Everolimus, an inhibitor of the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), is effective in treating tumors harboring alterations in the mTOR pathway. Mechanisms of resistance to everolimus remain undefined. Resistance developed in a patient with metastatic anaplastic thyroid carcinoma after an extraordinary 18-month response. Whole-exome sequencing of pretreatment and drug-resistant tumors revealed a nonsense mutation in TSC2, a negative regulator of mTOR, suggesting a mechanism for exquisite sensitivity to everolimus. The resistant tumor also harbored a mutation in MTOR that confers resistance to allosteric mTOR inhibition. The mutation remains sensitive to mTOR kinase inhibitors.
Only a minority of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) patients respond to hypomethylating agents (HMAs), but strong predictors of response are unknown. We sequenced 40 recurrently mutated myeloid malignancy genes in tumor DNA from 213 MDS patients collected before treatment with azacitidine (AZA) or decitabine (DEC). Mutations were examined for association with response and overall survival. The overall response rate of 47% was not different between agents. Clonal TET2 mutations predicted response (odds ratio [OR] 1.99, P = .036) when subclones unlikely to be detected by Sanger sequencing (allele fraction <10%) were treated as wild-type (WT). Response rates were highest in the subset of TET2 mutant patients without clonal ASXL1 mutations (OR 3.65, P = .009). Mutations of TP53 (hazard ratio [HR] 2.01, P = .002) and PTPN11 (HR 3.26, P = .006) were associated with shorter overall survival but not drug response. Murine-competitive bone marrow transplantation followed by treatment with AZA demonstrated that Tet2-null cells have an engraftment advantage over Tet2-WT cells. AZA significantly decreased this advantage for Tet2-null cells (P = .002) but not Tet2-WT cells (P = .212). Overall, Tet2 loss appears to sensitize cells to treatment with AZA in vivo, and TET2 mutations can identify patients more likely to respond to HMAs.
Pediatric Ewing sarcoma is characterized by the expression of chimeric fusions of EWS and ETS family transcription factors, representing a paradigm for studying cancers driven by transcription factor rearrangements. In this study, we describe the somatic landscape of pediatric Ewing sarcoma. These tumors are among the most genetically normal cancers characterized to date, with only EWS-ETS rearrangements identified in the majority of tumors. STAG2 loss, however, is present in more than 15% of Ewing sarcoma tumors; occurs by point mutation, rearrangement, and likely nongenetic mechanisms; and is associated with disease dissemination. Perhaps the most striking finding is the paucity of mutations in immediately targetable signal transduction pathways, highlighting the need for new therapeutic approaches to target EWS-ETS fusions in this disease.
Cisplatin-based chemotherapy is the standard of care for patients with muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma. Pathologic downstaging to pT0/pTis after neoadjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy is associated with improved survival, although molecular determinants of cisplatin response are incompletely understood. We performed whole-exome sequencing on pretreatment tumor and germline DNA from 50 patients with muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma who received neoadjuvant cisplatin-based chemotherapy followed by cystectomy (25 pT0/pTis "responders," 25 pT2+ "nonresponders") to identify somatic mutations that occurred preferentially in responders. ERCC2, a nucleotide excision repair gene, was the only significantly mutated gene enriched in the cisplatin responders compared with nonresponders (q < 0.01). Expression of representative ERCC2 mutants in an ERCC2-deficient cell line failed to rescue cisplatin and UV sensitivity compared with wild-type ERCC2. The lack of normal ERCC2 function may contribute to cisplatin sensitivity in urothelial cancer, and somatic ERCC2 mutation status may inform cisplatin-containing regimen usage in muscle-invasive urothelial carcinoma.
Recurrently mutated genes in myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) are pathogenic drivers and powerfully associated with clinical phenotype and prognosis. Whether these types of mutations predict outcome after allogeneic hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation (HSCT) in patients with MDS is not known.
Purpose: The genetic differences between Human papilloma Virus (HPV)-positive and negative head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (HNSCC) remain largely unknown. In order to identify differential biology and novel therapeutic targets for both entities we determined mutations and copy number aberrations in a large cohort of locoregionally-advanced HNSCC. Experimental Design: We performed massively parallel sequencing of 617 cancer-associated genes in 120 matched tumor/normal samples (42.5% HPV-positive). Mutations and copy number aberrations were determined and results validated with a secondary method. Results: The overall mutational burden in HPV-negative and HPV-positive HNSCC was similar with an average of 15.2 versus 14.4 somatic exonic mutations in the targeted cancer-associated genes. HPV-negative tumors showed a mutational spectrum concordant with published lung squamous cell carcinoma analyses with enrichment for mutations in TP53, CDKN2A, MLL2, CUL3, NSD1, PIK3CA and NOTCH genes. HPV-positive tumors showed unique mutations in DDX3X, FGFR2/3 and aberrations in PIK3CA, KRAS, MLL2/3 and NOTCH1 were enriched in HPV-positive tumors. Currently targetable genomic alterations were identified in FGFR1, DDR2, EGFR, FGFR2/3, EPHA2 and PIK3CA. EGFR, CCND1, and FGFR1 amplifications occurred in HPV-negative tumors, while 17.6% of HPV-positive tumors harbored mutations in Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor genes (FGFR2/3) including six recurrent FGFR3 S249C mutations. HPV-positive tumors showed a 5.8% incidence of KRAS mutations, and DNA repair gene aberrations including 7.8% BRCA1/2 mutations were identified. Conclusions: The mutational makeup of HPV-positive and HPV-negative HNSCC differs significantly, including targetable genes. HNSCC harbors multiple therapeutically important genetic aberrations, including frequent aberrations in the FGFR and PI3K pathway genes.
Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are present at low concentrations in the peripheral blood of patients with solid tumors. It has been proposed that the isolation, ex vivo culture, and characterization of CTCs may provide an opportunity to noninvasively monitor the changing patterns of drug susceptibility in individual patients as their tumors acquire new mutations. In a proof-of-concept study, we established CTC cultures from six patients with estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer. Three of five CTC lines tested were tumorigenic in mice. Genome sequencing of the CTC lines revealed preexisting mutations in the PIK3CA gene and newly acquired mutations in the estrogen receptor gene (ESR1), PIK3CA gene, and fibroblast growth factor receptor gene (FGFR2), among others. Drug sensitivity testing of CTC lines with multiple mutations revealed potential new therapeutic targets. With optimization of CTC culture conditions, this strategy may help identify the best therapies for individual cancer patients over the course of their disease.
Genome sequencing has revealed a large number of shared and personal somatic mutations across human cancers. In principle, any genetic alteration affecting a protein-coding region has the potential to generate mutated peptides that are presented by surface HLA class I proteins that might be recognized by cytotoxic T cells. To test this possibility, we implemented a streamlined approach for the prediction and validation of such neoantigens derived from individual tumors and presented by patient-specific HLA alleles. We applied our computational pipeline to 91 chronic lymphocytic leukemias (CLLs) that underwent whole-exome sequencing (WES). We predicted ?22 mutated HLA-binding peptides per leukemia (derived from ?16 missense mutations) and experimentally confirmed HLA binding for ?55% of such peptides. Two CLL patients that achieved long-term remission following allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were monitored for CD8(+) T-cell responses against predicted or confirmed HLA-binding peptides. Long-lived cytotoxic T-cell responses were detected against peptides generated from personal tumor mutations in ALMS1, C6ORF89, and FNDC3B presented on tumor cells. Finally, we applied our computational pipeline to WES data (N = 2488 samples) across 13 different cancer types and estimated dozens to thousands of predicted neoantigens per individual tumor, suggesting that neoantigens are frequent in most tumors.
Molecular profiling of tumors promises to advance the clinical management of cancer, but the benefits of integrating molecular data with traditional clinical variables have not been systematically studied. Here we retrospectively predict patient survival using diverse molecular data (somatic copy-number alteration, DNA methylation and mRNA, microRNA and protein expression) from 953 samples of four cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlas project. We find that incorporating molecular data with clinical variables yields statistically significantly improved predictions (FDR < 0.05) for three cancers but those quantitative gains were limited (2.2-23.9%). Additional analyses revealed little predictive power across tumor types except for one case. In clinically relevant genes, we identified 10,281 somatic alterations across 12 cancer types in 2,928 of 3,277 patients (89.4%), many of which would not be revealed in single-tumor analyses. Our study provides a starting point and resources, including an open-access model evaluation platform, for building reliable prognostic and therapeutic strategies that incorporate molecular data.
Translating whole-exome sequencing (WES) for prospective clinical use may have an impact on the care of patients with cancer; however, multiple innovations are necessary for clinical implementation. These include rapid and robust WES of DNA derived from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue, analytical output similar to data from frozen samples and clinical interpretation of WES data for prospective use. Here, we describe a prospective clinical WES platform for archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples. The platform employs computational methods for effective clinical analysis and interpretation of WES data. When applied retrospectively to 511 exomes, the interpretative framework revealed a 'long tail' of somatic alterations in clinically important genes. Prospective application of this approach identified clinically relevant alterations in 15 out of 16 patients. In one patient, previously undetected findings guided clinical trial enrollment, leading to an objective clinical response. Overall, this methodology may inform the widespread implementation of precision cancer medicine.
Retrotransposons constitute a major source of genetic variation, and somatic retrotransposon insertions have been reported in cancer. Here, we applied TranspoSeq, a computational framework that identifies retrotransposon insertions from sequencing data, to whole genomes from 200 tumor/normal pairs across 11 tumor types as part of The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Pan-Cancer Project. In addition to novel germline polymorphisms, we find 810 somatic retrotransposon insertions primarily in lung squamous, head and neck, colorectal, and endometrial carcinomas. Many somatic retrotransposon insertions occur in known cancer genes. We find that high somatic retrotransposition rates in tumors are associated with high rates of genomic rearrangement and somatic mutation. Finally, we developed TranspoSeq-Exome to interrogate an additional 767 tumor samples with hybrid-capture exome data and discovered 35 novel somatic retrotransposon insertions into exonic regions, including an insertion into an exon of the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. The results of this large-scale, comprehensive analysis of retrotransposon movement across tumor types suggest that somatic retrotransposon insertions may represent an important class of structural variation in cancer.
One major goal of cancer genome sequencing is to identify key genes and pathways that drive tumor pathogenesis. Although many studies have identified candidate driver genes based on recurrence of mutations in individual genes, subsets of genes with nonrecurrent mutations may also be defined as putative drivers if they affect a single biological pathway. In this fashion, we previously identified Wnt signaling as significantly mutated through large-scale massively parallel DNA sequencing of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Here, we use a novel method of biomolecule delivery, vertical silicon nanowires, to efficiently introduce small interfering RNAs into CLL cells, and interrogate the effects of 8 of 15 mutated Wnt pathway members identified across 91 CLLs. In HEK293T cells, mutations in 2 genes did not generate functional changes, 3 led to dysregulated pathway activation, and 3 led to further activation or loss of repression of pathway activation. Silencing 4 of 8 mutated genes in CLL samples harboring the mutated alleles resulted in reduced viability compared with leukemia samples with wild-type alleles. We demonstrate that somatic mutations in CLL can generate dependence on this pathway for survival. These findings support the notion that nonrecurrent mutations at different nodes of the Wnt pathway can contribute to leukemogenesis.
We report somatic mutations of RNF43 in over 18% of colorectal adenocarcinomas and endometrial carcinomas. RNF43 encodes an E3 ubiquitin ligase that negatively regulates Wnt signaling. Truncating mutations of RNF43 are more prevalent in microsatellite-unstable tumors and show mutual exclusivity with inactivating APC mutations in colorectal adenocarcinomas. These results indicate that RNF43 is one of the most commonly mutated genes in colorectal and endometrial cancers.
