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1.  CXCR4/CXCL12 axis counteracts hematopoietic stem cell exhaustion through selective protection against oxidative stress 
Scientific Reports  2016;6:37827.
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) undergo self-renewal to maintain hematopoietic homeostasis for lifetime, which is regulated by the bone marrow (BM) microenvironment. The chemokine receptor CXCR4 and its ligand CXCL12 are critical factors supporting quiescence and BM retention of HSCs. Here, we report an unknown function of CXCR4/CXCL12 axis in the protection of HSCs against oxidative stress. Disruption of CXCR4 receptor in mice leads to increased endogenous production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), resulting in p38 MAPK activation, increased DNA double-strand breaks and apoptosis leading to marked reduction in HSC repopulating potential. Increased ROS levels are directly responsible for exhaustion of the HSC pool and are not linked to loss of quiescence of CXCR4-deficient HSCs. Furthermore, we report that CXCL12 has a direct rescue effect on oxidative stress-induced HSC damage at the mitochondrial level. These data highlight the importance of CXCR4/CXCL12 axis in the regulation of lifespan of HSCs by limiting ROS generation and genotoxic stress.
doi:10.1038/srep37827
PMCID: PMC5122894  PMID: 27886253
2.  miR-181a modulates acute myeloid leukemia susceptibility to natural killer cells 
Oncoimmunology  2015;4(12):e996475.
Although daunorubicin (DNR) is the most widely used anthracycline to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML), resistance to this drug remains a critical problem. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between AML resistance to daunorubicin and susceptibility to natural killer (NK) cell-mediated cell lysis, and the putative expression of miRs. For this purpose, we used the parental AML cell lines U-937 and KG-1 and their equivalent resistant U937(R) and KG-1(R) cell lines. We demonstrate for the first time that the acquisition of resistance to DNR by the parental cell lines resulted in the acquisition of cross-resistance to NK cell-mediated cytotoxicity. miR microarray analysis revealed that this cross-resistance was associated with miR-181a downregulation and the subsequent regulation of MAP3K10 and MAP2K1 tyrosine kinases and the BCL-2 (BCL-2 and MCL-1) family. Overexpression of miR-181a in AML blasts resulted in the attenuation of their resistance to DNR and to NK-cell-mediated killing. These data point to a determinant role of miR-181a in the sensitization of leukemic resistant cells to DNR and NK cells and suggest that miR-181a may provide a promising option for the treatment of immuno- and chemo-resistant blasts.
doi:10.1080/2162402X.2014.996475
PMCID: PMC4635878  PMID: 26587335
AML; miR-181a; NK lysis
3.  DNMT3AR882H mutant and Tet2 inactivation cooperate in the deregulation of DNA methylation control to induce lymphoid malignancies in mice 
Leukemia  2016;30(6):1388-1398.
TEN-ELEVEN-TRANSLOCATION-2 (TET2) and DNA-METHYLTRANSFERASE-3A (DNMT3A), both encoding proteins involved in regulating DNA methylation, are mutated in hematological malignancies affecting both myeloid and lymphoid lineages. We previously reported an association of TET2 and DNMT3A mutations in progenitors of patients with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphomas (AITL). Here, we report on the cooperative effect of Tet2-inactivation and DNMT3A mutation affecting arginine 882 (DNMT3AR882H) using a murine bone marrow transplantation assay. Five out of 18 primary recipients developed hematological malignancies with one mouse developing an AITL-like disease, 2 mice presenting acute myeloid leukemia (AML)-like and 2 others T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL)-like diseases within 6 months following transplantation. Serial transplantations of DNMT3AR882H Tet2−/− progenitors led to a differentiation bias toward the T-cell compartment, eventually leading to AITL-like disease in 9/12 serially transplanted recipients. Expression profiling suggested that DNMT3AR882H Tet2−/− T-ALLs resemble those of NOTCH1 mutant. Methylation analysis of DNMT3AR882H Tet2−/− T-ALLs showed a global increase in DNA methylation affecting tumor suppressor genes and local hypomethylation affecting genes involved in the Notch pathway. Our data confirm the transformation potential of DNMT3AR882H Tet2−/− progenitors and represent the first cooperative model in mice involving Tet2-inactivation driving lymphoid malignancies.
doi:10.1038/leu.2016.29
PMCID: PMC4869893  PMID: 26876596
4.  A Common variant in RAB27A gene is associated with fractional exhaled nitric oxide levels in adults 
Background
Exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) is a biomarker for eosinophilic inflammation in the airways and for responsiveness to corticosteroids in asthmatics.
Objective
We sought to identify in adults the genetic determinants of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO) levels and to assess whether environmental and disease-related factors influence these associations.
