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1.  Signatures of mutational processes in human cancer 
Alexandrov, Ludmil B. | Nik-Zainal, Serena | Wedge, David C. | Aparicio, Samuel A.J.R. | Behjati, Sam | Biankin, Andrew V. | Bignell, Graham R. | Bolli, Niccolo | Borg, Ake | Børresen-Dale, Anne-Lise | Boyault, Sandrine | Burkhardt, Birgit | Butler, Adam P. | Caldas, Carlos | Davies, Helen R. | Desmedt, Christine | Eils, Roland | Eyfjörd, Jórunn Erla | Foekens, John A. | Greaves, Mel | Hosoda, Fumie | Hutter, Barbara | Ilicic, Tomislav | Imbeaud, Sandrine | Imielinsk, Marcin | Jäger, Natalie | Jones, David T.W. | Jones, David | Knappskog, Stian | Kool, Marcel | Lakhani, Sunil R. | López-Otín, Carlos | Martin, Sancha | Munshi, Nikhil C. | Nakamura, Hiromi | Northcott, Paul A. | Pajic, Marina | Papaemmanuil, Elli | Paradiso, Angelo | Pearson, John V. | Puente, Xose S. | Raine, Keiran | Ramakrishna, Manasa | Richardson, Andrea L. | Richter, Julia | Rosenstiel, Philip | Schlesner, Matthias | Schumacher, Ton N. | Span, Paul N. | Teague, Jon W. | Totoki, Yasushi | Tutt, Andrew N.J. | Valdés-Mas, Rafael | van Buuren, Marit M. | van ’t Veer, Laura | Vincent-Salomon, Anne | Waddell, Nicola | Yates, Lucy R. | Zucman-Rossi, Jessica | Futreal, P. Andrew | McDermott, Ultan | Lichter, Peter | Meyerson, Matthew | Grimmond, Sean M. | Siebert, Reiner | Campo, Elías | Shibata, Tatsuhiro | Pfister, Stefan M. | Campbell, Peter J. | Stratton, Michael R.
Nature  2013;500(7463):415-421.
All cancers are caused by somatic mutations. However, understanding of the biological processes generating these mutations is limited. The catalogue of somatic mutations from a cancer genome bears the signatures of the mutational processes that have been operative. Here, we analysed 4,938,362 mutations from 7,042 cancers and extracted more than 20 distinct mutational signatures. Some are present in many cancer types, notably a signature attributed to the APOBEC family of cytidine deaminases, whereas others are confined to a single class. Certain signatures are associated with age of the patient at cancer diagnosis, known mutagenic exposures or defects in DNA maintenance, but many are of cryptic origin. In addition to these genome-wide mutational signatures, hypermutation localized to small genomic regions, kataegis, is found in many cancer types. The results reveal the diversity of mutational processes underlying the development of cancer with potential implications for understanding of cancer etiology, prevention and therapy.
PMCID: PMC3776390  PMID: 23945592
2.  Juxtaposition of chemical and mutation- induced developmental defects in zebrafish reveal a novel copper-chelating activity for kalihinol F 
Chemistry & biology  2013;20(6):753-763.
A major hurdle in using complex systems for drug screening is the difficulty of defining the mechanistic targets of small molecules. The zebrafish provides an excellent model system for juxtaposing developmental phenotypes with mechanism discovery using organism genetics. We carried out a phenotype-based screen of uncharacterized small molecules in zebrafish that produced a variety of chemically-induced phenotypes with potential genetic parallels. Specifically, kalihinol F caused an undulated notochord, defects in pigment formation, hematopoiesis and neural development. These phenotypes were strikingly similar to the zebrafish mutant, calamity, an established model of copper deficiency. Further studies into the mechanism of action of kalihinol F revealed a novel copper chelating activity. Our data support a novel mechanism of action for kalihinol F and the utility of zebrafish as an effective system for identifying new therapeutics and target pathways.
PMCID: PMC3715381  PMID: 23790486
zebrafish; chemical screen; kalihinol F; copper; notochord
3.  Development of a Pfs25-EPA malaria transmission blocking vaccine as a chemically conjugated nanoparticle 
Vaccine  2013;31(28):2954-2962.
