between deregulation of non-coding RNAs, the protein-coding genes they regulate, and how these interactions influence cellular networks and signalling pathways.
Arsenic is a potent human carcinogen. Around one hundred million people worldwide have potentially been exposed to this metalloid at concentrations considered unsafe. Exposure occurs generally through drinking water from natural geological sources, making it difficult to control this contamination. Arsenic biotransformation is suspected to have a role in arsenic-related health effects ranging from acute toxicities to development of malignancies associated with chronic exposure. It has been demonstrated that arsenic exhibits preference for induction of squamous cell carcinomas in the human, especially skin and lung cancer. Interestingly, keratins emerge as a relevant factor in this arsenic-related squamous cell-type preference. Additionally, both genomic and epigenomic alterations have been associated with arsenic-driven neoplastic process. Some of these aberrations, as well as changes in other factors such as keratins, could explain the association between arsenic and squamous cell carcinomas in humans.
Arsenic is a metalloid, that is, considered to be a human carcinogen. Millions of individuals worldwide are chronically exposed through drinking water, with consequences ranging from acute toxicities to development of malignancies, such as skin and lung cancer. Despite well-known arsenic-related health effects, the molecular mechanisms involved are not fully understood; however, the arsenic biotransformation process, which includes methylation changes, is thought to play a key role. This paper explores the relationship of arsenic exposure with cancer development and summarizes current knowledge of the potential mechanisms that may contribute to the neoplastic processes observed in arsenic exposed human populations.
Somatic mutations and copy number alterations (as a result of deletion or amplification of large portions of a chromosome) are major drivers of human lung cancers. Detailed analysis of lung cancer–associated chromosomal amplifications could identify novel oncogenes. By performing an integrative cytogenetic and gene expression analysis of non–small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines and tumors, we report here the identification of a frequently recurring amplification at chromosome 11 band p13. Within this region, only TNF receptor–associated factor 6 (TRAF6) exhibited concomitant mRNA overexpression and gene amplification in lung cancers. Inhibition of TRAF6 in human lung cancer cell lines suppressed NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. In these lung cancer cell lines, RAS required TRAF6 for its oncogenic capabilities. Furthermore, TRAF6 overexpression in NIH3T3 cells resulted in NF-κB activation, anchorage-independent growth, and tumor formation. Our findings show that TRAF6 is an oncogene that is important for RAS-mediated oncogenesis and provide a mechanistic explanation for the previously apparent importance of constitutive NF-κB activation in RAS-driven lung cancers.
Lung cancer cell lines have made a substantial contribution to lung cancer translational research and biomedical discovery. A systematic approach to initiating and characterizing cell lines from small cell and non–small cell lung carcinomas has led to the current collection of more than 200 lung cancer cell lines, a number that exceeds those for other common epithelial cancers combined. The ready availability and widespread dissemination of the lines to investigators worldwide have resulted in more than 9000 citations, including multiple examples of important biomedical discoveries. The high (but not perfect) genomic similarities between lung cancer cell lines and the lung tumor type from which they were derived provide evidence of the relevance of their use. However, major problems including misidentification or cell line contamination remain. Ongoing studies and new approaches are expected to reveal the full potential of the lung cancer cell line panel.
Chronic exposure to arsenic in drinking water poses a major global health concern. Populations exposed to high concentrations of arsenic-contaminated drinking water suffer serious health consequences, including alarming cancer incidence and death rates. Arsenic is biotransformed through sequential addition of methyl groups, acquired from s-adenosylmethionine (SAM). Metabolism of arsenic generates a variety of genotoxic and cytotoxic species, damaging DNA directly and indirectly, through the generation of reactive oxidative species and induction of DNA adducts, strand breaks and cross links, and inhibition of the DNA repair process itself. Since SAM is the methyl group donor used by DNA methyltransferases to maintain normal epigenetic patterns in all human cells, arsenic is also postulated to affect maintenance of normal DNA methylation patterns, chromatin structure, and genomic stability. The biological processes underlying the cancer promoting factors of arsenic metabolism, related to DNA damage and repair, will be discussed here.
