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1.  Influence of Body Mass Index on Survival in Veterans With Multiple Myeloma 
The Oncologist  2013;18(10):1074-1079.
This investigation of the association between body mass index at the time of multiple myeloma diagnosis and overall survival in a cohort of patients within the Veterans Health Administration system showed that disease-related weight loss may be an important and heretofore unknown indicator of poor prognosis in multiple myeloma. Weight loss ≥10% of baseline in the year before diagnosis was associated with significantly increased mortality.
Learning Objectives
Describe the association between baseline BMI, weight loss, and survival in MM.Explain the importance of BMI and baseline weight loss as part of the standard history obtained in patients with MM.
We investigated the association between body mass index (BMI) at the time of multiple myeloma (MM) diagnosis and overall survival in a cohort of patients within the Veterans Health Administration system. We also evaluated the association between weight loss in the year prior to diagnosis and survival.
Patients and Methods.
Prospective analysis was performed on a retrospectively assembled cohort of 2,968 U.S. veterans diagnosed and treated for MM between September 1, 1999, and September 30, 2009, with follow-up information through October 22, 2011. Cox modeling controlling for patient- and disease-related prognostic variables was used to analyze the data.
Underweight patients (BMI <18.5 kg/m2) had increased mortality, whereas patients who were overweight (BMI 25–29.9 kg/m2) and obese (BMI ≥30 kg/m2) had lower mortality compared with healthy-weight patients (BMI 18.5–24.9 kg/m2). Weight loss ≥10% of baseline in the year before diagnosis was also associated with increased mortality and made the association between increased BMI and survival nonsignificant.
Disease-related weight loss may be an important and heretofore unknown indicator of poor prognosis in MM. Assessment of weight loss prior to MM diagnosis should become a standard component of the clinical history in patients with newly diagnosed MM. Further research may identify relationships between disease-related weight loss and currently used prognostic factors in MM, further defining the role of this clinical factor in prognostic stratification.
PMCID: PMC3805147  PMID: 24048366
Multiple myeloma; Survival; Body mass index; Obesity; Overweight; Mortality
2.  SciClone: Inferring Clonal Architecture and Tracking the Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Tumor Evolution 
PLoS Computational Biology  2014;10(8):e1003665.
The sensitivity of massively-parallel sequencing has confirmed that most cancers are oligoclonal, with subpopulations of neoplastic cells harboring distinct mutations. A fine resolution view of this clonal architecture provides insight into tumor heterogeneity, evolution, and treatment response, all of which may have clinical implications. Single tumor analysis already contributes to understanding these phenomena. However, cryptic subclones are frequently revealed by additional patient samples (e.g., collected at relapse or following treatment), indicating that accurately characterizing a tumor requires analyzing multiple samples from the same patient. To address this need, we present SciClone, a computational method that identifies the number and genetic composition of subclones by analyzing the variant allele frequencies of somatic mutations. We use it to detect subclones in acute myeloid leukemia and breast cancer samples that, though present at disease onset, are not evident from a single primary tumor sample. By doing so, we can track tumor evolution and identify the spatial origins of cells resisting therapy.
Author Summary
Sequencing the genomic DNA of cancers has revealed that tumors are not homogeneous. As a tumor grows, new mutations accumulate in individual cells, and as these cells replicate, the mutations are passed on to their offspring, which comprise only a portion of the tumor when it is sampled. We present a method for identifying the fraction of cells containing specific mutations, clustering them into subclonal populations, and tracking the changes in these subclones. This allows us to follow the clonal evolution of cancers as they respond to chemotherapy or develop therapy resistance, processes which may radically alter the subclonal composition of a tumor. It also gives us insight into the spatial organization of tumors, and we show that multiple biopsies from a single breast cancer may harbor different subclones that respond differently to treatment. Finally, we show that sequencing multiple samples from a patient's tumor is often critical, as it reveals cryptic subclones that cannot be discerned from only one sample. This is the first tool that can efficiently leverage multiple samples to identify these as distinct subpopulations of cells, thus contributing to understanding the biology of the tumor and influencing clinical decisions about therapy.
PMCID: PMC4125065  PMID: 25102416
3.  The characteristics and outcomes of patients with multiple myeloma dual refractory or intolerant to bortezomib and lenalidomide in the era of carfilzomib and pomalidomide 
Leukemia & lymphoma  2013;55(2):337-341.