Methods
We performed a genome-wide association study of FeNO through meta-analysis of two independent discovery samples of European ancestry: the outbred EGEA study (French Epidemiological study on the Genetics and Environment of Asthma, N=610 adults) and the Hutterites (N=601 adults), a founder population living on communal farms. Replication of main findings was assessed in adults from an isolated village in Sardinia (Talana study, N=450). We then investigated the influence of asthma, atopy and tobacco smoke exposure on these genetic associations and whether they were also associated with FeNO values in children of the EAGLE (EArly Genetics & Lifecourse Epidemiology, N=8,858) consortium.
Results
We detected a common variant in RAB27A (rs2444043) associated with FeNO that reached the genome-wide significant level (P=1.6×10−7) in the combined discovery and replication adult datasets. This SNP belongs to member of RAS oncogene family (RAB27A) and was associated with an expression quantitative trait locus for RAB27A in lymphoblastoid cell lines from asthmatics. A second suggestive locus (rs2194437, P=8.9×10−7) located nearby the sodium/calcium exchanger 1 (SLC8A1) was mainly detected in atopic subjects and influenced by inhaled corticosteroid use. These two loci were not associated with childhood FeNO values.
Conclusions and Clinical Relevance
This study identified a common variant located in RAB27A gene influencing FeNO levels specifically in adults and with a biological relevance to the regulation of FeNO levels. This study provides new insight into the biological mechanisms underlying FeNO levels in adults.
doi:10.1111/cea.12461
PMCID: PMC4405185  PMID: 25431337
Exhaled nitric oxide; genetics; airway inflammation; genome-wide association study; asthma; atopy
5.  Identifying and Assessing Interesting Subgroups in a Heterogeneous Population 
BioMed Research International  2015;2015:462549.
Biological heterogeneity is common in many diseases and it is often the reason for therapeutic failures. Thus, there is great interest in classifying a disease into subtypes that have clinical significance in terms of prognosis or therapy response. One of the most popular methods to uncover unrecognized subtypes is cluster analysis. However, classical clustering methods such as k-means clustering or hierarchical clustering are not guaranteed to produce clinically interesting subtypes. This could be because the main statistical variability—the basis of cluster generation—is dominated by genes not associated with the clinical phenotype of interest. Furthermore, a strong prognostic factor might be relevant for a certain subgroup but not for the whole population; thus an analysis of the whole sample may not reveal this prognostic factor. To address these problems we investigate methods to identify and assess clinically interesting subgroups in a heterogeneous population. The identification step uses a clustering algorithm and to assess significance we use a false discovery rate- (FDR-) based measure. Under the heterogeneity condition the standard FDR estimate is shown to overestimate the true FDR value, but this is remedied by an improved FDR estimation procedure. As illustrations, two real data examples from gene expression studies of lung cancer are provided.
doi:10.1155/2015/462549
PMCID: PMC4539210  PMID: 26339613
6.  PD-L1 is a novel direct target of HIF-1α, and its blockade under hypoxia enhanced MDSC-mediated T cell activation 
Hypoxia selectively up-regulates PD-L1 on myeloid-derived suppressor cells via HIF-1a, thus affecting T cell activation.
Tumor-infiltrating myeloid cells such as myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) form an important component of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment. Here, we investigated the influence of hypoxia on immune checkpoint receptors (programmed death [PD]-1 and CTLA-4) and their respective ligands (PD-1 ligand 1 [PD-L1], PD-L2, CD80, and CD86) on MDSCs. We demonstrate that MDSCs at the tumor site show a differential expression of PD-L1 as compared with MDSCs from peripheral lymphoid organ (spleen). Hypoxia caused a rapid, dramatic, and selective up-regulation of PD-L1 on splenic MDSCs in tumor-bearing mice. This was not limited to MDSCs, as hypoxia also significantly increased the expression of PD-L1 on macrophages, dendritic cells, and tumor cells. Furthermore, PD-L1 up-regulation under hypoxia was dependent on hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) but not HIF-2α. Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter assay revealed direct binding of HIF-1α to a transcriptionally active hypoxia-response element (HRE) in the PD-L1 proximal promoter. Blockade of PD-L1 under hypoxia enhanced MDSC-mediated T cell activation and was accompanied by the down-regulation of MDSCs IL-6 and IL-10. Finally, neutralizing antibodies against IL-10 under hypoxia significantly abrogated the suppressive activity of MDSCs. Simultaneous blockade of PD-L1 along with inhibition of HIF-1α may thus represent a novel approach for cancer immunotherapy.
doi:10.1084/jem.20131916
PMCID: PMC4010891  PMID: 24778419
7.  Targeting CDC25C, PLK1 and CHEK1 to overcome Docetaxel resistance induced by loss of LZTS1 in prostate cancer 
Oncotarget  2014;5(3):667-678.
