Inhibition of Hedgehog (HH)/GLI signaling in cancer is a promising therapeutic approach. Interactions between HH/GLI and other oncogenic pathways affect the strength and tumorigenicity of HH/GLI. Cooperation of HH/GLI with Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) signaling promotes transformation and cancer cell proliferation in vitro. However, the in vivo relevance of HH-EGFR signal integration and the critical downstream mediators are largely undefined. In this report we show that genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of EGFR signaling reduces tumor growth in mouse models of HH/GLI driven basal cell carcinoma (BCC). We describe HH-EGFR cooperation response genes including SOX2, SOX9, JUN, CXCR4 and FGF19 that are synergistically activated by HH-EGFR signal integration and required for in vivo growth of BCC cells and tumor-initiating pancreatic cancer cells. The data validate EGFR signaling as drug target in HH/GLI driven cancers and shed light on the molecular processes controlled by HH-EGFR signal cooperation, providing new therapeutic strategies based on combined targeting of HH-EGFR signaling and selected downstream target genes.
Aberrant CpG methylation is a universal epigenetic trait of cancer cell genomes. However, human cancer samples or cell lines preclude the investigation of epigenetic changes occurring early during tumour development. Here, we have used MeDIP-seq to analyse the DNA methylome of APCMin adenoma as a model for intestinal cancer initiation, and we present a list of more than 13,000 recurring differentially methylated regions (DMRs) characterizing intestinal adenoma of the mouse. We show that Polycomb Repressive Complex (PRC) targets are strongly enriched among hypermethylated DMRs, and several PRC2 components and DNA methyltransferases were up-regulated in adenoma. We further demonstrate by bisulfite pyrosequencing of purified cell populations that the DMR signature arises de novo in adenoma cells rather than by expansion of a pre-existing pattern in intestinal stem cells or undifferentiated crypt cells. We found that epigenetic silencing of tumour suppressors, which occurs frequently in colon cancer, was rare in adenoma. Quite strikingly, we identified a core set of DMRs, which is conserved between mouse adenoma and human colon cancer, thus possibly revealing a global panel of epigenetically modified genes for intestinal tumours. Our data allow a distinction between early conserved epigenetic alterations occurring in intestinal adenoma and late stochastic events promoting colon cancer progression, and may facilitate the selection of more specific clinical epigenetic biomarkers.
The formation and progression of tumours to metastatic disease is driven by two major mechanisms, i.e. genetic alterations that activate oncogenes or inactivate tumour suppressor genes, and changes in the epigenome that cause variations in the expression of the genetic information. A deeper understanding of the interaction between the genetic and epigenetic mechanisms is critical for the selection of tumour biomarkers and for the future development of therapies. Human tumour specimens and cell lines contain a plethora of genetic and epigenetic changes, which complicate data analysis. In contrast, mouse tumour models such as the APCMin mouse used in this study arise by a single initiating genetic mutation, yet share key traits with human cancer. Here we show that mouse adenomas acquire a multitude of epigenetic alterations, which are recurring in mouse adenoma and in human colon cancer, representing early and advanced tumours, respectively. The use of a mouse model thus allowed us to uncover a sequence of epigenetic changes occurring in tumours, which may facilitate the identification of novel clinical colon cancer biomarkers.
The immune system protects us from foreign substances or pathogens by generating specific antibodies. The variety of immunoglobulin (Ig) paratopes for antigen recognition is a result of the V(D)J rearrangement mechanism, while a fast and efficient immune response is mediated by specific immunoglobulin isotypes obtained through class switch recombination (CSR). To get a better understanding on how antibody-based immune protection works and how it changes with age, the interdependency between these two parameters need to be addressed. Here, we have performed an in depth analysis of antibody repertoires of 14 healthy donors representing different gender and age groups. For this task, we developed a unique pyrosequencing approach, which is able to monitor the expression levels of all immunoglobulin V(D)J recombinations of all isotypes including subtypes in an unbiased and quantitative manner. Our results show that donors have individual immunoglobulin repertoires and cannot be clustered according to V(D)J recombination patterns, neither by age nor gender. However, after incorporating isotype-specific analysis and considering CSR information into hierarchical clustering the situation changes. For the first time the donors cluster according to age and separate into young adults and elderly donors (>50). As a direct consequence, this clustering defines the onset of immune senescence at the age of fifty and beyond. The observed age-dependent reduction of CSR ability proposes a feasible explanation why reduced efficacy of vaccination is seen in the elderly and implies that novel vaccine strategies for the elderly should include the “Golden Agers”.