Successful efforts to control infectious diseases have often required the use of effective vaccines. The current global strategy for control of malaria, including elimination and eradication will also benefit from the development of an effective vaccine that interrupts malaria transmission. To this end, a vaccine that disrupts malaria transmission within the mosquito host has been investigated for several decades targeting a 25 kDa ookinete specific surface protein, identified as Pfs25. Phase 1 human trial results using a recombinant Pfs25H/Montanide ISA51 formulation demonstrated that human Pfs25 specific antibodies block parasite infectivity to mosquitoes; however, the extent of blocking was likely insufficient for an effective transmission blocking vaccine. To overcome the poor immunogenicity, processes to produce and characterize recombinant Pfs25H conjugated to a detoxified form of Pseudomonas aeruginosa exoprotein A (EPA) have been developed and used to manufacture a cGMP pilot lot for use in human clinical trials. The Pfs25-EPA conjugate appears as a nanoparticle with an average molar mass in solution of approximately 600 kDa by static light scattering with an average diameter 20 nm (range 10 to 40 nm) by dynamic light scattering. The molar ratio of Pfs25H to EPA is about 3 to 1 by amino acid analysis, respectively. Outbred mice immunized with the Pfs25-EPA conjugated nanoparticle formulated on Alhydrogel® had a 75 to 110 fold increase in Pfs25H specific antibodies when compared to an unconjugated Pfs25H/Alhydrogel® formulation. A phase 1 human trial using the Pfs25-EPA/Alhydrogel® formulation is ongoing in the United States.
PMCID: PMC3683851  PMID: 23623858
Pfs25; malaria; transmission blocking vaccine; nanoparticle; chemical-conjugate; recombinant protein
4.  Fever of unknown origin: a rare retroperitoneal cause 
BMJ Case Reports  2012;2012:bcr0320126122.
The authors present a patient with fever of unknown origin and vague loin pain. Baseline investigations revealed elevated inflammatory markers and imaging eventually identified a renal mass. Radical nephrectomy was performed at a collaborative surgical list involving both the urology and vascular surgical teams. Histological examination confirmed a retroperitoneal paraganglioma and the patient made a rapid recovery and remains well at follow-up. This case draws attention to the rare diagnosis of retroperitoneal paraganglioma and the potential for diagnostic delay. Furthermore, the vital multi-disciplinary approach to the optimum management of patients with such tumours is highlighted.
PMCID: PMC3387458  PMID: 22707686
5.  Paediatric and adult glioblastoma: multiform (epi)genomic culprits emerge 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2014;14(2):92-107.
We have extended our understanding of the molecular biology underlying adult glioblastoma over many years. In contrast, high-grade gliomas in children and adolescents have remained a relatively under-investigated disease. The latest large-scale genomic and epigenomic profiling studies have yielded an unprecedented abundance of novel data and revealed deeper insights into gliomagenesis across all age groups, highlighting key distinctions, but also some commonalities. As we are on the verge of dissecting glioblastomas into meaningful biological subgroups, this Review summarizes the hallmark genetic alterations associated with distinct epigenetic features and patient characteristics in both paediatric and adult disease, and examines the complex interplay between the glioblastoma genome and epigenome.
PMCID: PMC4003223  PMID: 24457416
6.  A retrospective cohort study identifying the principal pathological features useful in the diagnosis of inclusion body myositis 
BMJ Open  2014;4(4):e004552.
The current pathological diagnostic criteria for sporadic inclusion body myositis (IBM) lack sensitivity. Using immunohistochemical techniques abnormal protein aggregates have been identified in IBM, including some associated with neurodegenerative disorders. Our objective was to investigate the diagnostic utility of a number of markers of protein aggregates together with mitochondrial and inflammatory changes in IBM.
Retrospective cohort study. The sensitivity of pathological features was evaluated in cases of Griggs definite IBM. The diagnostic potential of the most reliable features was then assessed in clinically typical IBM with rimmed vacuoles (n=15), clinically typical IBM without rimmed vacuoles (n=9) and IBM mimics—protein accumulation myopathies containing rimmed vacuoles (n=7) and steroid-responsive inflammatory myopathies (n=11).
Specialist muscle services at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London.
Individual pathological features, in isolation, lacked sensitivity and specificity. However, the morphology and distribution of p62 aggregates in IBM were characteristic and in a myopathy with rimmed vacuoles, the combination of characteristic p62 aggregates and increased sarcolemmal and internal major histocompatibility complex class I expression or endomysial T cells were diagnostic for IBM with a sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 100%. In an inflammatory myopathy lacking rimmed vacuoles, the presence of mitochondrial changes was 100% sensitive and 73% specific for IBM; characteristic p62 aggregates were specific (91%), but lacked sensitivity (44%).
We propose an easily applied diagnostic algorithm for the pathological diagnosis of IBM. Additionally our findings support the hypothesis that many of the pathological features considered typical of IBM develop later in the disease, explaining their poor sensitivity at disease presentation and emphasising the need for revised pathological criteria to supplement the clinical criteria in the diagnosis of IBM.