Docetaxel is used as a standard treatment in patients with metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer. However, a large subset of patients develops resistance. Understanding resistance mechanisms, which are largely unknown, will allow identification of predictive biomarkers and therapeutic targets. We established resistant IGR-CaP1 prostate cancer cell lines for different doses of Docetaxel. We investigated gene expression profiles by microarray analyses in these cell lines and generated a signature of 99 highly differentially expressed genes potentially implicated in chemoresistance. We focused on the role of the cell cycle regulator LZTS1, which was under-expressed in the Docetaxel-resistant cell lines, its inhibition resulting from the promoter methylation. Knockdown of LZTS1 in parental cells with siRNA showed that LZTS1 plays a role in the acquisition of the resistant phenotype. Furthermore, we observed that targeting CDC25C, a partner of LZTS1, with the NSC663284 inhibitor specifically killed the Docetaxel-resistant cells. To further investigate the role of CDC25C, we used inhibitors of the mitotic kinases that regulate CDC25C. Inhibition of CHEK1 and PLK1 induced growth arrest and cell death in the resistant cells. Our findings identify an important role of LZTS1 through its regulation of CDC25C in Docetaxel resistance in prostate cancer and suggest that CDC25C, or the mitotic kinases CHEK1 and PLK1, could be efficient therapeutic targets to overcome Docetaxel resistance
PMCID: PMC3996665  PMID: 24525428
Prostate cancer; chemoresistance; LZTS1; Cdc25c; PLK1; CHEK1
8.  Integrated molecular portrait of non-small cell lung cancers 
BMC Medical Genomics  2013;6:53.
Background
Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), a leading cause of cancer deaths, represents a heterogeneous group of neoplasms, mostly comprising squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), adenocarcinoma (AC) and large-cell carcinoma (LCC). The objectives of this study were to utilize integrated genomic data including copy-number alteration, mRNA, microRNA expression and candidate-gene full sequencing data to characterize the molecular distinctions between AC and SCC.
Methods
Comparative genomic hybridization followed by mutational analysis, gene expression and miRNA microarray profiling were performed on 123 paired tumor and non-tumor tissue samples from patients with NSCLC.
Results
At DNA, mRNA and miRNA levels we could identify molecular markers that discriminated significantly between the various histopathological entities of NSCLC. We identified 34 genomic clusters using aCGH data; several genes exhibited a different profile of aberrations between AC and SCC, including PIK3CA, SOX2, THPO, TP63, PDGFB genes. Gene expression profiling analysis identified SPP1, CTHRC1and GREM1 as potential biomarkers for early diagnosis of the cancer, and SPINK1 and BMP7 to distinguish between AC and SCC in small biopsies or in blood samples. Using integrated genomics approach we found in recurrently altered regions a list of three potential driver genes, MRPS22, NDRG1 and RNF7, which were consistently over-expressed in amplified regions, had wide-spread correlation with an average of ~800 genes throughout the genome and highly associated with histological types. Using a network enrichment analysis, the targets of these potential drivers were seen to be involved in DNA replication, cell cycle, mismatch repair, p53 signalling pathway and other lung cancer related signalling pathways, and many immunological pathways. Furthermore, we also identified one potential driver miRNA hsa-miR-944.
Conclusions
Integrated molecular characterization of AC and SCC helped identify clinically relevant markers and potential drivers, which are recurrent and stable changes at DNA level that have functional implications at RNA level and have strong association with histological subtypes.
doi:10.1186/1755-8794-6-53
PMCID: PMC4222074  PMID: 24299561
NSCLC; AC; SCC; LCC; Systems biology
9.  Transcriptome Analysis of PPARγ Target Genes Reveals the Involvement of Lysyl Oxidase in Human Placental Cytotrophoblast Invasion 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79413.
Human placental development is characterized by invasion of extravillous cytotrophoblasts (EVCTs) into the uterine wall during the first trimester of pregnancy. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ (PPARγ) plays a major role in placental development, and activation of PPARγ by its agonists results in inhibition of EVCT invasion in vitro. To identify PPARγ target genes, microarray analysis was performed using GeneChip technology on EVCT primary cultures obtained from first-trimester human placentas. Gene expression was compared in EVCTs treated with the PPARγ agonist rosiglitazone versus control. A total of 139 differentially regulated genes were identified, and changes in the expression of the following 8 genes were confirmed by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction: a disintegrin and metalloproteinase domain12 (ADAM12), connexin 43 (CX43), deleted in liver cancer 1 (DLC1), dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX-1), lysyl oxidase (LOX), plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1) and PPARγ. Among the upregulated genes, lysyl oxidase (LOX) was further analyzed. In the LOX family, only LOX, LOXL1 and LOXL2 mRNA expression was significantly upregulated in rosiglitazone-treated EVCTs. RNA and protein expression of the subfamily members LOX, LOXL1 and LOXL2 were analyzed by absolute RT-qPCR and western blotting, and localized by immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence-confocal microscopy. LOX protein was immunodetected in the EVCT cytoplasm, while LOXL1 was found in the nucleus and nucleolus. No signal was detected for LOXL2 protein. Specific inhibition of LOX activity by β-aminopropionitrile in cell invasion assays led to an increase in EVCT invasiveness. These results suggest that LOX, LOXL1 and LOXL2 are downstream PPARγ targets and that LOX activity is a negative regulator of trophoblastic cell invasion.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0079413
PMCID: PMC3827157  PMID: 24265769
10.  Impact of the Ku Complex on HIV-1 Expression and Latency 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69691.
