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1.  Primary Angiosarcomas of the Breast 
Cancer  2007;110(1):173-178.
The purpose of the study was to describe the clinicopathologic characteristics and clinical outcomes of patients with primary breast angiosarcoma.
The institutional database was searched to identify breast angiosarcoma patients seen between 1965 and 2002. Survival outcomes were estimated by the Kaplan-Meier method. The log-rank test was used to compare groups. Cox proportional hazards models were used for multivariate analysis.
In all, 69 patients were identified. Median follow-up was 40 months (range, 0–413 months). Median age was 46. Median tumor size at diagnosis was 5.5 cm. Thirteen (18.8%) patients received prior radiation for invasive breast carcinoma. Most patients underwent total mastectomy with (41%) or without (45%) axillary dissection. Regional metastasis to axillary lymph nodes was rare. There were 38 recurrences and 27 deaths. The 5-year overall (OS) and recurrence-free survival (RFS) rates were 61% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49%–76%) and 44% (95% CI, 33%–58%) with estimated medians of 100 and 37 months, respectively. In Cox proportional hazards models, OS and RFS were significantly associated only with T size and not with patient age, prior radiation, or chemotherapy administration. Of 29 patients treated with chemotherapy at recurrence, there were 4 complete and 10 partial responses (48%) with an anthracycline-ifosfamide or gemcitabine-taxane combination.
Breast angiosarcoma is frequently advanced at diagnosis and has a tendency for local-regional recurrence. A significant number of responses to chemotherapy was observed in the metastatic setting. These data suggest that a multidisciplinary therapeutic approach should be employed in high-risk patients with large primary tumors.
PMCID: PMC4329779  PMID: 17541936
breast cancer; angiosarcoma; therapy
2.  OvMark: a user-friendly system for the identification of prognostic biomarkers in publically available ovarian cancer gene expression datasets 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:241.
Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynaecologic cancers and is characterised by a lack of early symptoms and frequent late stage diagnosis. There is a paucity of robust molecular markers that are independent of and complementary to clinical parameters such as disease stage and tumour grade.
We have developed a user-friendly, web-based system to evaluate the association of genes/miRNAs with outcome in ovarian cancer. The OvMark algorithm combines data from multiple microarray platforms (including probesets targeting miRNAs) and correlates them with clinical parameters (e.g. tumour grade, stage) and outcomes (disease free survival (DFS), overall survival). In total, OvMark combines 14 datasets from 7 different array platforms measuring the expression of ~17,000 genes and 341 miRNAs across 2,129 ovarian cancer samples.
To demonstrate the utility of the system we confirmed the prognostic ability of 14 genes and 2 miRNAs known to play a role in ovarian cancer. Of these genes, CXCL12 was the most significant predictor of DFS (HR = 1.42, p-value = 2.42x10−6). Surprisingly, those genes found to have the greatest correlation with outcome have not been heavily studied in ovarian cancer, or in some cases in any cancer. For instance, the three genes with the greatest association with survival are SNAI3, VWA3A and DNAH12.
OvMark is a powerful tool for examining putative gene/miRNA prognostic biomarkers in ovarian cancer (available at The impact of this tool will be in the preliminary assessment of putative biomarkers in ovarian cancer, particularly for research groups with limited bioinformatics facilities.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-241) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4219121  PMID: 25344116
3.  Immune Effects of Bevacizumab: Killing Two Birds with One Stone 
Cancer Microenvironment  2014;8(1):15-21.
Angiogenesis or new vessel formation is essential for tumour growth and progression. Therefore, targeting angiogenesis has been an attractive strategy in the treatment ofcancer. Bevacizumab is a recombinant humanized monoclonal IgG1 antibody thattargets vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) - a key molecular player inangiogenesis. Bevacizumumab has shown clinical efficacy in phase III clinical trials inseveral advanced solid malignancies. The clinical efficacy of bevacizumumab isprimarily due to its antiangiogenic effects; however, there are direct antitumor effectsand immunomodulatory effects. Enhancing the immune system to restore itsantitumour activity has been utilized successfully in clinical setting. In this article we willdiscuss the possible immunomodulatory effects of the most clinically usedantiangiogenic agent; bevacizumumab.
PMCID: PMC4449343  PMID: 25326055
Bevacizumab; Immunomodulation; Antiangiogenesis; Tumour microenvironment
4.  A systems approach to analysis of molecular complexity in breast cancer 
In this issue of Clinical Cancer Research, Andre et al. apply high-resolution arrays to elucidate copy number anomalies in breast cancer. They identify a series of genomic regions that may contain oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes that contibute to breast carcinogenesis and that serve as potential therapy targets.
PMCID: PMC4161015  PMID: 19147744
5.  Akt1 and Akt2 play distinct roles in the initiation and metastatic phases of mammary tumor progression 
Cancer research  2009;69(12):5057-5064.