X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) results in the differential marking of the active and inactive X with epigenetic modifications including DNA methylation. Consistent with the previous studies showing that CpG island-containing promoters of genes subject to XCI are approximately 50% methylated in females and unmethylated in males while genes which escape XCI are unmethylated in both sexes; our chromosome-wide (Methylated DNA ImmunoPrecipitation) and promoter-targeted methylation analyses (Illumina Infinium HumanMethylation27 array) showed the largest methylation difference (D = 0.12, p < 2.2 E−16) between male and female blood at X-linked CpG islands promoters. We used the methylation differences between males and females to predict XCI statuses in blood and found that 81% had the same XCI status as previously determined using expression data. Most genes (83%) showed the same XCI status across tissues (blood, fetal: muscle, kidney and nerual); however, the methylation of a subset of genes predicted different XCI statuses in different tissues. Using previously published expression data the effect of transcription on gene-body methylation was investigated and while X-linked introns of highly expressed genes were more methylated than the introns of lowly expressed genes, exonic methylation did not differ based on expression level. We conclude that the XCI status predicted using methylation of X-linked promoters with CpG islands was usually the same as determined by expression analysis and that 12% of X-linked genes examined show tissue-specific XCI whereby a gene has a different XCI status in at least one of the four tissues examined.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00439-011-1007-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are emerging as new players in the cancer paradigm demonstrating potential roles in both oncogenic and tumor suppressive pathways. These novel genes are frequently aberrantly expressed in a variety of human cancers, however the biological functions of the vast majority remain unknown. Recently, evidence has begun to accumulate describing the molecular mechanisms by which these RNA species function, providing insight into the functional roles they may play in tumorigenesis. In this review, we highlight the emerging functional role of lncRNAs in human cancer.
Chemotherapy resistance is a key contributor to the dismal prognoses for lung cancer patients. While the majority of studies have focused on sequence mutations and expression changes in protein-coding genes, recent reports have suggested that microRNA (miRNA) expression changes also play an influential role in chemotherapy response. However, the role of genetic alterations at miRNA loci in the context of chemotherapy response has yet to be investigated. In this study, we demonstrate the application of an integrative, multidimensional approach in order to identify miRNAs that are associated with chemotherapeutic resistance and sensitivity utilizing publicly available drug response, miRNA loci copy number, miRNA expression, and mRNA expression data from independent resources. By instigating a logical stepwise strategy, we have identified specific miRNAs that are associated with resistance to several chemotherapeutic agents and provide a proof of principle demonstration of how these various databases may be exploited to derive relevant pharmacogenomic results.
Disease development and progression are characterized by frequent genetic and epigenetic aberrations including chromosomal rearrangements, copy number gains and losses and DNA methylation. Advances in high-throughput, genome-wide profiling technologies, such as microarrays, have significantly improved our ability to identify and detect these specific alterations. However as technology continues to improve, a limiting factor remains sample quality and availability. Furthermore, follow-up clinical information and disease outcome are often collected years after the initial specimen collection. Specimens, typically formalin-fixed and paraffin embedded (FFPE), are stored in hospital archives for years to decades. DNA can be efficiently and effectively recovered from paraffin-embedded specimens if the appropriate method of extraction is applied. High quality DNA extracted from properly preserved and stored specimens can support quantitative assays for comparisons of normal and diseased tissues and generation of genetic and epigenetic signatures 1. To extract DNA from paraffin-embedded samples, tissue cores or microdissected tissue are subjected to xylene treatment, which dissolves the paraffin from the tissue, and then rehydrated using a series of ethanol washes. Proteins and harmful enzymes such as nucleases are subsequently digested by proteinase K. The addition of lysis buffer, which contains denaturing agents such as sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), facilitates digestion 2. Nucleic acids are purified from the tissue lysate using buffer-saturated phenol and high speed centrifugation which generates a biphasic solution. DNA and RNA remain in the upper aqueous phase, while proteins, lipids and polysaccharides are sequestered in the inter- and organic-phases respectively. Retention of the aqueous phase and repeated phenol extractions generates a clean sample. Following phenol extractions, RNase A is added to eliminate contaminating RNA. Additional phenol extractions following incubation with RNase A are used to remove any remaining enzyme. The addition of sodium acetate and isopropanol precipitates DNA, and high speed centrifugation is used to pellet the DNA and facilitate isopropanol removal. Excess salts carried over from precipitation can interfere with subsequent enzymatic assays, but can be removed from the DNA by washing with 70% ethanol, followed by centrifugation to re-pellet the DNA 3. DNA is re-suspended in distilled water or the buffer of choice, quantified and stored at -20°C. Purified DNA can subsequently be used in downstream applications which include, but are not limited to, PCR, array comparative genomic hybridization 4 (array CGH), methylated DNA Immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) and sequencing, allowing for an integrative analysis of tissue/tumor samples.