Technological advances in high-throughput sequencing necessitate improved computational tools for processing and analyzing large-scale datasets in a systematic automated manner. For that purpose, we have developed PRADA (Pipeline for RNA-Sequencing Data Analysis), a flexible, modular and highly scalable software platform that provides many different types of information available by multifaceted analysis starting from raw paired-end RNA-seq data: gene expression levels, quality metrics, detection of unsupervised and supervised fusion transcripts, detection of intragenic fusion variants, homology scores and fusion frame classification. PRADA uses a dual-mapping strategy that increases sensitivity and refines the analytical endpoints. PRADA has been used extensively and successfully in the glioblastoma and renal clear cell projects of The Cancer Genome Atlas program.
Comprehensive analyses of cancer genomes promise to inform prognoses and precise cancer treatments. A major barrier, however, is inaccessibility of metastatic tissue. A potential solution is to characterize circulating tumor cells (CTCs), but this requires overcoming the challenges of isolating rare cells and sequencing low-input material. Here we report an integrated process to isolate, qualify and sequence whole exomes of CTCs with high fidelity using a census-based sequencing strategy. Power calculations suggest that mapping of >99.995% of the standard exome is possible in CTCs. We validated our process in two patients with prostate cancer, including one for whom we sequenced CTCs, a lymph node metastasis and nine cores of the primary tumor. Fifty-one of 73 CTC mutations (70%) were present in matched tissue. Moreover, we identified 10 early trunk and 56 metastatic trunk mutations in the non-CTC tumor samples and found 90% and 73% of these mutations, respectively, in CTC exomes. This study establishes a foundation for CTC genomics in the clinic.
Small cell lung carcinoma (SCLC) is a highly lethal, smoking-associated cancer with few known targetable genetic alterations. Using genome sequencing, we characterized the somatic evolution of a genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) of SCLC initiated by loss of Trp53 and Rb1. We identified alterations in DNA copy number and complex genomic rearrangements and demonstrated a low somatic point mutation frequency in the absence of tobacco mutagens. Alterations targeting the tumor suppressor Pten occurred in the majority of murine SCLC studied, and engineered Pten deletion accelerated murine SCLC and abrogated loss of Chr19 in Trp53; Rb1; Pten compound mutant tumors. Finally, we found evidence for polyclonal and sequential metastatic spread of murine SCLC by comparative sequencing of families of related primary tumors and metastases. We propose a temporal model of SCLC tumorigenesis with implications for human SCLC therapeutics and the nature of cancer-genome evolution in GEMMs.
Inhibition of the activated epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) with either enzymatic kinase inhibitors or anti-EGFR antibodies such as cetuximab, is an effective modality of treatment for multiple human cancers. Enzymatic EGFR inhibitors are effective for lung adenocarcinomas with somatic kinase domain EGFR mutations while, paradoxically, anti-EGFR antibodies are more effective in colon and head and neck cancers where EGFR mutations occur less frequently. In colorectal cancer, anti-EGFR antibodies are routinely used as second-line therapy of KRAS wild-type tumors. However, detailed mechanisms and genomic predictors for pharmacological response to these antibodies in colon cancer remain unclear.
Despite gains in survival, outcomes for patients with metastatic or recurrent rhabdomyosarcoma remain dismal. In a collaboration between the National Cancer Institute, Children's Oncology Group, and Broad Institute, we performed whole-genome, whole-exome, and transcriptome sequencing to characterize the landscape of somatic alterations in 147 tumor/normal pairs. Two genotypes are evident in rhabdomyosarcoma tumors: those characterized by the PAX3 or PAX7 fusion and those that lack these fusions but harbor mutations in key signaling pathways. The overall burden of somatic mutations in rhabdomyosarcoma is relatively low, especially in tumors that harbor a PAX3/7 gene fusion. In addition to previously reported mutations in NRAS, KRAS, HRAS, FGFR4, PIK3CA, and CTNNB1, we found novel recurrent mutations in FBXW7 and BCOR, providing potential new avenues for therapeutic intervention. Furthermore, alteration of the receptor tyrosine kinase/RAS/PIK3CA axis affects 93% of cases, providing a framework for genomics-directed therapies that might improve outcomes for patients with rhabdomyosarcoma.
We performed massively parallel sequencing of paired tumor/normal samples from 203 multiple myeloma (MM) patients and identified significantly mutated genes and copy number alterations and discovered putative tumor suppressor genes by determining homozygous deletions and loss of heterozygosity. We observed frequent mutations in KRAS (particularly in previously treated patients), NRAS, BRAF, FAM46C, TP53, and DIS3 (particularly in nonhyperdiploid MM). Mutations were often present in subclonal populations, and multiple mutations within the same pathway (e.g., KRAS, NRAS, and BRAF) were observed in the same patient. In vitro modeling predicts only partial treatment efficacy of targeting subclonal mutations, and even growth promotion of nonmutated subclones in some cases. These results emphasize the importance of heterogeneity analysis for treatment decisions.
Craniopharyngiomas are epithelial tumors that typically arise in the suprasellar region of the brain. Patients experience substantial clinical sequelae from both extension of the tumors and therapeutic interventions that damage the optic chiasm, the pituitary stalk and the hypothalamic area. Using whole-exome sequencing, we identified mutations in CTNNB1 (?-catenin) in nearly all adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas examined (11/12, 92%) and recurrent mutations in BRAF (resulting in p.Val600Glu) in all papillary craniopharyngiomas (3/3, 100%). Targeted genotyping revealed BRAF p.Val600Glu in 95% of papillary craniopharyngiomas (36 of 39 tumors) and mutation of CTNNB1 in 96% of adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas (51 of 53 tumors). The CTNNB1 and BRAF mutations were clonal in each tumor subtype, and we detected no other recurrent mutations or genomic aberrations in either subtype. Adamantinomatous and papillary craniopharyngiomas harbor mutations that are mutually exclusive and clonal. These findings have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of these neoplasms.