Patients with multiple myeloma who are refractory or intolerant to both bortezomib and lenalidomide have a poor prognosis. Next-generation therapies carfilzomib and pomalidomide have shown promising activity in this dual refractory population. Here we describe the clinical characteristics and ascertain the effects of carfilzomib and pomalidomide on survival in this patient cohort. We retrospectively reviewed the records of 65 dual refractory/intolerant myeloma patients diagnosed between January 2007 and May 2012 at a single institution. The median overall survival (OS) from the time patients became dual refractory/intolerant was 10.2 months. Patients who received carfilzomib or pomalidomide after they became dual refractory/intolerant had a better OS compared to those who did not (12.6 vs. 6.8 months, p=0.03 by Wilcoxon test). Prospective randomized control trials are needed for confirmation.
PMCID: PMC3951876  PMID: 23662990
multiple myeloma; lenalidomide; bortezomib; pomalidomide; carfilzomib
4.  Resequencing Analysis of the Candidate Tyrosine Kinase and RAS Pathway Gene Families in Multiple Myeloma 
Cancer genetics  2012;205(9):474-478.
Multiple myeloma (MM) is an incurable, B-cell malignancy, characterized by the clonal proliferation and accumulation of malignant plasma cells in bone marrow. Despite recent advances in understanding of genomic aberrations, a comprehensive catalogue of clinically actionable mutations in MM is just beginning to emerge. The tyrosine kinase (TK) and RAS oncogenes, which encode important regulators of various signaling pathways, are among the most frequently altered gene families in cancer. To clarify the role of TK and RAS genes in pathogenesis of MM, we performed a systematic, targeted screening of mutations on prioritized RAS and TK genes, in CD138 sorted bone marrow specimens from 42 untreated patients. We identified a total of 24 mutations in KRAS, PIK3CA, INSR, LTK and MERTK genes. In particular, seven novel mutations in addition to known KRAS mutations were observed. Prediction analysis tools, PolyPhen and SIFT were used to assess the functional significance of these novel mutations. Our analysis predicted that these mutations may have a deleterious effect, resulting in functional alteration of proteins involved in the pathogenesis of myeloma. While further investigation is needed to determine the functional consequences of these proteins, mutational testing of the RAS and TK genes in larger myeloma cohorts might be also useful to establish the recurrent nature of these mutations.
PMCID: PMC3442604  PMID: 22939401
Multiple Myeloma; Tyrosine Kinase; RAS; Resequencing; Mutation analysis; Cancer
5.  Correction: Very Late Antigen-4 (α4β1 Integrin) Targeted PET Imaging of Multiple Myeloma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):10.1371/annotation/8532e291-73d3-461c-810d-0533ccb1eba0.
PMCID: PMC3752036
6.  The origin and evolution of mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
Cell  2012;150(2):264-278.
Most mutations in cancer genomes are thought to be acquired after the initiating event, which may cause genomic instability, driving clonal evolution. However, for acute myeloid leukemia (AML), normal karyotypes are common, and genomic instability is unusual. To better understand clonal evolution in AML, we sequenced the genomes of AML samples with a known initiating event (PML-RARA) vs. normal karyotype AML samples, and the exomes of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from healthy people. Collectively, the data suggest that most of the mutations found in AML genomes are actually random events that occurred in HSPCs before they acquired the initiating mutation; the mutational history of that cell is “captured” as the clone expands. In many cases, only one or two additional, cooperating mutations are needed to generate the malignant founding clone. Cells from the founding clone can acquire additional cooperating mutations, yielding subclones that can contribute to disease progression and/or relapse.
PMCID: PMC3407563  PMID: 22817890
7.  Germinal Center B-Cells Resist Transformation by Kras Independently of Tumor Suppressor Arf 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e67941.
Activating mutations in Ras (N- and K-) are the most common point mutations found in patients with multiple myeloma (MM) and are associated with poor clinical outcome. We sought to directly examine the role of Ras activation in MM pathogenesis and used two different tissue-specific Cre recombinase mouse lines (Cγ1-Cre and AID-Cre), to generate mice with mutant Kras (KrasG12D) activated specifically in germinal center B-cells. We also generated mice with activation of the KrasG12D allele in a tumor-prone Arf-null genetic background. Surprisingly, we observed no significant disruption in B-cell homeostasis in any of these models by serum immunoglobulin ELISA, SPEP, flow cytometry and histological examination. We observed development of non-overlapping tumor types due to off-target Cre expression, but despite successful recombination in germinal center and later B-cell populations, we observed no B-cell phenotype. Together, these data demonstrate that Ras activation is not sufficient to transform primary germinal center B-cells, even in an Arf-null context, and that the temporal order of mutation acquisition may be critical for myeloma development. Specific pathways, yet to be identified, are required before Kras can contribute to the development of MM.
