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1.  WNT activation by lithium abrogates TP53 mutation associated radiation resistance in medulloblastoma 
TP53 mutations confer subgroup specific poor survival for children with medulloblastoma. We hypothesized that WNT activation which is associated with improved survival for such children abrogates TP53 related radioresistance and can be used to sensitize TP53 mutant tumors for radiation. We examined the subgroup-specific role of TP53 mutations in a cohort of 314 patients treated with radiation. TP53 wild-type or mutant human medulloblastoma cell-lines and normal neural stem cells were used to test radioresistance of TP53 mutations and the radiosensitizing effect of WNT activation on tumors and the developing brain. Children with WNT/TP53 mutant medulloblastoma had higher 5-year survival than those with SHH/TP53 mutant tumours (100% and 36.6% ± 8.7%, respectively (p < 0.001)). Introduction of TP53 mutation into medulloblastoma cells induced radioresistance (survival fractions at 2Gy (SF2) of 89% ± 2% vs. 57.4% ± 1.8% (p < 0.01)). In contrast, β-catenin mutation sensitized TP53 mutant cells to radiation (p < 0.05). Lithium, an activator of the WNT pathway, sensitized TP53 mutant medulloblastoma to radiation (SF2 of 43.5% ± 1.5% in lithium treated cells vs. 56.6 ± 3% (p < 0.01)) accompanied by increased number of γH2AX foci. Normal neural stem cells were protected from lithium induced radiation damage (SF2 of 33% ± 8% for lithium treated cells vs. 27% ± 3% for untreated controls (p = 0.05). Poor survival of patients with TP53 mutant medulloblastoma may be related to radiation resistance. Since constitutive activation of the WNT pathway by lithium sensitizes TP53 mutant medulloblastoma cells and protect normal neural stem cells from radiation, this oral drug may represent an attractive novel therapy for high-risk medulloblastomas.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40478-014-0174-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4297452  PMID: 25539912
2.  Landscape of Genomic Alterations in Cervical Carcinomas 
Nature  2013;506(7488):371-375.
Cervical cancer is responsible for 10–15% of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide1,2. The etiological role of infection with high-risk human papilloma viruses (HPV) in cervical carcinomas is well established3. Previous studies have implicated somatic mutations in PIK3CA, PTEN, TP53, STK11 and KRAS4–7 as well as several copy number alterations in the pathogenesis of cervical carcinomas8,9. Here, we report whole exome sequencing analysis of 115 cervical carcinoma-normal paired samples, transcriptome sequencing of 79 cases and whole genome sequencing of 14 tumor-normal pairs. Novel somatic mutations in 79 primary squamous cell carcinomas include recurrent E322K substitutions in the MAPK1 gene (8%), inactivating mutations in the HLA-B gene (9%), and mutations in EP300 (16%), FBXW7 (15%), NFE2L2 (4%) TP53 (5%) and ERBB2 (6%). We also observed somatic ELF3 (13%) and CBFB (8%) mutations in 24 adenocarcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas had higher frequencies of somatic mutations in the Tp*C dinucleotide context than adenocarcinomas. Gene expression levels at HPV integration sites were significantly higher in tumors with HPV integration compared with expression of the same genes in tumors without viral integration at the same site. These data demonstrate several recurrent genomic alterations in cervical carcinomas that suggest novel strategies to combat this disease.
PMCID: PMC4161954  PMID: 24390348
3.  Inhibitor-sensitive FGFR2 and FGFR3 mutations in lung squamous cell carcinoma 
Cancer research  2013;73(16):5195-5205.
A comprehensive description of genomic alterations in lung squamous cell carcinoma (lung SqCC) has recently been reported, enabling the identification of genomic events that contribute to the oncogenesis of this disease. In lung SqCC, one of the most frequently altered receptor tyrosine kinase families is the fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR) family, with amplification or mutation observed in all four family members. Here, we describe the oncogenic nature of mutations observed in FGFR2 and FGFR3, which are each observed in 3% of samples, for a mutation rate of 6% across both genes. Using cell culture and xenograft models, we show that several of these mutations drive cellular transformation. Transformation can be reversed by small molecule FGFR inhibitors currently being developed for clinical use. We also show that mutations in the extracellular domains of FGFR2 lead to constitutive FGFR dimerization. Additionally, we report a patient with an FGFR2-mutated oral squamous cell carcinoma who responded to the multi-targeted tyrosine kinase inhibitor pazopanib. These findings provide new insights into driving oncogenic events in a subset of lung squamous cancers, and recommend future clinical studies with FGFR inhibitors in patients with lung and head and neck SqCC.