Paralogs for several proteins implicated in neurodegenerative disorders have been identified and explored to further facilitate the identification of molecular mechanisms contributing to disease pathogenesis. For the disease-causing protein in spinocerebellar ataxia type 2, ataxin-2, a paralog of unknown function, termed ataxin-2-like, has been described. We discovered that ataxin-2-like associates with known interaction partners of ataxin-2, the RNA helicase DDX6 and the poly(A)-binding protein, and with ataxin-2 itself. Furthermore, we found that ataxin-2-like is a component of stress granules. Interestingly, sole ataxin-2-like overexpression led to the induction of stress granules, while a reduction of stress granules was detected in case of a low ataxin-2-like level. Finally, we observed that overexpression of ataxin-2-like as well as its reduction has an impact on the presence of microscopically visible processing bodies. Thus, our results imply a functional overlap between ataxin-2-like and ataxin-2, and further indicate a role for ataxin-2-like in the regulation of stress granules and processing bodies.
Knowledge of the various interactions between molecules in the cell is crucial for understanding cellular processes in health and disease. Currently available interaction databases, being largely complementary to each other, must be integrated to obtain a comprehensive global map of the different types of interactions. We have previously reported the development of an integrative interaction database called ConsensusPathDB (http://ConsensusPathDB.org) that aims to fulfill this task. In this update article, we report its significant progress in terms of interaction content and web interface tools. ConsensusPathDB has grown mainly due to the integration of 12 further databases; it now contains 215 541 unique interactions and 4601 pathways from overall 30 databases. Binary protein interactions are scored with our confidence assessment tool, IntScore. The ConsensusPathDB web interface allows users to take advantage of these integrated interaction and pathway data in different contexts. Recent developments include pathway analysis of metabolite lists, visualization of functional gene/metabolite sets as overlap graphs, gene set analysis based on protein complexes and induced network modules analysis that connects a list of genes through various interaction types. To facilitate the interactive, visual interpretation of interaction and pathway data, we have re-implemented the graph visualization feature of ConsensusPathDB using the Cytoscape.js library.
In this review, we discuss the latest targeted enrichment methods and aspects of their utilization along with second-generation sequencing for complex genome analysis. In doing so, we provide an overview of issues involved in detecting genetic variation, for which targeted enrichment has become a powerful tool. We explain how targeted enrichment for next-generation sequencing has made great progress in terms of methodology, ease of use and applicability, but emphasize the remaining challenges such as the lack of even coverage across targeted regions. Costs are also considered versus the alternative of whole-genome sequencing which is becoming ever more affordable. We conclude that targeted enrichment is likely to be the most economical option for many years to come in a range of settings.
targeted enrichment; next-generation sequencing; genome partitioning; exome; genetic variation
miRNAs are short single-stranded non-coding RNAs involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation that play a major role in normal biological functions and diseases. Little is currently known about how expression of miRNAs is regulated. We surveyed variation in miRNA abundance in the hippocampus of mouse inbred strains, allowing us to take a genetic approach to the study of miRNA regulation, which is novel for miRNAs. The BXD recombinant inbred panel is a very well characterized genetic reference panel which allows quantitative trait locus (QTL) analysis of miRNA abundance and detection of correlates in a large store of brain and behavioural phenotypes.
We found five suggestive trans QTLs for the regulation of miRNAs investigated. Further analysis of these QTLs revealed two genes, Tnik and Phf17, under the miR-212 regulatory QTLs, whose expression levels were significantly correlated with miR-212 expression. We found that miR-212 expression is correlated with cocaine-related behaviour, consistent with a reported role for this miRNA in the control of cocaine consumption. miR-31 is correlated with anxiety and alcohol related behaviours. KEGG pathway analysis of each miRNA’s expression correlates revealed enrichment of pathways including MAP kinase, cancer, long-term potentiation, axonal guidance and WNT signalling.