Ku, a cellular complex required for human cell survival and involved in double strand break DNA repair and multiple other cellular processes, may modulate retroviral multiplication, although the precise mechanism through which it acts is still controversial. Recently, Ku was identified as a possible anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) target in human cells, in two global approaches. Here we investigated the role of Ku on the HIV-1 replication cycle by analyzing the expression level of a panel of non-replicative lentiviral vectors expressing the green fluorescent protein in human colorectal carcinoma HCT 116 cells, stably or transiently depleted of Ku. We found that in this cellular model the depletion of Ku did not affect the efficiency of (pre-)integrative steps but decreased the early HIV-1 expression by acting at the transcriptional level. This negative effect was specific of the HIV-1 promoter, required the obligatory step of viral DNA integration and was reversed by transient depletion of p53. We also provided evidence on a direct binding of Ku to HIV-1 LTR in transduced cells. Ku not only promotes the early transcription from the HIV-1 promoter, but also limits the constitution of viral latency. Moreover, in the presence of a normal level of Ku, HIV-1 expression was gradually lost over time, likely due to the counter-selection of HIV-1-expressing cells. On the contrary, the reactivation of transgene expression from HIV-1 by means of trichostatin A- or tumor necrosis factor α-administration was enhanced under condition of Ku haplodepletion, suggesting a phenomenon of provirus latency. These observations plead in favor of the hypothesis that Ku has an impact on HIV-1 expression and latency at early- and mid-time after integration.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0069691
PMCID: PMC3726783  PMID: 23922776
11.  A prognostic signature of defective p53-dependent G1 checkpoint function in melanoma cell lines 
Pigment cell & melanoma research  2012;25(4):514-526.
Summary
Melanoma cell lines and normal human melanocytes were assayed for p53-dependent G1 checkpoint response to ionizing radiation-induced DNA damage. Sixty six percent of melanoma cell lines displayed a defective G1 checkpoint. Checkpoint function was correlated with sensitivity to ionizing radiation with checkpoint-defective lines being radio-resistant. Microarray analysis identified 316 probes whose expression was correlated with G1 checkpoint function in melanoma lines (P≤0.007) including p53 transactivation targets CDKN1A, DDB2 and RRM2B. The 316 probe list predicted G1 checkpoint function of the melanoma lines with 86% accuracy using a binary analysis and 91% accuracy using a continuous analysis. When applied to microarray data from primary melanomas, the 316 probe list was prognostic of four year distant metastases-free survival. Thus, p53 function, radio-sensitivity and metastatic spread may be estimated in melanomas from a signature of gene expression.
doi:10.1111/j.1755-148X.2012.01010.x
PMCID: PMC3397470  PMID: 22540896
gene; expression; signature; p53; function; checkpoint; melanoma
12.  Characterization of novel genomic alterations and therapeutic approaches using acute megakaryoblastic leukemia xenograft models 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2012;209(11):2017-2031.
A CBFA2T3-GLIS2 fusion gene was identified in 31% of non–Down syndrome AMKL.
Acute megakaryoblastic leukemia (AMKL) is a heterogeneous disease generally associated with poor prognosis. Gene expression profiles indicate the existence of distinct molecular subgroups, and several genetic alterations have been characterized in the past years, including the t(1;22)(p13;q13) and the trisomy 21 associated with GATA1 mutations. However, the majority of patients do not present with known mutations, and the limited access to primary patient leukemic cells impedes the efficient development of novel therapeutic strategies. In this study, using a xenotransplantation approach, we have modeled human pediatric AMKL in immunodeficient mice. Analysis of high-throughput RNA sequencing identified recurrent fusion genes defining new molecular subgroups. One subgroup of patients presented with MLL or NUP98 fusion genes leading to up-regulation of the HOX A cluster genes. A novel CBFA2T3-GLIS2 fusion gene resulting from a cryptic inversion of chromosome 16 was identified in another subgroup of 31% of non–Down syndrome AMKL and strongly associated with a gene expression signature of Hedgehog pathway activation. These molecular data provide useful markers for the diagnosis and follow up of patients. Finally, we show that AMKL xenograft models constitute a relevant in vivo preclinical screening platform to validate the efficacy of novel therapies such as Aurora A kinase inhibitors.
doi:10.1084/jem.20121343
PMCID: PMC3478932  PMID: 23045605
13.  Simultaneous miRNA and mRNA transcriptome profiling of human myoblasts reveals a novel set of myogenic differentiation-associated miRNAs and their target genes 
BMC Genomics  2013;14:265.
