Detection of somatic point substitutions is a key step in characterizing the cancer genome. Mutations in cancer are rare (0.1–100/Mb) and often occur only in a subset of the sequenced cells, either due to contamination by normal cells or due to tumor heterogeneity. Consequently, mutation calling methods need to be both specific, avoiding false positives, and sensitive to detect clonal and sub-clonal mutations. The decreased sensitivity of existing methods for low allelic fraction mutations highlights the pressing need for improved and systematically evaluated mutation detection methods. Here we present MuTect, a method based on a Bayesian classifier designed to detect somatic mutations with very low allele-fractions, requiring only a few supporting reads, followed by a set of carefully tuned filters that ensure high specificity. We also describe novel benchmarking approaches, which use real sequencing data to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity as a function of sequencing depth, base quality and allelic fraction. Compared with other methods, MuTect has higher sensitivity with similar specificity, especially for mutations with allelic fractions as low as 0.1 and below, making MuTect particularly useful for studying cancer subclones and their evolution in standard exome and genome sequencing data.
Tissue-specific differentiation programs become dysregulated during cancer evolution. The transcription factor Nkx2-1 is a master regulator of pulmonary differentiation that is downregulated in poorly differentiated lung adenocarcinoma. Here we use conditional murine genetics to determine how the identity of lung epithelial cells changes upon loss of their master cell fate regulator. Nkx2-1 deletion in normal and neoplastic lung causes not only loss of pulmonary identity but also conversion to a gastric lineage. Nkx2-1 is likely to maintain pulmonary identity by recruiting transcription factors Foxa1 and Foxa2 to lung-specific loci thus preventing them from binding gastrointestinal targets. Nkx2-1-negative murine lung tumors mimic mucinous human lung adenocarcinomas, which express gastric markers. Loss of the gastrointestinal transcription factor Hnf4α leads to de-repression of the embryonal protoncogene Hmga2 in Nkx2-1-negative tumors. These observations suggest that loss of both active and latent differentiation programs is required for tumors to reach a primitive, poorly differentiated state.
Prior studies have identified recurrent oncogenic mutations in colorectal adenocarcinoma1 and have surveyed exons of protein-coding genes for mutations in 11 affected individuals2,3. Here we report whole-genome sequencing from nine individuals with colorectal cancer, including primary colorectal tumors and matched adjacent non-tumor tissues, at an average of 30.7× and 31.9× coverage, respectively. We identify an average of 75 somatic rearrangements per tumor, including complex networks of translocations between pairs of chromosomes. Eleven rearrangements encode predicted in-frame fusion proteins, including a fusion of VTI1A and TCF7L2 found in 3 out of 97 colorectal cancers. Although TCF7L2 encodes TCF4, which cooperates with β-catenin4 in colorectal carcinogenesis5,6, the fusion lacks the TCF4 β-catenin–binding domain. We found a colorectal carcinoma cell line harboring the fusion gene to be dependent on VTI1A-TCF7L2 for anchorage-independent growth using RNA interference-mediated knockdown. This study shows previously unidentified levels of genomic rearrangements in colorectal carcinoma that can lead to essential gene fusions and other oncogenic events.
Lung squamous cell carcinoma (SqCC) is the second most common subtype of non-small-cell lung cancer and leads to 40,000–50,000 deaths per year in the USA. Management of non-small-cell lung cancer has dramatically changed over the past decade with the introduction of targeted therapeutic agents for genotypically selected individuals with lung adenocarcinoma. These agents lead to improved outcomes, and it has now become the standard of care to perform routine molecular genotyping of lung adenocarcinomas. By contrast, progress in lung SqCC has been modest, and there has yet to be a successful demonstration of targeted therapy in this disease. Here, we review exciting work from ongoing genomic characterization and biomarker validation efforts that have nominated several likely therapeutic targets in lung SqCCs. These studies suggest that targeted therapies are likely to be successful in the treatment of lung SqCCs and should be further explored in both preclinical models and in clinical trials.