PMCID: PMC3749739  PMID: 23786770
Squamous cell lung cancer; Fibroblast growth factor receptors; tyrosine kinase inhibitors; lung cancer genomics
4.  Activation of the PD-1 pathway contributes to immune escape in EGFR-driven lung tumors 
Cancer discovery  2013;3(12):10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0310.
The success in lung cancer therapy with Programmed Death (PD)-1 blockade suggests that immune escape mechanisms contribute to lung tumor pathogenesis. We identified a correlation between Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) pathway activation and a signature of immunosuppression manifested by upregulation of PD-1, PD-L1, cytotoxic T lymphocyte antigen-4 (CTLA-4), and multiple tumor-promoting inflammatory cytokines. We observed decreased cytotoxic T cells and increased markers of T cell exhaustion in mouse models of EGFR-driven lung cancer. PD-1 antibody blockade improved the survival of mice with EGFR-driven adenocarcinomas by enhancing effector T cell function and lowering the levels of tumor-promoting cytokines. Expression of mutant EGFR in bronchial epithelial cells induced PD-L1, and PD-L1 expression was reduced by EGFR inhibitors in non-small cell lung cancer cell lines with activated EGFR. These data suggest that oncogenic EGFR signaling remodels the tumor microenvironment to trigger immune escape, and mechanistically link treatment response to PD-1 inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3864135  PMID: 24078774
5.  Mutational heterogeneity in cancer and the search for new cancer genes 
Nature  2013;499(7457):214-218.
Major international projects are now underway aimed at creating a comprehensive catalog of all genes responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer. These studies involve sequencing of matched tumor–normal samples followed by mathematical analysis to identify those genes in which mutations occur more frequently than expected by random chance. Here, we describe a fundamental problem with cancer genome studies: as the sample size increases, the list of putatively significant genes produced by current analytical methods burgeons into the hundreds. The list includes many implausible genes (such as those encoding olfactory receptors and the muscle protein titin), suggesting extensive false positive findings that overshadow true driver events. Here, we show that this problem stems largely from mutational heterogeneity and provide a novel analytical methodology, MutSigCV, for resolving the problem. We apply MutSigCV to exome sequences from 3,083 tumor-normal pairs and discover extraordinary variation in (i) mutation frequency and spectrum within cancer types, which shed light on mutational processes and disease etiology, and (ii) mutation frequency across the genome, which is strongly correlated with DNA replication timing and also with transcriptional activity. By incorporating mutational heterogeneity into the analyses, MutSigCV is able to eliminate most of the apparent artefactual findings and allow true cancer genes to rise to attention.
PMCID: PMC3919509  PMID: 23770567
6.  Mapping the hallmarks of lung adenocarcinoma with massively parallel sequencing 
Cell  2012;150(6):1107-1120.
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.
PMCID: PMC3557932  PMID: 22980975
7.  The genetic landscape of high-risk neuroblastoma 
Nature genetics  2013;45(3):279-284.
Neuroblastoma is a malignancy of the developing sympathetic nervous system that often presents with widespread metastatic disease, resulting in survival rates of less than 50%1. To determine the spectrum of somatic mutation in high-risk neuroblastoma, we studied 240 cases using a combination of whole exome, genome and transcriptome sequencing as part of the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) initiative. Here we report a low median exonic mutation frequency of 0.60 per megabase (0.48 non-silent), and remarkably few recurrently mutated genes in these tumors. Genes with significant somatic mutation frequencies included ALK (9.2% of cases), PTPN11 (2.9%), ATRX (2.5%, an additional 7.1% had focal deletions), MYCN (1.7%, a recurrent p.Pro44Leu alteration), and NRAS (0.83%). Rare, potentially pathogenic germline variants were significantly enriched in ALK, CHEK2, PINK1, and BARD1. The relative paucity of recurrent somatic mutations in neuroblastoma challenges current therapeutic strategies reliant upon frequently altered oncogenic drivers.
