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1.  Genomic and functional analysis identifies CRKL as an oncogene amplified in lung cancer 
Oncogene  2009;29(10):1421-1430.
DNA amplifications, leading to the overexpression of oncogenes, are a cardinal feature of lung cancer and directly contribute to its pathogenesis. To uncover novel such alterations, we performed an array-based comparative genomic hybridization survey of 128 non-small cell lung cancer cell lines and tumors. Prominent among our findings, we identified recurrent high-level amplification at cytoband 22q11.21 in 3% of lung cancer specimens, with another 11% of specimens exhibiting low-level gain spanning that locus. The 22q11.21 amplicon core contained eight named genes, only four of which were overexpressed (by transcript profiling) when amplified. Among these, CRKL encodes an adaptor protein functioning in signal transduction, best known as a substrate of the BCR-ABL kinase in chronic myelogenous leukemia. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of CRKL in lung cancer cell lines with (but not without) amplification led to significantly decreased cell proliferation, cell-cycle progression, cell survival, and cell motility and invasion. In addition, overexpression of CRKL in immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells led to EGF-independent cell growth. Our findings indicate that amplification and resultant overexpression of CRKL contributes to diverse oncogenic phenotypes in lung cancer, with implications for targeted therapy, and highlighting a role of adapter proteins as primary genetic drivers of tumorigenesis.
doi:10.1038/onc.2009.437
PMCID: PMC3320568  PMID: 19966867
CRKL; lung cancer; DNA amplification; genomic profiling; adapter protein
2.  Genome-Wide Maps of Circulating miRNA Biomarkers for Ulcerative Colitis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(2):e31241.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease – comprised of Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis (UC) - is a complex, multi-factorial inflammatory disorder of the gastrointestinal tract. In this study we have explored the utility of naturally occurring circulating miRNAs as potential blood-based biomarkers for non-invasive prediction of UC incidences. Whole genome maps of circulating miRNAs in micro-vesicles, Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells and platelets have been constructed from a cohort of 20 UC patients and 20 normal individuals. Through Significance Analysis of Microarrays, a signature of 31 differentially expressed platelet-derived miRNAs has been identified and biomarker performance estimated through a non-probabilistic binary linear classification using Support Vector Machines. Through this approach, classifier measurements reveal a predictive score of 92.8% accuracy, 96.2% specificity and 89.5% sensitivity in distinguishing UC patients from normal individuals. Additionally, the platelet-derived biomarker signature can be validated at 88% accuracy through qPCR assays, and a majority of the miRNAs in this panel can be demonstrated to sub-stratify into 4 highly correlated intensity based clusters. Analysis of predicted targets of these biomarkers reveal an enrichment of pathways associated with cytoskeleton assembly, transport, membrane permeability and regulation of transcription factors engaged in a variety of regulatory cascades that are consistent with a cell-mediated immune response model of intestinal inflammation. Interestingly, comparison of the miRNA biomarker panel and genetic loci implicated in IBD through genome-wide association studies identifies a physical linkage between hsa-miR-941 and a UC susceptibility loci located on Chr 20. Taken together, analysis of these expression maps outlines a promising catalog of novel platelet-derived miRNA biomarkers of clinical utility and provides insight into the potential biological function of these candidates in disease pathogenesis.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0031241
PMCID: PMC3281076  PMID: 22359580
3.  LYN is a mediator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and target of dasatinib in breast cancer 
Cancer research  2010;70(6):2296-2306.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a switch of polarized epithelial cells to a migratory, fibroblastoid phenotype, is considered a key process driving tumor cell invasiveness and metastasis. Using breast cancer cell lines as a model system, we sought to discover gene-expression signatures of EMT with clinical and mechanistic relevance. A supervised comparison of epithelial and mesenchymal breast cancer lines defined a 200-gene EMT signature that was prognostic across multiple breast cancer cohorts. Immunostaining of LYN, a top-ranked EMT signature gene and Src-family tyrosine kinase, was associated with significantly shorter overall survival (P=0.02), and correlated with the basal-like (“triple-negative”) phenotype. In mesenchymal breast cancer lines, RNAi-mediated knockdown of LYN inhibited cell migration and invasion, but not proliferation. Dasatinib, a dual-specificity tyrosine kinase inhibitor, also blocked invasion (but not proliferation) at nanomolar concentrations that inhibit LYN kinase activity, suggesting that LYN is a likely target and invasion a relevant endpoint for dasatinib therapy. Our findings define a prognostically-relevant EMT signature in breast cancer, and identify LYN as a mediator of invasion and possible new therapeutic target (and theranostic marker for dasatinib response), with particular relevance to clinically-aggressive basal-like breast cancer.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-09-3141
PMCID: PMC2869247  PMID: 20215510
Breast cancer; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; transcriptional profiling; LYN; dasatinib
4.  Molecular Profiling of Breast Cancer Cell Lines Defines Relevant Tumor Models and Provides a Resource for Cancer Gene Discovery 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6146.