The BXD reference panel allowed us to establish genetic regulation and characterize biological function of specific miRNAs. QTL analysis enabled detection of genetic loci that regulate the expression of these miRNAs. eQTLs that regulate miRNA abundance are a new mechanism by which genetic variation influences brain and behaviour. Analysis of one of these QTLs revealed a gene, Tnik, which may regulate the expression of a miRNA, a molecular pathway and a behavioural phenotype. Evidence of genetic covariation of miR-212 abundance and cocaine related behaviours is strongly supported by previous functional studies, demonstrating the value of this approach for discovery of new functional roles and downstream processes regulated by miRNA.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease comprises a broad spectrum of disease states ranging from simple steatosis to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. As a result of increases in the prevalences of obesity, insulin resistance, and hyperlipidemia, the number of people with hepatic steatosis continues to increase. Differences in susceptibility to steatohepatitis and its progression to cirrhosis have been attributed to a complex interplay of genetic and external factors all addressing the intracellular network. Increase in sugar or refined carbohydrate consumption results in an increase of insulin and insulin resistance that can lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver. Here we demonstrate how a multidisciplinary approach encompassing cellular reprogramming, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, modeling, network reconstruction, and data management can be employed to unveil the mechanisms underlying the progression of steatosis. Proteomics revealed reduced AKT/mTOR signaling in fibroblasts derived from steatosis patients and further establishes that the insulin-resistant phenotype is present not only in insulin-metabolizing central organs, e.g., the liver, but is also manifested in skin fibroblasts. Transcriptome data enabled the generation of a regulatory network based on the transcription factor SREBF1, linked to a metabolic network of glycerolipid, and fatty acid biosynthesis including the downstream transcriptional targets of SREBF1 which include LIPIN1 (LPIN) and low density lipoprotein receptor. Glutathione metabolism was among the pathways enriched in steatosis patients in comparison to healthy controls. By using a model of the glutathione pathway we predict a significant increase in the flux through glutathione synthesis as both gamma-glutamylcysteine synthetase and glutathione synthetase have an increased flux. We anticipate that a larger cohort of patients and matched controls will confirm our preliminary findings presented here.
NAFLD; induced pluripotent stem cells; sterol biosynthesis; glutathione metabolism; lipid metabolism; AKT/mTOR signaling; systems biology; modeling
Saccharomyces cerevisiae strain W303 is a widely used model organism. However, little is known about its genetic origins, as it was created in the 1970s from crossing yeast strains of uncertain genealogy. To obtain insights into its ancestry and physiology, we sequenced the genome of its variant W303-K6001, a yeast model of ageing research. The combination of two next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies (Illumina and Roche/454 sequencing) yielded an 11.8 Mb genome assembly at an N50 contig length of 262 kb. Although sequencing was substantially more precise and sensitive than whole-genome tiling arrays, both NGS platforms produced a number of false positives. At a 378× average coverage, only 74 per cent of called differences to the S288c reference genome were confirmed by both techniques. The consensus W303-K6001 genome differs in 8133 positions from S288c, predicting altered amino acid sequence in 799 proteins, including factors of ageing and stress resistance. The W303-K6001 (85.4%) genome is virtually identical (less than equal to 0.5 variations per kb) to S288c, and thus originates in the same ancestor. Non-S288c regions distribute unequally over the genome, with chromosome XVI the most (99.6%) and chromosome XI the least (54.5%) S288c-like. Several of these clusters are shared with Σ1278B, another widely used S288c-related model, indicating that these strains share a second ancestor. Thus, the W303-K6001 genome pictures details of complex genetic relationships between the model strains that date back to the early days of experimental yeast genetics. Moreover, this study underlines the necessity of combining multiple NGS and genome-assembling techniques for achieving accurate variant calling in genomic studies.