It has been demonstrated for some cancers that the frequency of somatic oncogenic mutations may vary in ancestral populations. To determine whether key driver alterations might occur at different frequencies in colorectal cancer, we applied a high-throughput genotyping platform (OncoMap) to query 385 mutations across 33 known cancer genes in colorectal cancer DNA from 83 Asian, 149 Black and 195 White patients. We found that Asian patients had fewer canonical oncogenic mutations in the genes tested (60% vs Black 79% (P = 0.011) and White 77% (P = 0.015)), and that BRAF mutations occurred at a higher frequency in White patients (17% vs Asian 4% (P = 0.004) and Black 7% (P = 0.014)). These results suggest that the use of genomic approaches to elucidate the different ancestral determinants harbored by patient populations may help to more precisely and effectively treat colorectal cancer.
We describe the anticancer activity of ganetespib, a novel non-geldanamycin heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) inhibitor, in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) models.
The activity of ganetespib was compared to that of the geldanamycin 17-AAG in biochemical assays, cell lines and xenografts, and evaluated in an ERBB2 YVMA-driven mouse lung adenocarcinoma model.
Ganetespib blocked the ability of HSP90 to bind to biotinylated geldanamycin and disrupted the association of HSP90 with its co-chaperone, p23, more potently than 17-AAG. In genomically-defined NSCLC cell lines, ganetespib caused depletion of receptor tyrosine kinases, extinguishing of downstream signaling, inhibition of proliferation and induction of apoptosis with IC50 values ranging 2–30 nM, substantially lower than those required for 17-AAG (20– 3,500 nM). Ganetespib was also approximately 20-fold more potent in isogenic Ba/F3 pro-B cells rendered IL-3 independent by expression of EGFR and ERBB2 mutants. In mice bearing NCI-H1975 (EGFR L858R/T790M) xenografts, ganetespib was rapidly eliminated from plasma and normal tissues but was maintained in tumor with t1/2 58.3 hours, supporting once-weekly dosing experiments, in which ganetespib produced greater tumor growth inhibition than 17-AAG. However, after a single dose, re-expression of mutant EGFR occurred by 72 hours, correlating with reversal of anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic effects. Consecutive day dosing resulted in xenograft regressions, accompanied by more sustained pharmacodynamic effects. Ganetespib also demonstrated activity against mouse lung adenocarcinomas driven by oncogenic ERBB2 YVMA.
Ganetespib has greater potency than 17-AAG and potential efficacy against several NSCLC subsets, including those harboring EGFR or ERBB2 mutation.
HSP90; ERBB Receptor Tyrosine Kinases; NSCLC; Non-Geldanamycin
Lung adenocarcinoma, the most common subtype of non-small cell lung cancer, is responsible for over 500,000 deaths per year worldwide. Here, we report exome and genome sequences of 183 lung adenocarcinoma tumor/normal DNA pairs. These analyses revealed a mean exonic somatic mutation rate of 12.0 events/megabase and identified the majority of genes previously reported as significantly mutated in lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, we identified statistically recurrent somatic mutations in the splicing factor gene U2AF1 and truncating mutations affecting RBM10 and ARID1A. Analysis of nucleotide context-specific mutation signatures grouped the sample set into distinct clusters that correlated with smoking history and alterations of reported lung adenocarcinoma genes. Whole genome sequence analysis revealed frequent structural re-arrangements, including in-frame exonic alterations within EGFR and SIK2 kinases. The candidate genes identified in this study are attractive targets for biological characterization and therapeutic targeting of lung adenocarcinoma.
A more detailed understanding of the somatic genetic events that drive gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas is necessary to improve diagnosis and therapy. Using data from high-density genomic profiling arrays, we conducted an analysis of somatic copy-number aberrations (SCNAs) in 486 gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas including 296 esophageal and gastric cancers. Focal amplifications were substantially more prevalent in gastric/esophageal adenocarcinomas than colorectal tumors. We identified 64 regions of significant recurrent amplification and deletion, some shared and others unique to the adenocarcinoma types examined. Amplified genes were noted in 37% of gastric/esophageal tumors, including in therapeutically targetable kinases such as ERBB2, FGFR1, FGFR2, EGFR, and MET, suggesting the potential utility of genomic amplifications as biomarkers to guide therapy of gastric and esophageal cancers where targeted therapeutics have been less developed compared to colorectal cancers. Amplified loci implicated genes with known involvement in carcinogenesis but also pointed to regions harboring potentially novel cancer genes, including a recurrent deletion found in 15% of esophageal tumors where the Runt transcription factor subunit RUNX1 was implicated, including by functional experiments in tissue culture. Together, our results defined genomic features that were common and distinct to various gut-derived adenocarcinomas, potentially informing novel opportunities for targeted therapeutic interventions.