PMCID: PMC3682833  PMID: 23334666
8.  ICGC PedBrain: Dissecting the genomic complexity underlying medulloblastoma 
Jones, David TW | Jäger, Natalie | Kool, Marcel | Zichner, Thomas | Hutter, Barbara | Sultan, Marc | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Pugh, Trevor J | Hovestadt, Volker | Stütz, Adrian M | Rausch, Tobias | Warnatz, Hans-Jörg | Ryzhova, Marina | Bender, Sebastian | Sturm, Dominik | Pleier, Sabrina | Cin, Huriye | Pfaff, Elke | Sieber, Laura | Wittmann, Andrea | Remke, Marc | Witt, Hendrik | Hutter, Sonja | Tzaridis, Theophilos | Weischenfeldt, Joachim | Raeder, Benjamin | Avci, Meryem | Amstislavskiy, Vyacheslav | Zapatka, Marc | Weber, Ursula D | Wang, Qi | Lasitschka, Bärbel | Bartholomae, Cynthia C | Schmidt, Manfred | von Kalle, Christof | Ast, Volker | Lawerenz, Chris | Eils, Jürgen | Kabbe, Rolf | Benes, Vladimir | van Sluis, Peter | Koster, Jan | Volckmann, Richard | Shih, David | Betts, Matthew J | Russell, Robert B | Coco, Simona | Tonini, Gian Paolo | Schüller, Ulrich | Hans, Volkmar | Graf, Norbert | Kim, Yoo-Jin | Monoranu, Camelia | Roggendorf, Wolfgang | Unterberg, Andreas | Herold-Mende, Christel | Milde, Till | Kulozik, Andreas E | von Deimling, Andreas | Witt, Olaf | Maass, Eberhard | Rössler, Jochen | Ebinger, Martin | Schuhmann, Martin U | Frühwald, Michael C | Hasselblatt, Martin | Jabado, Nada | Rutkowski, Stefan | von Bueren, André O | Williamson, Dan | Clifford, Steven C | McCabe, Martin G | Collins, V. Peter | Wolf, Stephan | Wiemann, Stefan | Lehrach, Hans | Brors, Benedikt | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Felsberg, Jörg | Reifenberger, Guido | Northcott, Paul A | Taylor, Michael D | Meyerson, Matthew | Pomeroy, Scott L | Yaspo, Marie-Laure | Korbel, Jan O | Korshunov, Andrey | Eils, Roland | Pfister, Stefan M | Lichter, Peter
Nature  2012;488(7409):100-105.
Medulloblastoma is an aggressively-growing tumour, arising in the cerebellum or medulla/brain stem. It is the most common malignant brain tumour in children, and displays tremendous biological and clinical heterogeneity1. Despite recent treatment advances, approximately 40% of children experience tumour recurrence, and 30% will die from their disease. Those who survive often have a significantly reduced quality of life.
Four tumour subgroups with distinct clinical, biological and genetic profiles are currently discriminated2,3. WNT tumours, displaying activated wingless pathway signalling, carry a favourable prognosis under current treatment regimens4. SHH tumours show hedgehog pathway activation, and have an intermediate prognosis2. Group 3 & 4 tumours are molecularly less well-characterised, and also present the greatest clinical challenges2,3,5. The full repertoire of genetic events driving this distinction, however, remains unclear.
Here we describe an integrative deep-sequencing analysis of 125 tumour-normal pairs. Tetraploidy was identified as a frequent early event in Group 3 & 4 tumours, and a positive correlation between patient age and mutation rate was observed. Several recurrent mutations were identified, both in known medulloblastoma-related genes (CTNNB1, PTCH1, MLL2, SMARCA4) and in genes not previously linked to this tumour (DDX3X, CTDNEP1, KDM6A, TBR1), often in subgroup-specific patterns. RNA-sequencing confirmed these alterations, and revealed the expression of the first medulloblastoma fusion genes. Chromatin modifiers were frequently altered across all subgroups.
These findings enhance our understanding of the genomic complexity and heterogeneity underlying medulloblastoma, and provide several potential targets for new therapeutics, especially for Group 3 & 4 patients.
PMCID: PMC3662966  PMID: 22832583
Nature  2012;488(7409):106-110.
Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumors in children1. Identifying and understanding the genetic events that drive these tumors is critical for the development of more effective diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies. Recently, our group and others described distinct molecular subtypes of medulloblastoma based on transcriptional and copy number profiles2–5. Here, we utilized whole exome hybrid capture and deep sequencing to identify somatic mutations across the coding regions of 92 primary medulloblastoma/normal pairs. Overall, medulloblastomas exhibit low mutation rates consistent with other pediatric tumors, with a median of 0.35 non-silent mutations per megabase. We identified twelve genes mutated at statistically significant frequencies, including previously known mutated genes in medulloblastoma such as CTNNB1, PTCH1, MLL2, SMARCA4 and TP53. Recurrent somatic mutations were identified in an RNA helicase gene, DDX3X, often concurrent with CTNNB1 mutations, and in the nuclear co-repressor (N-CoR) complex genes GPS2, BCOR, and LDB1, novel findings in medulloblastoma. We show that mutant DDX3X potentiates transactivation of a TCF promoter and enhances cell viability in combination with mutant but not wild type beta-catenin. Together, our study reveals the alteration of Wnt, Hedgehog, histone methyltransferase and now N-CoR pathways across medulloblastomas and within specific subtypes of this disease, and nominates the RNA helicase DDX3X as a component of pathogenic beta-catenin signaling in medulloblastoma.
PMCID: PMC3413789  PMID: 22820256
10.  Initial genome sequencing and analysis of multiple myeloma 
Nature  2011;471(7339):467-472.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable malignancy of plasma cells, and its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Here we report the massively parallel sequencing of 38 tumor genomes and their comparison to matched normal DNAs. Several new and unexpected oncogenic mechanisms were suggested by the pattern of somatic mutation across the dataset. These include the mutation of genes involved in protein translation (seen in nearly half of the patients), genes involved in histone methylation, and genes involved in blood coagulation. In addition, a broader than anticipated role of NF-κB signaling was suggested by mutations in 11 members of the NF-κB pathway. Of potential immediate clinical relevance, activating mutations of the kinase BRAF were observed in 4% of patients, suggesting the evaluation of BRAF inhibitors in multiple myeloma clinical trials. These results indicate that cancer genome sequencing of large collections of samples will yield new insights into cancer not anticipated by existing knowledge.
PMCID: PMC3560292  PMID: 21430775
11.  Discovery and characterization of artifactual mutations in deep coverage targeted capture sequencing data due to oxidative DNA damage during sample preparation 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;41(6):e67.
As researchers begin probing deep coverage sequencing data for increasingly rare mutations and subclonal events, the fidelity of next generation sequencing (NGS) laboratory methods will become increasingly critical. Although error rates for sequencing and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) are well documented, the effects that DNA extraction and other library preparation steps could have on downstream sequence integrity have not been thoroughly evaluated. Here, we describe the discovery of novel C > A/G > T transversion artifacts found at low allelic fractions in targeted capture data. Characteristics such as sequencer read orientation and presence in both tumor and normal samples strongly indicated a non-biological mechanism. We identified the source as oxidation of DNA during acoustic shearing in samples containing reactive contaminants from the extraction process. We show generation of 8-oxoguanine (8-oxoG) lesions during DNA shearing, present analysis tools to detect oxidation in sequencing data and suggest methods to reduce DNA oxidation through the introduction of antioxidants. Further, informatics methods are presented to confidently filter these artifacts from sequencing data sets. Though only seen in a low percentage of reads in affected samples, such artifacts could have profoundly deleterious effects on the ability to confidently call rare mutations, and eliminating other possible sources of artifacts should become a priority for the research community.
PMCID: PMC3616734  PMID: 23303777
12.  Melanoma genome sequencing reveals frequent PREX2 mutations 
Nature  2012;485(7399):502-506.
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.