PMCID: PMC3692489  PMID: 23825691
8.  Very Late Antigen-4 (α4β1 Integrin) Targeted PET Imaging of Multiple Myeloma 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55841.
Biomedical imaging techniques such as skeletal survey and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)/Positron Emission Tomography (PET) are frequently used to diagnose and stage multiple myeloma (MM) patients. However, skeletal survey has limited sensitivity as it can detect osteolytic lesions only after 30–50% cortical bone destruction, and FDG is a marker of cell metabolism that has limited sensitivity for intramedullary lesions in MM. Targeted, and non-invasive novel probes are needed to sensitively and selectively image the unique molecular signatures and cellular processes associated with MM. Very late antigen-4 (VLA-4; also called α4β1 integrin) is over-expressed on MM cells, and is one of the key mediators of myeloma cell adhesion to the bone marrow (BM) that promotes MM cell trafficking and drug resistance. Here we describe a proof-of-principle, novel molecular imaging strategy for MM tumors using a VLA-4 targeted PET radiopharmaceutical, 64Cu-CB-TE1A1P-LLP2A. Cell uptake studies in a VLA-4-positive murine MM cell line, 5TGM1, demonstrated receptor specific uptake (P<0.0001, block vs. non-block). Tissue biodistribution at 2 h of 64Cu-CB-TE1A1P-LLP2A in 5TGM1 tumor bearing syngeneic KaLwRij mice demonstrated high radiotracer uptake in the tumor (12±4.5%ID/g), and in the VLA-4 rich organs, spleen (8.8±1.0%ID/g) and marrow (11.6±2.0%ID/g). Small animal PET/CT imaging with 64Cu-CB-TE1A1P-LLP2A demonstrated high uptake in the 5TGM1 tumors (SUV 6.6±1.1). There was a 3-fold reduction in the in vivo tumor uptake in the presence of blocking agent (2.3±0.4). Additionally, 64Cu-CB-TE1A1P-LLP2A demonstrated high binding to the human MM cell line RPMI-8226 that was significantly reduced in the presence of the cold targeting agent. These results provide pre-clinical evidence that VLA-4-targeted imaging using 64Cu-CB-TE1A1P-LLP2A is a novel approach to imaging MM tumors.
PMCID: PMC3568146  PMID: 23409060
9.  Clonal Architecture of Secondary Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
The New England Journal of Medicine  2012;366(12):1090-1098.
The myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of hematologic disorders that often evolve into secondary acute myeloid leukemia (AML). The genetic changes that underlie progression from the myelodysplastic syndromes to secondary AML are not well understood.
We performed whole-genome sequencing of seven paired samples of skin and bone marrow in seven subjects with secondary AML to identify somatic mutations specific to secondary AML. We then genotyped a bone marrow sample obtained during the antecedent myelodysplastic-syndrome stage from each subject to determine the presence or absence of the specific somatic mutations. We identified recurrent mutations in coding genes and defined the clonal architecture of each pair of samples from the myelodysplastic-syndrome stage and the secondary-AML stage, using the allele burden of hundreds of mutations.
Approximately 85% of bone marrow cells were clonal in the myelodysplastic-syndrome and secondary-AML samples, regardless of the myeloblast count. The secondary-AML samples contained mutations in 11 recurrently mutated genes, including 4 genes that have not been previously implicated in the myelodysplastic syndromes or AML. In every case, progression to acute leukemia was defined by the persistence of an antecedent founding clone containing 182 to 660 somatic mutations and the outgrowth or emergence of at least one subclone, harboring dozens to hundreds of new mutations. All founding clones and subclones contained at least one mutation in a coding gene.
Nearly all the bone marrow cells in patients with myelodysplastic syndromes and secondary AML are clonally derived. Genetic evolution of secondary AML is a dynamic process shaped by multiple cycles of mutation acquisition and clonal selection. Recurrent gene mutations are found in both founding clones and daughter subclones. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
PMCID: PMC3320218  PMID: 22417201
10.  Clonal evolution in relapsed acute myeloid leukemia revealed by whole genome sequencing 
Nature  2012;481(7382):506-510.
Most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) die from progressive disease after relapse, which is associated with clonal evolution at the cytogenetic level1,2. To determine the mutational spectrum associated with relapse, we sequenced the primary tumor and relapse genomes from 8 AML patients, and validated hundreds of somatic mutations using deep sequencing; this allowed us to precisely define clonality and clonal evolution patterns at relapse. Besides discovering novel, recurrently mutated genes (e.g. WAC, SMC3, DIS3, DDX41, and DAXX) in AML, we found two major clonal evolution patterns during AML relapse: 1) the founding clone in the primary tumor gained mutations and evolved into the relapse clone, or 2) a subclone of the founding clone survived initial therapy, gained additional mutations, and expanded at relapse. In all cases, chemotherapy failed to eradicate the founding clone. The comparison of relapse-specific vs. primary tumor mutations in all 8 cases revealed an increase in transversions, probably due to DNA damage caused by cytotoxic chemotherapy. These data demonstrate that AML relapse is associated with the addition of new mutations and clonal evolution, which is shaped in part by the chemotherapy that the patients receive to establish and maintain remissions.