Background
miRNA profiling performed in myogenic cells and biopsies from skeletal muscles has previously identified miRNAs involved in myogenesis.
Results
Here, we have performed miRNA transcriptome profiling in human affinity-purified CD56+ myoblasts induced to differentiate in vitro. In total, we have identified 60 miRNAs differentially expressed during myogenic differentiation. Many were not known for being differentially expressed during myogenic differentiation. Of these, 14 (miR-23b, miR-28, miR-98, miR-103, miR-107, miR-193a, miR-210, miR-324-5p, miR-324-3p, miR-331, miR-374, miR-432, miR-502, and miR-660) were upregulated and 6 (miR-31, miR-451, miR-452, miR-565, miR-594 and miR-659) were downregulated. mRNA transcriptome profiling performed in parallel resulted in identification of 6,616 genes differentially expressed during myogenic differentiation.
Conclusions
This simultaneous miRNA/mRNA transcriptome profiling allowed us to predict with high accuracy target genes of myogenesis-related microRNAs and to deduce their functions.
doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-265
PMCID: PMC3639941  PMID: 23597168
microRNA; Skeletal muscle; Myogenesis; Myoblast
14.  Atlas of Genetics and Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology in 2013 
Nucleic Acids Research  2012;41(Database issue):D920-D924.
The Atlas of Genetics and Cytogenetics in Oncology and Haematology (http://AtlasGeneticsOncology.org) is a peer-reviewed internet journal/encyclopaedia/database focused on genes implicated in cancer, cytogenetics and clinical entities in cancer and cancer-prone hereditary diseases. The main goal of the Atlas is to provide review articles that describe complementary topics, namely, genes, genetic abnormalities, histopathology, clinical diagnoses and a large iconography. This description, which was historically based on karyotypic abnormalities and in situ hybridization (fluorescence in situ hybridization) techniques, now benefits from comparative genomic hybridization and massive sequencing, uncovering a tremendous amount of genetic rearrangements. As the Atlas combines different types of information (genes, genetic abnormalities, histopathology, clinical diagnoses and external links), its content is currently unique. The Atlas is a cognitive tool for fundamental and clinical research and has developed into an encyclopaedic work. In clinical practice, it contributes to the cytogenetic diagnosis and may guide treatment decision making, particularly regarding rare diseases (because they are numerous and are frequently encountered). Readers as well as the authors of the Atlas are researchers and/or clinicians.
doi:10.1093/nar/gks1082
PMCID: PMC3531131  PMID: 23161685
15.  Independent transcriptional reprogramming and apoptosis induction by cisplatin 
Cell Cycle  2012;11(18):3472-3480.
Neither the molecular mechanisms whereby cancer cells intrinsically are or become resistant to the DNA-damaging agent cisplatin nor the signaling pathways that account for cisplatin cytotoxicity have thus far been characterized in detail. In an attempt to gain further insights into the molecular cascades elicited by cisplatin (leading to resistance or underpinning its antineoplastic properties), we comparatively investigated the ability of cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride, alone or in the presence of an array of mitochondrion-protective agents, to trigger the permeabilization of purified mitochondria. In addition, we compared the transcriptional response triggered by cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride in non-small cell lung carcinoma A549 cells. Finally, we assessed the capacity of cisplatin, C2-ceramide and cadmium dichloride to reduce the clonogenic potential of a battery of yeast strains lacking proteins involved in the regulation of cell death, DNA damage signaling and stress management. This multipronged experimental approach revealed that cisplatin elicits signaling pathways that are for the most part “private,” i.e., that manifest limited overlap with the molecular cascades ignited by other inducers of mitochondrial apoptosis, and triggers apoptosis mainly in a transcription-independent fashion. Indeed, bona fide cisplatin-response modifiers that we have recently identified by a functional genome-wide siRNA screen are either not transcriptionally regulated during cisplatin-induced cell death or their transcriptional modulation reflects the activation of an adaptive response promoting cisplatin resistance
doi:10.4161/cc.21789
PMCID: PMC3466557  PMID: 22918244
N-acetyl-cysteine; autophagy; bongkrekic acid; cyclosporine A; glutathione; large-amplitude swelling
16.  Network enrichment analysis: extension of gene-set enrichment analysis to gene networks 
BMC Bioinformatics  2012;13:226.
Background
Gene-set enrichment analyses (GEA or GSEA) are commonly used for biological characterization of an experimental gene-set. This is done by finding known functional categories, such as pathways or Gene Ontology terms, that are over-represented in the experimental set; the assessment is based on an overlap statistic. Rich biological information in terms of gene interaction network is now widely available, but this topological information is not used by GEA, so there is a need for methods that exploit this type of information in high-throughput data analysis.