Cervical cancer is responsible for 10-15% of cancer-related deaths in women worldwide. The aetiological role of infection with high-risk human papilloma viruses (HPVs) in cervical carcinomas is well established. Previous studies have also implicated somatic mutations in PIK3CA, PTEN, TP53, STK11 and KRAS as well as several copy-number alterations in the pathogenesis of cervical carcinomas. 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 tumour-normal pairs. Previously unknown 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 observe somatic ELF3 (13%) and CBFB (8%) mutations in 24 adenocarcinomas. Squamous cell carcinomas have higher frequencies of somatic nucleotide substitutions occurring at cytosines preceded by thymines (Tp*C sites) than adenocarcinomas. Gene expression levels at HPV integration sites were statistically significantly higher in tumours with HPV integration compared with expression of the same genes in tumours without viral integration at the same site. These data demonstrate several recurrent genomic alterations in cervical carcinomas that suggest new strategies to combat this disease.
Although a few cancer genes are mutated in a high proportion of tumours of a given type (>20%), most are mutated at intermediate frequencies (2-20%). To explore the feasibility of creating a comprehensive catalogue of cancer genes, we analysed somatic point mutations in exome sequences from 4,742 human cancers and their matched normal-tissue samples across 21 cancer types. We found that large-scale genomic analysis can identify nearly all known cancer genes in these tumour types. Our analysis also identified 33 genes that were not previously known to be significantly mutated in cancer, including genes related to proliferation, apoptosis, genome stability, chromatin regulation, immune evasion, RNA processing and protein homeostasis. Down-sampling analysis indicates that larger sample sizes will reveal many more genes mutated at clinically important frequencies. We estimate that near-saturation may be achieved with 600-5,000 samples per tumour type, depending on background mutation frequency. The results may help to guide the next stage of cancer genomics.
High-grade serous ovarian cancers are characterized by widespread recurrent copy number alterations. Although some regions of copy number change harbor known oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes, the genes targeted by the majority of amplified or deleted regions in ovarian cancer remain undefined. Here we systematically tested amplified genes for their ability to promote tumor formation using an in vivo multiplexed transformation assay. We identified the GRB2-associated binding protein 2 (GAB2) as a recurrently amplified gene that potently transforms immortalized ovarian and fallopian tube secretory epithelial cells. Cancer cell lines overexpressing GAB2 require GAB2 for survival and show evidence of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) pathway activation, which was required for GAB2-induced transformation. Cell lines overexpressing GAB2 were as sensitive to PI3K inhibition as cell lines harboring mutant PIK3CA. Together, these observations nominate GAB2 as an ovarian cancer oncogene, identify an alternative mechanism to activate PI3K signaling, and underscore the importance of PI3K signaling in this cancer.
Although recurrent somatic mutations in the splicing factor U2AF1 (also known as U2AF35) have been identified in multiple cancer types, the effects of these mutations on the cancer transcriptome have yet to be fully elucidated. Here, we identified splicing alterations associated with U2AF1 mutations across distinct cancers using DNA and RNA sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Using RNA-Seq data from 182 lung adenocarcinomas and 167 acute myeloid leukemias (AML), in which U2AF1 is somatically mutated in 3-4% of cases, we identified 131 and 369 splicing alterations, respectively, that were significantly associated with U2AF1 mutation. Of these, 30 splicing alterations were statistically significant in both lung adenocarcinoma and AML, including three genes in the Cancer Gene Census, CTNNB1, CHCHD7, and PICALM. Cell line experiments expressing U2AF1 S34F in HeLa cells and in 293T cells provide further support that these altered splicing events are caused by U2AF1 mutation. Consistent with the function of U2AF1 in 3' splice site recognition, we found that S34F/Y mutations cause preferences for CAG over UAG 3' splice site sequences. This report demonstrates consistent effects of U2AF1 mutation on splicing in distinct cancer cell types.
Lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the second most prevalent type of lung cancer. Currently, no targeted therapeutics are approved for treatment of this cancer, largely because of a lack of systematic understanding of the molecular pathogenesis of the disease. To identify therapeutic targets and perform comparative analyses of lung SCC, we probed somatic genome alterations of lung SCC by using samples from Korean patients.
Carcinogenesis and neoplastic progression are mediated by the accumulation of somatic mutations. Here we report that the local density of somatic mutations in cancer genomes is highly reduced specifically in accessible regulatory DNA defined by DNase I hypersensitive sites. This reduction is independent of any known factors influencing somatic mutation density and is observed in diverse cancer types, suggesting a general mechanism. By analyzing individual cancer genomes, we show that the reduced local mutation density within regulatory DNA is linked to intact global genome repair machinery, with nearly complete abrogation of the hypomutation phenomenon in individual cancers that possess mutations in components of the nucleotide excision repair system. Together, our results connect chromatin structure, gene regulation and cancer-associated somatic mutation.
Treatment of BRAF-mutant melanoma with combined dabrafenib and trametinib, which target RAF and the downstream MAP-ERK kinase (MEK)1 and MEK2 kinases, respectively, improves progression-free survival and response rates compared with dabrafenib monotherapy. Mechanisms of clinical resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition are unknown. We performed whole-exome sequencing (WES) and whole-transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) on pretreatment and drug-resistant tumors from five patients with acquired resistance to dabrafenib/trametinib. In three of these patients, we identified additional mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations in the resistant tumor that were not detected in the pretreatment tumor, including a novel activating mutation in MEK2 (MEK2(Q60P)). MEK2(Q60P) conferred resistance to combined RAF/MEK inhibition in vitro, but remained sensitive to inhibition of the downstream kinase extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK). The continued MAPK signaling-based resistance identified in these patients suggests that alternative dosing of current agents, more potent RAF/MEK inhibitors, and/or inhibition of the downstream kinase ERK may be needed for durable control of BRAF-mutant melanoma.
Most patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma develop resistance to selective RAF kinase inhibitors. The spectrum of clinical genetic resistance mechanisms to RAF inhibitors and options for salvage therapy are incompletely understood. We performed whole-exome sequencing on formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumors from 45 patients with BRAF(V600)-mutant metastatic melanoma who received vemurafenib or dabrafenib monotherapy. Genetic alterations in known or putative RAF inhibitor resistance genes were observed in 23 of 45 patients (51%). Besides previously characterized alterations, we discovered a "long tail" of new mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations (MAP2K2, MITF) that confer RAF inhibitor resistance. In three cases, multiple resistance gene alterations were observed within the same tumor biopsy. Overall, RAF inhibitor therapy leads to diverse clinical genetic resistance mechanisms, mostly involving MAPK pathway reactivation. Novel therapeutic combinations may be needed to achieve durable clinical control of BRAF(V600)-mutant melanoma. Integrating clinical genomics with preclinical screens may model subsequent resistance studies.