The identification of DNA methylation patterns is a common procedure in the study of epigenetics, as methylation is known to have significant effects on gene expression, and is involved with normal development as well as disease 1-4. Thus, the ability to discriminate between methylated DNA and non-methylated DNA is essential for generating methylation profiles for such studies. Methylated DNA immunoprecipitation (MeDIP) is an efficient technique for the extraction of methylated DNA from a sample of interest 5-7. A sample of as little as 200 ng of DNA is sufficient for the antibody, or immunoprecipitation (IP), reaction. DNA is sonicated into fragments ranging in size from 300-1000 bp, and is divided into immunoprecipitated (IP) and input (IN) portions. IP DNA is subsequently heat denatured and then incubated with anti-5'mC, allowing the monoclonal antibody to bind methylated DNA. After this, magnetic beads containing a secondary antibody with affinity for the primary antibody are added, and incubated. These bead-linked antibodies will bind the monoclonal antibody used in the first step. DNA bound to the antibody complex (methylated DNA) is separated from the rest of the DNA by using a magnet to pull the complexes out of solution. Several washes using IP buffer are then performed to remove the unbound, non-methylated DNA. The methylated DNA/antibody complexes are then digested with Proteinase K to digest the antibodies leaving only the methylated DNA intact. The enriched DNA is purified by phenol:chloroform extraction to remove the protein matter and then precipitated and resuspended in water for later use. PCR techniques can be used to validate the efficiency of the MeDIP procedure by analyzing the amplification products of IP and IN DNA for regions known to lack and known to contain methylated sequences. The purified methylated DNA can then be used for locus-specific (PCR) or genome-wide (microarray and sequencing) methylation studies, and is particularly useful when applied in conjunction with other research tools such as gene expression profiling and array comparative genome hybridization (CGH) 8. Further investigation into DNA methylation will lead to the discovery of new epigenetic targets, which in turn, may be useful in developing new therapeutic or prognostic research tools for diseases such as cancer that are characterized by aberrantly methylated DNA 2, 4, 9-11.
Squamous cell carcinomas (SqCCs) arise in a wide range of tissues including skin, lung, and oral mucosa. Although all SqCCs are epithelial in origin and share common nomenclature, these cancers differ greatly with respect to incidence, prognosis, and treatment. Current knowledge of genetic similarities and differences between SqCCs is insufficient to describe the biology of these cancers, which arise from diverse tissue origins. In this paper we provide a general overview of whole genome approaches for gene and pathway discovery and highlight the advancement of integrative genomics as a state-of-the-art technology in the study of SqCC genetics.
The availability of high resolution array comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) platforms has led to increasing complexities in data analysis. Specifically, defining contiguous regions of alterations or segmentation can be computationally intensive and popular algorithms can take hours to days for the processing of arrays comprised of hundreds of thousands to millions of elements. Additionally, tumors tend to demonstrate subtle copy number alterations due to heterogeneity, ploidy and hybridization effects. Thus, there is a need for fast, sensitive array CGH segmentation and alteration calling algorithms. Here, we describe Fast Algorithm for Calling After Detection of Edges (FACADE), a highly sensitive and easy to use algorithm designed to rapidly segment and call high resolution array data.
H37Rv and H37Ra are well-described laboratory strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis derived from the same parental strain, H37, that show dramatically different pathogenic phenotypes.
In this study, the transcriptomes of the two strains during axenic growth in broth and during intracellular growth within murine bone-marrow macrophages were compared by whole genome expression profiling. We identified and compared adaptations of either strain upon encountering an intracellular environment, and also contrasted the transcriptomes of the two strains while inside macrophages. In the former comparison, both strains induced genes that would facilitate intracellular survival including those involved in mycobactin synthesis and fatty acid metabolism. However, this response was stronger and more extensive for H37Rv than for H37Ra. This was manifested as the differential expression of a greater number of genes and an increased magnitude of expression for these genes in H37Rv. In comparing intracellular transcriptional signatures, fifty genes were found to be differentially expressed between the strains. Of these fifty, twelve were under control of the PhoPR regulon. Further differences between strains included genes whose products were members of the ESAT-6 family of proteins, or were associated with their secretion.