The PI3K/Akt survival pathway is often dysregulated in cancer. Our previous studies have demonstrated that coexpression of activated Akt1 with activated ErbB2 or polyoma virus middle T antigen uncoupled from the PI3K pathway (PyVmT Y315/322F) accelerates mammary tumor development but cannot rescue the metastatic phenotype associated with these models. Here we report the generation of transgenic mice expressing activated Akt2 in the mammary epithelium. Like the MMTV-Akt1 strain, mammary-specific expression of Akt2 delayed mammary gland involution. However, in contrast to Akt1, coexpression of Akt2 with activated ErbB2 or PyVmT Y315/322F in the mammary glands of transgenic mice did not impact the latency of tumor development. Strikingly Akt2 coexpresssion markedly increased the incidence of pulmonary metastases in both tumor models demonstrating a unique role in tumor progression. Together these observations argue that these highly conserved kinases have distinct biological and biochemical outputs that play opposing roles in mammary tumor induction and metastasis.
PMCID: PMC4151524  PMID: 19491266
Akt; ErbB2; PyVmT; mammary tumorigenesis; metastasis
Molecular oncology  2013;7(3):567-579.
Mutations in BRCA1/2 increase the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Germline BRCA1/2 mutations occur in 8.6-13.7% of unselected epithelial ovarian cancers, somatic mutations are also frequent. BRCA1/2 mutated or dysfunctional cells may be sensitive to PARP inhibition by synthetic lethality. The aim of this study is to comprehensively characterise the BRCA1/2 status of a large panel of ovarian cancer cell lines available to the research community to assist in biomarker studies of novel drugs and in particular of PARP inhibitors.
The BRCA1/2 genes were sequenced in 41 ovarian cell lines, mRNA expression of BRCA1/2 and gene methylation status of BRCA1 was also examined. The cytotoxicity of PARP inhibitors olaparib and veliparib was examined in 20 cell lines.
The cell line SNU-251 has a deleterious BRCA1 mutation at 5564G>A, and is the only deleterious BRCA1/2 mutant in the panel. Two cell lines (UPN-251 and PEO1) had deleterious mutations as well as additional reversion mutations that restored the protein functionality. Heterozygous mutations in BRCA1/2 were relatively common, found in 14.6% of cell lines. BRCA1 was methylated in two cell lines (OVCAR8, A1847) and there was a corresponding decrease in gene expression. The BRCA1 methylated cell lines were more sensitive to PARP inhibition than wild-type cells. The SNU-251 deleterious mutant was more sensitive to PARP inhibition, but only in a long-term exposure to correct for its slow growth rate. Cell lines derived from metastatic disease are significantly more resistant to veliparib (2.0 fold p = 0.03) compared to those derived from primary tumours. Resistance to olaparib and veliparib was correlated Pearsons-R 0.5393, p = 0.0311.
The incidence of BRCA1/2 deleterious mutations 1/41 cell lines derived from 33 different patients (3.0%) is much lower than the population incidence. The reversion mutations and high frequency of heterozygous mutations suggest that there is a selective pressure against BRCA1/2 in cell culture similar to the selective pressure seen in the clinic after treatment with chemotherapy. PARP inhibitors may be useful in patients with BRCA1 deleterious mutations or gene methylation.
PMCID: PMC4106023  PMID: 23415752
BRCA1/2; ovarian; mutation; methylation; parp inhibitor; olaparib; veliparib
7.  Peroxiredoxin-1 protects estrogen receptor α from oxidative stress-induced suppression and is a protein biomarker of favorable prognosis in breast cancer 
Peroxiredoxin-1 (PRDX1) is a multifunctional protein, acting as a hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) scavenger, molecular chaperone and immune modulator. Although differential PRDX1 expression has been described in many tumors, the potential role of PRDX1 in breast cancer remains highly ambiguous. Using a comprehensive antibody-based proteomics approach, we interrogated PRDX1 protein as a putative biomarker in estrogen receptor (ER)-positive breast cancer.
An anti-PRDX1 antibody was validated in breast cancer cell lines using immunoblotting, immunohistochemistry and reverse phase protein array (RPPA) technology. PRDX1 protein expression was evaluated in two independent breast cancer cohorts, represented on a screening RPPA (n = 712) and a validation tissue microarray (n = 498). In vitro assays were performed exploring the functional contribution of PRDX1, with oxidative stress conditions mimicked via treatment with H2O2, peroxynitrite, or adenanthin, a PRDX1/2 inhibitor.
In ER-positive cases, high PRDX1 protein expression is a biomarker of improved prognosis across both cohorts. In the validation cohort, high PRDX1 expression was an independent predictor of improved relapse-free survival (hazard ratio (HR) = 0.62, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.40 to 0.96, P = 0.032), breast cancer-specific survival (HR = 0.44, 95% CI = 0.24 to 0.79, P = 0.006) and overall survival (HR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.44 to 0.85, P = 0.004). RPPA screening of cancer signaling proteins showed that ERα protein was upregulated in PRDX1 high tumors. Exogenous H2O2 treatment decreased ERα protein levels in ER-positive cells. PRDX1 knockdown further sensitized cells to H2O2- and peroxynitrite-mediated effects, whilst PRDX1 overexpression protected against this response. Inhibition of PRDX1/2 antioxidant activity with adenanthin dramatically reduced ERα levels in breast cancer cells.
PRDX1 is shown to be an independent predictor of improved outcomes in ER-positive breast cancer. Through its antioxidant function, PRDX1 may prevent oxidative stress-mediated ERα loss, thereby potentially contributing to maintenance of an ER-positive phenotype in mammary tumors. These results for the first time imply a close connection between biological activity of PRDX1 and regulation of estrogen-mediated signaling in breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC4226972  PMID: 25011585
8.  Integrative analysis of proteomic signatures, mutations and drug responsiveness in the NCI 60 cancer cell line set 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2010;9(2):257-267.
