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1.  Relationship between PTEN, DNA Mismatch Repair, and Tumor Histotype in Endometrial Carcinoma: Retained Positive Expression of PTEN Preferentially Identifies Sporadic Non-Endometrioid Carcinomas 
Loss of PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog) expression and microsatellite instability are two of the more common molecular alterations in endometrial carcinoma. From the published literature, it is controversial as to whether there is a relationship between these different molecular mechanisms. Therefore, a cohort of 187 pure endometrioid and non-endometrioid endometrial carcinomas, carefully characterized as to clinical and pathological features, was examined for PTEN sequence abnormalities and the immunohistochemical expression of PTEN and the DNA mismatch repair proteins MLH1, MSH2, MSH6 and PMS2. MLH1 methylation analysis was performed when tumors had loss of MLH1 protein. Mismatch repair protein loss was more frequent in endometrioid carcinomas compared to non-endometrioid carcinomas, a difference primarily attributable to the presence of MLH1 methylation in a greater proportion of endometrioid tumors. Among the non-endometrioid group, mixed endometrioid/non-endometrioid carcinomas were the histotype that most commonly had loss of a mismatch repair protein. In endometrioid tumors, the frequency of PTEN loss measured by immunohistochemistry and mutation did not differ significantly between the mismatch repair protein intact or mismatch repair protein loss groups, suggesting that PTEN loss is independent of mismatch protein repair status in this group. However, in non-endometrioid carcinomas, both intact positive PTEN immunohistochemical expression and PTEN wild type were highly associated with retained positive expression of mismatch repair proteins in the tumor. Relevant to screening endometrial cancers for Lynch Syndrome, an initial PTEN immunohistochemistry determination may be able to replace the use of four mismatch repair immunohistochemical markers in 63% of patients with non-endometrioid endometrial carcinoma. Therefore, PTEN immunohistochemistry, in combination with tumor histotype, is a useful adjunct in the clinical evaluation of endometrial carcinomas for Lynch Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3720775  PMID: 23599155
2.  Integrated analyses identify a master microRNA regulatory network for the mesenchymal subtype in serous ovarian cancer 
Cancer cell  2013;23(2):186-199.
Integrated genomic analyses revealed a miRNA-regulatory network, which further defined a robust integrated mesenchymal subtype associated with poor overall survival in 459 cases of serous ovarian cancer (OvCa) from The Cancer Genome Atlas and 560 cases from independent cohorts. Eight key miRNAs, including miR-506, miR-141 and miR-200a, were predicted to regulate 89% of the targets in this network. Follow-up functional experiments illustrate that miR-506 augmented E-cadherin expression, inhibited cell migration and invasion, and prevented TGFβ-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) by targeting SNAI2, a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin. In human OvCa, miR-506 expression was correlated with decreased SNAI2 and VIM, elevated E-cadherin, and beneficial prognosis. Nanoparticle delivery of miR-506 in orthotopic OvCa mouse models led to E-cadherin induction and reduced tumor growth.
PMCID: PMC3603369  PMID: 23410973
3.  Human Omental-Derived Adipose Stem Cells Increase Ovarian Cancer Proliferation, Migration, and Chemoresistance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81859.
Adipose tissue contains a population of multipotent adipose stem cells (ASCs) that form tumor stroma and can promote tumor progression. Given the high rate of ovarian cancer metastasis to the omental adipose, we hypothesized that omental-derived ASC may contribute to ovarian cancer growth and dissemination.
Materials and Methods
We isolated ASCs from the omentum of three patients with ovarian cancer, with (O-ASC4, O-ASC5) and without (O-ASC1) omental metastasis. BM-MSCs, SQ-ASCs, O-ASCs were characterized with gene expression arrays and metabolic analysis. Stromal cells effects on ovarian cancer cells proliferation, chemoresistance and radiation resistance was evaluated using co-culture assays with luciferase-labeled human ovarian cancer cell lines. Transwell migration assays were performed with conditioned media from O-ASCs and control cell lines. SKOV3 cells were intraperitionally injected with or without O-ASC1 to track in-vivo engraftment.
O-ASCs significantly promoted in vitro proliferation, migration chemotherapy and radiation response of ovarian cancer cell lines. O-ASC4 had more marked effects on migration and chemotherapy response on OVCA 429 and OVCA 433 cells than O-ASC1. Analysis of microarray data revealed that O-ASC4 and O-ASC5 have similar gene expression profiles, in contrast to O-ASC1, which was more similar to BM-MSCs and subcutaneous ASCs in hierarchical clustering. Human O-ASCs were detected in the stroma of human ovarian cancer murine xenografts but not uninvolved ovaries.
ASCs derived from the human omentum can promote ovarian cancer proliferation, migration, chemoresistance and radiation resistance in-vitro. Furthermore, clinical O-ASCs isolates demonstrate heterogenous effects on ovarian cancer in-vitro.
PMCID: PMC3847080  PMID: 24312594
4.  Restoration of miR-200c to ovarian cancer reduces tumor burden and increases sensitivity to paclitaxel 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(12):2556-2565.