Esophagus; stomach; colon; adenocarcinoma; copy-number
The mTOR Complex 1 (mTORC1) pathway promotes cell growth in response to many cues, including amino acids, which act through the Rag GTPases to promote mTORC1 translocation to the lysosomal surface, its site of activation. Although progress has been made in identifying positive regulators of the Rags, it is unknown if negative factors also exist. Here, we identify GATOR as a complex that interacts with the Rags and is composed of two subcomplexes we call GATOR1 and 2. Inhibition of GATOR1 subunits (DEPDC5, Nprl2, and Nprl3) makes mTORC1 signaling resistant to amino acid deprivation. In contrast, inhibition of GATOR2 subunits (Mios, WDR24, WDR59, Seh1L, Sec13) suppresses mTORC1 signaling and epistasis analysis shows that GATOR2 negatively regulates DEPDC5. GATOR1 has GTPase activating protein (GAP) activity for RagA and RagB and its components are mutated in human cancer. In cancer cells with inactivating mutations in GATOR1, mTORC1 is hyperactive and insensitive to amino acid starvation and such cells are hypersensitive to rapamycin, an mTORC1 inhibitor. Thus, we identify a key negative regulator of the Rag GTPases and reveal that, like other mTORC1 regulators, Rag function can be deregulated in cancer.
Despite recent insights into melanoma genetics, systematic surveys for driver mutations are challenged by an abundance of passenger mutations caused by carcinogenic ultraviolet (UV) light exposure. We developed a permutation-based framework to address this challenge, employing mutation data from intronic sequences to control for passenger mutational load on a per gene basis. Analysis of large-scale melanoma exome data by this approach discovered six novel melanoma genes (PPP6C, RAC1, SNX31, TACC1, STK19 and ARID2), three of which - RAC1, PPP6C and STK19 - harbored recurrent and potentially targetable mutations. Integration with chromosomal copy number data contextualized the landscape of driver mutations, providing oncogenic insights in BRAF- and NRAS-driven melanoma as well as those without known NRAS/BRAF mutations. The landscape also clarified a mutational basis for RB and p53 pathway deregulation in this malignancy. Finally, the spectrum of driver mutations provided unequivocal genomic evidence for a direct mutagenic role of UV light in melanoma pathogenesis.
We sought to determine the mechanisms of downregulation of the airway transcription factor Foxa2 in lung cancer and the expression status of Foxa2 in non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
A series of 25 lung cancer cell lines were evaluated for Foxa2 protein expression, FOXA2 mRNA levels, FOXA2 mutations, FOXA2 copy number changes and for evidence of FOXA2 promoter hypermethylation. In addition, 32 NSCLCs were sequenced for FOXA2 mutations and 173 primary NSCLC tumors evaluated for Foxa2 expression using an immunohistochemical assay.
Out of the 25 cell lines, 13 (52%) had undetectable FOXA2 mRNA. The expression of FOXA2 mRNA and Foxa2 protein were congruent in 19/22 cells (p=0.001). FOXA2 mutations were not identified in primary NSCLCs and were infrequent in cell lines. Focal or broad chromosomal deletions involving FOXA2 were not present. The promoter region of FOXA2 had evidence of hypermethylation, with an inverse correlation between FOXA2 mRNA expression and presence of CpG dinucleotide methylation (p<0.0001). In primary NSCLC tumor specimens, there was a high frequency of either absence (42/173, 24.2%) or no/low expression (96/173, 55.4%) of Foxa2. In 130 patients with stage I NSCLC there was a trend towards decreased survival in tumors with no/low expression of Foxa2 (HR of 1.6, 95%CI 0.9–3.1; p=0.122).