Aberrations in oncogenes and tumor suppressors frequently affect the activity of critical signal transduction pathways. To analyze systematically the relationship between the activation status of protein networks and other characteristics of cancer cells, we performed reverse phase protein array (RPPA) profiling of the NCI60 cell lines for total protein expression and activation-specific markers of critical signaling pathways. To extend the scope of the study, we merged those data with previously published RPPA results for the NCI60. Integrative analysis of the expanded RPPA data set revealed 5 major clusters of cell lines and 5 principal proteomic signatures. Comparison of mutations in the NCI60 cell lines with patterns of protein expression demonstrated significant associations for PTEN, PIK3CA, BRAF and APC mutations with proteomic clusters. PIK3CA and PTEN mutation enrichment were not cell lineage-specific but were associated with dominant yet distinct groups of proteins. The five RPPA-defined clusters were strongly associated with sensitivity to standard anti-cancer agents. RPPA analysis identified 27 protein features significantly associated with sensitivity to paclitaxel. The functional status of those proteins was interrogated in a paclitaxel whole genome siRNA library synthetic lethality screen, and confirmed the predicted associations with drug sensitivity. These studies expand our understanding of the activation status of protein networks in the NCI60 cancer cell lines, demonstrate the importance of the direct study of protein expression and activation, and provide a basis for further studies integrating the information with other molecular and pharmacological characteristics of cancer.
PMCID: PMC4085051  PMID: 20124458
NCI60; reverse phase protein arrays; signal transduction
9.  Genome-wide Transcriptome Profiling of Homologous Recombination DNA Repair 
Nature communications  2014;5:3361.
Homologous recombination (HR) repair deficiency predisposes to cancer development, but also sensitizes cancer cells to DNA-damage-inducing therapeutics. Here we identify an HR-defect (HRD) gene signature, which can be used to functionally assess HR repair status without interrogating individual genetic alterations in cells. By using this HRD gene signature as a functional network analysis tool, we discover that simultaneous loss of two major tumor suppressors BRCA1 and PTEN extensively rewire the HR repair-deficient phenotype, which is found in cells with defects in either BRCA1 or PTEN alone. Moreover, the HRD gene signature serves as an effective drug discovery platform to identify agents targeting HR repair as potential chemo/radio-sensitizers. More importantly, this HRD gene signature is able to predict clinical outcomes across multiple cancer lineages. Our findings, therefore, provide a molecular profile of HR repair to assess its status at a functional network level, which can provide both biological insights and have clinical implications in cancer.
PMCID: PMC4017859  PMID: 24553445
10.  The MyD88+ Phenotype Is an Adverse Prognostic Factor in Epithelial Ovarian Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100816.
The prognosis of epithelial ovarian cancer is poor in part due to the high frequency of chemoresistance. Recent evidence points to the Toll-like receptor-4 (TLR4), and particularly its adaptor protein MyD88, as one potential mediator of this resistance. This study aims to provide further evidence that MyD88 positive cancer cells are clinically significant, stem-like and reproducibly detectable for the purposes of prognostic stratification. Expression of TLR4 and MyD88 was assessed immunohistochemically in 198 paraffin-embedded ovarian tissues and in an embryonal carcinoma model of cancer stemness. In parallel, expression of TLR4 and MyD88 mRNA and regulatory microRNAs (miR-21 and miR-146a) was assessed, as well as in a series of chemosensitive and resistant cancer cells lines. Functional analysis of the pathway was assessed in chemoresistant SKOV-3 ovarian cancer cells. TLR4 and MyD88 expression can be reproducibly assessed via immunohistochemistry using a semi-quantitative scoring system. TLR4 expression was present in all ovarian epithelium (normal and neoplastic), whereas MyD88 was restricted to neoplastic cells, independent of tumour grade and associated with reduced progression-free and overall survival, in an immunohistological specific subset of serous carcinomas, p<0.05. MiR-21 and miR-146a expression was significantly increased in MyD88 negative cancers (p<0.05), indicating their participation in regulation. Significant alterations in MyD88 mRNA expression were observed between chemosensitive and chemoresistant cells and tissue. Knockdown of TLR4 in SKOV-3 ovarian cells recovered chemosensitivity. Knockdown of MyD88 alone did not. MyD88 expression was down-regulated in differentiated embryonal carcinoma (NTera2) cells, supporting the MyD88+ cancer stem cell hypothesis. Our findings demonstrate that expression of MyD88 is associated with significantly reduced patient survival and altered microRNA levels and suggest an intact/functioning TLR4/MyD88 pathway is required for acquisition of the chemoresistant phenotype. Ex vivo manipulation of ovarian cancer stem cell (CSC) differentiation can decrease MyD88 expression, providing a potentially valuable CSC model for ovarian cancer.
PMCID: PMC4076208  PMID: 24977712
12.  A functional proteogenomic analysis of endometrioid and clear cell carcinomas using reverse phase protein array and mutation analysis: protein expression is histotype-specific and loss of ARID1A/BAF250a is associated with AKT phosphorylation 
BMC Cancer  2014;14:120.
