The evolution of colorectal cancer suggests the involvement of many genes. To identify new drivers of intestinal cancer, we performed insertional mutagenesis using the Sleeping Beauty transposon system in mice carrying germline or somatic Apc mutations. By analyzing common insertion sites (CISs) isolated from 446 tumors, we identified many hundreds of candidate cancer drivers. Comparison to human data sets suggested that 234 CIS-targeted genes are also dysregulated in human colorectal cancers. In addition, we found 183 CIS-containing genes that are candidate Wnt targets and showed that 20 CISs-containing genes are newly discovered modifiers of canonical Wnt signaling. We also identified mutations associated with a subset of tumors containing an expanded number of Paneth cells, a hallmark of deregulated Wnt signaling, and genes associated with more severe dysplasia included those encoding members of the FGF signaling cascade. Some 70 genes had co-occurrence of CIS pairs, clustering into 38 sub-networks that may regulate tumor development.
Acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a molecularly diverse malignancy with a poor prognosis whose largest subgroup is characterized by somatic mutations in NPM1, which encodes nucleophosmin. These mutations, termed NPM1c, result in cytoplasmic dislocation of nucleophosmin and are associated with distinctive transcriptional signatures, yet their role in leukemogenesis remains obscure. Here we report that activation of a humanized Npm1c knock-in allele in mouse hemopoietic stem cells causes Hox gene overexpression, enhanced self renewal and expanded myelopoiesis. One third of mice developed delayed-onset AML, suggesting a requirement for cooperating mutations. We identified such mutations using a Sleeping Beauty transposon, which caused rapid-onset AML in 80% of mice with Npm1c, associated with mutually exclusive integrations in Csf2, Flt3 or Rasgrp1 in 55 of 70 leukemias. We also identified recurrent integrations in known and newly discovered leukemia genes including Nf1, Bach2, Dleu2 and Nup98. Our results provide new pathogenetic insights and identify possible therapeutic targets in NPM1c+ AML.
Comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) can reveal important disease genes but the large regions identified could sometimes contain hundreds of genes. Here we combine high-resolution CGH analysis of 598 human cancer cell lines with insertion sites isolated from 1,005 mouse tumors induced with the murine leukemia virus (MuLV). This cross-species oncogenomic analysis revealed candidate tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes mutated in both human and mouse tumors, making them strong candidates for novel cancer genes. A significant number of these genes contained binding sites for the stem cell transcription factors Oct4 and Nanog. Notably, mice carrying tumors with insertions in or near stem cell module genes, which are thought to participate in cell self-renewal, died significantly faster than mice without these insertions. A comparison of the profile we identified to that induced with the Sleeping Beauty (SB) transposon system revealed significant differences in the profile of recurrently mutated genes. Collectively, this work provides a rich catalogue of new candidate cancer genes for functional analysis.
The cyclin dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors p15, p16, p21, and p27 are frequently deleted, silenced, or downregulated in many malignancies. Inactivation of CDK inhibitors predisposes mice to tumor development, showing that these genes function as tumor suppressors. Here, we describe high-throughput murine leukemia virus insertional mutagenesis screens in mice that are deficient for one or two CDK inhibitors. We retrieved 9,117 retroviral insertions from 476 lymphomas to define hundreds of loci that are mutated more frequently than expected by chance. Many of these loci are skewed toward a specific genetic context of predisposing germline and somatic mutations. We also found associations between these loci with gender, age of tumor onset, and lymphocyte lineage (B or T cell). Comparison of retroviral insertion sites with single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with chronic lymphocytic leukemia revealed a significant overlap between the datasets. Together, our findings highlight the importance of genetic context within large-scale mutation detection studies, and they show a novel use for insertional mutagenesis data in prioritizing disease-associated genes that emerge from genome-wide association studies.
Insertional mutagens such as viruses and transposons are a useful tool for performing forward genetic screens in mice to discover cancer genes. These screens are most effective when performed using hundreds of mice; however, until recently, the cost-effective isolation and sequencing of insertion sites has been a major limitation to performing screens on this scale. Here we present a method for the high-throughput isolation of insertion sites using a highly efficient splinkerette-PCR method coupled with capillary or 454 sequencing. This protocol includes a description of the procedure for DNA isolation, DNA digestion, linker or splinkerette ligation, primary and secondary PCR amplification, and sequencing. This method, which takes about 1 week to perform, has allowed us to isolate hundreds of thousands of insertion sites from mouse tumors and, unlike other methods, has been specifically optimized for the murine leukemia virus (MuLV), and can easily be performed in a 96-well plate format for the efficient multiplex isolation of insertion sites.
Bmi1 is a member of the polycomb repressive complex 1 and plays different roles during embryonic development, depending on the developmental context. Bmi1 over expression is observed in many types of cancer, including tumors of astroglial and neural origin. Although genetic depletion of Bmi1 has been described to result in tumor inhibitory effects partly through INK4A/Arf mediated senescence and apoptosis and also through INK4A/Arf independent effects, it has not been proven that Bmi1 can be causally involved in the formation of these tumors. To see whether this is the case, we developed two conditional Bmi1 transgenic models that were crossed with GFAP-Cre mice to activate transgenic expression in neural and glial lineages. We show here that these mice generate intermediate and anterior lobe pituitary tumors that are positive for ACTH and beta-endorphin. Combined transgenic expression of Bmi1 together with conditional loss of Rb resulted in pituitary tumors but was insufficient to induce medulloblastoma therefore indicating that the oncogenic function of Bmi1 depends on regulation of p16(INK4A)/Rb rather than on regulation of p19(ARF)/p53. Human pituitary adenomas show Bmi1 overexpression in over 50% of the cases, which indicates that Bmi1 could be causally involved in formation of these tumors similarly as in our mouse model.
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