Amplification of cyclin E1 (CCNE1) is associated with poor outcome in breast, lung, and other solid cancers, and is the most prominent structural variant associated with primary treatment failure in high-grade serous ovarian cancer (HGSC). We have previously shown that CCNE1-amplified tumors show amplicon-dependent sensitivity to CCNE1 suppression. Here, we explore targeting CDK2 as a novel therapeutic strategy in CCNE1-amplified cancers and mechanisms of resistance.
Determining how somatic copy number alterations (SCNAs) promote cancer is an important goal. We characterized SCNA patterns in 4,934 cancers from The Cancer Genome Atlas Pan-Cancer data set. Whole-genome doubling, observed in 37% of cancers, was associated with higher rates of every other type of SCNA, TP53 mutations, CCNE1 amplifications and alterations of the PPP2R complex. SCNAs that were internal to chromosomes tended to be shorter than telomere-bounded SCNAs, suggesting different mechanisms underlying their generation. Significantly recurrent focal SCNAs were observed in 140 regions, including 102 without known oncogene or tumor suppressor gene targets and 50 with significantly mutated genes. Amplified regions without known oncogenes were enriched for genes involved in epigenetic regulation. When levels of genomic disruption were accounted for, 7% of region pairs were anticorrelated, and these regions tended to encompass genes whose proteins physically interact, suggesting related functions. These results provide insights into mechanisms of generation and functional consequences of cancer-related SCNAs.
Infiltrating stromal and immune cells form the major fraction of normal cells in tumour tissue and not only perturb the tumour signal in molecular studies but also have an important role in cancer biology. Here we describe Estimation of STromal and Immune cells in MAlignant Tumours using Expression data (ESTIMATE)--a method that uses gene expression signatures to infer the fraction of stromal and immune cells in tumour samples. ESTIMATE scores correlate with DNA copy number-based tumour purity across samples from 11 different tumour types, profiled on Agilent, Affymetrix platforms or based on RNA sequencing and available through The Cancer Genome Atlas. The prediction accuracy is further corroborated using 3,809 transcriptional profiles available elsewhere in the public domain. The ESTIMATE method allows consideration of tumour-associated normal cells in genomic and transcriptomic studies. An R-library is available on https://sourceforge.net/projects/estimateproject/.
With the ability to fully sequence tumor genomes/exomes, the quest for cancer driver genes can now be undertaken in an unbiased manner. However, obtaining a complete catalog of cancer genes is difficult due to the heterogeneous molecular nature of the disease and the limitations of available computational methods. Here we show that the combination of complementary methods allows identifying a comprehensive and reliable list of cancer driver genes. We provide a list of 291 high-confidence cancer driver genes acting on 3,205 tumors from 12 different cancer types. Among those genes, some have not been previously identified as cancer drivers and 16 have clear preference to sustain mutations in one specific tumor type. The novel driver candidates complement our current picture of the emergence of these diseases. In summary, the catalog of driver genes and the methodology presented here open new avenues to better understand the mechanisms of tumorigenesis.
A comprehensive description of genomic alterations in lung squamous cell carcinoma (lung SCC) has recently been reported, enabling the identification of genomic events that contribute to the oncogenesis of this disease. In lung SCC, 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, each of which are 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. In addition, we report a patient with an FGFR2-mutated oral SCC who responded to the multitargeted 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 SCC.
Genetic alterations in specific driver genes lead to disruption of cellular pathways and are critical events in the instigation and progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). As a prerequisite for individualized cancer treatment, we sought to characterize the landscape of recurrent somatic mutations in HCC. We performed whole-exome sequencing on 87 HCCs and matched normal adjacent tissues to an average coverage of 59×. The overall mutation rate was roughly two mutations per Mb, with a median of 45 nonsynonymous mutations that altered the amino acid sequence (range, 2-381). We found recurrent mutations in several genes with high transcript levels: TP53 (18%); CTNNB1 (10%); KEAP1 (8%); C16orf62 (8%); MLL4 (7%); and RAC2 (5%). Significantly affected gene families include the nucleotide-binding domain and leucine-rich repeat-containing family, calcium channel subunits, and histone methyltransferases. In particular, the MLL family of methyltransferases for histone H3 lysine 4 were mutated in 20% of tumors. Conclusion: The NFE2L2-KEAP1 and MLL pathways are recurrently mutated in multiple cohorts of HCC. (Hepatology 2013).
Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs) are among the most common solid tumors in children but, apart from BRAF kinase mutations or duplications in specific subclasses, few genetic driver events are known. Diffuse PLGGs comprise a set of uncommon subtypes that exhibit invasive growth and are therefore especially challenging clinically. We performed high-resolution copy-number analysis on 44 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded diffuse PLGGs to identify recurrent alterations. Diffuse PLGGs exhibited fewer such alterations than adult low-grade gliomas, but we identified several significantly recurrent events. The most significant event, 8q13.1 gain, was observed in 28% of diffuse astrocytoma grade IIs and resulted in partial duplication of the transcription factor MYBL1 with truncation of its C-terminal negative-regulatory domain. A similar recurrent deletion-truncation breakpoint was identified in two angiocentric gliomas in the related gene v-myb avian myeloblastosis viral oncogene homolog (MYB) on 6q23.3. Whole-genome sequencing of a MYBL1-rearranged diffuse astrocytoma grade II demonstrated MYBL1 tandem duplication and few other events. Truncated MYBL1 transcripts identified in this tumor induced anchorage-independent growth in 3T3 cells and tumor formation in nude mice. Truncated transcripts were also expressed in two additional tumors with MYBL1 partial duplication. Our results define clinically relevant molecular subclasses of diffuse PLGGs and highlight a potential role for the MYB family in the biology of low-grade gliomas.