A therapeutic intervention that could decrease tumor burden and increase sensitivity to chemotherapy would have a significant impact on the high morbidity rate associated with ovarian cancer. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as potential therapeutic candidates due to their ability to down regulate multiple targets involved in tumor progression and chemoresistance. MiR-200c is down regulated in ovarian cancer cell lines and stage III ovarian tumors, and low miR-200c correlates with poor prognosis. MiR-200c increases sensitivity to taxanes in vitro, by targeting TUBB3, a tubulin known to mediate chemoresistance. Indeed, we find that patients with tumors with low TUBB3 had significantly prolonged survival (average survival 52.73 ± 4.08 months) compared to those with high TUBB3 (average survival 42.56 ±3.19 months). MiR-200c also targets TrkB, a mediator of resistance to anoikis. We demonstrate that restoration of miR-200c to ovarian cancer cells results in increased anoikis sensitivity and reduced adherence to biological substrates in vitro. Since both chemo- and anoikis-resistance are critical steps in the progression of ovarian cancer, we sought to determine how restoration of miR-200c affects tumor burden and chemosensitivity in an in vivo preclinical model of ovarian cancer. Restoration of miR-200c in an intraperitoneal xenograft model of human ovarian cancer, results in decreased tumor formation and tumor burden. Furthermore, even in established tumors, restoration of miR-200c, alone or in combination with paclitaxel, results in significantly decreased tumor burden. Our study suggests that restoration of miR-200c immediately prior to cytotoxic chemotherapy may allow for a better response or lower effective dose.
PMCID: PMC3519949  PMID: 23074172
miR-200; Hey cells; chemotherapy; IVIS; paclitaxel
5.  Application of Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Diagnostics to Clinically Relevant Problems in Endometrial Cancer Bojana Djordjevic, Shannon Westin, Russell R. Broaddus 
Surgical pathology clinics  2012;5(4):859-878.
A number of different clinical scenarios are presented in which lab-based analyses beyond the usual diagnosis based on light microscopic examination of H&E stained slides – immunohistochemistry and PCR-based assays such as sequencing, mutation testing, microsatellite instability analysis, and determination of MLH1 methylation - are most helpful for guiding diagnosis and treatment of endometrial cancer.
The central goal of this information is to provide a practical guide of key current and emerging issues in diagnostic endometrial cancer pathology that require the use of ancillary laboratory techniques, such as immunohistochemistry and molecular testing. The authors present the common diagnostic problems in endometrial carcinoma pathology, types of endometrial carcinoma, description of tissue testing and markers, pathological features, and targeted therapy.
PMCID: PMC3653323  PMID: 23687522
endometrial cancer; targeted therapy; Lynch Syndrome
6.  HE4 Transcription- and Splice Variants-Specific Expression in Endometrial Cancer and Correlation with Patient Survival 
We investigated the HE4 variant-specific expression patterns in various normal tissues as well as in normal and malignant endometrial tissues. The relationships between mRNA variants and age, body weight, or survival are analyzed. ICAT-labeled normal and endometrial cancer (EC) tissues were analyzed with multidimensional liquid chromatography followed by tandem mass spectrometry. Levels of HE4 mRNA variants were measured by real-time PCR. Mean mRNA levels were compared among 16 normal endometrial samples, 14 grade 1 and 14 grade 3 endometrioid EC, 15 papillary serous EC, and 14 normal human tissue samples. The relationship between levels of HE4 variants and EC patient characteristics was analyzed with the use of Pearson correlation test. We found that, although all five HE4 mRNA variants are detectable in normal tissue samples, their expression is highly tissue-specific, with epididymis, trachea, breast and endometrium containing the highest levels. HE4-V0, -V1, and -V3 are the most abundant variants in both normal and malignant tissues. All variants are significantly increased in both endometrioid and papillary serous EC, with higher levels observed in grade 3 endometrioid EC. In the EC group, HE4-V1, -V3, and -V4 levels inversely correlate with EC patient survival, whereas HE4-V0 levels positively correlate with age. HE4 variants exhibit tissue-specific expression, suggesting that each variant may exert distinct functions in normal and malignant cells. HE4 levels appear to correlate with EC patient survival in a variant-specific manner. When using HE4 as a biomarker for EC management, the effects of age should be considered.
PMCID: PMC3856083  PMID: 24252907
HE4; transcription; splice variants; gene expression; endometrial cancer
7.  Somatic Deletions of the PolyA Tract in the 3′ Untranslated Region of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Are Common in Microsatellite Instability–High Endometrial and Colorectal Carcinomas 
Epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is overexpressed in up to 80% of colorectal and endometrial carcinomas. Deletions of the polyA tract in the 3′ untranslated region (3′ UTR) have been reported in microsatellite instability–high (MSI-H) colonic carcinomas, but their impacts on EGFR expression and downstream pathways are unclear. This phenomenon has not been reported in other MSI-H tumors.
To assess the 3′ UTR polyA tract of EGFR in both endometrial and colorectal carcinomas and the mutational status of EGFR downstream pathways.