Loss of expression of Foxa2 is frequent in lung cancer cell lines and NSCLCs. The main mechanism of downregulation of Foxa2 is epigenetic silencing through promoter hypermethylation. Further elucidation of the involvement of Foxa2 and other airway transcription factors in the pathogenesis of lung cancer may identify novel therapeutic targets.
lung cancer; non-small-cell lung cancer; Foxa2; methylation; transcription factors; epigenetic; downregulation; adenocarcinoma; mutation; prognosis
The somatic genetic basis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a common and clinically heterogeneous leukemia occurring in adults, remains poorly understood.
We obtained DNA samples from leukemia cells in 91 patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia and performed massively parallel sequencing of 88 whole exomes and whole genomes, together with sequencing of matched germline DNA, to characterize the spectrum of somatic mutations in this disease.
Nine genes that are mutated at significant frequencies were identified, including four with established roles in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (TP53 in 15% of patients, ATM in 9%, MYD88 in 10%, and NOTCH1 in 4%) and five with unestablished roles (SF3B1, ZMYM3, MAPK1, FBXW7, and DDX3X). SF3B1, which functions at the catalytic core of the spliceosome, was the second most frequently mutated gene (with mutations occurring in 15% of patients). SF3B1 mutations occurred primarily in tumors with deletions in chromosome 11q, which are associated with a poor prognosis in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia. We further discovered that tumor samples with mutations in SF3B1 had alterations in pre–messenger RNA (mRNA) splicing.
Our study defines the landscape of somatic mutations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia and highlights pre-mRNA splicing as a critical cellular process contributing to chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Most tumors display increased glucose metabolism compared to that of normal tissues. The preferential conversion of glucose to lactate in cancer cells (the Warburg Effect) has been emphasized1; however, the extent to which metabolic fluxes originating from glucose are utilized for alternative processes is poorly understood2,3. Here we used a combination of mass spectrometry and NMR with stable isotope labeling to investigate the alternate pathways derived from glucose metabolism in cancer cells. We found that in some cancer cells, a relatively large amount of glycolytic carbon is diverted into serine and glycine biosynthesis through phosphoglycerate dehydrogenase (PHGDH). A bioinformatics analysis of 3131 human cancers revealed that the gene PHGDH at 1p12 is recurrently amplified in a genomic region of focal copy number gain most commonly found in melanoma in which amplification was associated with increased protein expression. Decreased PHGDH expression by RNA interference impaired growth and flux into serine metabolism in PHGDH-amplified cell lines. Increased expression was also associated with breast cancer subtypes and ectopic expression of PHGDH in mammary epithelial cells (MCF-10a) disrupted acinar morphogenesis, induced loss of polarity, and preserved the viability of the extracellular matrix-deprived cells, each being phenotypic alterations that may predispose cells to transformation. Our findings demonstrate that altered metabolic flux from glucose into a specific alternate pathway can be selected during tumor development and may contribute to the pathogenesis of human cancer.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide and causes over 250,000 deaths each year1. Overtreatment of indolent disease also results in significant morbidity2. Common genetic alterations in prostate cancer include losses of NKX3.1 (8p21)3,4 and PTEN (10q23)5,6, gains of the androgen receptor gene (AR)7,8 and fusion of ETS-family transcription factor genes with androgen-responsive promoters9–11. Recurrent somatic base-pair substitutions are believed to be less contributory in prostate tumorigenesis12,13 but have not been systematically analyzed in large cohorts. Here we sequenced the exomes of 112 prostate tumor/normal pairs. Novel recurrent mutations were identified in multiple genes, including MED12 and FOXA1. SPOP was the most frequently mutated gene, with mutations involving the SPOP substrate binding cleft in 6–15% of tumors across multiple independent cohorts. SPOP-mutant prostate cancers lacked ETS rearrangements and exhibited a distinct pattern of genomic alterations. Thus, SPOP mutations may define a new molecular subtype of prostate cancer.