Major international projects are underway that are aimed at creating a comprehensive catalogue of all the genes responsible for the initiation and progression of cancer. These studies involve the sequencing of matched tumour-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. 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 tumour-normal pairs and discover extraordinary variation in mutation frequency and spectrum within cancer types, which sheds light on mutational processes and disease aetiology, and in 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 enable the identification of genes truly associated with cancer.
The diagnosed incidence of small intestine neuroendocrine tumors (SI-NETs) is increasing, and the underlying genomic mechanisms have not yet been defined. Using exome- and genome-sequence analysis of SI-NETs, we identified recurrent somatic mutations and deletions in CDKN1B, the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor gene, which encodes p27. We observed frameshift mutations of CDKN1B in 14 of 180 SI-NETs, and we detected hemizygous deletions encompassing CDKN1B in 7 out of 50 SI-NETs, nominating p27 as a tumor suppressor and implicating cell cycle dysregulation in the etiology of SI-NETs.
Acquired chromosomal instability and copy number alterations are hallmarks of cancer. Enzymes capable of promoting site-specific copy number changes have yet to be identified. Here, we demonstrate that H3K9/36me3 lysine demethylase KDM4A/JMJD2A overexpression leads to localized copy gain of 1q12, 1q21, and Xq13.1 without global chromosome instability. KDM4A-amplified tumors have increased copy gains for these same regions. 1q12h copy gain occurs within a single cell cycle, requires S phase, and is not stable but is regenerated each cell division. Sites with increased copy number are rereplicated and have increased KDM4A, MCM, and DNA polymerase occupancy. Suv39h1/KMT1A or HP1? overexpression suppresses the copy gain, whereas H3K9/K36 methylation interference promotes gain. Our results demonstrate that overexpression of a chromatin modifier results in site-specific copy gains. This begins to establish how copy number changes could originate during tumorigenesis and demonstrates that transient overexpression of specific chromatin modulators could promote these events.
The incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) has risen 600% over the last 30 years. With a 5-year survival rate of ~15%, the identification of new therapeutic targets for EAC is greatly important. We analyze the mutation spectra from whole-exome sequencing of 149 EAC tumor-normal pairs, 15 of which have also been subjected to whole-genome sequencing. We identify a mutational signature defined by a high prevalence of A>C transversions at AA dinucleotides. Statistical analysis of exome data identified 26 significantly mutated genes. Of these genes, five (TP53, CDKN2A, SMAD4, ARID1A and PIK3CA) have previously been implicated in EAC. The new significantly mutated genes include chromatin-modifying factors and candidate contributors SPG20, TLR4, ELMO1 and DOCK2. Functional analyses of EAC-derived mutations in ELMO1 identifies increased cellular invasion. Therefore, we suggest the potential activation of the RAC1 pathway as a contributor to EAC tumorigenesis.
We have developed Nozzle, an R package that provides an Application Programming Interface to generate HTML reports with dynamic user interface elements. Nozzle was designed to facilitate summarization and rapid browsing of complex results in data analysis pipelines where multiple analyses are performed frequently on big datasets. The package can be applied to any project where user-friendly reports need to be created.
Recent studies indicate that a subclass of APOBEC cytidine deaminases, which convert cytosine to uracil during RNA editing and retrovirus or retrotransposon restriction, may induce mutation clusters in human tumors. We show here that throughout cancer genomes APOBEC-mediated mutagenesis is pervasive and correlates with APOBEC mRNA levels. Mutation clusters in whole-genome and exome data sets conformed to the stringent criteria indicative of an APOBEC mutation pattern. Applying these criteria to 954,247 mutations in 2,680 exomes from 14 cancer types, mostly from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), showed a significant presence of the APOBEC mutation pattern in bladder, cervical, breast, head and neck, and lung cancers, reaching 68% of all mutations in some samples. Within breast cancer, the HER2-enriched subtype was clearly enriched for tumors with the APOBEC mutation pattern, suggesting that this type of mutagenesis is functionally linked with cancer development. The APOBEC mutation pattern also extended to cancer-associated genes, implying that ubiquitous APOBEC-mediated mutagenesis is carcinogenic.
Detection of somatic point substitutions is a key step in characterizing the cancer genome. However, existing methods typically miss low-allelic-fraction mutations that occur in only a subset of the sequenced cells owing to either tumor heterogeneity or contamination by normal cells. Here we present MuTect, a method that applies a Bayesian classifier to detect somatic mutations with very low allele fractions, requiring only a few supporting reads, followed by carefully tuned filters that ensure high specificity. We also describe benchmarking approaches that use real, rather than simulated, sequencing data to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity as a function of sequencing depth, base quality and allelic fraction. Compared with other methods, MuTect has higher sensitivity with similar specificity, especially for mutations with allelic fractions as low as 0.1 and below, making MuTect particularly useful for studying cancer subclones and their evolution in standard exome and genome sequencing data.
Meningiomas are the most common primary nervous system tumor. The tumor suppressor NF2 is disrupted in approximately half of all meningiomas, but the complete spectrum of genetic changes remains undefined. We performed whole-genome or whole-exome sequencing on 17 meningiomas and focused sequencing on an additional 48 tumors to identify and validate somatic genetic alterations. Most meningiomas had simple genomes, with fewer mutations, rearrangements and copy-number alterations than reported in other tumors in adults. However, several meningiomas harbored more complex patterns of copy-number changes and rearrangements, including one tumor with chromothripsis. We confirmed focal NF2 inactivation in 43% of tumors and found alterations in epigenetic modifiers in an additional 8% of tumors. A subset of meningiomas lacking NF2 alterations harbored recurrent oncogenic mutations in AKT1 (p.Glu17Lys) and SMO (p.Trp535Leu) and exhibited immunohistochemical evidence of activation of these pathways. These mutations were present in therapeutically challenging tumors of the skull base and higher grade. These results begin to define the spectrum of genetic alterations in meningiomas and identify potential therapeutic targets.