PMCID: PMC4010816  PMID: 24776709
7.  Inhibition of Breast Cancer Metastasis Suppressor 1 Promotes a Mesenchymal Phenotype in Lung Epithelial Cells That Express Oncogenic K-RasV12 and Loss of p53 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95869.
Expression of the breast cancer metastasis suppressor 1 (BRMS1) protein is dramatically reduced in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cells and in primary human tumors. Although BRMS1 is a known suppressor of metastasis, the mechanisms through which BRMS1 functions to regulate cell migration and invasion in response to specific NSCLC driver mutations are poorly understood. To experimentally address this, we utilized immortalized human bronchial epithelial cells in which p53 was knocked down in the presence of oncogenic K-RasV12 (HBEC3-p53KD-K-RasV12). These genetic alterations are commonly found in NSCLC and are associated with a poor prognosis. To determine the importance of BRMS1 for cytoskeletal function, cell migration and invasion in our model system we stably knocked down BRMS1. Here, we report that loss of BRMS1 in HBEC3-p53KD-K-RasV12 cells results in a dramatic increase in cell migration and invasion compared to controls that expressed BRMS1. Moreover, the loss of BRMS1 resulted in additional morphological changes including F-actin re-distribution, paxillin accumulation at the leading edge of the lamellapodium, and cellular shape changes resembling mesenchymal phenotypes. Importantly, re-expression of BRMS1 restores, in part, cell migration and invasion; however it does not fully reestablish the epithelial phenotype. These finding suggests that loss of BRMS1 results in a permanent, largely irreversible, mesenchymal phenotype associated with increased cell migration and invasion. Collectively, in NSCLC cells without p53 and expression of oncogenic K-Ras our study identifies BRMS1 as a key regulator required to maintain a cellular morphology and cytoskeletal architecture consistent with an epithelial phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3999110  PMID: 24763730
8.  Using Debate to Teach Pharmacy Students About Ethical Issues 
Objective. To create, implement, and evaluate debate as a method of teaching pharmacy undergraduate students about ethical issues.
Design. Debate workshops with 5 hours of contact with student peers and facilitators and 5 hours of self-study were developed for second-year pharmacy students. Student development of various skills and understanding of the topic were assessed by staff members and student peers.
Assessment. One hundred fifty students completed the workshops. The mean score for debating was 25.9 out of 30, with scores ranging from 23.2 to 28.7. Seventy percent of students agreed that the debates were a useful teaching method in the degree program.
Conclusion. A series of workshops using debates effectively delivered course content on ethical issues and resulted in pharmacy students developing skills such as teamwork, peer assessment, communication, and critical evaluation. These findings suggest that pharmacy students respond favorably to a program using debates as a teaching tool.
PMCID: PMC3996389  PMID: 24761018
communication skills; critical evaluation; debate; ethics; team-based learning
9.  In Vivo DPP-4 Inhibition to Enhance Engraftment of Single-Unit Cord Blood Transplants in Adults with Hematological Malignancies 
Stem Cells and Development  2012;22(7):1007-1015.
Delayed engraftment is a significant limitation of umbilical cord blood (UCB) transplantation due to low stem cell numbers. Inhibition of dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP)-4 enhanced engraftment in murine transplants. We evaluated the feasibility of systemic DPP-4 inhibition using sitagliptin to enhance engraftment of single-unit UCB grafts in adults with hematological malignancies. Twenty-four patients (21–58 years) received myeloablative conditioning, followed by sitagliptin 600 mg orally days −1 to +2, and single UCB grafts day 0. Seventeen receiving red cell-depleted (RCD) grafts, matched at 4 (n=10) or 5 (n=7) of 6 human leucocyte antigen (HLA) loci with median nucleated cell dose 3.6 (2.5–5.2)×107/kg, engrafted at median of 21 (range, 13–50) days with cumulative incidence of 94% (95% confidence interval, 84%–100%) at 50 days. Plasma DDP-4 activity was reduced to 23%±7% within 2 h. Area under DPP-4 activity-time curve (AUCA) correlated with engraftment; 9 of 11 with AUCA <6,000 activity·h engrafted within ≤21 days, while all 6 with higher AUCA engrafted later (P=0.002). Seven patients receiving red cell replete grafts had 10-fold lower colony forming units after thawing compared with RCD grafts, with poor engraftment. Systemic DPP-4 inhibition was well tolerated and may enhance engraftment. Optimizing sitagliptin dosing to achieve more sustained DPP-4 inhibition may further improve outcome.
PMCID: PMC3607909  PMID: 23270493
10.  Epigenetic regulation of colon cancer and intestinal stem cells 
Current opinion in cell biology  2013;25(2):177-183.