Results
We developed a method of network enrichment analysis (NEA) that extends the overlap statistic in GEA to network links between genes in the experimental set and those in the functional categories. For the crucial step in statistical inference, we developed a fast network randomization algorithm in order to obtain the distribution of any network statistic under the null hypothesis of no association between an experimental gene-set and a functional category. We illustrate the NEA method using gene and protein expression data from a lung cancer study.
Conclusions
The results indicate that the NEA method is more powerful than the traditional GEA, primarily because the relationships between gene sets were more strongly captured by network connectivity rather than by simple overlaps.
doi:10.1186/1471-2105-13-226
PMCID: PMC3505158  PMID: 22966941
17.  Mesenchymal Transition and PDGFRA Amplification/Mutation Are Key Distinct Oncogenic Events in Pediatric Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Gliomas 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e30313.
Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is one of the most frequent malignant pediatric brain tumor and its prognosis is universaly fatal. No significant improvement has been made in last thirty years over the standard treatment with radiotherapy. To address the paucity of understanding of DIPGs, we have carried out integrated molecular profiling of a large series of samples obtained with stereotactic biopsy at diagnosis. While chromosomal imbalances did not distinguish DIPG and supratentorial tumors on CGHarrays, gene expression profiling revealed clear differences between them, with brainstem gliomas resembling midline/thalamic tumours, indicating a closely-related origin. Two distinct subgroups of DIPG were identified. The first subgroup displayed mesenchymal and pro-angiogenic characteristics, with stem cell markers enrichment consistent with the possibility to grow tumor stem cells from these biopsies. The other subgroup displayed oligodendroglial features, and appeared largely driven by PDGFRA, in particular through amplification and/or novel missense mutations in the extracellular domain. Patients in this later group had a significantly worse outcome with an hazard ratio for early deaths, ie before 10 months, 8 fold greater that the ones in the other subgroup (p = 0.041, Cox regression model). The worse outcome of patients with the oligodendroglial type of tumors was confirmed on a series of 55 paraffin-embedded biopsy samples at diagnosis (median OS of 7.73 versus 12.37 months, p = 0.045, log-rank test). Two distinct transcriptional subclasses of DIPG with specific genomic alterations can be defined at diagnosis by oligodendroglial differentiation or mesenchymal transition, respectively. Classifying these tumors by signal transduction pathway activation and by mutation in pathway member genes may be particularily valuable for the development of targeted therapies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030313
PMCID: PMC3289615  PMID: 22389665
18.  Genome-Wide High-Resolution aCGH Analysis of Gestational Choriocarcinomas 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29426.
Eleven samples of DNA from choriocarcinomas were studied by high resolution CGH-array 244 K. They were studied after histopathological confirmation of the diagnosis, of the androgenic etiology and after a microsatellite marker analysis confirming the absence of contamination of tumor DNA from maternal DNA. Three cell lines, BeWo, JAR, JEG were also studied by this high resolution pangenomic technique. According to aCGH analysis, the de novo choriocarcinomas exhibited simple chromosomal rearrangements or normal profiles. The cell lines showed various and complex chromosomal aberrations. 23 Minimal Critical Regions were defined that allowed us to list the genes that were potentially implicated. Among them, unusually high numbers of microRNA clusters and imprinted genes were observed.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029426
PMCID: PMC3253784  PMID: 22253721
19.  Astrocytes reverted to a neural progenitor-like state with transforming growth factor alpha are sensitized to cancerous transformation 
Stem Cells (Dayton, Ohio)  2009;27(10):2373-2382.
Gliomas, the most frequent primitive CNS tumors, have been suggested to originate from astrocytes or from neural progenitors/stem cells. However, the precise identity of the cells at the origin of gliomas remains a matter of debate because no pre-neoplastic state has been yet identified. TGFα, an EGF family member, is frequently over-expressed in the early stages of glioma progression. We previously demonstrated that prolonged exposure of astrocytes to TGFα is sufficient to trigger their reversion to a neural progenitor-like state. To determine whether TGFα de-differentiating effects are associated with cancerous transforming effects, we grafted intra-cerebrally de-differentiated astrocytes. We show that these cells had the same cytogenomic profile as astrocytes, survived in vivo and did not give birth to tumors. When astrocytes de-differentiated with TGFα were submitted to oncogenic stress using gamma irradiation, they acquired cancerous properties: they were immortalized, showed cytogenomic abnormalities, and formed high-grade glioma-like tumors after brain grafting. In contrast, irradiation did not modify the lifespan of astrocytes cultivated in serum-free medium. Addition of TGFα after irradiation did not promote their transformation but decreased their lifespan. These results demonstrate that reversion of mature astrocytes to an embryonic state without genomic manipulation is sufficient to sensitize them to oncogenic stress.
