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1.  Phenotypes and Karyotypes of Human Malignant Mesothelioma Cell Lines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58132.
Malignant mesothelioma is an aggressive tumour of serosal surfaces most commonly pleura. Characterised cell lines represent a valuable tool to study the biology of mesothelioma. The aim of this study was to develop and biologically characterise six malignant mesothelioma cell lines to evaluate their potential as models of human malignant mesothelioma.
Five lines were initiated from pleural biopsies, and one from pleural effusion of patients with histologically proven malignant mesothelioma. Mesothelial origin was assessed by standard morphology, Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and immunocytochemistry. Growth characteristics were assayed using population doubling times. Spectral karyotyping was performed to assess chromosomal abnormalities. Authentication of donor specific derivation was undertaken by DNA fingerprinting using a panel of SNPs.
Most of cell lines exhibited spindle cell shape, with some retaining stellate shapes. At passage 2 to 6 all lines stained positively for calretinin and cytokeratin 19, and demonstrated capacity for anchorage-independent growth. At passage 4 to 16, doubling times ranged from 30–72 hours, and on spectral karyotyping all lines exhibited numerical chromosomal abnormalities ranging from 41 to 113. Monosomy of chromosomes 8, 14, 22 or 17 was observed in three lines. One line displayed four different karyotypes at passage 8, but only one karyotype at passage 42, and another displayed polyploidy at passage 40 which was not present at early passages. At passages 5–17, TEM showed characteristic features of mesothelioma ultrastructure in all lines including microvilli and tight intercellular junctions.
These six cell lines exhibit varying cell morphology, a range of doubling times, and show diverse passage-dependent structural chromosomal changes observed in malignant tumours. However they retain characteristic immunocytochemical protein expression profiles of mesothelioma during maintenance in artificial culture systems. These characteristics support their potential as in vitro model systems for studying cellular, molecular and genetic aspects of mesothelioma.
PMCID: PMC3597627  PMID: 23516439
2.  Pleural fluid cell-free DNA integrity index to identify cytologically negative malignant pleural effusions including mesotheliomas 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:428.
The diagnosis of malignant pleural effusions (MPE) is often clinically challenging, especially if the cytology is negative for malignancy. DNA integrity index has been reported to be a marker of malignancy. The aim of this study was to evaluate the utility of pleural fluid DNA integrity index in the diagnosis of MPE.
We studied 75 pleural fluid and matched serum samples from consecutive subjects. Pleural fluid and serum ALU DNA repeats [115bp, 247bp and 247bp/115bp ratio (DNA integrity index)] were assessed by real-time quantitative PCR. Pleural fluid and serum mesothelin levels were quantified using ELISA.
Based on clinico-pathological evaluation, 52 subjects had MPE (including 16 mesotheliomas) and 23 had benign effusions. Pleural fluid DNA integrity index was higher in MPE compared with benign effusions (1.2 vs. 0.8; p<0.001). Cytology had a sensitivity of 55% in diagnosing MPE. If cytology and pleural fluid DNA integrity index were considered together, they exhibited 81% sensitivity and 87% specificity in distinguishing benign and malignant effusions. In cytology-negative pleural effusions (35 MPE and 28 benign effusions), elevated pleural fluid DNA integrity index had an 81% positive predictive value in detecting MPEs. In the detection of mesothelioma, at a specificity of 90%, pleural fluid DNA integrity index had similar sensitivity to pleural fluid and serum mesothelin (75% each respectively).