The importance and role of the cellular epigenome in cell fating and development has been studied for decades. The epigenome encompasses a range of attributes including DNA methylation, histone modifications, and chromatin remodelers; together these components define the cellular transcriptome, identity, and function. The cellular epigenome is dynamic in response to environmental signals, modifiable during normal cell differentiation and is heritable in daughter cells. This plasticity, however, poses a risk for misregulation and may underlie a number of hereditary disorders, development defects, and cancer. Although the first epigenetic change described in cancer was gene hypomethylation [1,2], we know that cancers display global hypomethylation, as well as, site-specific gene hypermethylation in addition to changes in chromatin modifications. Mechanisms explaining the sometimes paradoxical epigenetic changes observed in cancer, their contributions to tumor initiation and progression and how epigenetics relate to genetic events are poorly understood. In this review we will briefly discuss recent findings on the epigenomic states observed in colon cancer, in particular, how perturbations to the genome and epigenome together may contribute to initiation and progression of colon cancer.
PMCID: PMC3615052  PMID: 23402869
11.  Small-Molecule Inhibition of the uPAR·uPA Interaction: Synthesis, Biochemical, Cellular, in vivo Pharmacokinetics and Efficacy Studies in Breast Cancer Metastasis 
Bioorganic & medicinal chemistry  2013;21(7):2145-2155.
The uPAR·uPA protein-protein interaction (PPI) is involved in signaling and proteolytic events that promote tumor invasion and metastasis. A previous study had identified 4 (IPR-803) from computational screening of a commercial chemical library and shown that the compound inhibited uPAR·uPA PPI in competition biochemical assays and invasion cellular studies. Here, we synthesize 4 to evaluate in vivo pharmacokinetic (PK) and efficacy studies in a murine breast cancer metastasis model. First, we show, using fluorescence polarization and saturation transfer difference (STD) NMR, that 4 binds directly to uPAR with sub-micromolar affinity of 0.2 μM. We show that 4 blocks invasion of breast MDA-MB-231, and inhibits matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) breakdown of the extracellular matrix (ECM). Derivatives of 4 also inhibited MMP activity and blocked invasion in a concentration-dependent manner. 4 also impaired MDA-MB-231 cell adhesion and migration. Extensive in vivo PK studies in NOD-SCID mice revealed a half-life of nearly 5 hours and peak concentration of 5 μM. Similar levels of the inhibitor were detected in tumor tissue up to 10 hours. Female NSG mice inoculated with highly malignant TMD-MDA-MB-231 in their mammary fat pads showed that 4 impaired metastasis to the lungs with only four of the treated mice showing severe or marked metastasis compared to ten for the untreated mice. Compound 4 is a promising template for the development of compounds with enhanced PK parameters and greater efficacy.
PMCID: PMC3625246  PMID: 23411397
12.  RAG-mediated recombination is the predominant driver of oncogenic rearrangement in ETV6-RUNX1 acute lymphoblastic leukemia 
Nature genetics  2014;46(2):116-125.
The ETV6-RUNX1 fusion gene, found in 25% of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), is acquired in utero but requires additional somatic mutations for overt leukemia. We used exome and low-coverage whole-genome sequencing to characterize secondary events associated with leukemic transformation. RAG-mediated deletions emerge as the dominant mutational process, characterized by recombination signal sequence motifs near the breakpoints; incorporation of non-templated sequence at the junction; ~30-fold enrichment at promoters and enhancers of genes actively transcribed in B-cell development and an unexpectedly high ratio of recurrent to non-recurrent structural variants. Single cell tracking shows that this mechanism is active throughout leukemic evolution with evidence of localized clustering and re-iterated deletions. Integration of point mutation and rearrangement data identifies ATF7IP and MGA as two new tumor suppressor genes in ALL. Thus, a remarkably parsimonious mutational process transforms ETV6-RUNX1 lymphoblasts, targeting the promoters, enhancers and first exons of genes that normally regulate B-cell differentiation.
PMCID: PMC3960636  PMID: 24413735
13.  Increased cardiovascular risk factors in breast cancer survivors identified by routine measurements of body composition, resting heart rate and arterial blood pressure 
SpringerPlus  2014;3:150.
The main objective of this prospective study was to obtain a better understanding of the body composition and vital sign measures of cancers survivors (CS) when compared to regular (R) patients.
A total of 9,315 female patients were evaluated: 476 CS and 8,839 R patients. Kinesiologists worked side by side with the medical/oncology team to collect a number of base-line measurements on body composition, resting heart rate, and blood pressure as part of the standard intake evaluation during the female patients’ annual checkup.
