Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have recently been associated with the development and progression of a variety of human cancers. However, to date, the interplay between known oncogenic or tumor suppressive events and lncRNAs has not been well described. Here the novel lncRNA, Prostate Cancer-Associated Transcript 29 (PCAT29), is characterized along with its relationship to the androgen receptor (AR). PCAT29 is suppressed by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and upregulated upon castration therapy in a prostate cancer xenograft model. PCAT29 knockdown significantly increased proliferation and migration of prostate cancer cells, while PCAT29 overexpression conferred the opposite effect and suppressed growth and metastases of prostate tumors in chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) assays. Finally, in prostate cancer patient specimens, low PCAT29 expression correlated with poor prognostic outcomes. Taken together these data expose PCAT29 as an androgen-regulated tumor suppressor in prostate cancer.
Lung cancer is emerging as a paradigm for disease molecular subtyping, facilitating targeted therapy based on driving somatic alterations. Here, we perform transcriptome analysis of 153 samples representing lung adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas, large cell lung cancer, adenoid cystic carcinomas and cell lines. By integrating our data with The Cancer Genome Atlas and published sources, we analyze 753 lung cancer samples for gene fusions and other transcriptomic alterations. We show that higher numbers of gene fusions is an independent prognostic factor for poor survival in lung cancer. Our analysis confirms the recently reported CD74-NRG1 fusion and suggests that NRG1, NF1 and Hippo pathway fusions may play important roles in tumors without known driver mutations. In addition, we observe exon skipping events in c-MET, which are attributable to splice site mutations. These classes of genetic aberrations may play a significant role in the genesis of lung cancers lacking known driver mutations.
Impairment of double-stranded DNA break (DSB) repair is essential to many cancers. However, while mutations in DSB repair proteins are common in hereditary cancers, mechanisms of impaired DSB repair in sporadic cancers remain incompletely understood. Here, we describe the first role for a long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) in DSB repair in prostate cancer. We identify PCAT-1, a prostate cancer outlier lncRNA, which regulates cell response to genotoxic stress. PCAT-1 expression produces a functional deficiency in homologous recombination (HR) through its repression of the BRCA2 tumor suppressor, which, in turn, imparts a high sensitivity to small molecule inhibitors of PARP1. These effects reflected a post-transcriptional repression of the BRCA2 3′UTR by PCAT-1. Our observations thus offer a novel mechanism of “BRCA-ness” in sporadic cancers.
prostate cancer; long noncoding RNA; homologous recombination
Men who develop metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) invariably succumb to the disease. The development and progression to CRPC following androgen ablation therapy is predominantly driven by unregulated androgen receptor (AR) signaling1-3. Despite the success of recently approved therapies targeting AR signaling such as abiraterone4-6 and second generation anti-androgens MDV3100 (enzalutamide)7,8, durable responses are limited, presumably due to acquired resistance. Recently JQ1 and I-BET, two selective small molecule inhibitors that target the amino-terminal bromodomains of BRD4, have been shown to exhibit anti-proliferative effects in a range of malignancies9-12. Here we show that AR signaling-competent CRPC cell lines are preferentially sensitive to BET bromodomain inhibition. BRD4 physically interacts with the N-terminal domain of AR and can be disrupted by JQ111,13. Like the direct AR antagonist, MDV3100, JQ1 disrupted AR recruitment to target gene loci. In contrast to MDV3100, JQ1 functions downstream of AR, and more potently abrogated BRD4 localization to AR target loci and AR-mediated gene transcription including induction of TMPRSS2-ERG and its oncogenic activity. In vivo, BET bromodomain inhibition was more efficacious than direct AR antagonism in CRPC xenograft models. Taken together, these studies provide a novel epigenetic approach for the concerted blockade of oncogenic drivers in advanced prostate cancer.