Ovarian cancer is now recognized as a number of distinct diseases primarily defined by histological subtype. Both clear cell ovarian carcinomas (CCC) and ovarian endometrioid carcinomas (EC) may arise from endometriosis and frequently harbor mutations in the ARID1A tumor suppressor gene. We studied the influence of histological subtype on protein expression with reverse phase protein array (RPPA) and assessed proteomic changes associated with ARID1A mutation/BAF250a expression in EC and CCC.
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) for BAF250a expression was performed on 127 chemotherapy-naive ovarian carcinomas (33 CCC, 29 EC, and 65 high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (HGSC)). Whole tumor lysates were prepared from frozen banked tumor samples and profiled by RPPA using 116 antibodies. ARID1A mutations were identified by exome sequencing, and PIK3CA mutations were characterized by MALDI-TOF mass spectrometry. SAM (Significance Analysis of Microarrays) was performed to determine differential protein expression by histological subtype and ARID1A mutation status. Multivariate logistic regression was used to assess the impact of ARID1A mutation status/BAF250a expression on AKT phosphorylation (pAKT). PIK3CA mutation type and PTEN expression were included in the model. BAF250a knockdown was performed in 3 clear cell lines using siRNA to ARID1A.
Marked differences in protein expression were observed that are driven by histotype. Compared to HGSC, SAM identified over 50 proteins that are differentially expressed in CCC and EC. These included PI3K/AKT pathway proteins, those regulating the cell cycle, apoptosis, transcription, and other signaling pathways including steroid hormone signaling. Multivariate models showed that tumors with loss of BAF250a expression showed significantly higher levels of AKT-Thr308 and AKT-Ser473 phosphorylation (p < 0.05). In 31 CCC cases, pAKT was similarly significantly increased in tumors with BAF250a loss on IHC. Knockdown of BAF250a by siRNA in three CCC cell lines wild type for ARID1A showed no increase in either pAKT-Thr308 or pAKT-S473 suggesting that pAKT in tumor tissues is indirectly regulated by BAF250a expression.
Proteomic assessment of CCC and EC demonstrates remarkable differences in protein expression that are dependent on histotype, thereby further characterizing these cancers. AKT phosphorylation is associated with ARID1A/BAF250a deficient tumors, however in ovarian cancers the mechanism remains to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC3941949  PMID: 24559118
Ovarian cancer; Proteomics; ARID1A/BAF250a; PIK3CA mutation; AKT; Phosphorylation
13.  Mechanistic Basis for Overcoming Platinum Resistance Using Copper Chelating Agents 
Molecular cancer therapeutics  2012;11(11):2483-2494.
Platinum (Pt)-based antitumor agents are widely used in cancer chemotherapy. Drug resistance is a major obstacle to the successful use of these agents because once drug resistance develops, other effective treatment options are limited. Recently, we have conducted a clinical trial using a copper (Cu)-lowering agent to overcome Pt drug resistance in ovarian cancer patients and the preliminary results are encouraging. In supporting this clinical study, using three pairs of cisplatin (cDDP)-resistant cell lines and two ovarian cancer cell lines derived from patients who had failed in Pt-based chemotherapy, we demonstrated that cDDP resistance associated with reduced expression of the high affinity copper transporter (hCtr1) which is also a cDDP transporter, can be preferentially re-sensitized by copper-lowering agents due to enhanced hCtr1 expression, as compared with their drug-sensitive counterparts. Such a preferential induction of hCtr1 expression in cDDP-resistant variants by Cu chelation can be explained by the mammalian Cu homeostasis regulatory mechanism. Enhanced cell-killing efficacy by a Cu-lowering agent was also observed in animal xenografts bearing cDDP-resistant cells. Finally, by analyzing a public gene expression dataset, we found that ovarian cancer patients with elevated levels of hCtr1 in their tumors, but not ATP7A and ATP7B, had more favorable outcomes after Pt-drug treatment than those expressing low hCtr1 levels. This study reveals the mechanistic basis for using Cu chelation to overcome cDDP resistance in clinical investigations.