Ninety-eight colorectal carcinomas and 47 endometrial carcinomas were included. EGFR 3′ UTR polyA status was detected by capillary electrophoresis and Sanger sequencing. EGFR gene expression, EGFR copy numbers, and KRAS and BRAF mutation status were analyzed accordingly.
The 3′ UTR polyA tract was deleted in 18 of 23 (78%) MSI-H versus 0 of 24 microsatellite-stable endometrial carcinomas (P < .001). Similar observations were seen in colorectal carcinomas, in which 29 of 36 (81%) MSI-H, 1 of 62 (1.6%) microsatellite instability–low, and none of the microsatellite-stable tumors harbored the deletion (P < .001). A moderate increase in EGFR mRNA level was observed in endometrial carcinomas with 3′ UTR polyA deletions versus those with wild-type polyA tract. Amplification of the EGFR gene was not observed. Deletions in polyA tract do not seem to affect the frequency of KRAS and BRAF mutations.
Deletions of EGFR 3′ UTR polyA are frequent in endometrial and colorectal carcinomas, are confined almost exclusively to MSI-H tumors, and do not affect KRAS and BRAF mutations.
PMCID: PMC3807134  PMID: 22540299
8.  Endometrial Cancer and Lynch Syndrome: Clinical and Pathologic Considerations 
Approximately 2% to 5% of endometrial cancers may be due to an inherited susceptibility. Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC) syndrome, an autosomal-dominant inherited cancer susceptibility syndrome caused by a germline mutation in one of the DNA mismatch repair genes, accounts for the majority of inherited cases. Lynch syndrome is associated with early onset of cancer and the development of multiple cancer types, particularly colon and endometrial cancer.
The current status of knowledge regarding Lynch syndrome-associated endometrial cancer and methods for diagnosis, screening and prevention of cancers are reviewed.
The lifetime cumulative risk of endometrial cancer for women with Lynch syndrome is 40% to 60%, which equals or exceeds their risk of colorectal cancer. No current evidence suggests either a survival advantage or disadvantage to endometrial cancer that is associated with Lynch syndrome when these cases are compared with sporadic cases. A combination of family and personal medical history and tumor testing provides an efficient combination for diagnosing Lynch syndrome in women with endometrial cancer. Current gynecologic cancer screening guidelines for women with Lynch syndrome include annual endometrial sampling and transvaginal ultrasonography beginning at age 30 to 35 years.
Diagnosing endometrial cancer patients with Lynch syndrome has important clinical implications for the individual and family members. Screening and prevention practices can decrease the likelihood of developing additional cancers.
PMCID: PMC3693757  PMID: 19078925
9.  Effects of Gut-Targeted 15-LOX-1 Transgene Expression on Colonic Tumorigenesis in Mice 
Expression of 15-lipoxygenase-1 (15-LOX-1) is decreased in many human cancers; however, the mechanistic significance of its decreased expression has been difficult to determine because its mouse homolog 12/15-LOX has opposing functions. We generated a mouse model in which expression of a human 15-LOX-1 transgene was targeted to the intestinal epithelium via the villin promoter. Targeted expression was confirmed by real-time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction and immunoblotting. When the 15-LOX-1 transgene was expressed in colonic epithelial cells of two independent mouse lines (B6 and FVB), azoxymethane-inducible colonic tumorigenesis was suppressed (mean number of tumors: wild type [WT] = 8.2, 15-LOX-1+/− = 4.91, 15-LOX-1+/+ = 3.57; WT vs 15-LOX-1+/− two-sided P = .003, WT vs 15-LOX-1+/+ two-sided P < .001; n = 10–14 mice per group). 15-LOX-1 transgene expression was always decreased in the tumors that did develop. In the presence of expression of the 15-LOX-1 transgene, expression of tumor necrosis factor alpha and its target inducible nitric oxide synthase were decreased and activation of nuclear factor-kappa B in colonic epithelial cells was inhibited.
PMCID: PMC3341308  PMID: 22472308
10.  Uterine Serous Carcinoma: Increased Familial Risk for Lynch-Associated Malignancies 
Serous uterine cancer is not a feature of any known hereditary cancer syndrome. This study evaluated familial risk of cancers for serous uterine carcinoma patients, focusing on Lynch syndrome malignancies.
Experimental design
Fifty serous or mixed serous endometrial carcinoma cases were prospectively enrolled. Pedigrees were developed for 29 probands and tumors were assessed for DNA mismatch repair abnormalities. Standardized incidence ratios for cancers in relatives were estimated. A second stage analysis was undertaken using data from GOG-210. Incidence data for cancers reported in relatives of 348 serous and mixed epithelial and 624 endometrioid carcinoma patients were compared.
Nineteen of 29 (65.5%) patients in the single institution series reported a Lynch-related cancer in relatives. Endometrial and ovarian cancers were significantly over-represented and a high number of probands (6/29, 20.7%) reported pancreatic cancers. None of the probands’ tumors had DNA mismatch repair abnormalities. There was no difference in endometrial or ovarian cancer incidence in relatives of serous and endometrioid cancer probands in the case-control study. Pancreatic cancers were, however, significantly more common in relatives of serous cancer patients (OR 2.39, 95% CI 1.06–5.38).