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are an emerging class of oncogenic molecules implicated in a diverse range of human malignancies. We recently identified SChLAP1 as a novel lncRNA that demonstrates outlier expression in a subset of prostate cancers, promotes tumor cell invasion and metastasis, and associates with lethal disease. Based on these findings, we sought to develop an RNA in situ hybridization (ISH) assay for SChLAP1 to 1) investigate the spectrum of SChLAP1 expression from benign prostatic tissue to metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer and 2) to determine whether SChLAP1 expression by ISH is associated with outcome after radical prostatectomy in patients with clinically localized disease. The results from our current study demonstrate that SChLAP1 expression increases with prostate cancer progression, and high SChLAP1 expression by ISH is associated with poor outcome after radical prostatectomy in patients with clinically localized prostate cancer by both univariate (hazard ratio = 2.343, P = .005) and multivariate (hazard ratio = 1.99, P = .032) Cox regression analyses. This study highlights a potential clinical utility for SChLAP1 ISH as a novel tissue-based biomarker assay for outcome prognostication after radical prostatectomy.
Metastatic cancer of unknown primary (CUP) accounts for up to 5% of all new cancer cases, with a 5-year survival rate of only 10%. Accurate identification of tissue of origin would allow for directed, personalized therapies to improve clinical outcomes. Our objective was to use transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) to identify lineage-specific biomarker signatures for the cancer types that most commonly metastasize as CUP (colorectum, kidney, liver, lung, ovary, pancreas, prostate, and stomach). RNA-Seq data of 17,471 transcripts from a total of 3,244 cancer samples across 26 different tissue types were compiled from in-house sequencing data and publically available International Cancer Genome Consortium and The Cancer Genome Atlas datasets. Robust cancer biomarker signatures were extracted using a 10-fold cross-validation method of log transformation, quantile normalization, transcript ranking by area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, and stepwise logistic regression. The entire algorithm was then repeated with a new set of randomly generated training and test sets, yielding highly concordant biomarker signatures. External validation of the cancer-specific signatures yielded high sensitivity (92.0% ± 3.15%; mean ± standard deviation) and specificity (97.7% ± 2.99%) for each cancer biomarker signature. The overall performance of this RNA-Seq biomarker-generating algorithm yielded an accuracy of 90.5%. In conclusion, we demonstrate a computational model for producing highly sensitive and specific cancer biomarker signatures from RNA-Seq data, generating signatures for the top eight cancer types responsible for CUP to accurately identify tumor origin.
Polycomb Repressive Complexes 1 and 2 (PRC1 and 2) play a critical role in the epigenetic regulation of transcription during cellular differentiation, stem cell pluripotency, and neoplastic progression. Here we show that the Polycomb Group protein EED, a core component of PRC2, physically interacts with and functions as part of PRC1. Components of PRC1 and PRC2 compete for EED binding. EED functions to recruit PRC1 to H3K27me3 loci and enhances PRC1 mediated H2A ubiquitin E3 ligase activity. Taken together, we suggest an integral role for EED as an epigenetic exchange factor coordinating the activities of PRC1 and 2.
Global ‘multi-omics’ profiling of cancer cells harbours the potential for characterizing the signaling networks associated with specific oncogenes. Here we profile the transcriptome, proteome and phosphoproteome in a panel of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines in order to reconstruct targetable networks associated with KRAS dependency. We develop a two-step bioinformatics strategy addressing the challenge of integrating these disparate data sets. We first define an ‘abundance-score’ combining transcript, protein and phospho-protein abundances to nominate differentially abundant proteins and then use the Prize Collecting Steiner Tree algorithm to identify functional sub-networks. We identify three modules centered on KRAS and MET, LCK and PAK1 and b-Catenin. We validate activation of these proteins in KRAS-dependent (KRAS-Dep) cells and perform functional studies defining LCK as a critical gene for cell proliferation in KRAS-Dep but not KRAS-independent NSCLCs. These results suggest that LCK is a potential druggable target protein in KRAS-Dep lung cancers.
Prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer in men and the second leading cause of cancer death in men in the United States. The recent surge of high-throughput sequencing of cancer genomes has supported an expanding molecular classification of prostate cancer. Translation of these basic science studies into clinically valuable biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis and biomarkers that are predictive for therapy is critical to the development of precision medicine in prostate cancer. We review potential applications aimed at improving screening specificity in prostate cancer and differentiating aggressive versus indolent prostate cancers. Furthermore, we review predictive biomarker candidates involving ETS gene rearrangements, PTEN inactivation, and androgen receptor signaling. These and other putative biomarkers may signify aberrant oncogene pathway activation and provide a rationale for matching patients with molecularly targeted therapies in clinical trials. Lastly, we advocate innovations for clinical trial design to incorporate tumor biopsy and molecular characterization to develop biomarkers and understand mechanisms of resistance.
prostate cancer; long noncoding RNA; SWI-SNF
Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are increasingly implicated in cancer biology, contributing to essential cancer cell functions such as proliferation, invasion, and metastasis. In prostate cancer, several lncRNAs have been nominated as critical actors in disease pathogenesis. Among these, expression of PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 has been identified as a possible component in disease progression through the coordination of androgen receptor (AR) signaling (Yang et al., Nature 2013, see ref. ). However, concerns regarding the robustness of these findings have been suggested. Here, we sought to evaluate whether PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 are associated with prostate cancer. Through a comprehensive analysis of RNA-sequencing data (RNA-seq), we find evidence that PCGEM1 but not PRNCR1 is associated with prostate cancer. We employ a large cohort of >230 high-risk prostate cancer patients with long-term outcomes data to show that, in contrast to prior reports, neither gene is associated with poor patient outcomes. We further observe no evidence that PCGEM1 nor PRNCR1 interact with AR, and neither gene is a component of AR signaling. Thus, we conclusively demonstrate that PCGEM1 and PRNCR1 are not prognostic lncRNAs in prostate cancer and we refute suggestions that these lncRNAs interact in AR signaling.
prostate cancer; long noncoding RNA; androgen receptor
Through a prospective clinical sequencing program for advanced cancers, four index cases were identified which harbor gene rearrangements of FGFR2 including patients with cholangiocarcinoma, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. After extending our assessment of FGFR rearrangements across multiple tumor cohorts, we identified additional FGFR gene fusions with intact kinase domains in lung squamous cell cancer, bladder cancer, thyroid cancer, oral cancer, glioblastoma, and head and neck squamous cell cancer. All FGFR fusion partners tested exhibit oligomerization capability, suggesting a shared mode of kinase activation. Overexpression of FGFR fusion proteins induced cell proliferation. Two bladder cancer cell lines that harbor FGFR3 fusion proteins exhibited enhanced susceptibility to pharmacologic inhibition in vitro and in vivo. Due to the combinatorial possibilities of FGFR family fusion to a variety of oligomerization partners, clinical sequencing efforts which incorporate transcriptome analysis for gene fusions are poised to identify rare, targetable FGFR fusions across diverse cancer types.
MI-ONCOSEQ; integrative clinical sequencing; FGFR fusions; driver mutations; therapeutic targets
A 44-year old woman with recurrent solitary fibrous tumor (SFT)/hemangiopericytoma was enrolled in a clinical sequencing program including whole exome and transcriptome sequencing. A gene fusion of the transcriptional repressor NAB2 with the transcriptional activator STAT6 was detected. Transcriptome sequencing of 27 additional SFTs all revealed the presence of a NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion. Using RT-PCR and sequencing, we detected this fusion in 51 of 51 SFTs, indicating high levels of recurrence. Expression of NAB2-STAT6 fusion proteins was confirmed in SFT, and the predicted fusion products harbor the early growth response (EGR)-binding domain of NAB2 fused to the activation domain of STAT6. Overexpression of the NAB2-STAT6 gene fusion induced proliferation in cultured cells and activated EGR-responsive genes. These studies establish NAB2-STAT6 as the defining driver mutation of SFT and provide an example of how neoplasia can be initiated by converting a transcriptional repressor of mitogenic pathways into a transcriptional activator.