PMCID: PMC3267864  PMID: 22237025
11.  Multiple myeloma–associated chromosomal translocation activates orphan snoRNA ACA11 to suppress oxidative stress 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2012;122(8):2793-2806.
The histone methyltransferase WHSC1 (also known as MMSET) is overexpressed in multiple myeloma (MM) as a result of the t(4;14) chromosomal translocation and in a broad variety of other cancers by unclear mechanisms. Overexpression of WHSC1 did not transform wild-type or tumor-prone primary hematopoietic cells. We found that ACA11, an orphan box H/ACA class small nucleolar RNA (snoRNA) encoded within an intron of WHSC1, was highly expressed in t(4;14)-positive MM and other cancers. ACA11 localized to nucleoli and bound what we believe to be a novel small nuclear ribonucleoprotein (snRNP) complex composed of several proteins involved in postsplicing intron complexes. RNA targets of this uncharacterized snRNP included snoRNA intermediates hosted within ribosomal protein (RP) genes, and an RP gene signature was strongly associated with t(4;14) in patients with MM. Expression of ACA11 was sufficient to downregulate RP genes and other snoRNAs implicated in the control of oxidative stress. ACA11 suppressed oxidative stress, afforded resistance to chemotherapy, and increased the proliferation of MM cells, demonstrating that ACA11 is a critical target of the t(4;14) translocation in MM and suggesting an oncogenic role in other cancers as well.
PMCID: PMC3408744  PMID: 22751105
Nature Genetics  2011;44(1):53-57.
Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) are hematopoietic stem cell disorders that often progress to chemotherapy-resistant secondary acute myeloid leukemia (sAML). We used whole genome sequencing to perform an unbiased comprehensive screen to discover all the somatic mutations in a sAML sample and genotyped these loci in the matched MDS sample. Here we show that a missense mutation affecting the serine at codon 34 (S34) in U2AF1 was recurrently mutated in 13/150 (8.7%) de novo MDS patients, with suggestive evidence of an associated increased risk of progression to sAML. U2AF1 is a U2 auxiliary factor protein that recognizes the AG splice acceptor dinucleotide at the 3′ end of introns and mutations are located in highly conserved zinc fingers in U2AF11,2. Mutant U2AF1 promotes enhanced splicing and exon skipping in reporter assays in vitro. This novel, recurrent mutation in U2AF1 implicates altered pre-mRNA splicing as a potential mechanism for MDS pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3247063  PMID: 22158538
13.  Molecular-Targeted Therapies for Hematologic Malignancies 
Advances in Hematology  2011;2012:606423.
PMCID: PMC3254001  PMID: 22242021
14.  CXCR4 mediated bone marrow progenitor cell maintenance and mobilization are modulated by c-kit activity 
Circulation research  2010;107(9):1083-1093.
The mobilization of bone-marrow (BM) progenitor cells (PCs) is largely governed by interactions between stromal–cell derived factor 1 (SDF-1) and CXC-chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). Ischemic injury disrupts the SDF-1–CXCR4 interaction and releases BM PCs into the peripheral circulation, where the mobilized cells are recruited to the injured tissue and contribute to vessel growth. BM PCs can also be mobilized by the pharmacological CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100, but the other components of the SDF-1–CXCR4 signaling pathway are largely unknown. c-kit, a membrane bound tyrosine-kinase and the receptor for stem cell factor, has also been shown to play a critical role in BM PC mobilization and ischemic tissue repair.
To investigate the functional interaction between SDF-1–CXCR4 signaling and c-kit activity in BM PC mobilization.
Methods and Results
AMD3100 administration failed to mobilize BM PCs in mice defective in c-kit kinase activity or in mice transplanted with BM cells that expressed a constitutively active c-kit mutant. Furthermore, BM levels of phosphorylated c-kit (phospho–c-kit) declined after AMD3100 administration and after CXCR4 deletion. In cells adhering to culture plates coated with vascular cell adhesion molecule 1 (VCAM-1), SDF-1 and SCF increased phospho–c-kit levels, and AMD3100 treatment suppressed SDF-1–induced, but not SCF-induced, c-kit phosphorylation. SDF-1–induced c-kit phosphorylation also required the activation of Src non-receptor tyrosine kinase: pre-treatment of cells with a selective Src inhibitor blocked both c-kit phosphorylation and the interaction between c-kit and phosphorylated Src.
