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1.  Two Distinct Categories of Focal Deletions in Cancer Genomes 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66264.
One of the key questions about genomic alterations in cancer is whether they are functional in the sense of contributing to the selective advantage of tumor cells. The frequency with which an alteration occurs might reflect its ability to increase cancer cell growth, or alternatively, enhanced instability of a locus may increase the frequency with which it is found to be aberrant in tumors, regardless of oncogenic impact. Here we’ve addressed this on a genome-wide scale for cancer-associated focal deletions, which are known to pinpoint both tumor suppressor genes (tumor suppressors) and unstable loci. Based on DNA copy number analysis of over one-thousand human cancers representing ten different tumor types, we observed five loci with focal deletion frequencies above 5%, including the A2BP1 gene at 16p13.3 and the MACROD2 gene at 20p12.1. However, neither RNA expression nor functional studies support a tumor suppressor role for either gene. Further analyses suggest instead that these are sites of increased genomic instability and that they resemble common fragile sites (CFS). Genome-wide analysis revealed properties of CFS-like recurrent deletions that distinguish them from deletions affecting tumor suppressor genes, including their isolation at specific loci away from other genomic deletion sites, a considerably smaller deletion size, and dispersal throughout the affected locus rather than assembly at a common site of overlap. Additionally, CFS-like deletions have less impact on gene expression and are enriched in cell lines compared to primary tumors. We show that loci affected by CFS-like deletions are often distinct from known common fragile sites. Indeed, we find that each tumor tissue type has its own spectrum of CFS-like deletions, and that colon cancers have many more CFS-like deletions than other tumor types. We present simple rules that can pinpoint focal deletions that are not CFS-like and more likely to affect functional tumor suppressors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066264
PMCID: PMC3689739  PMID: 23805207
2.  The genetic landscape of mutations in Burkitt lymphoma 
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1321-1325.
Burkitt lymphoma is characterized by deregulation of MYC, but the contribution of other genetic mutations to the disease is largely unknown. Here, we describe the first completely sequenced genome from a Burkitt lymphoma tumor and germline DNA from the same affected individual. We further sequenced the exomes of 59 Burkitt lymphoma tumors and compared them to sequenced exomes from 94 diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) tumors. We identified 70 genes that were recurrently mutated in Burkitt lymphomas, including ID3, GNA13, RET, PIK3R1 and the SWI/SNF genes ARID1A and SMARCA4. Our data implicate a number of genes in cancer for the first time, including CCT6B, SALL3, FTCD and PC. ID3 mutations occurred in 34% of Burkitt lymphomas and not in DLBCLs. We show experimentally that ID3 mutations promote cell cycle progression and proliferation. Our work thus elucidates commonly occurring gene-coding mutations in Burkitt lymphoma and implicates ID3 as a new tumor suppressor gene.
doi:10.1038/ng.2468
PMCID: PMC3674561  PMID: 23143597

Results 1-3 (3)