PMCID: PMC3496003  PMID: 22914438
Cisplatin; high-affinity copper transporter; Cu-lowering agents; drug-resistance
14.  Critical research gaps and translational priorities for the successful prevention and treatment of breast cancer 
Eccles, Suzanne A | Aboagye, Eric O | Ali, Simak | Anderson, Annie S | Armes, Jo | Berditchevski, Fedor | Blaydes, Jeremy P | Brennan, Keith | Brown, Nicola J | Bryant, Helen E | Bundred, Nigel J | Burchell, Joy M | Campbell, Anna M | Carroll, Jason S | Clarke, Robert B | Coles, Charlotte E | Cook, Gary JR | Cox, Angela | Curtin, Nicola J | Dekker, Lodewijk V | dos Santos Silva, Isabel | Duffy, Stephen W | Easton, Douglas F | Eccles, Diana M | Edwards, Dylan R | Edwards, Joanne | Evans, D Gareth | Fenlon, Deborah F | Flanagan, James M | Foster, Claire | Gallagher, William M | Garcia-Closas, Montserrat | Gee, Julia M W | Gescher, Andy J | Goh, Vicky | Groves, Ashley M | Harvey, Amanda J | Harvie, Michelle | Hennessy, Bryan T | Hiscox, Stephen | Holen, Ingunn | Howell, Sacha J | Howell, Anthony | Hubbard, Gill | Hulbert-Williams, Nick | Hunter, Myra S | Jasani, Bharat | Jones, Louise J | Key, Timothy J | Kirwan, Cliona C | Kong, Anthony | Kunkler, Ian H | Langdon, Simon P | Leach, Martin O | Mann, David J | Marshall, John F | Martin, Lesley Ann | Martin, Stewart G | Macdougall, Jennifer E | Miles, David W | Miller, William R | Morris, Joanna R | Moss, Sue M | Mullan, Paul | Natrajan, Rachel | O’Connor, James PB | O’Connor, Rosemary | Palmieri, Carlo | Pharoah, Paul D P | Rakha, Emad A | Reed, Elizabeth | Robinson, Simon P | Sahai, Erik | Saxton, John M | Schmid, Peter | Smalley, Matthew J | Speirs, Valerie | Stein, Robert | Stingl, John | Streuli, Charles H | Tutt, Andrew N J | Velikova, Galina | Walker, Rosemary A | Watson, Christine J | Williams, Kaye J | Young, Leonie S | Thompson, Alastair M
Breast cancer remains a significant scientific, clinical and societal challenge. This gap analysis has reviewed and critically assessed enduring issues and new challenges emerging from recent research, and proposes strategies for translating solutions into practice.
More than 100 internationally recognised specialist breast cancer scientists, clinicians and healthcare professionals collaborated to address nine thematic areas: genetics, epigenetics and epidemiology; molecular pathology and cell biology; hormonal influences and endocrine therapy; imaging, detection and screening; current/novel therapies and biomarkers; drug resistance; metastasis, angiogenesis, circulating tumour cells, cancer ‘stem’ cells; risk and prevention; living with and managing breast cancer and its treatment. The groups developed summary papers through an iterative process which, following further appraisal from experts and patients, were melded into this summary account.
The 10 major gaps identified were: (1) understanding the functions and contextual interactions of genetic and epigenetic changes in normal breast development and during malignant transformation; (2) how to implement sustainable lifestyle changes (diet, exercise and weight) and chemopreventive strategies; (3) the need for tailored screening approaches including clinically actionable tests; (4) enhancing knowledge of molecular drivers behind breast cancer subtypes, progression and metastasis; (5) understanding the molecular mechanisms of tumour heterogeneity, dormancy, de novo or acquired resistance and how to target key nodes in these dynamic processes; (6) developing validated markers for chemosensitivity and radiosensitivity; (7) understanding the optimal duration, sequencing and rational combinations of treatment for improved personalised therapy; (8) validating multimodality imaging biomarkers for minimally invasive diagnosis and monitoring of responses in primary and metastatic disease; (9) developing interventions and support to improve the survivorship experience; (10) a continuing need for clinical material for translational research derived from normal breast, blood, primary, relapsed, metastatic and drug-resistant cancers with expert bioinformatics support to maximise its utility. The proposed infrastructural enablers include enhanced resources to support clinically relevant in vitro and in vivo tumour models; improved access to appropriate, fully annotated clinical samples; extended biomarker discovery, validation and standardisation; and facilitated cross-discipline working.
With resources to conduct further high-quality targeted research focusing on the gaps identified, increased knowledge translating into improved clinical care should be achievable within five years.
PMCID: PMC3907091  PMID: 24286369
15.  Network inference using steady-state data and Goldbeter–koshland kinetics 
Bioinformatics  2012;28(18):2342-2348.
Motivation: Network inference approaches are widely used to shed light on regulatory interplay between molecular players such as genes and proteins. Biochemical processes underlying networks of interest (e.g. gene regulatory or protein signalling networks) are generally nonlinear. In many settings, knowledge is available concerning relevant chemical kinetics. However, existing network inference methods for continuous, steady-state data are typically rooted in statistical formulations, which do not exploit chemical kinetics to guide inference.
Results: Herein, we present an approach to network inference for steady-state data that is rooted in non-linear descriptions of biochemical mechanism. We use equilibrium analysis of chemical kinetics to obtain functional forms that are in turn used to infer networks using steady-state data. The approach we propose is directly applicable to conventional steady-state gene expression or proteomic data and does not require knowledge of either network topology or any kinetic parameters. We illustrate the approach in the context of protein phosphorylation networks, using data simulated from a recent mechanistic model and proteomic data from cancer cell lines. In the former, the true network is known and used for assessment, whereas in the latter, results are compared against known biochemistry. We find that the proposed methodology is more effective at estimating network topology than methods based on linear models.
Supplementary Information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
PMCID: PMC3436851  PMID: 22815361
16.  Management of Unusual Histological Types of Breast Cancer 
The Oncologist  2012;17(9):1135-1145.
Breast cancers of unusual histological subtype with an approximate incidence ≤1% are discussed. Each tumor subtype described represents a small but real cohort of patients with breast cancer, and although inferences may be made from this review, the management of each patient must be considered in the context of their unique clinical presentation and correlated with the evidence-based principles that apply to more common breast cancer histologies.