next-generation sequencing; yeast models; phylogeny reconstruction; mapping
Alternative splicing is a fundamental posttranscriptional mechanism for controlling gene expression, and splicing defects have been linked to various human disorders. The splicing factor FOX-2 is part of a main protein interaction hub in a network related to human inherited ataxias, however, its impact remains to be elucidated. Here, we focused on the reported interaction between FOX-2 and ataxin-1, the disease-causing protein in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. In this line, we further evaluated this interaction by yeast-2-hybrid analyses and co-immunoprecipitation experiments in mammalian cells. Interestingly, we discovered that FOX-2 localization and splicing activity is affected in the presence of nuclear ataxin-1 inclusions. Moreover, we observed that FOX-2 directly interacts with ataxin-2, a protein modulating spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 pathogenesis. Finally, we provide evidence that splicing of pre-mRNA of ataxin-2 depends on FOX-2 activity, since reduction of FOX-2 levels led to increased skipping of exon 18 in ataxin-2 transcripts. Most striking, we observed that ataxin-1 overexpression has an effect on this splicing event as well. Thus, our results demonstrate that FOX-2 is involved in splicing of ataxin-2 transcripts and that this splicing event is altered by overexpression of ataxin-1.
Modern biomedical research is often organized in collaborations involving labs worldwide. In particular in systems biology, complex molecular systems are analyzed that require the generation and interpretation of heterogeneous data for their explanation, for example ranging from gene expression studies and mass spectrometry measurements to experimental techniques for detecting molecular interactions and functional assays. XML has become the most prominent format for representing and exchanging these data. However, besides the development of standards there is still a fundamental lack of data integration systems that are able to utilize these exchange formats, organize the data in an integrative way and link it with applications for data interpretation and analysis.
We have developed DIPSBC, an interactive data integration platform supporting collaborative research projects, based on Foswiki, Solr/Lucene, and specific helper applications. We describe the main features of the implementation and highlight the performance of the system with several use cases. All components of the system are platform independent and open-source developments and thus can be easily adopted by researchers. An exemplary installation of the platform which also provides several helper applications and detailed instructions for system usage and setup is available at http://dipsbc.molgen.mpg.de.
DIPSBC is a data integration platform for medium-scale collaboration projects that has been tested already within several research collaborations. Because of its modular design and the incorporation of XML data formats it is highly flexible and easy to use.
Data integration; XML; Data visualization
Inhibition of Hedgehog (HH)/GLI signalling in cancer is a promising therapeutic approach. Interactions between HH/GLI and other oncogenic pathways affect the strength and tumourigenicity of HH/GLI. Cooperation of HH/GLI with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signalling promotes transformation and cancer cell proliferation in vitro. However, the in vivo relevance of HH-EGFR signal integration and the critical downstream mediators are largely undefined. In this report we show that genetic and pharmacologic inhibition of EGFR signalling reduces tumour growth in mouse models of HH/GLI driven basal cell carcinoma (BCC). We describe HH-EGFR cooperation response genes including SOX2, SOX9, JUN, CXCR4 and FGF19 that are synergistically activated by HH-EGFR signal integration and required for in vivo growth of BCC cells and tumour-initiating pancreatic cancer cells. The data validate EGFR signalling as drug target in HH/GLI driven cancers and shed light on the molecular processes controlled by HH-EGFR signal cooperation, providing new therapeutic strategies based on combined targeting of HH-EGFR signalling and selected downstream target genes.
cancer; epidermal growth factor receptor; Hedgehog signalling; signal transduction
The heat shock protein 90 (Hsp90) is required for the stability of many signalling kinases. As a target for cancer therapy it allows the simultaneous inhibition of several signalling pathways. However, its inhibition in healthy cells could also lead to severe side effects. This is the first comprehensive analysis of the response to Hsp90 inhibition at the kinome level.
We quantitatively profiled the effects of Hsp90 inhibition by geldanamycin on the kinome of one primary (Hs68) and three tumour cell lines (SW480, U2OS, A549) by affinity proteomics based on immobilized broad spectrum kinase inhibitors ("kinobeads"). To identify affected pathways we used the KEGG (Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes) pathway classification. We combined Hsp90 and proteasome inhibition to identify Hsp90 substrates in Hs68 and SW480 cells. The mutational status of kinases from the used cell lines was determined using next-generation sequencing. A mutation of Hsp90 candidate client RIPK2 was mapped onto its structure.