CS were more likely to have a higher BMI (P = 0.001) and a larger waist circumference (P = 0.001) than R patients. CS were also shown to have higher blood pressure values: diastolic pressure of 76.9 mmHg ± 10.5 VS 75.5 mmHg ± 9.9, (P = 0.01) and systolic pressure of 129.8 mmHg ± 17.2 VS 126.7 mmHg ±17.4 (P = 0.001) compared to R patients, respectively. Regression analysis looking at the relationship between mean arterial pressure and waist circumference did not show any difference between the two groups (CS vs R).
CS who had a higher BMI, a larger waist circumference and higher blood pressure levels, are probably at greater risk for developing cardiovascular disease, diabetes, various musculoskeletal problems as well as an increased risk for various forms of cancers including reoccurrence of previously treated cancer when compared to R patients. Changes in body composition should be considered by the medical team when looking at preventative healthcare strategies for their CS patients.
PMCID: PMC4002997  PMID: 24790808
Breast cancer; Waist circumference; Blood pressure
14.  De Novo Structure Prediction of Globular Proteins Aided by Sequence Variation-Derived Contacts 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92197.
The advent of high accuracy residue-residue intra-protein contact prediction methods enabled a significant boost in the quality of de novo structure predictions. Here, we investigate the potential benefits of combining a well-established fragment-based folding algorithm – FRAGFOLD, with PSICOV, a contact prediction method which uses sparse inverse covariance estimation to identify co-varying sites in multiple sequence alignments. Using a comprehensive set of 150 diverse globular target proteins, up to 266 amino acids in length, we are able to address the effectiveness and some limitations of such approaches to globular proteins in practice. Overall we find that using fragment assembly with both statistical potentials and predicted contacts is significantly better than either statistical potentials or contacts alone. Results show up to nearly 80% of correct predictions (TM-score ≥0.5) within analysed dataset and a mean TM-score of 0.54. Unsuccessful modelling cases emerged either from conformational sampling problems, or insufficient contact prediction accuracy. Nevertheless, a strong dependency of the quality of final models on the fraction of satisfied predicted long-range contacts was observed. This not only highlights the importance of these contacts on determining the protein fold, but also (combined with other ensemble-derived qualities) provides a powerful guide as to the choice of correct models and the global quality of the selected model. A proposed quality assessment scoring function achieves 0.93 precision and 0.77 recall for the discrimination of correct folds on our dataset of decoys. These findings suggest the approach is well-suited for blind predictions on a variety of globular proteins of unknown 3D structure, provided that enough homologous sequences are available to construct a large and accurate multiple sequence alignment for the initial contact prediction step.
PMCID: PMC3956894  PMID: 24637808
15.  Structure-Based Design and Synthesis of an HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor Exploiting X-Ray and Thermodynamic Characterization 
ACS medicinal chemistry letters  2013;4(3):338-343.
The design, synthesis, thermodynamic and crystallographic characterization of a potent, broad spectrum, second-generation HIV-1 entry inhibitor that engages conserved carbonyl hydrogen bonds within gp120 has been achieved. The optimized antagonist exhibits a sub-micromolar binding affinity (110 nM) and inhibits viral entry of clade B and C viruses (IC50 geometric mean titer of 1.7 and 14.0 μM, respectively), without promoting CD4-independent viral entry. thermodynamic signatures indicate a binding preference for the (R,R)-over the (S,S)-enantiomer. The crystal structure of the small molecule-gp120 complex reveals the displacement of crystallographic water and the formation of a hydrogen bond with a backbone carbonyl of the bridging sheet. Thus, structure-based design and synthesis targeting the highly conserved and structurally characterized CD4:gp120 interface is an effective tactic to enhance the neutralization potency of small molecule HIV-1 entry inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3647702  PMID: 23667716
HIV; gp120; CD4; entry inhibitor; structure-based drug design; thermodynamics; x-ray crystallography; viral inhibition; protein-protein interactions
16.  Evaluation of Dissolved Organic Carbon as a Soil Quality Indicator in National Monitoring Schemes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90882.
Monitoring the properties of dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in soil water is frequently used to evaluate changes in soil quality and to explain shifts in freshwater ecosystem functioning.
Using >700 individual soils (0–15 cm) collected from a 209,331 km2 area we evaluated the relationship between soil classification (7 major soil types) or vegetation cover (8 dominant classes, e.g. cropland, grassland, forest) and the absorbance properties (254 and 400 nm), DOC quantity and quality (SUVA, total soluble phenolics) of soil water.