There is increased understanding of the heterogeneity of breast tumors, with greater emphasis now being placed on histological and molecular profiles and, in particular, their implications for prognosis and therapy. This review addresses breast cancers of unusual histological subtype with an approximate incidence ≤1%. Given the rarity of these tumors, the literature contains primarily case reports, small series, and population-based studies. Data are heterogeneous and almost entirely retrospective, frequently gathered over long time periods, in the context of changing pathological techniques and reporting. In addition, our understanding of the disease biology and therapeutic context has also evolved significantly over this time. There is often limited information about the specific therapies used and the rationale for choosing such an approach. Meaningful comparisons of treatment modalities are not feasible and it is not possible to define management guidelines. Instead, this review correlates the available information to give an impression of how each subgroup behaves—of the favored surgical technique, responses to therapy, and prognosis—as well as the emerging molecular data, highlighting new research areas for potential target in clinical trials. Each tumor subtype described represents a small but real cohort of patients with breast cancer, and although inferences may be made from this review, we are mindful of the paucity of data. The management of each patient must be considered in the context of their unique clinical presentation and correlated with the evidence-based principles that apply to more common breast cancer histologies.
PMCID: PMC3448406  PMID: 22826373
Management; Histological types; Breast cancer
17.  EGFR and K-Ras Mutations and Resistance of Lung Cancer to IGF-1R Tyrosine Kinase Inhibitors 
Cancer  2012;118(16):3993-4003.
Most patients with non–small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) have responded poorly to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). We investigated the involvement of insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF-1R) signaling in primary resistance to EGFR TKIs and the molecular determinants of resistance to IGF-1R TKIs.
Phosphorylated IGF-1R/insulin receptor (pIGF-1R/IR) was immunohistochemically evaluated in a NSCLC tissue microarray. We analyzed the antitumor effects of an IGF-1R TKI (PQIP or OSI-906), either alone or in combination with a small-molecular inhibitor (PD98059 or U0126) or with siRNA targeting K-Ras or MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase kinase (MEK), in vitro and in vivo in NSCLC cells with variable histologic features and EGFR or K-Ras mutations.
pIGF-1R/IR expression in NSCLC specimens was associated with a history of tobacco smoking, squamous cell carcinoma histology, mutant (mut) K-Ras, and wild-type (wt) EGFR, all of which have been strongly associated with poor response to EGFR TKIs. IGF-1R TKIs exhibited significant antitumor activity in NSCLC cells with wt EGFR and wt K-Ras but not in those with mutations in these genes. Introduction of mut K-Ras attenuated the effects of IGF-1R TKIs on NSCLC cells expressing wt K-Ras. Conversely, inactivation of MEK restored sensitivity to IGF-TKIs in cells carrying mut K-Ras.
The mutation status of both EGFR and K-Ras could be predictive markers of response to IGF-1R TKIs. Also, MEK antagonism can abrogate primary resistance of NSCLC cells to IGF-1R TKIs.
PMCID: PMC3674414  PMID: 22359227
EGFR; K-Ras; IGF-1R; lung cancer; TKI
18.  Perifosine plus docetaxel in patients with platinum and taxane resistant or refractory high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer 
Gynecologic oncology  2012;126(1):47-53.
On the basis of reversal of taxane resistance with AKT inhibition, we initiated a phase I trial of the AKT inhibitor perifosine with docetaxel in taxane and platinum-resistant or refractory epithelial ovarian cancer.
Patients with pathologically confirmed high-grade epithelial ovarian cancer (taxane resistant, n = 10; taxane refractory, n = 11) were enrolled. Peripheral blood samples and tumor biopsies were obtained and 18F-FDG-PET and DCE-MRI scans were performed for pharmacodynamic and imaging studies.
Patients received a total of 42 treatment cycles. No dose-limiting toxicity was observed. The median progression-free survival and overall survival were 1.9 months and 4.5 months, respectively. One patient with a PTEN mutation achieved a partial remission (PR) for 7.5 months, and another patient with PIK3CA mutation had stable disease (SD) for 4 months. Two other patients without apparent PI3K pathway aberrations achieved SD. Two patients with RAS mutations demonstrated rapid progression. Decreased phosphorylated S6 correlated with 18F-FDG-PET responses.
Patients tolerated perifosine 150 mg PO daily plus docetaxel at 75 mg/m2 every 4 weeks. Further clinical evaluation of effects of perifosine with docetaxel on biological markers and efficacy in patients with ovarian cancer with defined PI3K pathway mutational status is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3738300  PMID: 22487539
19.  Increased platelet reactivity in patients with late-stage metastatic cancer 
Cancer Medicine  2013;2(4):564-570.
Platelet hyperreactivity is associated with an increased risk of thrombosis. Cancer patients are at an increased risk of thrombosis, a risk that increases with disease progression. While cancer patients show evidence of platelet activation in vivo, few studies have extensively assessed whether these patients display platelet hyperreactivity. We hypothesized that patients with metastatic cancer would display platelet hyperreactivity, reflecting their associated high risk of thrombosis. In a cohort of patients with metastatic cancer (n = 13), we assessed platelet function using well-established assays of platelet reactivity (agonist-induced platelet aggregation, spontaneous platelet aggregation, and agonist-induced P-selectin expression). In comparison with healthy controls (n = 10), patients with metastatic cancer displayed global platelet hyperreactivity. Agonist-induced platelet aggregation responses to ADP (adenosine diphosphate), epinephrine, collagen, arachidonic acid, and PAR-1 (protease-activated receptor-1) activating peptide, as well as spontaneous platelet aggregation, were significantly increased in patients with metastatic cancer. Furthermore, agonist-induced platelet P-selectin expression was also significantly increased within the patient cohort. We demonstrate that patients with metastatic cancer are characterized by global platelet hyperreactivity, a factor that may contribute to their increased risk of thrombosis.