We measured relative abundances of > 140 protein kinases from the four cell lines in response to geldanamycin treatment and identified many new potential Hsp90 substrates. These kinases represent diverse families and cellular functions, with a strong representation of pathways involved in tumour progression like the BMP, MAPK and TGF-beta signalling cascades. Co-treatment with the proteasome inhibitor MG132 enabled us to classify 64 kinases as true Hsp90 clients. Finally, mutations in 7 kinases correlate with an altered response to Hsp90 inhibition. Structural modelling of the candidate client RIPK2 suggests an impact of the mutation on a proposed Hsp90 binding domain.
We propose a high confidence list of Hsp90 kinase clients, which provides new opportunities for targeted and combinatorial cancer treatment and diagnostic applications.
MicroRNAs have gained significant interest due to their widespread occurrence and diverse functions as regulatory molecules, which are essential for cell division, growth, development and apoptosis in eukaryotes. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling pathway is one of the best investigated cellular signaling pathways regulating important cellular processes and its deregulation is associated with severe diseases, such as cancer. In this study, we introduce a systems biological model of the EGFR signaling pathway integrating validated miRNA-target information according to diverse studies, in order to demonstrate essential roles of miRNA within this pathway. The model consists of 1241 reactions and contains 241 miRNAs. We analyze the impact of 100 specific miRNA inhibitors (anit-miRNAs) on this pathway and propose that the embedded miRNA-network can help to identify new drug targets of the EGFR signaling pathway and thereby support the development of new therapeutic strategies against cancer.
SELEX is an iterative process in which highly diverse synthetic nucleic acid libraries are selected over many rounds to finally identify aptamers with desired properties. However, little is understood as how binders are enriched during the selection course. Next-generation sequencing offers the opportunity to open the black box and observe a large part of the population dynamics during the selection process.
We have performed a semi-automated SELEX procedure on the model target streptavidin starting with a synthetic DNA oligonucleotide library and compared results obtained by the conventional analysis via cloning and Sanger sequencing with next-generation sequencing. In order to follow the population dynamics during the selection, pools from all selection rounds were barcoded and sequenced in parallel.
High affinity aptamers can be readily identified simply by copy number enrichment in the first selection rounds. Based on our results, we suggest a new selection scheme that avoids a high number of iterative selection rounds while reducing time, PCR bias, and artifacts.
Transcription factors are proteins that regulate gene expression by binding to cis-regulatory sequences such as promoters and enhancers. In embryonic stem (ES) cells, binding of the transcription factors OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG is essential to maintain the capacity of the cells to differentiate into any cell type of the developing embryo. It is known that transcription factors interact to regulate gene expression. In this study we show that combinatorial binding is strongly associated with co-localization of the transcriptional co-activator Mediator, H3K27ac and increased expression of nearby genes in embryonic stem cells. We observe that the same loci bound by Oct4, Nanog and Sox2 in ES cells frequently drive expression in early embryonic development. Comparison of mouse and human ES cells shows that less than 5% of individual binding events for OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG are shared between species. In contrast, about 15% of combinatorial binding events and even between 53% and 63% of combinatorial binding events at enhancers active in early development are conserved. Our analysis suggests that the combination of OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG binding is critical for transcription in ES cells and likely plays an important role for embryogenesis by binding at conserved early developmental enhancers. Our data suggests that the fast evolutionary rewiring of regulatory networks mainly affects individual binding events, whereas “gene regulatory hotspots” which are bound by multiple factors and active in multiple tissues throughout early development are under stronger evolutionary constraints.