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%. To determine the spectrum of somatic mutation in high-risk neuroblastoma, we studied 240 affected individuals (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 Mb (0.48 nonsilent) and notably 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%, and an additional 7.1% had focal deletions), MYCN (1.7%, causing 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 that rely on frequently altered oncogenic drivers.
The analysis of exonic DNA from prostate cancers has identified recurrently mutated genes, but the spectrum of genome-wide alterations has not been profiled extensively in this disease. We sequenced the genomes of 57 prostate tumors and matched normal tissues to characterize somatic alterations and to study how they accumulate during oncogenesis and progression. By modeling the genesis of genomic rearrangements, we identified abundant DNA translocations and deletions that arise in a highly interdependent manner. This phenomenon, which we term "chromoplexy," frequently accounts for the dysregulation of prostate cancer genes and appears to disrupt multiple cancer genes coordinately. Our modeling suggests that chromoplexy may induce considerable genomic derangement over relatively few events in prostate cancer and other neoplasms, supporting a model of punctuated cancer evolution. By characterizing the clonal hierarchy of genomic lesions in prostate tumors, we charted a path of oncogenic events along which chromoplexy may drive prostate carcinogenesis.
We describe the landscape of somatic genomic alterations based on multidimensional and comprehensive characterization of more than 500 glioblastoma tumors (GBMs). We identify several novel mutated genes as well as complex rearrangements of signature receptors, including EGFR and PDGFRA. TERT promoter mutations are shown to correlate with elevated mRNA expression, supporting a role in telomerase reactivation. Correlative analyses confirm that the survival advantage of the proneural subtype is conferred by the G-CIMP phenotype, and MGMT DNA methylation may be a predictive biomarker for treatment response only in classical subtype GBM. Integrative analysis of genomic and proteomic profiles challenges the notion of therapeutic inhibition of a pathway as an alternative to inhibition of the target itself. These data will facilitate the discovery of therapeutic and diagnostic target candidates, the validation of research and clinical observations and the generation of unanticipated hypotheses that can advance our molecular understanding of this lethal cancer.
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.
Clonal evolution is a key feature of cancer progression and relapse. We studied intratumoral heterogeneity in 149 chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cases by integrating whole-exome sequence and copy number to measure the fraction of cancer cells harboring each somatic mutation. We identified driver mutations as predominantly clonal (e.g., MYD88, trisomy 12, and del(13q)) or subclonal (e.g., SF3B1 and TP53), corresponding to earlier and later events in CLL evolution. We sampled leukemia cells from 18 patients at two time points. Ten of twelve CLL cases treated with chemotherapy (but only one of six without treatment) underwent clonal evolution, predominantly involving subclones with driver mutations (e.g., SF3B1 and TP53) that expanded over time. Furthermore, presence of a subclonal driver mutation was an independent risk factor for rapid disease progression. Our study thus uncovers patterns of clonal evolution in CLL, providing insights into its stepwise transformation, and links the presence of subclones with adverse clinical outcomes.
The accumulation of data on structural variation in cancer genomes provides an opportunity to better understand the mechanisms of genomic alterations and the forces of selection that act upon these alterations in cancer. Here we test evidence supporting the influence of two major forces, spatial chromosome structure and purifying (or negative) selection, on the landscape of somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs) in cancer. Using a maximum likelihood approach, we compare SCNA maps and three-dimensional genome architecture as determined by genome-wide chromosome conformation capture (HiC) and described by the proposed fractal-globule model. This analysis suggests that the distribution of chromosomal alterations in cancer is spatially related to three-dimensional genomic architecture and that purifying selection, as well as positive selection, influences SCNAs during somatic evolution of cancer cells.
Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is a heterogeneous non-Hodgkins lymphoma that may variably involve the skin, lymph nodes, and peripheral blood. Malignant burden ranges from cutaneous patches and plaques with little evidence of blood involvement to erythroderma often in association with frank leukemia, as in Sézary syndrome. Toward a better understanding of the pathogenesis of this CD4+ T-cell malignancy, we conducted a high-resolution genomic analysis combining DNA (23 samples) and mRNA (12 samples) data of peripheral blood isolates from CTCL patients across a spectrum of stages. Strikingly, even patients with limited involvement, e.g., normal CD4 counts, contained significant copy-number alterations. Defining genomic characteristics of CTCL blood involvement included gains on 8q and 17q, and deletions on 17p and chromosome 10. A consensus analysis of 108 leukemic CTCL samples demonstrated global similarities among patients with varied blood involvement, narrowing 38 of 62 loci. Toward an annotated framework for in vitro testing, we also characterized genomic alterations in five CTCL cell lines (HH, HUT78, PNO, SeAx, and Sez4), revealing intact core features of leukemic CTCL. Together, these studies produce the most comprehensive view of the leukemic CTCL genome to date, with implications for pathogenesis, molecular classification, and potential future therapeutic developments.
Here, we present ContEst, a tool for estimating the level of cross-individual contamination in next-generation sequencing data. We demonstrate the accuracy of ContEst across a range of contamination levels, sources and read depths using sequencing data mixed in silico at known concentrations. We applied our tool to published cancer sequencing datasets and report their estimated contamination levels.
Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a common, morbid, and frequently lethal malignancy. To uncover its mutational spectrum, we analyzed whole-exome sequencing data from 74 tumor-normal pairs. The majority exhibited a mutational profile consistent with tobacco exposure; human papillomavirus was detectable by sequencing DNA from infected tumors. In addition to identifying previously known HNSCC genes (TP53, CDKN2A, PTEN, PIK3CA, and HRAS), our analysis revealed many genes not previously implicated in this malignancy. At least 30% of cases harbored mutations in genes that regulate squamous differentiation (for example, NOTCH1, IRF6, and TP63), implicating its dysregulation as a major driver of HNSCC carcinogenesis. More generally, the results indicate the ability of large-scale sequencing to reveal fundamental tumorigenic mechanisms.