These findings indicate that the regulation of BM PC trafficking by SDF-1 and CXCR4 is dependent on Src-mediated c-kit phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC2966940  PMID: 20847314
CXCR4; c-kit; Integrin; Stem cells; Bone marrow; Niche; Mobilization; Homing
15.  Recurring Mutations Found by Sequencing an Acute Myeloid Leukemia Genome 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(11):1058-1066.
The full complement of DNA mutations that are responsible for the pathogenesis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is not yet known.
We used massively parallel DNA sequencing to obtain a very high level of coverage (approximately 98%) of a primary, cytogenetically normal, de novo genome for AML with minimal maturation (AML-M1) and a matched normal skin genome.
We identified 12 acquired (somatic) mutations within the coding sequences of genes and 52 somatic point mutations in conserved or regulatory portions of the genome. All mutations appeared to be heterozygous and present in nearly all cells in the tumor sample. Four of the 64 mutations occurred in at least 1 additional AML sample in 188 samples that were tested. Mutations in NRAS and NPM1 had been identified previously in patients with AML, but two other mutations had not been identified. One of these mutations, in the IDH1 gene, was present in 15 of 187 additional AML genomes tested and was strongly associated with normal cytogenetic status; it was present in 13 of 80 cytogenetically normal samples (16%). The other was a nongenic mutation in a genomic region with regulatory potential and conservation in higher mammals; we detected it in one additional AML tumor. The AML genome that we sequenced contains approximately 750 point mutations, of which only a small fraction are likely to be relevant to pathogenesis.
By comparing the sequences of tumor and skin genomes of a patient with AML-M1, we have identified recurring mutations that may be relevant for pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3201812  PMID: 19657110
16.  DNMT3A Mutations in Acute Myeloid Leukemia 
The New England journal of medicine  2010;363(25):2424-2433.
The genetic alterations responsible for an adverse outcome in most patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) are unknown.
Using massively parallel DNA sequencing, we identified a somatic mutation in DNMT3A, encoding a DNA methyltransferase, in the genome of cells from a patient with AML with a normal karyotype. We sequenced the exons of DNMT3A in 280 additional patients with de novo AML to define recurring mutations.
A total of 62 of 281 patients (22.1%) had mutations in DNMT3A that were predicted to affect translation. We identified 18 different missense mutations, the most common of which was predicted to affect amino acid R882 (in 37 patients). We also identified six frameshift, six nonsense, and three splice-site mutations and a 1.5-Mbp deletion encompassing DNMT3A. These mutations were highly enriched in the group of patients with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile (56 of 166 patients, or 33.7%) but were absent in all 79 patients with a favorable-risk cytogenetic profile (P<0.001 for both comparisons). The median overall survival among patients with DNMT3A mutations was significantly shorter than that among patients without such mutations (12.3 months vs. 41.1 months, P<0.001). DNMT3A mutations were associated with adverse outcomes among patients with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile or FLT3 mutations, regardless of age, and were independently associated with a poor outcome in Cox proportional-hazards analysis.
DNMT3A mutations are highly recurrent in patients with de novo AML with an intermediate-risk cytogenetic profile and are independently associated with a poor outcome. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others.)
PMCID: PMC3201818  PMID: 21067377
17.  Use of whole genome sequencing to diagnose a cryptic fusion oncogene 
Whole genome sequencing (WGS) is becoming increasingly available for research purposes, but it has not yet been routinely used for clinical diagnosis.
To determine whether whole genome sequencing can identify cryptic, actionable mutations in a clinically relevant time frame.
Design, Setting, and Patient
We were referred a difficult diagnostic case of acute promyelocytic leukemia with no pathogenic X-RARA fusion identified by routine metaphase cytogenetics or interphase FISH. The patient was enrolled in an IRB approved protocol, with consent specifically tailored to the implications of whole genome sequencing. The protocol employs a ‘movable firewall,’ which maintains patient anonymity within the entire research team, but allows the research team to communicate medically relevant information to the treating physician.
Main Outcome Measure
Clinical relevance of whole genome sequencing and time to communicate validated results to the treating physician.