Background
Breast cancer cell lines have been used widely to investigate breast cancer pathobiology and new therapies. Breast cancer is a molecularly heterogeneous disease, and it is important to understand how well and which cell lines best model that diversity. In particular, microarray studies have identified molecular subtypes–luminal A, luminal B, ERBB2-associated, basal-like and normal-like–with characteristic gene-expression patterns and underlying DNA copy number alterations (CNAs). Here, we studied a collection of breast cancer cell lines to catalog molecular profiles and to assess their relation to breast cancer subtypes.
Methods
Whole-genome DNA microarrays were used to profile gene expression and CNAs in a collection of 52 widely-used breast cancer cell lines, and comparisons were made to existing profiles of primary breast tumors. Hierarchical clustering was used to identify gene-expression subtypes, and Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) to discover biological features of those subtypes. Genomic and transcriptional profiles were integrated to discover within high-amplitude CNAs candidate cancer genes with coordinately altered gene copy number and expression.
Findings
Transcriptional profiling of breast cancer cell lines identified one luminal and two basal-like (A and B) subtypes. Luminal lines displayed an estrogen receptor (ER) signature and resembled luminal-A/B tumors, basal-A lines were associated with ETS-pathway and BRCA1 signatures and resembled basal-like tumors, and basal-B lines displayed mesenchymal and stem/progenitor-cell characteristics. Compared to tumors, cell lines exhibited similar patterns of CNA, but an overall higher complexity of CNA (genetically simple luminal-A tumors were not represented), and only partial conservation of subtype-specific CNAs. We identified 80 high-level DNA amplifications and 13 multi-copy deletions, and the resident genes with concomitantly altered gene-expression, highlighting known and novel candidate breast cancer genes.
Conclusions
Overall, breast cancer cell lines were genetically more complex than tumors, but retained expression patterns with relevance to the luminal-basal subtype distinction. The compendium of molecular profiles defines cell lines suitable for investigations of subtype-specific pathobiology, cancer stem cell biology, biomarkers and therapies, and provides a resource for discovery of new breast cancer genes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006146
PMCID: PMC2702084  PMID: 19582160
5.  Genomic Profiling Identifies GATA6 as a Candidate Oncogene Amplified in Pancreatobiliary Cancer 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(5):e1000081.
Pancreatobiliary cancers have among the highest mortality rates of any cancer type. Discovering the full spectrum of molecular genetic alterations may suggest new avenues for therapy. To catalogue genomic alterations, we carried out array-based genomic profiling of 31 exocrine pancreatic cancers and 6 distal bile duct cancers, expanded as xenografts to enrich the tumor cell fraction. We identified numerous focal DNA amplifications and deletions, including in 19% of pancreatobiliary cases gain at cytoband 18q11.2, a locus uncommonly amplified in other tumor types. The smallest shared amplification at 18q11.2 included GATA6, a transcriptional regulator previously linked to normal pancreas development. When amplified, GATA6 was overexpressed at both the mRNA and protein levels, and strong immunostaining was observed in 25 of 54 (46%) primary pancreatic cancers compared to 0 of 33 normal pancreas specimens surveyed. GATA6 expression in xenografts was associated with specific microarray gene-expression patterns, enriched for GATA binding sites and mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation activity. siRNA mediated knockdown of GATA6 in pancreatic cancer cell lines with amplification led to reduced cell proliferation, cell cycle progression, and colony formation. Our findings indicate that GATA6 amplification and overexpression contribute to the oncogenic phenotypes of pancreatic cancer cells, and identify GATA6 as a candidate lineage-specific oncogene in pancreatobiliary cancer, with implications for novel treatment strategies.
Author Summary
Pancreatic cancer is a devastating disease, having among the lowest survival rates of any cancer. A better understanding of the molecular basis of pancreatic cancer may lead to improved rationale therapies. We report here the discovery of amplification (i.e. extra copies) of the GATA6 gene in many human pancreatic cancers. GATA6 is a regulator of gene expression and functions in the development of the normal pancreas. Our findings indicate that its amplification and aberrant overexpression contribute to pancreatic cancer development. GATA6 joins a growing list of cancer genes with key roles in normal human development but pathogenic roles in cancer when aberrantly expressed. Our discovery of GATA6 amplification provides a new foothold into understanding the pathogenic mechanisms underlying pancreatic cancer, and suggests new strategies for therapy by targeting GATA6 or the genes it regulates.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000081
PMCID: PMC2413204  PMID: 18535672

Results 1-5 (5)