Identification of specific somatic gene alterations is crucial for the insight into the development, progression, and clinical behavior of individual cancer types. The recently discovered recurrent ERG rearrangement in prostate cancer (PCa) might represent a PCa specific alteration that has not been systematically assessed in tumors other than PCa. Aim of this study was to assess, whether the ERG rearrangement and the distinct deletion site between TMPRSS2 and ERG, both predominantly resulting in a TMPRSS2-ERG fusion, occurs in tumors other than PCa.
We assessed 54 different tumor types (2942 samples in total) for their ERG rearrangement status by FISH. To calibrate, we analyzed 285 PCa samples for the ERG rearrangement frequency. Additionally, we interrogated a high-resolution SNP data set across 3131 cancer specimens (26 tumor types) for copy number alterations.
None of the 54 different tumor types assessed by FISH harbored an ERG rearrangement, whereas the PCa samples revealed an ERG rearrangement in 31.2%–49.5%, depending on the cohort. Furthermore, within the 26 tumor types assessed for copy number alterations by SNP, the distinct deletion site between TMPRSS2 and ERG (21q22.2-3) was detectable exclusively in PCa.
Although Ewing's sarcoma and AML have known rearrangements rarely involving ERG, we hypothesize that the ERG rearrangement as well as the distinct deletion site on 21q22.2-3 between TMPRSS2 and ERG, are PCa specific genomic alterations. These observations provide further insight into the oncogenesis of PCa and might be critical for the development of ERG rearrangement assessment as a clinical tool.
ERG rearrangement; prostate cancer; carcinoma
Knowledge of “actionable” somatic genomic alterations present in each tumor (e.g., point mutations, small insertions/deletions, and copy number alterations that direct therapeutic options) should facilitate individualized approaches to cancer treatment. However, clinical implementation of systematic genomic profiling has rarely been achieved beyond limited numbers of oncogene point mutations. To address this challenge, we utilized a targeted, massively parallel sequencing approach to detect tumor genomic alterations in formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded (FFPE) tumor samples. Nearly 400-fold mean sequence coverage was achieved, and single nucleotide sequence variants, small insertions/deletions, and chromosomal copy number alterations were detected simultaneously with high accuracy compared to other methods in clinical use. Putatively actionable genomic alterations, including those that predict sensitivity or resistance to established and experimental therapies, were detected in each tumor sample tested. Thus, targeted deep sequencing of clinical tumor material may enable mutation-driven clinical trials and, ultimately, ”personalized” cancer treatment.
Because of the high risk of recurrence in high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGS-OvCa), the development of outcome predictors could be valuable for patient stratification. Using the catalog of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), we developed subtype and survival gene expression signatures, which, when combined, provide a prognostic model of HGS-OvCa classification, named “Classification of Ovarian Cancer” (CLOVAR). We validated CLOVAR on an independent dataset consisting of 879 HGS-OvCa expression profiles. The worst outcome group, accounting for 23% of all cases, was associated with a median survival of 23 months and a platinum resistance rate of 63%, versus a median survival of 46 months and platinum resistance rate of 23% in other cases. Associating the outcome prediction model with BRCA1/BRCA2 mutation status, residual disease after surgery, and disease stage further optimized outcome classification. Ovarian cancer is a disease in urgent need of more effective therapies. The spectrum of outcomes observed here and their association with CLOVAR signatures suggests variations in underlying tumor biology. Prospective validation of the CLOVAR model in the context of additional prognostic variables may provide a rationale for optimal combination of patient and treatment regimens.
Genomic alterations of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene play a crucial role in pathogenesis of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). By systematic analysis of GBM genomic data, we have identified and characterized a novel exon 27 deletion mutation occurring within the EGFR carboxyl-terminus domain (CTD) in addition to identifying additional examples of previously reported deletion mutations in this region. We show that the GBM-derived EGFR CTD deletion mutants are able to induce cellular transformation in vitro and in vivo in the absence of ligand and receptor autophosphorylation. Treatment with the EGFR-targeted monoclonal antibody, cetuximab, or the small molecule EGFR inhibitor, erlotinib, effectively impaired tumorigenicity of oncogenic EGFR CTD deletion mutants. Cetuximab in particular prolonged the survival of intracranially xenografted mice with oncogenic EGFR CTD deletion mutants, compared to untreated control mice. Therefore, we propose that erlotinib and especially cetuximab treatment may be a promising therapeutic strategy in GBM patients harboring EGFR CTD deletion mutants.