We assessed platelet function in a cohort of patients with metastatic cancer (n = 13) using well-established assays of platelet reactivity. Agonist-induced platelet aggregation and activation in response to platelet agonists, as well as spontaneous platelet aggregation, was significantly increased in cancer patients compared with healthy controls. We demonstrate that patients with metastatic cancer are characterized by global platelet hyperreactivity, a factor that may contribute to their increased risk of thrombosis.
PMCID: PMC3799291  PMID: 24156029
Activation; aggregation; hyperreactivity; metastasis; platelets
20.  JNK-1 Inhibition Leads to Antitumor Activity in Ovarian Cancer 
To demonstrate the functional, clinical and biological significance of JNK-1 in ovarian carcinoma.
Experimental Design
Analysis of the impact of JNK on 116 epithelial ovarian cancers was conducted. The role of JNK in vitro and in experimental models of ovarian cancer was assessed. We studied the role of WBZ_4, a novel JNK inhibitor redesigned from imatinib based on targeting wrapping defects, in cell lines and in experimental models of ovarian cancer.
We found a significant association of pJNK with progression free survival in the 116 epithelial ovarian cancers obtained at primary debulking therapy. WBZ_4 led to cell growth inhibition and increased apoptosis in a dose dependent fashion in four ovarian cancer cell lines. In vivo, while imatinib had no effect on tumor growth, WBZ_4 inhibited tumor growth in orthotopic murine models of ovarian cancer. The anti-tumor effect was further increased in combination with docetaxel. Silencing of JNK-1 with systemically administered siRNA led to significantly reduced tumor weights as compared to non-silencing siRNA controls, indicating that indeed the antitumor effects observed were due to JNK-1 inhibition.
These studies identify JNK-1 as an attractive therapeutic target in ovarian carcinoma and that the re-designed WBZ_4 compound should be considered for further clinical development.
PMCID: PMC3716580  PMID: 20028751
JNK-1; Ovarian Cancer; Wrapping defects; Tyrosine Kinase inhibitor; Dehydrons
21.  Roles of genetic variants in the PI3K and RAS/RAF pathways in susceptibility to endometrial cancer and clinical outcomes 
The phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/PTEN/AKT/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathways have been implicated in endometrial tumorigenesis. In this candidate pathway analysis, we investigated associations between genetic variations in these two pathways and both risk and clinical outcomes of endometrial cancer.
We genotyped a total of 48 potentially functional SNPs in 11 key genes (AKT1, AKT2, AKT3, BRAF, FRAP1, KRAS, PDPK1, PIK3CA, PIK3CB, PIK3R1, and PTEN) with the Sequenom genotyping platform in 115 endometrial cancer patients and 230 cancer-free women to evaluate their associations with risk, survival, and recurrence of endometrial cancer.
We found the following: (1) PIK3CA rs6443624 and rs9838411 variants either borderline or significantly decreased risk of endometrial cancer in a dominant model (adjusted odds ratio [OR], 0.62; 95% CI, 0.39–1.00 and 0.59; 95% CI, 0.36–0.95, respectively). Furthermore, there was a statistically significant multiplicative interaction (Pint = 0.036) between these two loci in risk of endometrial cancer. In contrast, the AKT1 rs2498801 genotype significantly increased risk of endometrial cancer (adjusted OR, 1.94; 95% CI, 1.02–3.67 in a recessive model). (2) In Cox regression analyses, three SNPs (PIK3R1 rs1862162, AKT2 rs892119, and PIK3CA rs2699887) showed significant associations with survival of endometrial cancer patients. (3) KRAS rs7312175 and PIK3CA rs6443624 had significant effects on recurrence of endometrial cancer individually and combined in a locus–dosage manner (adjusted Ptrend = 0.003).
These results suggest that common genetic variations in these pathways may modulate risk and clinical outcomes of endometrial cancer. Further replication and functional studies are needed to confirm these findings.
PMCID: PMC3526101  PMID: 22146979
PI3K/PTEN/AKT/mTOR and RAS/RAF/MEK/ERK pathways; Polymorphisms; Endometrial cancer risk; Survival; Recurrence
22.  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
23.  Aberrations in translational regulation are associated with poor prognosis in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research : BCR  2012;14(5):R138.
Translation initiation is activated in cancer through increase in eukaryotic initiation factor 4E (eIF4E), eIF4G, phosphorylated eIF4E-binding protein (p4E-BP1) and phosphorylated ribosomal protein S6 (pS6), and decreased programmed cell death protein 4 (pdcd4), a translational inhibitor. Further, translation elongation is deregulated though alterations in eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) and eEF2 kinase (eEF2K). We sought to determine the association of these translational aberrations with clinical-pathologic factors and survival outcomes in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer.