We identified an excess of endometrial, ovarian, and pancreatic cancers in relatives of serous cancer patients in a single institution study. Follow-up studies suggest only pancreatic cancers are over-represented in relatives. DNA mismatch repair defects in familial clustering of pancreatic and other Lynch-associated malignancies are unlikely. The excess of pancreatic cancers in relatives may reflect an as yet unidentified hereditary syndrome that includes uterine serous cancers.
PMCID: PMC3294192  PMID: 22246618
Endometrial cancer; Uterine serous carcinoma; Lynch syndrome; Mismatch repair; Familial clustering of cancers
11.  HE4 (WFDC2) Promotes Tumor Growth in Endometrial Cancer Cell Lines 
HE4, also known as WFDC2, is a useful biomarker for ovarian cancer when either used alone or in combination with CA125. HE4 is also overexpressed in endometrial cancer (EC), but its function in cancer cells is not clear. In this study, we investigate the role of HE4 in EC progression. An HE4-overexpression system was established by cloning the HE4 prototypic mRNA variant (HE4-V0) into a eukaryotic expression vector. Following transfection, stable clones in two EC cell lines were selected. The effects of HE4 overexpression on cell growth and function were measured with the use of cell proliferation assay, matrigel invasion, and soft agar gel colony formation assays. HE4-induced cancer cell proliferation in vivo was examined in a mouse xenograft model. HE4 overexpression significantly enhanced EC cell proliferation, matrigel invasion, and colony formation in soft agar. Moreover, HE4 overexpression promoted tumor growth in the mouse xenograft model. HE4 overexpression enhanced several malignant phenotypes in cell culture and in a mouse model. These results are consistent with our previous observation that high levels of serum HE4 closely correlate with the stage, myometrial invasion and tumor size in patients with EC. This study provides evidence that HE4 overexpression directly impacts tumor progression in endometrial cancer.
PMCID: PMC3634435  PMID: 23502467
endometrial cancer; human epididymis protein 4 (HE4); HE4 variant; proliferation; invasion; colony formation; tumorigenesis
12.  Progestin Intrauterine Device in an Adolescent With Grade 2 Endometrial Cancer 
Obstetrics and Gynecology  2012;119(2 Pt 2):423-426.
The treatment of endometrial cancer in young women who desire future fertility poses several challenges. Oral progestin and progestin-releasing intrauterine devices (IUDs) have been shown to result in regression of endometrial hyperplasia and grade 1 endometrioid endometrial carcinoma. However, limited data are available on the use of these methods in women with grade 2 disease.
An 18 year-old nulliparous woman was diagnosed with a grade 2 endometrial adenocarcinoma. She desired future fertility and therefore underwent placement of a levonorgestrel-releasing IUD. The patient subsequently underwent endometrial sampling every 3 months, and remained disease-free 13 months after initial IUD placement.
A progestin-releasing IUD may be a valid treatment option for grade 2 endometrial cancer in young individuals who desire to retain fertility.
PMCID: PMC3266511  PMID: 22270425
13.  Identification of Cancer Patients with Lynch Syndrome: Clinically Significant Discordances and Problems in Tissue Based Mismatch Repair Testing 
Tissue-based microsatellite instability analysis and immunohistochemistry for DNA mismatch repair proteins are accepted screening tools to evaluate cancer patients for Lynch Syndrome. These laboratory analyses are thus important tools in cancer prevention. Quality assurance review was performed to identify test discordances and problems. These results were then analyzed in conjunction with genetic testing outcomes. 646 consecutive tumors from 2002 to 2010 were examined. Microsatellite instability-low tumors were excluded so that 591 tumors comprised the final analyses. Discordance was defined as a discrepancy between immunohistochemistry and microsatellite instability analysis. Problem was defined as indeterminate or questionable immunohistochemistry or microsatellite instability results. All results and clinical and family histories were centrally reviewed by 2 pathologists and 1 genetics counselor. Discordances and problems were identified in 23/591 (3.9%) of the tumors. Twelve of 102 microsatellite instability-high carcinomas (11.8%) and one of 489 microsatellite stable tumors had discordant immunohistochemistry. Of these 13 tumors, 11 were from patients who had personal and/or family cancer histories concerning for a germline mismatch repair gene mutation. In addition to discordances, ten tumors with problematic immunohistochemistry profiles were identified. Accurate evaluation of microsatellite instability was possible in all tumors. In summary, concordance between immunohistochemistry and microsatellite instability was high, particularly for tumors that are microsatellite stable. Greater frequency of test discordance was identified in the tumors that were microsatellite instability-high. Thus, a major consequence of the use of immunohistochemistry by itself as a screen is the failure to identify colorectal and endometrial cancer patients who likely have Lynch Syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3273660  PMID: 22086678
Lynch Syndrome; molecular testing; microsatellite instability; immunohistochemistry
14.  Omental adipose tissue-derived stromal cells promote vascularization and growth of endometrial tumors 
Adipose tissue contains a population of tumor-tropic mesenchymal progenitors, termed adipose stromal cells (ASC), which engraft in neighboring tumors to form supportive tumor stroma. We hypothesized that intra-abdominal visceral adipose tissue may contain a uniquely tumor promoting population of ASC to account for the relationship between excess visceral adipose tissue and mortality of intra-abdominal cancers.