glioblastoma; epidermal growth factor receptor; cetuximab; EGFR mutation; targeted therapy
Melanoma is notable for its metastatic propensity, lethality in the advanced setting, and association with ultraviolet (UV) exposure early in life1. To obtain a comprehensive genomic view of melanoma, we sequenced the genomes of 25 metastatic melanomas and matched germline DNA. A wide range of point mutation rates was observed: lowest in melanomas whose primaries arose on non-UV exposed hairless skin of the extremities (3 and 14 per Mb genome), intermediate in those originating from hair-bearing skin of the trunk (range = 5 to 55 per Mb), and highest in a patient with a documented history of chronic sun exposure (111 per Mb). Analysis of whole-genome sequence data identified PREX2 - a PTEN-interacting protein and negative regulator of PTEN in breast cancer2 - as a significantly mutated gene with a mutation frequency of approximately 14% in an independent extension cohort of 107 human melanomas. PREX2 mutations are biologically relevant, as ectopic expression of mutant PREX2 accelerated tumor formation of immortalized human melanocytes in vivo. Thus, whole-genome sequencing of human melanoma tumors revealed genomic evidence of UV pathogenesis and discovered a new recurrently mutated gene in melanoma.
An increasing number of anti-cancer therapeutic agents target specific mutant proteins that are expressed by many different tumor types. Recent evidence suggests that the selection of patients whose tumors harbor specific genetic alterations identifies the subset of patients that are most likely to benefit from the use of such agents. As the number of genetic alterations that provide diagnostic and/or therapeutic information increases, the comprehensive characterization of cancer genomes will be necessary to understand the spectrum of distinct genomic alterations in cancer, to identify patients who are likely to respond to particular therapies and to facilitate the selection of treatment modalities. Rapid developments in new technologies for genomic analysis now provide the means to perform comprehensive analyses of cancer genomes. Here we review the current state of cancer genome analysis and discuss the challenges and opportunities necessary to implement these technologies in a clinical setting.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a common, morbid, and frequently lethal malignancy. To uncover its mutational spectrum, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data from 74 tumor-normal pairs. The majority exhibited a mutational profile consistent with tobacco exposure; human papilloma virus was detectable by sequencing of DNA from infected tumors. In addition to identifying previously known HNSCC genes (TP53, CDKN2A, PTEN, PIK3CA, and HRAS), the analysis revealed many genes not previously implicated in this malignancy. At least 30% of cases harbored mutations in genes that regulate squamous differentiation (e.g., NOTCH1, IRF6, and TP63), implicating its dysregulation as a major driver of HNSCC carcinogenesis. More generally, the results indicate the ability of large-scale sequencing to reveal fundamental tumorigenic mechanisms.
A detailed understanding of the mechanisms by which tumors acquire resistance to targeted anticancer agents should speed the development of treatment strategies with lasting clinical efficacy. RAF inhibition in BRAF-mutant melanoma exemplifies the promise and challenge of many targeted drugs; although response rates are high, resistance invariably develops. Here, we articulate overarching principles of resistance to kinase inhibitors, as well as a translational approach to characterize resistance in the clinical setting through tumor mutation profiling. As a proof of principle, we performed targeted, massively parallel sequencing of 138 cancer genes in a tumor obtained from a patient with melanoma who developed resistance to PLX4032 after an initial dramatic response. The resulting profile identified an activating mutation at codon 121 in the downstream kinase MEK1 that was absent in the corresponding pretreatment tumor. The MEK1C121S mutation was shown to increase kinase activity and confer robust resistance to both RAF and MEK inhibition in vitro. Thus, MEK1C121S or functionally similar mutations are predicted to confer resistance to combined MEK/RAF inhibition. These results provide an instructive framework for assessing mechanisms of acquired resistance to kinase inhibition and illustrate the use of emerging technologies in a manner that may accelerate personalized cancer medicine.