The mammalian body is composed of hundreds of distinct cell types. During embryogenesis, this diversity is created by multiple cell fate decisions and differentiation events. Embryonic stem (ES) cells provide the in vitro model to study differentiation and early development. Their pluripotent state is maintained by transcription factors such as OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG which bind to regulatory elements within the genome. Understanding the interplay between transcription factor binding, gene expression and cellular differentiation is key to understanding the development of the mammalian embryo. In this study we find that combinatorial binding of OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG in ES cells identifies enhancers which are associated with active transcription. We observe that these enhancers also frequently show activity at later developmental stages. Using data from mouse and human ES cells we find that these combinatorially bound enhancers which are active in pluripotent cells and development show extraordinarily high levels of binding conservation (>50%). Our analysis suggests that these conserved “gene regulatory hotspots” integrate the transcriptional network that promotes pluripotency into the gene regulatory networks that promote cell fate decisions and differentiation during early embryonic development.
Somatic cells reprogrammed into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) acquire features of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) and thus represent a promising source for cellular therapy of debilitating diseases, such as age-related disorders. However, reprogrammed cell lines have been found to harbor various genomic alterations. In addition, we recently discovered that the mitochondrial DNA of human fibroblasts also undergoes random mutational events upon reprogramming. Aged somatic cells might possess high susceptibility to nuclear and mitochondrial genome instability. Hence, concerns over the oncogenic potential of reprogrammed cells due to the lack of genomic integrity may hinder the applicability of iPSC-based therapies for age-associated conditions. Here, we investigated whether aged reprogrammed cells harboring chromosomal abnormalities show resistance to apoptotic cell death or mitochondrial-associated oxidative stress, both hallmarks of cancer transformation. Four iPSC lines were generated from dermal fibroblasts derived from an 84-year-old woman, representing the oldest human donor so far reprogrammed to pluripotency. Despite the presence of karyotype aberrations, all aged-iPSCs were able to differentiate into neurons, re-establish telomerase activity, and reconfigure mitochondrial ultra-structure and functionality to a hESC-like state. Importantly, aged-iPSCs exhibited high sensitivity to drug-induced apoptosis and low levels of oxidative stress and DNA damage, in a similar fashion as iPSCs derived from young donors and hESCs. Thus, the occurrence of chromosomal abnormalities within aged reprogrammed cells might not be sufficient to over-ride the cellular surveillance machinery and induce malignant transformation through the alteration of mitochondrial-associated cell death. Taken together, we unveiled that cellular reprogramming is capable of reversing aging-related features in somatic cells from a very old subject, despite the presence of genomic alterations. Nevertheless, we believe it will be essential to develop reprogramming protocols capable of safeguarding the integrity of the genome of aged somatic cells, before employing iPSC-based therapy for age-associated disorders.
Massively parallel sequencing technologies have brought an enormous increase in sequencing throughput. However, these technologies need to be further improved with regard to reproducibility and applicability to clinical samples and settings.
Using identification of genetic variations in prostate cancer as an example we address three crucial challenges in the field of targeted re-sequencing: Small nucleotide variation (SNV) detection in samples of formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue material, minimal amount of input sample and sampling in view of tissue heterogeneity.
We show that FFPE tissue material can supplement for fresh frozen tissues for the detection of SNVs and that solution-based enrichment experiments can be accomplished with small amounts of DNA with only minimal effects on enrichment uniformity and data variance.
Finally, we address the question whether the heterogeneity of a tumor is reflected by different genetic alterations, e.g. different foci of a tumor display different genomic patterns. We show that the tumor heterogeneity plays an important role for the detection of copy number variations.
The application of high throughput sequencing technologies in cancer genomics opens up a new dimension for the identification of disease mechanisms. In particular the ability to use small amounts of FFPE samples available from surgical tumor resections and histopathological examinations facilitates the collection of precious tissue materials. However, care needs to be taken in regard to the locations of the biopsies, which can have an influence on the prediction of copy number variations. Bearing these technological challenges in mind will significantly improve many large-scale sequencing studies and will - in the long term - result in a more reliable prediction of individual cancer therapies.