E26 transformation-specific (ETS) transcription factors are known to be involved in gene aberrations in various malignancies including prostate cancer; however, their role in melanoma oncogenesis has yet to be fully explored. We have completed a comprehensive fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH)-based screen for all 27 members of the ETS transcription factor family on two melanoma tissue microarrays, representing 223 melanomas, 10 nevi, and 5 normal skin tissues. None of the melanoma cases demonstrated ETS fusions; however, 6 of 114 (5.3%) melanomas were amplified for ETV1 using a break-apart FISH probe. For the six positive cases, locus-controlled FISH probes revealed that two of six cases were amplified for the ETV1 region, whereas four cases showed copy gains of the entire chromosome 7. The remaining 26 ETS family members showed no chromosomal aberrations by FISH. Quantitative polymerase chain reaction showed an average 3.4-fold (P value = .00218) increased expression of ETV1 in melanomas, including the FISH ETV1-amplified cases, when compared to other malignancies (prostate, breast, and bladder carcinomas). These data suggest that a subset of melanomas overexpresses ETV1 and amplification of ETV1 may be one mechanism for achieving high gene expression.
Histone methyltransferases (HMTases), as chromatin modifiers, regulate the transcriptomic landscape in normal development as well in diseases such as cancer. Here, we molecularly order two HMTases, EZH2 and MMSET that have established genetic links to oncogenesis. EZH2, which mediates histone H3K27 trimethylation and is associated with gene silencing, was shown to be coordinately expressed and function upstream of MMSET, which mediates H3K36 dimethylation and is associated with active transcription. We found that the EZH2-MMSET HMTase axis is coordinated by a microRNA network and that the oncogenic functions of EZH2 require MMSET activity. Together, these results suggest that the EZH2-MMSET HMTase axis coordinately functions as a master regulator of transcriptional repression, activation, and oncogenesis and may represent an attractive therapeutic target in cancer.
Characterization of the prostate cancer transcriptome and genome has identified chromosomal rearrangements and copy number gains/losses, including ETS gene fusions, PTEN loss and androgen receptor (AR) amplification, that drive prostate cancer development and progression to lethal, metastatic castrate resistant prostate cancer (CRPC)1. As less is known about the role of mutations2–4, here we sequenced the exomes of 50 lethal, heavily-pretreated metastatic CRPCs obtained at rapid autopsy (including three different foci from the same patient) and 11 treatment naïve, high-grade localized prostate cancers. We identified low overall mutation rates even in heavily treated CRPC (2.00/Mb) and confirmed the monoclonal origin of lethal CRPC. Integrating exome copy number analysis identified disruptions of CHD1, which define a subtype of ETS fusionnegative prostate cancer. Similarly, we demonstrate that ETS2, which is deleted in ~1/3 of CRPCs (commonly through TMPRSS2:ERG fusions), is also deregulated through mutation. Further, we identified recurrent mutations in multiple chromatin/histone modifying genes, including MLL2 (mutated in 8.6% of prostate cancers), and demonstrate interaction of the MLL complex with AR, which is required for AR-mediated signaling. We also identified novel recurrent mutations in the AR collaborating factor FOXA1, which is mutated in 5 of 147 (3.4%) prostate cancers (both untreated localized prostate cancer and CRPC), and showed that mutated FOXA1 represses androgen signaling and increases tumour growth. Proteins that physically interact with AR, such as the ERG gene fusion product, FOXA1, MLL2, UTX, and ASXL1 were found to be mutated in CRPC. In summary, we describe the mutational landscape of a heavily treated metastatic cancer, identify novel mechanisms of AR signaling deregulated in prostate cancer, and prioritize candidates for future study.