Experimental Design
To investigate this, we isolated and characterized ASC from intra-abdominal omental adipose tissue (O-ASC) and characterized their effects on endometrial cancer progression as compared to subcutaneous adipose derived mesenchymal stromal cells (SC-ASC), bone marrow derived mesenchymal stromal cells (BM-MSC) and lung fibroblasts. To model chronic recruitment of ASC by tumors, cells were injected metronomically into mice bearing Hec1a xenografts.
O-ASC expressed cell surface markers characteristic of BM-MSC and differentiated into mesenchymal lineages. Co-culture with O-ASC increased endometrial cancer cell proliferation in-vitro. Tumor tropism of O-ASC and SC-ASC for human Hec1a endometrial tumor xenografts was comparable, but O-ASC more potently promoted tumor growth. Compared with tumors in SC-ASC-injected mice, tumors in O-ASC-injected mice contained higher numbers of large tortuous desmin-positive blood vessels, which correlated with decreased central tumor necrosis and increased tumor cell proliferation. O-ASC-exhibited enhanced motility as compared to SC-ASC in response to Hec1a secreted factors.
Visceral adipose contains a population of multipotent MSC that promote endometrial tumor growth more potently than MSC from subcutaneous adipose tissue. We propose that O-ASC recruited to tumors express specific factors that enhance tumor vascularization, promoting survival and proliferation of tumor cells.
PMCID: PMC3481843  PMID: 22167410
15.  Personalized therapy in endometrial cancer: Challenges and opportunities 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2012;13(1):1-13.
Early stage endometrial cancer is generally curable. However, progress in the treatment of advanced and recurrent endometrial cancer has been limited. This has led to a shift from the use of traditional chemotherapeutic agents and radiotherapy regimens to the promising area of targeted therapy, given the large number of druggable molecular alterations found in endometrial cancer. To maximize the effects of directed targeted therapy, careful molecular characterization of the endometrial tumor is necessary. This represents an important difference in the use of targeted therapy vs. traditional chemotherapy or radiation treatment. This review will discuss relevant pathways to target in endometrial cancer as well as the challenges that arise during development of a personalized oncology approach.
PMCID: PMC3335980  PMID: 22198566
endometrial cancer; targeted therapy; personalized therapy; biomarkers; novel trial design; resistance
16.  Genomic Loss of Tumor Suppressor miRNA-204 Promotes Cancer Cell Migration and Invasion by Activating AKT/mTOR/Rac1 Signaling and Actin Reorganization 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52397.
Increasing evidence suggests that chromosomal regions containing microRNAs are functionally important in cancers. Here, we show that genomic loci encoding miR-204 are frequently lost in multiple cancers, including ovarian cancers, pediatric renal tumors, and breast cancers. MiR-204 shows drastically reduced expression in several cancers and acts as a potent tumor suppressor, inhibiting tumor metastasis in vivo when systemically delivered. We demonstrated that miR-204 exerts its function by targeting genes involved in tumorigenesis including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a neurotrophin family member which is known to promote tumor angiogenesis and invasiveness. Analysis of primary tumors shows that increased expression of BDNF or its receptor tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) parallel a markedly reduced expression of miR-204. Our results reveal that loss of miR-204 results in BDNF overexpression and subsequent activation of the small GTPase Rac1 and actin reorganization through the AKT/mTOR signaling pathway leading to cancer cell migration and invasion. These results suggest that microdeletion of genomic loci containing miR-204 is directly linked with the deregulation of key oncogenic pathways that provide crucial stimulus for tumor growth and metastasis. Our findings provide a strong rationale for manipulating miR-204 levels therapeutically to suppress tumor metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3528651  PMID: 23285024
17.  Clinical Assessment of PTEN Loss in Endometrial Carcinoma: Immunohistochemistry Out-Performs Gene Sequencing 
Modern Pathology  2012;25(5):699-708.