Overall, a good correlation (r2 = 0.58) was apparent between soil water absorbance and DOC concentration across the diverse range of soil types tested. In contrast, both DOC and the absorbance properties of soil water provided a poor predictor of SUVA or soluble phenolics which we used as a measure of humic substance concentration. Significant overlap in the measured ranges for UV absorbance, DOC, phenolic content and especially SUVA of soil water were apparent between the 8 vegetation and 7 soil classes. A number of significant differences, however, were apparent within these populations with total soluble phenolics giving the greatest statistical separation between both soil and vegetation groups.
We conclude that the quality of DOC rather than its quantity provides a more useful measure of soil quality in large scale surveys.
PMCID: PMC3954595  PMID: 24633085
17.  Structure-Based Design and Synthesis of an HIV-1 Entry Inhibitor Exploiting X-ray and Thermodynamic Characterization 
ACS Medicinal Chemistry Letters  2013;4(3):338-343.
The design, synthesis, thermodynamic and crystallographic characterization of a potent, broad spectrum, second-generation HIV-1 entry inhibitor that engages conserved carbonyl hydrogen bonds within gp120 has been achieved. The optimized antagonist exhibits a submicromolar binding affinity (110 nM) and inhibits viral entry of clade B and C viruses (IC50 geometric mean titer of 1.7 and 14.0 μM, respectively), without promoting CD4-independent viral entry. The thermodynamic signatures indicate a binding preference for the (R,R)- over the (S,S)-enantiomer. The crystal structure of the small-molecule/gp120 complex reveals the displacement of crystallographic water and the formation of a hydrogen bond with a backbone carbonyl of the bridging sheet. Thus, structure-based design and synthesis targeting the highly conserved and structurally characterized CD4–gp120 interface is an effective tactic to enhance the neutralization potency of small-molecule HIV-1 entry inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3647702  PMID: 23667716
HIV; gp120; CD4; entry inhibitor; structure-based drug design; thermodynamics; X-ray crystallography; viral inhibition; protein−protein interactions
18.  Recurrent somatic alterations of FGFR1 and NTRK2 in pilocytic astrocytoma 
Jones, David T.W. | Hutter, Barbara | Jäger, Natalie | Korshunov, Andrey | Kool, Marcel | Warnatz, Hans-Jörg | Zichner, Thomas | Lambert, Sally R. | Ryzhova, Marina | Quang, Dong Anh Khuong | Fontebasso, Adam M. | Stütz, Adrian M. | Hutter, Sonja | Zuckermann, Marc | Sturm, Dominik | Gronych, Jan | Lasitschka, Bärbel | Schmidt, Sabine | Şeker-Cin, Huriye | Witt, Hendrik | Sultan, Marc | Ralser, Meryem | Northcott, Paul A. | Hovestadt, Volker | Bender, Sebastian | Pfaff, Elke | Stark, Sebastian | Faury, Damien | Schwartzentruber, Jeremy | Majewski, Jacek | Weber, Ursula D. | Zapatka, Marc | Raeder, Benjamin | Schlesner, Matthias | Worth, Catherine L. | Bartholomae, Cynthia C. | von Kalle, Christof | Imbusch, Charles D. | Radomski, Sylwester | Lawerenz, Chris | van Sluis, Peter | Koster, Jan | Volckmann, Richard | Versteeg, Rogier | Lehrach, Hans | Monoranu, Camelia | Winkler, Beate | Unterberg, Andreas | Herold-Mende, Christel | Milde, Till | Kulozik, Andreas E. | Ebinger, Martin | Schuhmann, Martin U. | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Pomeroy, Scott L. | von Deimling, Andreas | Witt, Olaf | Taylor, Michael D. | Wolf, Stephan | Karajannis, Matthias A. | Eberhart, Charles G. | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Hasselblatt, Martin | Ligon, Keith L. | Kieran, Mark W. | Korbel, Jan O. | Yaspo, Marie-Laure | Brors, Benedikt | Felsberg, Jörg | Reifenberger, Guido | Collins, V. Peter | Jabado, Nada | Eils, Roland | Lichter, Peter | Pfister, Stefan M.
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):927-932.
Pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common childhood brain tumor1, is typically associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations2. Surgically inaccessible midline tumors are therapeutically challenging, showing sustained tendency for progression3 and often becoming a chronic disease with substantial morbidities4.
Here we describe whole-genome sequencing of 96 pilocytic astrocytomas, with matched RNA sequencing (n=73), conducted by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) PedBrain Tumor Project. We identified recurrent activating mutations in FGFR1 and PTPN11 and novel NTRK2 fusion genes in non-cerebellar tumors. New BRAF activating changes were also observed. MAPK pathway alterations affected 100% of tumors analyzed, with no other significant mutations, indicating pilocytic astrocytoma as predominantly a single-pathway disease.