Pleural fluid DNA integrity index is a promising diagnostic biomarker for identification of MPEs, including mesothelioma. This biomarker may be particularly useful in cases of MPE where pleural aspirate cytology is negative, and could guide the decision to undertake more invasive definitive testing. A prospective validation study is being undertaken to validate our findings and test the clinical utility of this biomarker for altering clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3495778  PMID: 23009708
Malignant pleural effusions; Mesothelioma; Lung cancer; DNA integrity index; Mesothelin
3.  Genetic influences on right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP) in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) 
Pulmonary hypertension (PH) is a complication of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). This study examined genetic variations in mediators of vascular remodelling and their association with PH in patients with COPD. In patients with COPD, we genotyped 7 SNPs in 6 candidate PH genes (NOS3, ACE, EDN1, PTGIS, SLC6A4, VEGFA). We tested for association with right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), spirometry and gas transfer, and hypoxemia.
In patients with COPD, we genotyped 7 SNPs in 6 candidate PH genes (NOS3, ACE, EDN1, PTGIS, SLC6A4, VEGFA). We tested for association with right ventricular systolic pressure (RVSP), spirometry and gas transfer, and hypoxemia.
580 COPD patients were recruited, 341 patients had a transthoracic echocardiogram, with RVSP measurable in 278 patients (mean age 69 years, mean FEV1 50% predicted, mean RVSP 44 mmHg, median history of 50 pack-years). Of the 7 tested SNPs, the NOS3-VNTR polymorphism was significantly associated with RVSP in a dose-dependent fashion for the risk allele: mean RVSP for a/a and a/b genotypes were 52.0 and 46.6 mmHg respectively, compared to 43.2 mmHg for b/b genotypes (P = 0.032). No associations were found between RVSP and other polymorphisms. ACE II or ID genotypes were associated with a lower FEV1% predicted than the ACE DD genotype (P = 0.028). The NOS3-298 TT genotype was associated with lower KCO % predicted than the NOS3-298 GG or GT genotype (P = 0.031).
The NOS3-VNTR polymorphism was associated with RVSP in patients with COPD, supporting its involvement in the pathogenesis of PH in COPD. ACE and NOS3 genotypes were associated with COPD disease severity, but not with the presence of PH. Further study of these genes could lead to the development of prognostic and screening tools for PH in COPD.
PMCID: PMC3431274  PMID: 22695028
COPD; Pulmonary hypertension; Genetic polymorphism
4.  MicroRNA-218 Is Deleted and Downregulated in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(9):e12560.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, non-coding RNA species functioning as negative regulators of multiple target genes including tumour suppressor genes and oncogenes. Many miRNA gene loci are located within cancer-associated genomic regions. To identify potential new amplified oncogenic and/or deleted tumour suppressing miRNAs in lung cancer, we inferred miRNA gene dosage from high dimensional arrayCGH data. From miRBase v9.0 (, 474 human miRNA genes were physically mapped to regions of chromosomal loss or gain identified from a high-resolution genome-wide arrayCGH study of 132 primary non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs) (a training set of 60 squamous cell carcinomas and 72 adenocarcinomas). MiRNAs were selected as candidates if their immediately flanking probes or host gene were deleted or amplified in at least 25% of primary tumours using both Analysis of Copy Errors algorithm and fold change (≥±1.2) analyses. Using these criteria, 97 miRNAs mapped to regions of aberrant copy number. Analysis of three independent published lung cancer arrayCGH datasets confirmed that 22 of these miRNA loci showed directionally concordant copy number variation. MiR-218, encoded on 4p15.31 and 5q35.1 within two host genes (SLIT2 and SLIT3), in a region of copy number loss, was selected as a priority candidate for follow-up as it is reported as underexpressed in lung cancer. We confirmed decreased expression of mature miR-218 and its host genes by qRT-PCR in 39 NSCLCs relative to normal lung tissue. This downregulation of miR-218 was found to be associated with a history of cigarette smoking, but not human papilloma virus. Thus, we show for the first time that putative lung cancer-associated miRNAs can be identified from genome-wide arrayCGH datasets using a bioinformatics mapping approach, and report that miR-218 is a strong candidate tumour suppressing miRNA potentially involved in lung cancer.
PMCID: PMC2933228  PMID: 20838434

Results 1-4 (4)