Individual cancers harbor a set of genetic aberrations that can be informative for identifying rational therapies currently available or in clinical trials. We implemented a pilot study to explore the practical challenges of applying high-throughput sequencing in clinical oncology. We enrolled patients with advanced or refractory cancer who were eligible for clinical trials. For each patient, we performed whole-genome sequencing of the tumor, targeted whole-exome sequencing of tumor and normal DNA, and transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) of the tumor to identify potentially informative mutations in a clinically relevant time frame of 3 to 4 weeks. With this approach, we detected several classes of cancer mutations including structural rearrangements, copy number alterations, point mutations, and gene expression alterations. A multidisciplinary Sequencing Tumor Board (STB) deliberated on the clinical interpretation of the sequencing results obtained. We tested our sequencing strategy on human prostate cancer xenografts. Next, we enrolled two patients into the clinical protocol and were able to review the results at our STB within 24 days of biopsy. The first patient had metastatic colorectal cancer in which we identified somatic point mutations in NRAS, TP53, AURKA, FAS, and MYH11, plus amplification and overexpression of cyclin-dependent kinase 8 (CDK8). The second patient had malignant melanoma, in which we identified a somatic point mutation in HRAS and a structural rearrangement affecting CDKN2C. The STB identified the CDK8 amplification and Ras mutation as providing a rationale for clinical trials with CDK inhibitors or MEK (mitogenactivated or extracellular signal–regulated protein kinase kinase) and PI3K (phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase) inhibitors, respectively. Integrative high-throughput sequencing of patients with advanced cancer generates a comprehensive, individual mutational landscape to facilitate biomarker-driven clinical trials in oncology.
MicroRNAs (miRs) play a key role in cancer etiology by coordinately repressing numerous target genes involved in cell proliferation, migration and invasion. The genomic region in chromosome 9p21 that encompasses miR-31 is frequently deleted in solid cancers including melanoma; however the expression and functional role of miR-31 has not been previously studied in melanoma. Here, we queried the expression status and performed functional characterization of miR-31 in melanoma tissues and cell lines. We found that down-regulation of miR-31 was a common event in melanoma tumors and cell lines and was associated with genomic loss in a subset of samples. Down-regulation of miR-31 gene expression was also a result of epigenetic silencing by DNA methylation, and via EZH2-mediated histone methylation. Ectopic overexpression of miR-31 in various melanoma cell lines inhibited cell migration and invasion. miR-31 targets include oncogenic kinases such as SRC, MET, NIK (MAP3K14) and the melanoma specific oncogene RAB27a. Furthermore, miR-31 overexpression resulted in down-regulation of EZH2 and a de-repression of its target gene rap1GAP; increased expression of EZH2 was associated with melanoma progression and overall patient survival. Taken together, our study supports a tumor suppressor role for miR-31 in melanoma and identifies novel therapeutic targets.
microRNA-31; melanoma; tumor suppressor; EZH2; DZNep
Recurrent gene fusions involving ETS family genes are a distinguishing feature of human prostate cancers, with TMPRSS2-ERG fusions representing the most common subtype. The TMPRSS2-ERG fusion transcript and its splice variants are well characterized in prostate cancers, however not much is known about the levels and regulation of wild-type ERG. By employing an integrative approach, we demonstrate that the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusion product binds to the ERG locus and drives the over-expression of wild-type ERG in prostate cancers. Knock-down of TMPRSS2-ERG in VCaP cells resulted in the down regulation of wild-type ERG transcription, while stable over-expression of TMPRSS2-ERG in the gene fusion-negative PC3 cells was associated with the up-regulation of wild-type ERG transcript. Further, androgen signaling-mediated up-regulation of TMPRSS2-ERG resulted in the concomitant up-regulation of wild-type ERG transcription in VCaP cells. The loss of wild-type ERG expression was associated with a decrease in the invasive potential of VCaP cells. Importantly, 38% of clinically localized prostate cancers and 27% of metastatic prostate cancers harboring the TMPRSS2-ERG gene fusions exhibited over-expression of wild-type ERG. Taken together, these results provide novel insights into the regulation of ERG in human prostate cancers.