In proliferating cells, a transition from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism is known as the Warburg effect, whose reversal inhibits cancer cell proliferation. Studying its regulator pyruvate kinase (PYK) in yeast, we discovered that central metabolism is self-adapting to synchronize redox metabolism when respiration is activated. Low PYK activity activated yeast respiration. However, levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS) did not increase, and cells gained resistance to oxidants. This adaptation was attributable to accumulation of the PYK substrate phosphoenolpyruvate (PEP). PEP acted as feedback inhibitor of the glycolytic enzyme triosephosphate isomerase (TPI). TPI inhibition stimulated the pentose phosphate pathway, increased antioxidative metabolism, and prevented ROS accumulation. Thus, a metabolic feedback loop, initiated by PYK, mediated by its substrate and acting on TPI, stimulates redox metabolism in respiring cells. Originating from a single catalytic step, this autonomous reconfiguration of central carbon metabolism prevents oxidative stress upon shifts between fermentation and respiration.
► Low pyruvate kinase (PYK) activity activates respiration in yeast ► Accumulation of the PYK substrate PEP inhibits the glycolytic enzyme TPI ► TPI inhibition stimulates the pentose phosphate pathway, preventing ROS accumulation ► The PYK-PEP-TPI feedback loop synchronizes respiration and redox metabolism
Current large-scale cancer sequencing projects have identified large numbers of somatic mutations covering an increasing number of different cancer tissues and patients. However, the characterization of these mutations at the structural and functional level remains a challenge.
We present results from an analysis of the structural impact of frequent missense cancer mutations using an automated method. We find that inactivation of tumor suppressors in cancer correlates frequently with destabilizing mutations preferably in the core of the protein, while enhanced activity of oncogenes is often linked to specific mutations at functional sites. Furthermore, our results show that this alteration of oncogenic activity is often associated with mutations at ATP or GTP binding sites.
With our findings we can confirm and statistically validate the hypotheses for the gain-of-function and loss-of-function mechanisms of oncogenes and tumor suppressors, respectively. We show that the distinct mutational patterns can potentially be used to pre-classify newly identified cancer-associated genes with yet unknown function.
Down syndrome (DS; trisomy 21) is the most common genetic cause of mental retardation in the human population and key molecular networks dysregulated in DS are still unknown. Many different experimental techniques have been applied to analyse the effects of dosage imbalance at the molecular and phenotypical level, however, currently no integrative approach exists that attempts to extract the common information.
We have performed a statistical meta-analysis from 45 heterogeneous publicly available DS data sets in order to identify consistent dosage effects from these studies. We identified 324 genes with significant genome-wide dosage effects, including well investigated genes like SOD1, APP, RUNX1 and DYRK1A as well as a large proportion of novel genes (N = 62). Furthermore, we characterized these genes using gene ontology, molecular interactions and promoter sequence analysis. In order to judge relevance of the 324 genes for more general cerebral pathologies we used independent publicly available microarry data from brain studies not related with DS and identified a subset of 79 genes with potential impact for neurocognitive processes. All results have been made available through a web server under http://ds-geneminer.molgen.mpg.de/.
Our study represents a comprehensive integrative analysis of heterogeneous data including genome-wide transcript levels in the domain of trisomy 21. The detected dosage effects build a resource for further studies of DS pathology and the development of new therapies.
The Warburg effect describes the circumstance that tumor cells preferentially use glycolysis rather than oxidative phosphorylation for energy production. It has been reported that this metabolic reconfiguration originates from a switch in the expression of alternative splice forms (PKM1 and PKM2) of the glycolytic enzyme pyruvate kinase (PK), which is also important for malignant transformation. However, analytical evidence for this assumption was still lacking. Using mass spectrometry, we performed an absolute quantification of PKM1 and PKM2 splice isoforms in 25 human malignant cancers, 6 benign oncocytomas, tissue matched controls, and several cell lines. PKM2 was the prominent isoform in all analyzed cancer samples and cell lines. However, this PKM2 dominance was not a result of a change in isoform expression, since PKM2 was also the predominant PKM isoform in matched control tissues. In unaffected kidney, lung, liver, and thyroid, PKM2 accounted for a minimum of 93% of total PKM, for 80% - 96% of PKM in colon, and 55% - 61% of PKM in bladder. Similar results were obtained for a panel of tumor and non-transformed cell lines, where PKM2 was the predominant form. Thus, our results reveal that an exchange in PKM1 to PKM2 isoform expression during cancer formation is not occurring, nor do these results support conclusions that PKM2 is specific for proliferating, and PKM1 for non-proliferating tissue.