Primary tumors were collected from 190 patients with Stage I to III hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Expression of eIF4E, eIF4G, 4E-BP1, p4E-BP1 T37/46, p4E-BP1 S65, p4E-BP1 T70, S6, pS6 S235/236, pS6 S240/244, pdcd4, eEF2 and eEF2K was assessed by reverse phase protein arrays. Univariable and multivariable analyses for recurrence-free survival (RFS) and overall survival (OS) were performed.
High eEF2, S6, pS6 S240/244, p4E-BP1 T70, and low pdcd4 were significantly associated with node positivity. Median follow-up for living patients was 96 months.
High p4E-BP1 T36/47, p4E-BP1 S65, p4E-BP1 T70 and 4E-BP1 were associated with worse RFS. High p4E-BP1 T70 and pS6 S235/236, and low pdcd4, were associated with worse OS. In multivariable analysis, in addition to positive nodes, p4E-BP1 S65 remained a significant predictor of RFS (HR = 1.62, 95% CI = 1.13-2.31; P = 0.008). In addition to age, pS6 S235/236 (HR = 1.73, 95% CI = 1.03-2.90, P = 0.039), eEF2K (HR = 2.19, 95% CI = 1.35-3.56, P = 0.002) and pdcd4 (HR = 0.42, 95% CI = 0.25-0.70, P = 0.001) were associated with OS.
Increased pS6, p4E-BP1, eEF2K and decreased pdcd4 are associated with poor prognosis in hormone receptor-positive breast cancer, suggesting their role as prognostic markers and therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC4053117  PMID: 23102376
24.  An efficient procedure for protein extraction from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues for reverse phase protein arrays 
Proteome Science  2012;10:56.
Protein extraction from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues is challenging due to extensive molecular crosslinking that occurs upon formalin fixation. Reverse-phase protein array (RPPA) is a high-throughput technology, which can detect changes in protein levels and protein functionality in numerous tissue and cell sources. It has been used to evaluate protein expression mainly in frozen preparations or FFPE-based studies of limited scope. Reproducibility and reliability of the technique in FFPE samples has not yet been demonstrated extensively. We developed and optimized an efficient and reproducible procedure for extraction of proteins from FFPE cells and xenografts, and then applied the method to FFPE patient tissues and evaluated its performance on RPPA.
Fresh frozen and FFPE preparations from cell lines, xenografts and breast cancer and renal tissues were included in the study. Serial FFPE cell or xenograft sections were deparaffinized and extracted by six different protein extraction protocols. The yield and level of protein degradation were evaluated by SDS-PAGE and Western Blots. The most efficient protocol was used to prepare protein lysates from breast cancer and renal tissues, which were subsequently subjected to RPPA. Reproducibility was evaluated and Spearman correlation was calculated between matching fresh frozen and FFPE samples.
The most effective approach from six protein extraction protocols tested enabled efficient extraction of immunoreactive protein from cell line, breast cancer and renal tissue sample sets. 85% of the total of 169 markers tested on RPPA demonstrated significant correlation between FFPE and frozen preparations (p < 0.05) in at least one cell or tissue type, with only 23 markers common in all three sample sets. In addition, FFPE preparations yielded biologically meaningful observations related to pathway signaling status in cell lines, and classification of renal tissues.
With optimized protein extraction methods, FFPE tissues can be a valuable source in generating reproducible and biologically relevant proteomic profiles using RPPA, with specific marker performance varying according to tissue type.
PMCID: PMC3561137  PMID: 23006314
Formalin-fixed; Paraffin-embedded tissue; Protein extraction; Reverse phase protein array; Breast cancer; Renal cancer
25.  Modeling ductal carcinoma in situ: a HER2-Notch3 collaboration enables luminal filling 
Oncogene  2011;31(7):907-917.
A large fraction of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS), a non-invasive precursor lesion of invasive breast cancer, overexpresses the HER2/neu oncogene. The ducts of DCIS are abnormally filled with cells that evade apoptosis, but the underlying mechanisms remain incompletely understood. We overexpressed HER2 in mammary epithelial cells and observed growth factor-independent proliferation. When grown in extracellular matrix as 3- dimensional spheroids, control cells developed a hollow lumen, but HER2-overexpressing cells populated the lumen by evading apoptosis. We demonstrate that HER2 overexpression in this cellular model of DCIS drives transcriptional up-regulation of multiple components of the Notch survival pathway. Importantly, luminal filling required up-regulation of a signaling pathway comprising Notch3, its cleaved intracellular domain (NICD) and the transcriptional regulator HES1, resulting in elevated levels of c-MYC and Cyclin D1. In line with HER2- Notch3 collaboration, drugs intercepting either arm reverted the DCIS-like phenotype. In addition, we report up-regulation of Notch3 in hyperplastic lesions of HER2 transgenic animals, as well as an association between HER2 levels and expression levels of components of the Notch pathway in tumor specimens of breast cancer patients. Therefore, it is conceivable that the integration of the Notch and HER2 signaling pathways contributes to the pathophysiology of DCIS.
PMCID: PMC3193899  PMID: 21743488
breast cancer; DCIS; growth factor; spheroids; receptor tyrosine kinase; signal transduction

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