Notably, we identified the same FGFR1 mutations in a subset of H3F3A-mutated pediatric glioblastoma with additional alterations in NF15. Our findings thus identify new potential therapeutic targets in distinct subsets of pilocytic astrocytoma and childhood glioblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3951336  PMID: 23817572
19.  Aberrant patterns of H3K4 and H3K27 histone lysine methylation occur across subgroups in medulloblastoma 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;125(3):373-384.
Recent sequencing efforts have described the mutational landscape of the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. Although MLL2 is among the most frequent somatic single nucleotide variants (SNV), the clinical and biological significance of these mutations remains uncharacterized. Through targeted re-sequencing, we identified mutations of MLL2 in 8 % (14/175) of MBs, the majority of which were loss of function. Notably, we also report mutations affecting the MLL2-binding partner KDM6A, in 4 % (7/175) of tumors. While MLL2 mutations were independent of age, gender, histological subtype, M-stage or molecular subgroup, KDM6A mutations were most commonly identified in Group 4 MBs, and were mutually exclusive with MLL2 mutations. Immunohistochemical staining for H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, the chromatin effectors of MLL2 and KDM6A activity, respectively, demonstrated alterations of the histone code in 24 % (53/220) of MBs across all subgroups. Correlating these MLL2-and KDM6A-driven histone marks with prognosis, we identified populations of MB with improved (K4+/K27−) and dismal (K4−/K27−) outcomes, observed primarily within Group 3 and 4 MBs. Group 3 and 4 MBs demonstrate somatic copy number aberrations, and transcriptional profiles that converge on modifiers of H3K27-methylation (EZH2, KDM6A, KDM6B), leading to silencing of PRC2-target genes. As PRC2-mediated aberrant methylation of H3K27 has recently been targeted for therapy in other diseases, it represents an actionable target for a substantial percentage of medulloblastoma patients with aggressive forms of the disease.
PMCID: PMC3580007  PMID: 23184418
MLL2; KDM6A; Histone lysine methylation; Medulloblastoma; PRC2
20.  Auxin secretion by Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FZB42 both stimulates root exudation and limits phosphorus uptake in Triticum aestivum 
BMC Plant Biology  2014;14:51.
The use of auxin-producing rhizosphere bacteria as agricultural products promises increased root production and therefore greater phosphate (Pi) uptake. Whilst such bacteria promote root production in vitro, the nature of the bacteria-plant interaction in live soil, particularly concerning any effects on nutrient uptake, are not known. This study uses Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FZB42, an auxin-producing rhizobacterium, as a dressing on Triticum aestivum seeds. It then examines the effects on root production, Pi uptake, Pi-related gene expression and organic carbon (C) exudation.
Seed treatment with B. amyloliquefaciens FZB42 increased root production at low environmental Pi concentrations, but significantly repressed root Pi uptake. This coincided with an auxin-mediated reduction in expression of the Pi transporters TaPHT1.8 and TaPHT1.10. Applied exogenous auxin also triggered an increase in root C exudation. At high external Pi concentrations, root production was promoted by B. amyloliquefaciens FZB42, but Pi uptake was unaffected.
We conclude that, alongside promoting root production, auxin biosynthesis by B. amyloliquefaciens FZB42 both re-models Pi transporter expression and elevates organic C exudation. This shows the potential importance of rhizobacterial-derived auxin following colonisation of root surfaces, and the nature of this bacteria-plant interaction in soil.
PMCID: PMC4015440  PMID: 24558978
Bacillus amyloliquefaciens FZB42; Seed treatment; Wheat; Auxin; Phosphate; Root; Exudation
21.  BRMS1 suppresses lung cancer metastases through an E3 ligase function on histone acetyltransferase p300 
Cancer research  2012;73(4):1308-1317.
The mechanisms through which the metastasis suppressor gene BRMS1 functions are poorly understood. Herein, we report the identification of a previously undescribed E3 ligase function of BRMS1 on the histone acetyltransferase p300. BRMS1 induces polyubiquitination of p300 resulting in its proteasome-mediated degradation. We identify BRMS1 as the first eukaryote structural mimic of the bacterial IpaH E3 ligase family, and establish that the evolutionarily conserved CXD motif located in in BRMS1 is responsible for its E3 ligase function. Mutation of this E3 ligase motif not only abolishes BRMS1-induced p300 polyubiquitination and degradation, but importantly, dramatically reduces the metastasis suppressor function of BRMS1 in both in vitro and in vivo models of lung cancer metastasis.
PMCID: PMC3578176  PMID: 23269275
BRMS1; metastasis suppressor; p300; E3 ligase; polyubiquitination
22.  Determination of protein concentration for protein-protein conjugates using ultraviolet absorption 
Journal of immunological methods  2012;387(1-2):317-321.