PTEN is a tumor suppressor that negatively regulates the PI3K-AKT signaling pathway, which is implicated in the pathogenesis of endometrial carcinoma. Sanger sequencing has been considered to be the gold standard for detection of PTEN sequence abnormalities. However, this approach fails to address the epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to functional PTEN loss. Using a study cohort of 154 endometrioid and non-endometrioid endometrial carcinomas, we performed full-length PTEN sequencing and PTEN immunohistochemistry on each tumor. PTEN sequence abnormalities were detected in a significantly lower proportion of cases (43%) than PTEN protein loss (64%, p= 0.0004). Endometrioid tumors had a significantly higher proportion of PTEN sequence abnormalities and PTEN protein loss than non-endometrioid tumors. Within the latter group, PTEN sequence abnormalities and PTEN protein loss were most frequent in undifferentiated carcinomas, followed by mixed carcinomas; they were least frequent in carcinosarcomas. Overall, at least one PTEN sequence abnormality was detected in each exon, and the greatest number of sequence abnormalities was detected in exon 8. Pure endometrioid tumors had a significantly higher frequency of sequence abnormalities in exon 7 than did the non-endometrioid tumors (p=0.0199). Importantly, no mutational hotspots were identified. While PTEN protein loss by immunohistochemistry was identified in 89% of cases with a PTEN sequence abnormality, PTEN protein loss was detected by immunohistochemistry in 44% of cases classified as PTEN wildtype by sequencing. For the first time, we demonstrate that PTEN immunohistochemistry is able to identify the majority of cases with functional PTEN loss. However, PTEN immunohistochemistry also detects additional cases with PTEN protein loss that would otherwise be undetected by gene sequencing. Therefore, for clinical purposes, immunohistochemistry appears to be a preferable technique for identifying endometrial tumors with loss of PTEN function.
PMCID: PMC3341518  PMID: 22301702
18.  High Frequency of PIK3R1 and PIK3R2 Mutations in Endometrial Cancer Elucidates a Novel Mechanism for Regulation of PTEN Protein Stability 
Cancer discovery  2011;1(2):170-185.
We demonstrate that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway aberrations occur in >80% of endometrioid endometrial cancers, with coordinate mutations of multiple PI3K pathway members being more common than predicted by chance. PIK3R1 (p85α) mutations occur at a higher rate in endometrial cancer than in any other tumor lineage, and PIK3R2 (p85β), not previously demonstrated to be a cancer gene, is also frequently mutated. The dominant activation event in the PI3K pathway appears to be PTEN protein loss. However, in tumors with retained PTEN protein, PI3K pathway mutations phenocopy PTEN loss, resulting in pathway activation. KRAS mutations are common in endometrioid tumors activating independent events from PI3K pathway aberrations. Multiple PIK3R1 and PIK3R2 mutations demonstrate gain of function including disruption of a novel mechanism of pathway regulation wherein p85α dimers bind and stabilize PTEN. Taken together, the PI3K pathway represents a critical driver of endometrial cancer pathogenesis and a novel therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC3187555  PMID: 21984976
Endometrial Cancer; PTEN; PIK3CA; PIK3R1; PIK3R2
19.  Integrated Analysis of Gene Expression and Tumor Nuclear Image Profiles Associated with Chemotherapy Response in Serous Ovarian Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36383.
Small sample sizes used in previous studies result in a lack of overlap between the reported gene signatures for prediction of chemotherapy response. Although morphologic features, especially tumor nuclear morphology, are important for cancer grading, little research has been reported on quantitatively correlating cellular morphology with chemotherapy response, especially in a large data set. In this study, we have used a large population of patients to identify molecular and morphologic signatures associated with chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A gene expression model that predicts response to chemotherapy is developed and validated using a large-scale data set consisting of 493 samples from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and 244 samples from an Australian report. An identified 227-gene signature achieves an overall predictive accuracy of greater than 85% with a sensitivity of approximately 95% and specificity of approximately 70%. The gene signature significantly distinguishes between patients with unfavorable versus favorable prognosis, when applied to either an independent data set (P = 0.04) or an external validation set (P<0.0001). In parallel, we present the production of a tumor nuclear image profile generated from 253 sample slides by characterizing patients with nuclear features (such as size, elongation, and roundness) in incremental bins, and we identify a morphologic signature that demonstrates a strong association with chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma.
A gene signature discovered on a large data set provides robustness in accurately predicting chemotherapy response in serous ovarian carcinoma. The combination of the molecular and morphologic signatures yields a new understanding of potential mechanisms involved in drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC3348145  PMID: 22590536
20.  Clinical and biological impact of EphA2 overexpression and angiogenesis in endometrial cancer 
Cancer Biology & Therapy  2010;10(12):1306-1314.
EphA2 overexpression predicts poor prognosis in endometrial cancer. To explore mechanisms for this association and assess its potential as therapeutic target, the relationship of EphA2 expression to markers of angiogenesis was examined using patient samples and an orthotopic mouse model of uterine cancer.
Of 85 EE C samples, EphA2 was overexpressed in 47% of tumors and was significantly associated with high VEGF expression (p = 0.001) and high MVD counts (p = 0.02). High EphA2 expression, high VEGF expression and high MVD counts were significantly associated with shorter disease-specific survival. EA5 led to decrease in EphA2 expression and phosphorylation in vitro. In the murine model, while EA5 (33–88%) and docetaxel (23–55%) individually led to tumor inhibition over controls, combination therapy had the greatest efficacy (78–92%, p < 0.001). In treated tumors, combination therapy resulted in significant reduction in MVD counts, percent proliferation and apoptosis over controls.