Massively parallel paired-end sequencing allowed us to identify a cytogenetically cryptic event: 77 kilobases from chromosome 15 was inserted en bloc into the second intron of the RARA gene on chromosome 17, resulting in a classic bcr3 PML-RARA fusion gene. RT-PCR subsequently validated the expression of the fusion transcript. Novel FISH probes identified two additional cases of t(15;17)-negative acute promyelocytic leukemia that had cytogenetically invisible insertions. Whole genome sequencing and validation were completed in seven weeks, and changed the treatment plan for the patient.
Whole genome sequencing can identify cytogenetically invisible oncogenes in a clinically relevant timeframe.
PMCID: PMC3156695  PMID: 21505136
18.  Sequencing a mouse acute promyelocytic leukemia genome reveals genetic events relevant for disease progression 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2011;121(4):1445-1455.
Acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) is a subtype of acute myeloid leukemia (AML). It is characterized by the t(15;17)(q22;q11.2) chromosomal translocation that creates the promyelocytic leukemia–retinoic acid receptor α (PML-RARA) fusion oncogene. Although this fusion oncogene is known to initiate APL in mice, other cooperating mutations, as yet ill defined, are important for disease pathogenesis. To identify these, we used a mouse model of APL, whereby PML-RARA expressed in myeloid cells leads to a myeloproliferative disease that ultimately evolves into APL. Sequencing of a mouse APL genome revealed 3 somatic, nonsynonymous mutations relevant to APL pathogenesis, of which 1 (Jak1 V657F) was found to be recurrent in other affected mice. This mutation was identical to the JAK1 V658F mutation previously found in human APL and acute lymphoblastic leukemia samples. Further analysis showed that JAK1 V658F cooperated in vivo with PML-RARA, causing a rapidly fatal leukemia in mice. We also discovered a somatic 150-kb deletion involving the lysine (K)-specific demethylase 6A (Kdm6a, also known as Utx) gene, in the mouse APL genome. Similar deletions were observed in 3 out of 14 additional mouse APL samples and 1 out of 150 human AML samples. In conclusion, whole genome sequencing of mouse cancer genomes can provide an unbiased and comprehensive approach for discovering functionally relevant mutations that are also present in human leukemias.
PMCID: PMC3069786  PMID: 21436584
19.  Mcl1 haploinsufficiency protects mice from Myc-induced acute myeloid leukemia  
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2010;120(6):2109-2118.
Antiapoptotic BCL2 family members have been implicated in the pathogenesis of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), but the functional significance and relative importance of individual proteins (e.g., BCL2, BCL-XL, and myeloid cell leukemia 1 [MCL1]) remain poorly understood. Here, we examined the expression of BCL2, BCL-XL, and MCL1 in primary human hematopoietic subsets and leukemic blasts from AML patients and found that MCL1 transcripts were consistently expressed at high levels in all samples tested. Consistent with this, Mcl1 protein was also highly expressed in myeloid leukemic blasts in a mouse Myc-induced model of AML. We used this model to test the hypothesis that Mcl1 facilitates AML development by allowing myeloid progenitor cells to evade Myc-induced cell death. Indeed, activation of Myc for 7 days in vivo substantially increased myeloid lineage cell numbers, whereas hematopoietic stem, progenitor, and B-lineage cells were depleted. Furthermore, Mcl1 haploinsufficiency abrogated AML development. In addition, deletion of a single allele of Mcl1 from fully transformed AML cells substantially prolonged the survival of transplanted mice. Conversely, the rapid lethality of disease was restored by coexpression of Bcl2 and Myc in Mcl1-haploinsufficient cells. Together, these data demonstrate a critical and dose-dependent role for Mcl1 in AML pathogenesis in mice and suggest that MCL1 may be a promising therapeutic target in patients with de novo AML.
PMCID: PMC2877934  PMID: 20484815
20.  Neurobeachin (NBEA) is a target of recurrent interstitial deletions at 13q13 in patients with MGUS and multiple myeloma 
Experimental hematology  2009;37(2):234-244.
Chromosome 13 deletions (del[13]), detected by metaphase cytogenetics, predict poor outcome in multiple myeloma (MM), but the gene(s) responsible have not been conclusively identified. We sought to identify tumor suppressor genes on chromosome 13 using a novel array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) strategy.
We identified DNA copy number losses on chromosome 13 using genomic DNA isolated from CD138 enriched bone marrow cells (tumor) from twenty patients with MM, monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance (MGUS) or amyloidosis. We used matched skin biopsy (germline) genomic DNA to control for copy number polymorphisms and a novel aCGH array dedicated to chromosome 13 to map somatic DNA gains and losses at ultra-high resolution (>385,000 probes; median probe spacing 60bp). We analyzed microarray expression data from an additional 262 patient samples both with and without del[13].