doi:10.1002/stem.155
PMCID: PMC3245240  PMID: 19544474
Animals; Astrocytes; drug effects; metabolism; radiation effects; Brain Neoplasms; chemically induced; physiopathology; Cell Dedifferentiation; drug effects; physiology; radiation effects; Cell Transformation, Neoplastic; chemically induced; metabolism; radiation effects; Cells, Cultured; Culture Media, Serum-Free; pharmacology; Gamma Rays; adverse effects; Glioma; chemically induced; physiopathology; Mice; Mice, Inbred C57BL; Mice, Nude; Stem Cell Transplantation; Stem Cells; drug effects; metabolism; radiation effects; Stress, Physiological; physiology; radiation effects; Transforming Growth Factor alpha; metabolism; pharmacology; EGF; transdifferentiation; metaplasia; radial glia; erbB
21.  Chromosomal Minimal Critical Regions in Therapy-Related Leukemia Appear Different from Those of De Novo Leukemia by High-Resolution aCGH 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e16623.
Therapy-related acute leukemia (t-AML), is a severe complication of cytotoxic therapy used for primary cancer treatment. The outcome of these patients is poor, compared to people who develop de novo acute leukemia (p-AML). Cytogenetic abnormalities in t-AML are similar to those found in p-AML but present more frequent unfavorable karyotypes depending on the inducting agent. Losses of chromosome 5 or 7 are observed after alkylating agents while balanced translocations are found after topoisomerase II inhibitors. This study compared t-AML to p-AML using high resolution array CGH in order to find copy number abnormalities (CNA) at a higher resolution than conventional cytogenetics. More CNAs were observed in 30 t-AML than in 36 p-AML: 104 CNAs were observed with 63 losses and 41 gains (mean number 3.46 per case) in t-AML, while in p-AML, 69 CNAs were observed with 32 losses and 37 gains (mean number of 1.9 per case). In primary leukemia with a previously “normal” karyotype, 18% exhibited a previously undetected CNA, whereas in the (few) t-AML with a normal karyotype, the rate was 50%. Several minimal critical regions (MCRs) were found in t-AML and p-AML. No common MCRs were found in the two groups. In t-AML a 40kb deleted MCR pointed to RUNX1 on 21q22, a gene coding for a transcription factor implicated in frequent rearrangements in leukemia and in familial thrombocytopenia. In de novo AML, a 1Mb MCR harboring ERG and ETS2 was observed from patients with complex aCGH profiles. High resolution cytogenomics obtained by aCGH and similar techniques already published allowed us to characterize numerous non random chromosome abnormalities. This work supports the hypothesis that they can be classified into several categories: abnormalities common to all AML; those more frequently found in t-AML and those specifically found in p-AML.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016623
PMCID: PMC3038855  PMID: 21339820
22.  Genomic Aberrations in Lung Adenocarcinoma in Never Smokers 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15145.
Background
Lung cancer in never smokers would rank as the seventh most common cause of cancer death worldwide.
Methods and Findings
We performed high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization analysis of lung adenocarcinoma in sixty never smokers and identified fourteen new minimal common regions (MCR) of gain or loss, of which five contained a single gene (MOCS2, NSUN3, KHDRBS2, SNTG1 and ST18). One larger MCR of gain contained NSD1. One focal amplification and nine gains contained FUS. NSD1 and FUS are oncogenes hitherto not known to be associated with lung cancer. FISH showed that the amplicon containing FUS was joined to the next telomeric amplicon at 16p11.2. FUS was over-expressed in 10 tumors with gain of 16p11.2 compared to 30 tumors without that gain. Other cancer genes present in aberrations included ARNT, BCL9, CDK4, CDKN2B, EGFR, ERBB2, MDM2, MDM4, MET, MYC and KRAS. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering with adjustment for false-discovery rate revealed clusters differing by the level and pattern of aberrations and displaying particular tumor characteristics. One cluster was strongly associated with gain of MYC. Another cluster was characterized by extensive losses containing tumor suppressor genes of which RB1 and WRN. Tumors in that cluster frequently harbored a central scar-like fibrosis. A third cluster was associated with gains on 7p and 7q, containing ETV1 and BRAF, and displayed the highest rate of EGFR mutations. SNP array analysis validated copy-number aberrations and revealed that RB1 and WRN were altered by recurrent copy-neutral loss of heterozygosity.
Conclusions
The present study has uncovered new aberrations containing cancer genes. The oncogene FUS is a candidate gene in the 16p region that is frequently gained in never smokers. Multiple genetic pathways defined by gains of MYC, deletions of RB1 and WRN or gains on 7p and 7q are involved in lung adenocarcinoma in never smokers.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0015145
PMCID: PMC2997777  PMID: 21151896
23.  Infantile Convulsions with Paroxysmal Dyskinesia (ICCA Syndrome) and Copy Number Variation at Human Chromosome 16p11 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13750.