Along with the recent identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms in H37Ra when compared to H37Rv, our demonstration of differential expression of PhoP-regulated and ESX-1 region-related genes during macrophage infection further highlights the significance of these genes in the attenuation of H37Ra.
We investigated the frequency and function of mutations and increased copy number of the PIK3CA gene in lung cancers. PIK3CA mutations are one of the most common gene changes present in human cancers. We analyzed the mutational status of exons 9 and 20 and gene copy number of PIK3CA using 86 non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines, 43 small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cell lines, 3 extrapulmonary small cell cancer (ExPuSC) cell lines, and 691 resected NSCLC tumors and studied the relationship between PIK3CA alterations and mutational status of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway genes (EGFR, KRAS, HER2, and BRAF). We also determined PIK3CA expression and activity and correlated the findings with effects on cell growth. We identified mutations in 4.7% of NSCLC cell lines and 1.6% of tumors of all major histologic types. Mutations in cell lines of small cell origin were limited to two ExPuSC cell lines. PIK3CA copy number gains were more frequent in squamous cell carcinoma (33.1%) than in adenocarcinoma (6.2%) or SCLC lines (4.7%). Mutational status of PIK3CA was not mutually exclusive to EGFR or KRAS. PIK3CA alterations were associated with increased phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity and phosphorylated Akt expression. RNA interference–mediated knockdown of PIK3CA inhibited colony formation of cell lines with PIK3CA mutations or gains but was not effective in PIK3CA wild-type cells. PIK3CA mutations or gains are present in a subset of lung cancers and are of functional importance.
Genomics has substantially changed our approach to cancer research. Gene expression profiling, for example, has been utilized to delineate subtypes of cancer, and facilitated derivation of predictive and prognostic signatures. The emergence of technologies for the high resolution and genome-wide description of genetic and epigenetic features has enabled the identification of a multitude of causal DNA events in tumors. This has afforded the potential for large scale integration of genome and transcriptome data generated from a variety of technology platforms to acquire a better understanding of cancer.
Here we show how multi-dimensional genomics data analysis would enable the deciphering of mechanisms that disrupt regulatory/signaling cascades and downstream effects. Since not all gene expression changes observed in a tumor are causal to cancer development, we demonstrate an approach based on multiple concerted disruption (MCD) analysis of genes that facilitates the rational deduction of aberrant genes and pathways, which otherwise would be overlooked in single genomic dimension investigations.
Notably, this is the first comprehensive study of breast cancer cells by parallel integrative genome wide analyses of DNA copy number, LOH, and DNA methylation status to interpret changes in gene expression pattern. Our findings demonstrate the power of a multi-dimensional approach to elucidate events which would escape conventional single dimensional analysis and as such, reduce the cohort sample size for cancer gene discovery.
Disruptions of beta-catenin and the canonical Wnt pathway are well documented in cancer. However, little is known of the non-canonical branch of the Wnt pathway. In this study, we investigate the transcript level patterns of genes in the Wnt pathway in squamous cell lung cancer using reverse-transcriptase (RT)-PCR. It was found that over half of the samples examined exhibited dysregulated gene expression of multiple components of the non-canonical branch of the WNT pathway. In the cases where beta catenin (CTNNB1) was not over-expressed, we identified strong relationships of expression between wingless-type MMTV integration site family member 5A (WNT5A)/ frizzled homolog 2 (FZD2), frizzled homolog 3 (FZD3) / dishevelled 2 (DVL2), and low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 5 (LRP5)/ secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (SFRP4). This is one of the first studies to demonstrate expression of genes in the non-canonical pathway in normal lung tissue and its disruption in lung squamous cell carcinoma. These findings suggest that the non-canonical pathway may have a more prominent role in lung cancer than previously reported.
WNT pathway; lung cancer; gene expression; NSCLC; non-canonical; squamous cell carcinoma
The study of pathway disruption is key to understanding cancer biology. Advances in high throughput technologies have led to the rapid accumulation of genomic data. The explosion in available data has generated opportunities for investigation of concerted changes that disrupt biological functions, this in turns created a need for computational tools for pathway analysis. In this review, we discuss approaches to the analysis of genomic data and describe the publicly available resources for studying biological pathways.