Experimental Design
Expression of EphA2, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), Ki-67, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and microvessel density (MVD) was evaluated using immunohistochemistry in 85 endometrioid endometrial adenocarcinomas (EEC) by two independent investigators. Results were correlated with clinicopathological characteristics. The effect of EphA2-agonist monoclonal antibody EA5, alone or in combination with docetaxel was studied in vitro and in vivo. Samples were analyzed for markers of angiogenesis, proliferation and apoptosis.
EphA2 overexpression is associated with markers of angiogenesis and is predictive of poor clinical outcome. EphA2 targeted therapy reduces angiogenesis and tumor growth in orthotopic uterine cancer models and should be considered for future clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC3047089  PMID: 20948320
endometrial cancer; EphA2; VEGF; microvessel density; angiogenesis
21.  Molecular Clustering Based on ERα and EIG121 Predicts Survival in High-Grade Serous Carcinoma of the Ovary/Peritoneum 
Assessment of estrogen receptor expression by immunohistochemistry has yielded inconsistent results as a prognostic indicator in ovarian carcinoma. In breast and endometrial carcinomas, panels of estrogen-induced genes have shown improved prognostic capability over the use of estrogen receptor immunohistochemistry alone. For both breast and endometrial cancer, over-expression of estrogen-induced genes is associated with better prognosis. We hypothesized that analysis of a panel of estrogen-induced genes can predict outcome in ovarian carcinoma and potentially differentiate between tumors of varying hormonal responsiveness. From a cohort of 219 women undergoing ovarian cancer surgery from 2004 −2007, 83 patients were selected for inclusion. All patients had advanced stage ovarian/primary peritoneal high-grade serous carcinoma and underwent primary surgical debulking followed by adjuvant treatment with platinum and taxane agents. The expression of ERα and six genes known to be induced by estrogen in the female reproductive tract (EIG121, sFRP1, sFRP4, RALDH2, PR, IGF-1) was measured using qRT-PCR. Unsupervised cluster analyses were used to categorize patients as high or low gene expressors. Gene expression results were then compared to those for estrogen receptor immunohistochemistry. Clusters were compared using chi-square analyses, and Cox proportional hazards were used to evaluate survival outcomes. Median follow-up time was 38.7 months (range 1–68). A cluster defined by EIG121 and ERα segregated tumors into distinct groups of high and low gene expressors. Shorter overall survival was associated with high gene expression (HR 2.84 [1.11–7.30], p=0.03), even after adjustment for other covariates. No difference in estrogen receptor immunohistochemistry expression was noted between gene clusters. In contrast to other hormonally-driven cancers, high expression of ERα and the estrogen-induced gene EIG121 predicts shorter overall survival in patients with high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma. Such a biomarker panel may potentially be used to guide management with estrogen antagonists in this patient population.
PMCID: PMC3058634  PMID: 21102415
estrogen-induced genes; ovarian high-grade serous carcinoma; hormone antagonism
22.  Somatic Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 Could Expand the Number of Patients That Benefit From Poly (ADP Ribose) Polymerase Inhibitors in Ovarian Cancer 
Journal of Clinical Oncology  2010;28(22):3570-3576.
The prevalence of BRCA½ mutations in germline DNA from unselected ovarian cancer patients is 11% to 15.3%. It is important to determine the frequency of somatic BRCA½ changes, given the sensitivity of BRCA-mutated cancers to poly (ADP ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP1) inhibitors and platinum analogs.
Patients and Methods
In 235 unselected ovarian cancers, BRCA½ was sequenced in 235, assessed by copy number analysis in 95, and tiling arrays in 65. 113 tumors were sequenced for TP53. BRCA½ transcript levels were assessed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction in 220. When available for tumors with BRCA½ mutations, germline DNA was sequenced.
Forty-four mutations (19%) in BRCA1 (n = 31)/BRCA2 (n = 13) were detected, including one homozygous BRCA1 intragenic deletion. BRCA½ mutations were particularly common (23%) in high-grade serous cancers. In 28 patients with available germline DNA, nine (42.9%) of 21 and two (28.6%) of seven BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations were demonstrated to be somatic, respectively. Five mutations not previously identified in germline DNA were more commonly somatic than germline (four of 11 v one of 17; P = .062). There was a positive association between BRCA1 and TP53 mutations (P = .012). BRCA½ mutations were associated with improved progression-free survival (PFS) after platinum-based chemotherapy in univariate (P = .032; hazard ratio [HR] = 0.65; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.98) and multivariate (P = .019) analyses. BRCA½ deficiency, defined as BRCA½ mutations or expression loss (in 24 [13.3%] BRCA½–wild-type cancers), was present in 67 ovarian cancers (30%) and was also significantly associated with PFS in univariate (P = .026; HR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.47 to 0.96) and multivariate (P = .008) analyses.
BRCA½ somatic and germline mutations and expression loss are sufficiently common in ovarian cancer to warrant assessment for prediction of benefit in clinical trials of PARP1 inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2917312  PMID: 20606085
23.  EphA2 Overexpression is Associated with Lack of Hormone Receptor Expression and Poor Outcome in Endometrial Cancer 
Cancer  2009;115(12):2684-2692.