Two distinct minimally deleted regions at 13q14 and 13q13 were defined that affected the RB1 and NBEA genes, respectively. RB1 is a canonical tumor suppressor previously implicated in MM. NBEA is implicated in membrane trafficking in neurons, PKA binding, and has no known role in cancer. Non-coding RNAs on chromosome 13 were not affected by interstitial deletions. Both the RB1 and NBEA genes were deleted in 40% of cases (8/20; 5 patients with del[13] detected by traditional methods and three patients with interstitial deletions detected by aCGH). Forty-one additional MM patient samples were used for complete exonic sequencing of RB1, but no somatic mutations were found. Along with RB1, NBEA gene expression was significantly reduced in cases with del[13].
The NBEA gene at 13q13, and its expression, are frequently disrupted in MM. Additional studies are warranted to evaluate the role of NBEA as a novel candidate tumor suppressor gene.
PMCID: PMC2868587  PMID: 19135901
Multiple Myeloma; array comparative genomic hybridization; RB1; NBEA
21.  DNA sequencing of a cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia genome 
Nature  2008;456(7218):66-72.
Lay Summary
Acute myeloid leukemia is a highly malignant hematopoietic tumor that affects about 13,000 adults yearly in the United States. The treatment of this disease has changed little in the past two decades, since most of the genetic events that initiate the disease remain undiscovered. Whole genome sequencing is now possible at a reasonable cost and timeframe to utilize this approach for unbiased discovery of tumor-specific somatic mutations that alter the protein-coding genes. Here we show the results obtained by sequencing a typical acute myeloid leukemia genome and its matched normal counterpart, obtained from the patient’s skin. We discovered 10 genes with acquired mutations; two were previously described mutations thought to contribute to tumor progression, and 8 were novel mutations present in virtually all tumor cells at presentation and relapse, whose function is not yet known. Our study establishes whole genome sequencing as an unbiased method for discovering initiating mutations in cancer genomes, and for identifying novel genes that may respond to targeted therapies.
We used massively parallel sequencing technology to sequence the genomic DNA of tumor and normal skin cells obtained from a patient with a typical presentation of FAB M1 Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) with normal cytogenetics. 32.7-fold ‘haploid’ coverage (98 billion bases) was obtained for the tumor genome, and 13.9-fold coverage (41.8 billion bases) was obtained for the normal sample. Of 2,647,695 well-supported Single Nucleotide Variants (SNVs) found in the tumor genome, 2,588,486 (97.7%) also were detected in the patient’s skin genome, limiting the number of variants that required further study. For the purposes of this initial study, we restricted our downstream analysis to the coding sequences of annotated genes: we found only eight heterozygous, non-synonymous somatic SNVs in the entire genome. All were novel, including mutations in protocadherin/cadherin family members (CDH24 and PCLKC), G-protein coupled receptors (GPR123 and EBI2), a protein phosphatase (PTPRT), a potential guanine nucleotide exchange factor (KNDC1), a peptide/drug transporter (SLC15A1), and a glutamate receptor gene (GRINL1B). We also detected previously described, recurrent somatic insertions in the FLT3 and NPM1 genes. Based on deep readcount data, we determined that all of these mutations (except FLT3) were present in nearly all tumor cells at presentation, and again at relapse 11 months later, suggesting that the patient had a single dominant clone containing all of the mutations. These results demonstrate the power of whole genome sequencing to discover novel cancer-associated mutations.
PMCID: PMC2603574  PMID: 18987736
22.  Csf3r mutations in mice confer a strong clonal HSC advantage via activation of Stat5  
A fundamental property of leukemic stem cells is clonal dominance of the bone marrow microenvironment. Truncation mutations of CSF3R, which encodes the G-CSF receptor (G-CSFR), are implicated in leukemic progression in patients with severe congenital neutropenia. Here we show that expression of a truncated mutant Csf3r in mice confers a strong clonal advantage at the HSC level that is dependent upon exogenous G-CSF. G-CSF–induced proliferation, phosphorylation of Stat5, and transcription of Stat5 target genes were increased in HSCs isolated from mice expressing the mutant Csf3r. Conversely, the proliferative advantage conferred by the mutant Csf3r was abrogated in myeloid progenitors lacking both Stat5A and Stat5B, and HSC function was reduced in mice expressing a truncated mutant Csf3r engineered to have impaired Stat5 activation. These data indicate that in mice, inappropriate Stat5 activation plays a key role in establishing clonal dominance by stem cells expressing mutant Csf3r.
PMCID: PMC2248325  PMID: 18292815
23.  Neoplasia Driven by Mutant c-KIT Is Mediated by Intracellular, Not Plasma Membrane, Receptor Signaling▿  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2006;27(1):267-282.