ERG; prostate cancer; gene fusion
Polycomb Repressive Complexes (PRC1 and PRC2) mediated epigenetic regulation is critical for maintaining cellular homeostasis. Members of Polycomb Group (PcG) proteins including EZH2, a PRC2 component, are up-regulated in various cancer types, implicating their role in tumorigenesis. Here, we have identified several microRNAs (miRNAs) that are repressed by EZH2. These miRNAs in turn regulate the expression of PRC1 proteins, BMI1 and RING2. We found that ectopic overexpression of EZH2-regulated miRNAs attenuated cancer cell growth and invasiveness, and abrogated cancer stem cell properties. Importantly, expression analysis revealed an inverse correlation between miRNA and PRC protein levels in cell culture and prostate cancer tissues. Taken together, our data has uncovered a coordinate regulation of PRC1 and PRC2 activities that is mediated by miRNAs.
Using an integrative genomics approach called Amplification Breakpoint Ranking and Assembly (ABRA) analysis, we nominated KRAS as a gene fusion with the ubiquitin-conjugating enzyme UBE2L3 in the DU145 cell line, originally derived from prostate cancer metastasis to the brain. Interestingly, analysis of tissues revealed that 2 of 62 metastatic prostate cancers harbored aberrations at the KRAS locus. In DU145 cells, UBE2L3-KRAS produces a fusion protein, specific knock-down of which, attenuates cell invasion and xenograft growth. Ectopic expression of the UBE2L3-KRAS fusion protein exhibits transforming activity in NIH 3T3 fibroblasts and RWPE prostate epithelial cells in vitro and in vivo. In NIH 3T3 cells, UBE2L3-KRAS attenuates MEK/ERK signaling, commonly engaged by oncogenic mutant KRAS, and instead signals via AKT and p38 MAPK pathways. This is the first report of a gene fusion involving Ras family suggesting that this aberration may drive metastatic progression in a rare subset of prostate cancers.
KRAS; gene fusion; prostate cancer; genomic amplification; bioinformatics
Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease, exhibiting a wide range of molecular aberrations and clinical outcomes. Here we employed paired-end transcriptome sequencing to explore the landscape of gene fusions in a panel of breast cancer cell lines and tissues. We observed that individual breast cancers harbor an array of expressed gene fusions. We identified two classes of recurrent gene rearrangements involving microtubule associated serine-threonine kinase (MAST) and Notch family genes. Both MAST and Notch family gene fusions exerted significant phenotypic effects in breast epithelial cells. Breast cancer lines harboring Notch gene rearrangements are uniquely sensitive to inhibition of Notch signaling, and over-expression of MAST1 or MAST2 gene fusions had a proliferative effect both in vitro and in vivo. These findings illustrate that recurrent gene rearrangements play significant roles in subsets of carcinomas and suggest that transcriptome sequencing may serve to identify patients with rare, actionable gene fusions.
The theory of Darwinian evolution is the fundamental keystones of modern biology. Late in the last century, computer scientists began adapting its principles, in particular natural selection, to complex computational challenges, leading to the emergence of evolutionary algorithms. The conceptual model of selective pressure and recombination in evolutionary algorithms allows scientists to efficiently search high dimensional space for solutions to complex problems. In the last decade, genetic programming has been developed and extensively applied for analysis of molecular data to classify cancer subtypes and characterize the mechanisms of cancer pathogenesis and development. This article reviews current successes using genetic programming and discusses its potential impact in cancer research and treatment in the near future.
genetic programming; evolutionary algorithms; cancer diagnosis; cancer classification; cancer prognosis