Background
Benign infantile convulsions and paroxysmal dyskinesia are episodic cerebral disorders that can share common genetic bases. They can be co-inherited as one single autosomal dominant trait (ICCA syndrome); the disease ICCA gene maps at chromosome 16p12-q12. Despite intensive and conventional mutation screening, the ICCA gene remains unknown to date. The critical area displays highly complicated genomic architecture and is the site of deletions and duplications associated with various diseases. The possibility that the ICCA syndrome is related to the existence of large-scale genomic alterations was addressed in the present study.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A combination of whole genome and dedicated oligonucleotide array comparative genomic hybridization coupled with quantitative polymerase chain reaction was used. Low copy number of a region corresponding to a genomic variant (Variation_7105) located at 16p11 nearby the centromere was detected with statistical significance at much higher frequency in patients from ICCA families than in ethnically matched controls. The genomic variant showed no apparent difference in size and copy number between patients and controls, making it very unlikely that the genomic alteration detected here is ICCA-specific. Furthermore, no other genomic alteration that would directly cause the ICCA syndrome in those nine families was detected in the ICCA critical area.
Conclusions/Significance
Our data excluded that inherited genomic deletion or duplication events directly cause the ICCA syndrome; rather, they help narrowing down the critical ICCA region dramatically and indicate that the disease ICCA genetic defect lies very close to or within Variation_7105 and hence should now be searched in the corresponding genomic area and its surrounding regions.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0013750
PMCID: PMC2966418  PMID: 21060786
24.  Targeting iron homeostasis induces cellular differentiation and synergizes with differentiating agents in acute myeloid leukemia 
Differentiating agents have been proposed to overcome the impaired cellular differentiation in acute myeloid leukemia (AML). However, only the combinations of all-trans retinoic acid or arsenic trioxide with chemotherapy have been successful, and only in treating acute promyelocytic leukemia (also called AML3). We show that iron homeostasis is an effective target in the treatment of AML. Iron chelating therapy induces the differentiation of leukemia blasts and normal bone marrow precursors into monocytes/macrophages in a manner involving modulation of reactive oxygen species expression and the activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs). 30% of the genes most strongly induced by iron deprivation are also targeted by vitamin D3 (VD), a well known differentiating agent. Iron chelating agents induce expression and phosphorylation of the VD receptor (VDR), and iron deprivation and VD act synergistically. VD magnifies activation of MAPK JNK and the induction of VDR target genes. When used to treat one AML patient refractory to chemotherapy, the combination of iron-chelating agents and VD resulted in reversal of pancytopenia and in blast differentiation. We propose that iron availability modulates myeloid cell commitment and that targeting this cellular differentiation pathway together with conventional differentiating agents provides new therapeutic modalities for AML.
doi:10.1084/jem.20091488
PMCID: PMC2856037  PMID: 20368581
25.  Portrait of Ependymoma Recurrence in Children: Biomarkers of Tumor Progression Identified by Dual-Color Microarray-Based Gene Expression Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12932.
Background
Children with ependymoma may experience a relapse in up to 50% of cases depending on the extent of resection. Key biological events associated with recurrence are unknown.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To discover the biology behind the recurrence of ependymomas, we performed CGHarray and a dual-color gene expression microarray analysis of 17 tumors at diagnosis co-hybridized with the corresponding 27 first or subsequent relapses from the same patient. As treatment and location had only limited influence on specific gene expression changes at relapse, we established a common signature for relapse. Eighty-seven genes showed an absolute fold change ≥2 in at least 50% of relapses and were defined as the gene expression signature of ependymoma recurrence. The most frequently upregulated genes are involved in the kinetochore (ASPM, KIF11) or in neural development (CD133, Wnt and Notch pathways). Metallothionein (MT) genes were downregulated in up to 80% of the recurrences. Quantitative PCR for ASPM, KIF11 and MT3 plus immunohistochemistry for ASPM and MT3 confirmed the microarray results. Immunohistochemistry on an independent series of 24 tumor pairs at diagnosis and at relapse confirmed the decrease of MT3 expression at recurrence in 17/24 tumor pairs (p = 0.002). Conversely, ASPM expression was more frequently positive at relapse (87.5% vs 37.5%, p = 0.03). Loss or deletion of the MT genes cluster was never observed at relapse. Promoter sequencing after bisulfite treatment of DNA from primary tumors and recurrences as well as treatment of short-term ependymoma cells cultures with a demethylating agent showed that methylation was not involved in MT3 downregulation. However, in vitro treatment with a histone deacetylase inhibitor or zinc restored MT3 expression.
Conclusions/Significance
The most frequent molecular events associated with ependymoma recurrence were over-expression of kinetochore proteins and down-regulation of metallothioneins. Metallothionein-3 expression is epigenetically controlled and can be restored in vitro by histone deacetylase inhibitors.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0012932
PMCID: PMC2945762  PMID: 20885975

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