Activating mutations in c-KIT are associated with gastrointestinal stromal tumors, mastocytosis, and acute myeloid leukemia. In attempting to establish a murine model of human KITD816V (hKITD816V)-mediated leukemia, we uncovered an unexpected relationship between cellular transformation and intracellular trafficking. We found that transport of hKITD816V protein was blocked at the endoplasmic reticulum in a species-specific fashion. We exploited these species-specific trafficking differences and a set of localization domain-tagged KIT mutants to explore the relationship between subcellular localization of mutant KIT and cellular transformation. The protein products of fully transforming KIT mutants localized to the Golgi apparatus and to a lesser extent the plasma membrane. Domain-tagged KITD816V targeted to the Golgi apparatus remained constitutively active and transforming. Chemical inhibition of intracellular transport demonstrated that Golgi localization is sufficient, but plasma membrane localization is dispensable, for downstream signaling mediated by KIT mutation. When expressed in murine bone marrow, endoplasmic reticulum-localized hKITD816V failed to induce disease in mice, while expression of either Golgi-localized HyKITD816V or cytosol-localized, ectodomain-deleted KITD816V uniformly caused fatal myeloproliferative diseases. Taken together, these data demonstrate that intracellular, non-plasma membrane receptor signaling is sufficient to drive neoplasia caused by mutant c-KIT and provide the first animal model of myelomonocytic neoplasia initiated by human KITD816V.
PMCID: PMC1800644  PMID: 17060458
24.  Fatal myeloproliferation, induced in mice by TEL/PDGFβR expression, depends on PDGFβR tyrosines 579/581 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2000;105(4):423-432.
The t(5;12)(q33;p13) translocation associated with chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMML) generates a TEL/PDGFβR fusion gene. Here, we used a murine bone marrow transplant (BMT) assay to test the transforming properties of TEL/PDGFβR in vivo. TEL/PDGFβR, introduced into whole bone marrow by retroviral transduction, caused a rapidly fatal myeloproliferative disease that closely recapitulated human CMML. TEL/PDGFβR transplanted mice developed leukocytosis with Gr-1+ granulocytes, splenomegaly, evidence of extramedullary hematopoiesis, and bone marrow fibrosis, but no lymphoproliferative disease. We assayed mutant forms of the TEL/PDGFβR fusion protein — including 8 tyrosine to phenylalanine substitutions at phosphorylated PDGFβR sites to which various SH2 domain–containing signaling intermediates bind — for ability to transform hematopoietic cells. All of the phenylalanine (F-) mutants tested conferred IL-3-independence to a cultured murine hematopoietic cell line, but, in the BMT assay, different F-mutants displayed distinct transforming properties. In transplanted animals, tyrosines 579/581 proved critical for the development of myeloproliferative phenotype. F-mutants with these residues mutated showed no sign of myeloproliferation but instead developed T-cell lymphomas. In summary, TEL/PDGFβR is necessary and sufficient to induce a myeloproliferative disease in a murine BMT model, and PDGFβR residues Y579/581 are required for this phenotype.
PMCID: PMC289168  PMID: 10683371
25.  Intrinsic Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Resistance of Hematopoietic Stem Cells Despite Coreceptor Expression 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(1):728-737.
Interactions of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) with hematopoietic stem cells may define restrictions on immune reconstitution following effective antiretroviral therapy and affect stem cell gene therapy strategies for AIDS. In the present study, we demonstrated mRNA and cell surface expression of HIV-1 receptors CD4 and the chemokine receptors CCR-5 and CXCR-4 in fractionated cells representing multiple stages of hematopoietic development. Chemokine receptor function was documented in subsets of cells by calcium flux in response to a cognate ligand. Productive infection by HIV-1 via these receptors was observed with the notable exception of stem cells, in which case the presence of CD4, CXCR-4, and CCR-5, as documented by single-cell analysis for expression and function, was insufficient for infection. Neither productive infection, transgene expression, nor virus entry was detectable following exposure of stem cells to either wild-type HIV-1 or lentivirus constructs pseudotyped in HIV-1 envelopes of macrophage-tropic, T-cell-tropic, or dualtropic specificity. Successful entry into stem cells of a vesicular stomatitis virus G protein-pseudotyped HIV-1 construct demonstrated that the resistance to HIV-1 was mediated at the level of virus-cell membrane fusion and entry. These data define the hematopoietic stem cell as a sanctuary cell which is resistant to HIV-1 infection by a mechanism independent of receptor and coreceptor expression that suggests a novel means of cellular protection from HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC103880  PMID: 9847379

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