The present study reports a method to determine the total protein concentration or concentration of a protein of interest in a protein-protein conjugate using ultraviolet absorption, after determining the molar ratio of proteins in the conjugates, from which an extinction coefficient can be calculated. A Microsoft Excel solver-based template using amino acid analysis data was developed for determining the molar ratio. The percent mass of each protein in the conjugate is calculated from the amino acid composition data using the least squares method in the Microsoft Excel solver function, and the percent mass is converted to molar portion of each protein using corresponding molecular weight. A molar ratio is obtained by dividing the molar portion of protein 1 by the molar portion of protein 2. A weighted extinction coefficient is calculated using the molar ratio, and the total protein concentration is determined using ultraviolet absorption at 280 nm. The accuracy of the method was verified using mixtures of known proteins. The present study provides a rapid, simple and accurate method for determining protein concentration in protein-protein conjugates.
PMCID: PMC3529773  PMID: 23098838
Concentration of protein-protein conjugate; molar ratio; Microsoft Excel solver; Amino acid analysis; least square analysis
23.  Crystal Structures of HIV-1 gp120 Envelope Glycoprotein in Complex with NBD Analogues That Target the CD4-Binding Site 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e85940.
Efforts to develop therapeutic agents that inhibit HIV-1 entry have led to the identification of several small molecule leads. One of the most promising is the NBD series, which binds within a conserved gp120 cavity and possesses para-halogen substituted aromatic rings, a central oxalamide linker, and a tetramethylpiperidine moiety. In this study, we characterized structurally the interactions of four NBD analogues containing meta-fluoro substitution on the aromatic ring and various heterocyclic ring replacements of the tetramethylpiperidine group. The addition of a meta-fluorine to the aromatic ring improved surface complementarity and did not alter the position of the analogue relative to gp120. By contrast, heterocyclic ring replacements of the tetramethylpiperidine moiety exhibited diverse positioning and interactions with the vestibule of the gp120 cavity. Overall, the biological profile of NBD-congeners was modulated by ligand interactions with the gp120-cavity vestibule. Herein, six co-crystal structures of NBD-analogues with gp120 provide a structural framework for continued small molecule-entry inhibitor optimization.
PMCID: PMC3904841  PMID: 24489681
24.  Network Analysis Reveals Distinct Clinical Syndromes Underlying Acute Mountain Sickness 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e81229.
Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a common problem among visitors at high altitude, and may progress to life-threatening pulmonary and cerebral oedema in a minority of cases. International consensus defines AMS as a constellation of subjective, non-specific symptoms. Specifically, headache, sleep disturbance, fatigue and dizziness are given equal diagnostic weighting. Different pathophysiological mechanisms are now thought to underlie headache and sleep disturbance during acute exposure to high altitude. Hence, these symptoms may not belong together as a single syndrome. Using a novel visual analogue scale (VAS), we sought to undertake a systematic exploration of the symptomatology of AMS using an unbiased, data-driven approach originally designed for analysis of gene expression. Symptom scores were collected from 292 subjects during 1110 subject-days at altitudes between 3650 m and 5200 m on Apex expeditions to Bolivia and Kilimanjaro. Three distinct patterns of symptoms were consistently identified. Although fatigue is a ubiquitous finding, sleep disturbance and headache are each commonly reported without the other. The commonest pattern of symptoms was sleep disturbance and fatigue, with little or no headache. In subjects reporting severe headache, 40% did not report sleep disturbance. Sleep disturbance correlates poorly with other symptoms of AMS (Mean Spearman correlation 0.25). These results challenge the accepted paradigm that AMS is a single disease process and describe at least two distinct syndromes following acute ascent to high altitude. This approach to analysing symptom patterns has potential utility in other clinical syndromes.
PMCID: PMC3898916  PMID: 24465370
25.  Medulloblastomics: The End of the Beginning 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2012;12(12):818-834.
Subgrouping of medulloblastoma by microarray expression profiling has dramatically changed our perspective of this malignant childhood brain tumour. Now, the availability of next-generation sequencing and complementary high-density genomic technologies has unmasked novel driver mutations in each medulloblastoma subgroup. The implications of these findings for the management of patients are readily apparent, pinpointing previously unappreciated diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Here, we summarize the ’explosion’ of data emerging from the application of modern genomics to medulloblastoma, and in particular the recurrent targets of mutation in medulloblastoma subgroups. These data are making their way into contemporary clinical trials as we seek to integrate conventional and molecularly targeted therapies.
PMCID: PMC3889646  PMID: 23175120

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