PMCID: PMC3367798  PMID: 22622578
14.  The genomic complexity of primary human prostate cancer 
Nature  2011;470(7333):214-220.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of male cancer deaths in the United States. Here we present the complete sequence of seven primary prostate cancers and their paired normal counterparts. Several tumors contained complex chains of balanced rearrangements that occurred within or adjacent to known cancer genes. Rearrangement breakpoints were enriched near open chromatin, androgen receptor and ERG DNA binding sites in the setting of the ETS gene fusion TMPRSS2-ERG, but inversely correlated with these regions in tumors lacking ETS fusions. This observation suggests a link between chromatin or transcriptional regulation and the genesis of genomic aberrations. Three tumors contained rearrangements that disrupted CADM2, and four harbored events disrupting either PTEN (unbalanced events), a prostate tumor suppressor, or MAGI2 (balanced events), a PTEN interacting protein not previously implicated in prostate tumorigenesis. Thus, genomic rearrangements may arise from transcriptional or chromatin aberrancies to engage prostate tumorigenic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC3075885  PMID: 21307934
16.  Evolution of an adenocarcinoma in response to selection by targeted kinase inhibitors 
Genome Biology  2010;11(8):R82.
Adenocarcinomas of the tongue are rare and represent the minority (20 to 25%) of salivary gland tumors affecting the tongue. We investigated the utility of massively parallel sequencing to characterize an adenocarcinoma of the tongue, before and after treatment.
In the pre-treatment tumor we identified 7,629 genes within regions of copy number gain. There were 1,078 genes that exhibited increased expression relative to the blood and unrelated tumors and four genes contained somatic protein-coding mutations. Our analysis suggested the tumor cells were driven by the RET oncogene. Genes whose protein products are targeted by the RET inhibitors sunitinib and sorafenib correlated with being amplified and or highly expressed. Consistent with our observations, administration of sunitinib was associated with stable disease lasting 4 months, after which the lung lesions began to grow. Administration of sorafenib and sulindac provided disease stabilization for an additional 3 months after which the cancer progressed and new lesions appeared. A recurring metastasis possessed 7,288 genes within copy number amplicons, 385 genes exhibiting increased expression relative to other tumors and 9 new somatic protein coding mutations. The observed mutations and amplifications were consistent with therapeutic resistance arising through activation of the MAPK and AKT pathways.
We conclude that complete genomic characterization of a rare tumor has the potential to aid in clinical decision making and identifying therapeutic approaches where no established treatment protocols exist. These results also provide direct in vivo genomic evidence for mutational evolution within a tumor under drug selection and potential mechanisms of drug resistance accrual.
PMCID: PMC2945784  PMID: 20696054
18.  Correlations of EGFR mutations and increases in EGFR and HER2 copy number to gefitinib response in a retrospective analysis of lung cancer patients 
BMC Cancer  2007;7:128.
Gefitinib, a small molecule tyrosine kinase inhibitor of the Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR), has shown limited efficacy in the treatment of lung cancer. Recognized clinical predictors of response to this drug, specifically female, non-smoker, Asian descent, and adenocarcinoma, together suggest a genetic basis for drug response. Recent studies have addressed the relationship between response and either sequence mutations or increased copy number of specific receptor tyrosine kinases. We set out to examine the relationship between response and the molecular status of two such kinases, EGFR and HER2, in 39 patients treated with gefitinib at the BC Cancer Agency.
Archival patient material was reviewed by a pathologist and malignant cells were selectively isolated by laser microdissection or manual recovery of cells from microscope slides. Genomic DNA was extracted from 37 such patient samples and exons 18–24, coding for the tyrosine kinase domain of EGFR, were amplified by PCR and sequenced. EGFR and HER2 copy number status were also assessed using FISH in 26 samples. Correlations between molecular features and drug response were assessed using the two-sided Fisher's exact test.
Mutations previously correlated with response were detected in five tumours, four with exon 19 deletions and one with an exon 21 missense L858R point mutation. Increased gene copy number was observed in thirteen tumours, seven with EGFR amplification, three with HER2 amplification, and three with amplification of both genes. In our study cohort, a correlation was not observed between response and EGFR mutations (exon 19 deletion p = 0.0889, we observed a single exon 21 mutation in a non-responder) or increases in EGFR or HER2 copy number (p = 0.552 and 0.437, respectively).
Neither mutation of EGFR nor increased copy number of EGFR or HER2 was diagnostic of response to gefitinib in this cohort. However, validation of these features in a larger sample set is appropriate. Identification of additional predictive biomarkers beyond EGFR status may be necessary to accurately predict treatment outcome.
PMCID: PMC1952070  PMID: 17626639

Results 1-18 (18)