EphA2 is a tyrosine kinase receptor in the ephrin family that is implicated in oncogenesis and angiogenesis. Our goal was to study the role of EphA2 in endometrial cancer and its relation to steroid hormone receptor expression.
EphA2, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR) and Ki-67 expression were evaluated using immunohistochemistry in 139 endometrioid endometrial carcinomas (EEC) and in 10 benign endometrial samples. Samples were scored by 2 investigators blinded to clinical outcome. Results were correlated with clinicopathologic characteristics using univariate and multivariate analysis. A p value of <0.05 was considered statistically significant.
High expression of EphA2 was detected in 48% of EEC samples vs. 10% of benign samples. EphA2 overexpression was significantly associated with high-stage (p=0.04), high-grade (p=0.003), increased depth of myometrial invasion (p=0.05), low ER (p=0.01), low PR (p=0.006) and high Ki-67 expression (p=0.04). Low ER and PR expression were both associated with high-grade, positive lymph nodes, high Ki-67 expression and high EphA2 expression. On univariate analysis of all patients, high EphA2 expression was significantly associated with shorter disease-specific survival (DSS, p<0.001). On multivariate analysis, age (p<0.001), high-stage (p=0.002) and high EphA2 expression (p=0.04) were independent predictors of poor DSS.
EphA2 overexpression is associated with aggressive phenotypic features in endometrioid endometrial carcinomas, and is inversely associated with ER and PR expression. Thus, EphA2 may be an important therapeutic target, especially in patients with hormone-receptor negative endometrial carcinoma.
PMCID: PMC3139331  PMID: 19396818
Endometrial cancer; EphA2; estrogen receptor; progesterone receptor; Ki-67
24.  Functional proteomics can define prognosis and predict pathologic complete response in patients with breast cancer 
Clinical proteomics  2011;8(1):11.
To determine whether functional proteomics improves breast cancer classification and prognostication and can predict pathological complete response (pCR) in patients receiving neoadjuvant taxane and anthracycline-taxane-based systemic therapy (NST).
Reverse phase protein array (RPPA) using 146 antibodies to proteins relevant to breast cancer was applied to three independent tumor sets. Supervised clustering to identify subgroups and prognosis in surgical excision specimens from a training set (n = 712) was validated on a test set (n = 168) in two cohorts of patients with primary breast cancer. A score was constructed using ordinal logistic regression to quantify the probability of recurrence in the training set and tested in the test set. The score was then evaluated on 132 FNA biopsies of patients treated with NST to determine ability to predict pCR.
Six breast cancer subgroups were identified by a 10-protein biomarker panel in the 712 tumor training set. They were associated with different recurrence-free survival (RFS) (log-rank p = 8.8 E-10). The structure and ability of the six subgroups to predict RFS was confirmed in the test set (log-rank p = 0.0013). A prognosis score constructed using the 10 proteins in the training set was associated with RFS in both training and test sets (p = 3.2E-13, for test set). There was a significant association between the prognostic score and likelihood of pCR to NST in the FNA set (p = 0.0021).
We developed a 10-protein biomarker panel that classifies breast cancer into prognostic groups that may have potential utility in the management of patients who receive anthracycline-taxane-based NST.
PMCID: PMC3170272  PMID: 21906370
Breast Cancer; Functional Proteomics; Prognosis; Prediction
25.  Constitutive Activation of Smoothened Leads to Female Infertility and Altered Uterine Differentiation in the Mouse1 
Biology of Reproduction  2010;82(5):991-999.
Previous work has identified Indian hedgehog (Ihh) as a major mediator of progesterone signaling during embryo implantation. Ihh acts through its downstream effector smoothened (Smo) to activate the GLI family of transcription factors. In order to gain a better understanding of Ihh action during embryo implantation, we expressed a Cre-recombinase-dependent constitutively activated SMO in the murine uterus using the Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd (PRcre) mouse model [Pgrtm2(cre)Lyd+Gt(ROSA)26Sortm1(Smo/EYFP)Amc+ (PRcre/+SmoM2+)]. Female PRcre/+SmoM2+ mice were infertile. They exhibited normal serum progesterone levels and normal ovulation, but their ova failed to be fertilized in vivo and their uterus failed to undergo the artificially induced decidual response. Examination of the PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri revealed numerous features such as uterine hypertrophy, the presence of a stratified luminal epithelial cell layer, a reduced number of uterine glands, and an endometrial stroma that had lost its normal morphologic characteristics. Microarray analysis of 3-mo-old PRcre/+SmoM2+ uteri demonstrated a chondrocytic signature and confirmed that constitutive activation of PRcre/+SmoM2+ increased extracellular matrix production. Thus, constitutive activation of Smo in the mouse uterus alters postnatal uterine differentiation which interferes with early pregnancy. These results provide new insight into the role of Hedgehog signaling during embryo implantation.
Activation of smoothened in the mouse uterus reveals a requirement for the precise regulation of hedgehog signaling during early pregnancy and postnatal uterine development.
PMCID: PMC2857637  PMID: 20130264
differentiation; implantation; mouse; smoothened; uterus

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