The study of oral premalignant lesions (OPL) is crucial to the identification of initiating genetic events in oral cancer. However, these lesions are minute in size, making it a challenge to recover sufficient DNA from microdissected cells for comprehensive genomic analysis. As a step toward identifying genetic aberrations associated with oral cancer progression, we used tiling-path array comparative genomic hybridization to compare alterations on chromosome 3p for 71 OPLs against 23 oral squamous cell carcinomas. 3p was chosen because although it is frequently altered in oral cancers and has been associated with progression risk, its alteration status has only been evaluated at a small number of loci in OPLs. We identified six recurrent losses in this region that were shared between high-grade dysplasias and oral squamous cell carcinomas, including a 2.89-Mbp deletion spanning the FHIT gene (previously implicated in oral cancer progression). When the alteration status for these six regions was examined in 24 low-grade dysplasias with known progression outcome, we observed that they occurred at a significantly higher frequency in low-grade dysplasias that later progressed to later-stage disease (P < 0.003). Moreover, parallel analysis of all profiled tissues showed that the extent of overall genomic alteration at 3p increased with histologic stage. This first high-resolution analysis of chromosome arm 3p in OPLs represents a significant step toward predicting progression risk in early preinvasive disease and provides a keen example of how genomic instability escalates with progression to invasive cancer.
Genetic alteration in oral premalignant lesions (OPLs), the precursors of oral squamous cell carcinomas (OSCCs), may represent key changes in disease initiation and development. We ask if DNA amplification occurs at this early stage of cancer development and which oncogenic pathways are disrupted in OPLs. Here we evaluated 50 high-grade dysplasias and low-grade dysplasias that later progressed to cancer for gene dosage aberrations using tiling-path DNA microarrays. Early occurrences of DNA amplification and homozygous deletion were frequently detected, with 40% (20/50) of these early lesions exhibiting such features. Expression for 88 genes in seven recurrent amplicons were evaluated in five independent head and neck cancer datasets, with 40 candidates found to be overexpressed relative to normal tissues. These genes were significantly enriched in the canonical ERK/MAPK, FGF, p53, PTEN, and PI3K/AKT signaling pathways (P = 8.95x10-3--3.18×10-2). These identified pathways share interactions in one signaling network, and amplification-mediated deregulation of this network was found in 30.0% of these preinvasive lesions. No such alterations were found in 14 low-grade dysplasias that did not progress, while 43.5% (10/23) of OSCCs were found to have altered genes within the pathways with DNA amplification. Multi-target FISH showed that amplification of EGFR and CCND1 can co-exist in single cells of an oral dysplasia, suggesting the dependence on multiple oncogenes for OPL progression. Taken together, these findings identify a critical biological network that is frequently disrupted in high-risk OPLs, with different specific genes disrupted in different individuals.
oral premalignant lesion; gene amplification; homozygous deletion; DNA microarray; signaling pathway
We analyzed MET protein and copy number in NSCLC with or without EGFR mutations untreated with EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). MET copy number was examined in 28 NSCLC and 4 human bronchial epithelial cell lines (HBEC) and 100 primary tumors using quantitative real-time PCR. Positive results were confirmed by array comparative genomic hybridization and fluorescence in-situ hybridization. Total and phospho-MET protein expression was determined in 24 NSCLC and 2 HBEC cell lines using Western blot. EGFR mutations were examined for exon 19 deletions, T790M, and L858R. Knockdown of EGFR with siRNA was performed to examine the relation between EGFR and MET activation. High-level MET amplification was observed in 3 of 28 NSCLC cell lines and in 2 of 100 primary lung tumors that had not been treated with EGFR-TKIs. MET protein was highly expressed and phosphorylated in all the 3 cell lines with high MET amplification. In contrast, 6 NSCLC cell lines showed phospho-MET among 21 NSCLC cell lines without MET amplification (p = 0.042). Furthermore, those 6 cell lines harboring phospho-MET expression without MET amplification were all EGFR mutant (p = 0.0039). siRNA-mediated knockdown of EGFR abolished phospho-MET expression in examined 3 EGFR mutant cell lines of which MET gene copy number was not amplified. By contrast, phospho-MET expression in 2 cell lines with amplified MET gene was not down-regulated by knockdown of EGFR. Our results indicated that MET amplification was present in untreated NSCLC and EGFR mutation or MET amplification activated MET protein in NSCLC.
