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1.  Identification of gene fusion transcripts by transcriptome sequencing in BRCA1-mutated breast cancers and cell lines 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:75.
Gene fusions arising from chromosomal translocations have been implicated in cancer. However, the role of gene fusions in BRCA1-related breast cancers is not well understood. Mutations in BRCA1 are associated with an increased risk for breast cancer (up to 80% lifetime risk) and ovarian cancer (up to 50%). We sought to identify putative gene fusions in the transcriptomes of these cancers using high-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-Seq).
We used Illumina sequencing technology to sequence the transcriptomes of five BRCA1-mutated breast cancer cell lines, three BRCA1-mutated primary tumors, two secretory breast cancer primary tumors and one non-tumorigenic breast epithelial cell line. Using a bioinformatics approach, our initial attempt at discovering putative gene fusions relied on analyzing single-end reads and identifying reads that aligned across exons of two different genes. Subsequently, latter samples were sequenced with paired-end reads and at longer cycles (producing longer reads). We then refined our approach by identifying misaligned paired reads, which may flank a putative gene fusion junction.
As a proof of concept, we were able to identify two previously characterized gene fusions in our samples using both single-end and paired-end approaches. In addition, we identified three novel in-frame fusions, but none were recurrent. Two of the candidates, WWC1-ADRBK2 in HCC3153 cell line and ADNP-C20orf132 in a primary tumor, were confirmed by Sanger sequencing and RT-PCR. RNA-Seq expression profiling of these two fusions showed a distinct overexpression of the 3' partner genes, suggesting that its expression may be under the control of the 5' partner gene's regulatory elements.
In this study, we used both single-end and paired-end sequencing strategies to discover gene fusions in breast cancer transcriptomes with BRCA1 mutations. We found that the use of paired-end reads is an effective tool for transcriptome profiling of gene fusions. Our findings suggest that while gene fusions are present in some BRCA1-mutated breast cancers, they are infrequent and not recurrent. However, private fusions may still be valuable as potential patient-specific biomarkers for diagnosis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3227591  PMID: 22032724
2.  The use of ultra-dense array CGH analysis for the discovery of micro-copy number alterations and gene fusions in the cancer genome 
BMC Medical Genomics  2011;4:16.
Molecular alterations critical to development of cancer include mutations, copy number alterations (amplifications and deletions) as well as genomic rearrangements resulting in gene fusions. Massively parallel next generation sequencing, which enables the discovery of such changes, uses considerable quantities of genomic DNA (> 5 ug), a serious limitation in ever smaller clinical samples. However, a commonly available microarray platforms such as array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) allows the characterization of gene copy number at a single gene resolution using much smaller amounts of genomic DNA. In this study we evaluate the sensitivity of ultra-dense array CGH platforms developed by Agilent, especially that of the 1 million probe array (1 M array), and their application when whole genome amplification is required because of limited sample quantities.
We performed array CGH on whole genome amplified and not amplified genomic DNA from MCF-7 breast cancer cells, using 244 K and 1 M Agilent arrays. The ADM-2 algorithm was used to identify micro-copy number alterations that measured less than 1 Mb in genomic length.
DNA from MCF-7 breast cancer cells was analyzed for micro-copy number alterations, defined as measuring less than 1 Mb in genomic length. The 4-fold extra resolution of the 1 M array platform relative to the less dense 244 K array platform, led to the improved detection of copy number variations (CNVs) and micro-CNAs. The identification of intra-genic breakpoints in areas of DNA copy number gain signaled the possible presence of gene fusion events. However, the ultra-dense platforms, especially the densest 1 M array, detect artifacts inherent to whole genome amplification and should be used only with non-amplified DNA samples.
This is a first report using 1 M array CGH for the discovery of cancer genes and biomarkers. We show the remarkable capacity of this technology to discover CNVs, micro-copy number alterations and even gene fusions. However, these platforms require excellent genomic DNA quality and do not tolerate relatively small imperfections related to the whole genome amplification.
PMCID: PMC3041991  PMID: 21272361

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