pyruvate kinase; proteomics; cancer metabolism; alternative splicing; Warburg effect
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is with approximately 1 million cases the third most common cancer worldwide. Extensive research is ongoing to decipher the underlying genetic patterns with the hope to improve early cancer diagnosis and treatment. In this direction, the recent progress in next generation sequencing technologies has revolutionized the field of cancer genomics. However, one caveat of these studies remains the large amount of genetic variations identified and their interpretation.
Here we present the first work on whole exome NGS of primary colon cancers. We performed 454 whole exome pyrosequencing of tumor as well as adjacent not affected normal colonic tissue from microsatellite stable (MSS) and microsatellite instable (MSI) colon cancer patients and identified more than 50,000 small nucleotide variations for each tissue. According to predictions based on MSS and MSI pathomechanisms we identified eight times more somatic non-synonymous variations in MSI cancers than in MSS and we were able to reproduce the result in four additional CRCs. Our bioinformatics filtering approach narrowed down the rate of most significant mutations to 359 for MSI and 45 for MSS CRCs with predicted altered protein functions. In both CRCs, MSI and MSS, we found somatic mutations in the intracellular kinase domain of bone morphogenetic protein receptor 1A, BMPR1A, a gene where so far germline mutations are associated with juvenile polyposis syndrome, and show that the mutations functionally impair the protein function.
We conclude that with deep sequencing of tumor exomes one may be able to predict the microsatellite status of CRC and in addition identify potentially clinically relevant mutations.
ConsensusPathDB is a meta-database that integrates different types of functional interactions from heterogeneous interaction data resources. Physical protein interactions, metabolic and signaling reactions and gene regulatory interactions are integrated in a seamless functional association network that simultaneously describes multiple functional aspects of genes, proteins, complexes, metabolites, etc. With 155 432 human, 194 480 yeast and 13 648 mouse complex functional interactions (originating from 18 databases on human and eight databases on yeast and mouse interactions each), ConsensusPathDB currently constitutes the most comprehensive publicly available interaction repository for these species. The Web interface at http://cpdb.molgen.mpg.de offers different ways of utilizing these integrated interaction data, in particular with tools for visualization, analysis and interpretation of high-throughput expression data in the light of functional interactions and biological pathways.
Human amniotic fluid cells (AFCs) are routinely obtained for prenatal diagnostics procedures. Recently, it has been illustrated that these cells may also serve as a valuable model system to study developmental processes and for application in regenerative therapies. Cellular reprogramming is a means of assigning greater value to primary AFCs by inducing self-renewal and pluripotency and, thus, bypassing senescence. Here, we report the generation and characterization of human amniotic fluid-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (AFiPSCs) and demonstrate their ability to differentiate into the trophoblast lineage after stimulation with BMP2/BMP4. We further carried out comparative transcriptome analyses of primary human AFCs, AFiPSCs, fibroblast-derived iPSCs (FiPSCs) and embryonic stem cells (ESCs). This revealed that the expression of key senescence-associated genes are down-regulated upon the induction of pluripotency in primary AFCs (AFiPSCs). By defining distinct and overlapping gene expression patterns and deriving the LARGE (Lost, Acquired and Retained Gene Expression) Principle of Cellular Reprogramming, we could further highlight that AFiPSCs, FiPSCs and ESCs share a core self-renewal gene regulatory network driven by OCT4, SOX2 and NANOG. Nevertheless, these cell types are marked by distinct gene expression signatures. For example, expression of the transcription factors, SIX6, EGR2, PKNOX2, HOXD4, HOXD10, DLX5 and RAXL1, known to regulate developmental processes, are retained in AFiPSCs and FiPSCs. Surprisingly, expression of the self-renewal-associated gene PRDM14 or the developmental processes-regulating genes WNT3A and GSC are restricted to ESCs. Implications of this, with respect to the stability of the undifferentiated state and long-term differentiation potential of iPSCs, warrant further studies.