MET; amplification; EGFR; gefitinib; lung cancer
Oral cancer develops through a series of histopathological stages: through mild (low grade), moderate, and severe (high grade) dysplasia to carcinoma in situ and then invasive disease. Early detection of those oral premalignant lesions (OPLs) that will develop into invasive tumors is necessary to improve the poor prognosis of oral cancer. Because no tools exist for delineating progression risk in low grade oral lesions, we cannot determine which of these cases require aggressive intervention. We undertook whole genome analysis by tiling-path array comparative genomic hybridization for a rare panel of early and late stage OPLs (n = 62), all of which had extensive longitudinal follow up (>10 years). Genome profiles for oral squamous cell carcinomas (n = 24) were generated for comparison. Parallel analysis of genome alterations and clinical parameters was performed to identify features associated with disease progression. Genome alterations in low grade dysplasias progressing to invasive disease more closely resembled those observed for later stage disease than they did those observed for non-progressing low grade dysplasias. This was despite the histopathological similarity between progressing and non-progressing cases. Strikingly, unbiased computational analysis of genomic alteration data correctly classified nearly all progressing low grade dysplasia cases. Our data demonstrate that high resolution genomic analysis can be used to evaluate progression risk in low grade OPLs, a marked improvement over present histopathological approaches which cannot delineate progression risk. Taken together, our data suggest that whole genome technologies could be used in management strategies for patients presenting with precancerous oral lesions.
Deregulation of EGFR signaling is common in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLC) and this finding led to the development of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) that are highly effective in a subset of NSCLC. Mutations of EGFR (mEGFR) and copy number gains (CNGs) of EGFR (gEGFR) and HER2 (gHER2) have been reported to predict for TKI response. Mutations in KRAS (mKRAS) are associated with primary resistance to TKIs.
We investigated the relationship between mutations, CNGs and response to TKIs in a large panel of NSCLC cell lines. Genes studied were EGFR, HER2, HER3 HER4, KRAS, BRAF and PIK3CA. Mutations were detected by sequencing, while CNGs were determined by quantitative PCR (qPCR), fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH). IC50 values for the TKIs gefitinib (Iressa) and erlotinib (Tarceva) were determined by MTS assay. For any of the seven genes tested, mutations (39/77, 50.6%), copy number gains (50/77, 64.9%) or either (65/77, 84.4%) were frequent in NSCLC lines. Mutations of EGFR (13%) and KRAS (24.7%) were frequent, while they were less frequent for the other genes. The three techniques for determining CNG were well correlated, and qPCR data were used for further analyses. CNGs were relatively frequent for EGFR and KRAS in adenocarcinomas. While mutations were largely mutually exclusive, CNGs were not. EGFR and KRAS mutant lines frequently demonstrated mutant allele specific imbalance i.e. the mutant form was usually in great excess compared to the wild type form. On a molar basis, sensitivity to gefitinib and erlotinib were highly correlated. Multivariate analyses led to the following results:
1. mEGFR and gEGFR and gHER2 were independent factors related to gefitinib sensitivity, in descending order of importance.
2. mKRAS was associated with increased in vitro resistance to gefitinib.
Our in vitro studies confirm and extend clinical observations and demonstrate the relative importance of both EGFR mutations and CNGs and HER2 CNGs in the sensitivity to TKIs.
High throughput microarray technologies have afforded the investigation of genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes at unprecedented resolution. However, software packages to handle, analyze, and visualize data from these multiple 'omics disciplines have not been adequately developed.
Here, we present SIGMA2, a system for the integrative genomic multi-dimensional analysis of cancer genomes, epigenomes, and transcriptomes. Multi-dimensional datasets can be simultaneously visualized and analyzed with respect to each dimension, allowing combinatorial integration of the different assays belonging to the different 'omics.
The identification of genes altered at multiple levels such as copy number, loss of heterozygosity (LOH), DNA methylation and the detection of consequential changes in gene expression can be concertedly performed, establishing SIGMA2 as a novel tool to facilitate the high throughput systems biology analysis of cancer.