A comprehensive understanding of the molecular vulnerabilities of every type of cancer will provide a powerful roadmap to guide therapeutic approaches. Efforts such as The Cancer Genome Atlas Project will identify genes with aberrant copy number, sequence, or expression in various cancer types, providing a survey of the genes that may have a causal role in cancer. A complementary approach is to perform systematic loss-of-function studies to identify essential genes in particular cancer cell types. We have begun a systematic effort, termed Project Achilles, aimed at identifying genetic vulnerabilities across large numbers of cancer cell lines. Here, we report the assessment of the essentiality of 11,194 genes in 102 human cancer cell lines. We show that the integration of these functional data with information derived from surveying cancer genomes pinpoints known and previously undescribed lineage-specific dependencies across a wide spectrum of cancers. In particular, we found 54 genes that are specifically essential for the proliferation and viability of ovarian cancer cells and also amplified in primary tumors or differentially overexpressed in ovarian cancer cell lines. One such gene, PAX8, is focally amplified in 16% of high-grade serous ovarian cancers and expressed at higher levels in ovarian tumors. Suppression of PAX8 selectively induces apoptotic cell death of ovarian cancer cells. These results identify PAX8 as an ovarian lineage-specific dependency. More generally, these observations demonstrate that the integration of genome-scale functional and structural studies provides an efficient path to identify dependencies of specific cancer types on particular genes and pathways.
Timely intervention for cancer requires knowledge of its earliest genetic aberrations. Sequencing of tumors and their metastases reveals numerous abnormalities occurring late in progression. A means to temporally order aberrations in a single cancer, rather than inferring them from serially acquired samples, would define changes preceding even clinically evident disease. We integrate DNA sequence and copy number information to reconstruct the order of abnormalities as individual tumors evolve for 2 separate cancer types. We detect vast, unreported expansion of simple mutations sharply demarcated by recombinative loss of the second copy of TP53 in cutaneous squamous cell carcinomas (cSCC) and serous ovarian adenocarcinomas, in the former surpassing 50 mutations per megabase. In cSCCs, we also report diverse secondary mutations in known and novel oncogenic pathways, illustrating how such expanded mutagenesis directly promotes malignant progression. These results reframe paradigms in which TP53 mutation is required later, to bypass senescence induced by driver oncogenes.
Prior studies have identified recurrent oncogenic mutations in colorectal adenocarcinoma and have surveyed exons of protein-coding genes for mutations in 11 affected individuals. Here we report whole-genome sequencing from nine individuals with colorectal cancer, including primary colorectal tumors and matched adjacent non-tumor tissues, at an average of 30.7× and 31.9× coverage, respectively. We identify an average of 75 somatic rearrangements per tumor, including complex networks of translocations between pairs of chromosomes. Eleven rearrangements encode predicted in-frame fusion proteins, including a fusion of VTI1A and TCF7L2 found in 3 out of 97 colorectal cancers. Although TCF7L2 encodes TCF4, which cooperates with ?-catenin in colorectal carcinogenesis, the fusion lacks the TCF4 ?-catenin-binding domain. We found a colorectal carcinoma cell line harboring the fusion gene to be dependent on VTI1A-TCF7L2 for anchorage-independent growth using RNA interference-mediated knockdown. This study shows previously unidentified levels of genomic rearrangements in colorectal carcinoma that can lead to essential gene fusions and other oncogenic events.
High-throughput tools for nucleic acid characterization now provide the means to conduct comprehensive analyses of all somatic alterations in the cancer genomes. Both large-scale and focused efforts have identified new targets of translational potential. The deluge of information that emerges from these genome-scale investigations has stimulated a parallel development of new analytical frameworks and tools. The complexity of somatic genomic alterations in cancer genomes also requires the development of robust methods for the interrogation of the function of genes identified by these genomics efforts. Here we provide an overview of the current state of cancer genomics, appraise the current portals and tools for accessing and analyzing cancer genomic data, and discuss emerging approaches to exploring the functions of somatically altered genes in cancer.
We describe methods with enhanced power and specificity to identify genes targeted by somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs) that drive cancer growth. By separating SCNA profiles into underlying arm-level and focal alterations, we improve the estimation of background rates for each category. We additionally describe a probabilistic method for defining the boundaries of selected-for SCNA regions with user-defined confidence. Here we detail this revised computational approach, GISTIC2.0, and validate its performance in real and simulated datasets.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cause of male cancer deaths in the United States. However, the full range of prostate cancer genomic alterations is incompletely characterized. Here we present the complete sequence of seven primary human prostate cancers and their paired normal counterparts. Several tumours contained complex chains of balanced (that is, copy-neutral) 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 tumours lacking ETS fusions. This observation suggests a link between chromatin or transcriptional regulation and the genesis of genomic aberrations. Three tumours contained rearrangements that disrupted CADM2, and four harboured events disrupting either PTEN (unbalanced events), a prostate tumour 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 and engage prostate tumorigenic mechanisms.
Multiple myeloma is an incurable malignancy of plasma cells, and its pathogenesis is poorly understood. Here we report the massively parallel sequencing of 38 tumour genomes and their comparison to matched normal DNAs. Several new and unexpected oncogenic mechanisms were suggested by the pattern of somatic mutation across the data set. 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-?B signalling was indicated by mutations in 11 members of the NF-?B 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.
Human cancer is caused by the accumulation of genetic alterations in cells. Of special importance are changes that occur early during malignant transformation because they may result in oncogene addiction and represent promising targets for therapeutic intervention. Here we describe a computational approach, called Retracing the Evolutionary Steps in Cancer (RESIC), to deduce the temporal sequence of genetic events during tumorigenesis from cross-sectional genomic data of tumors at their fully transformed stage. When applied to a dataset of 70 advanced colorectal cancers, our algorithm accurately predicts the sequence of APC, KRAS, and TP53 mutations previously defined by analyzing tumors at different stages of colon cancer formation. We further validate the method with glioblastoma and leukemia sample data and then apply it to complex integrated genomics databases, finding that high-level EGFR amplification appears to be a late event in primary glioblastomas. RESIC represents the first evolutionary mathematical approach to identify the temporal sequence of mutations driving tumorigenesis and may be useful to guide the validation of candidate genes emerging from cancer genome surveys.
Cancers are caused by the accumulation of genomic alterations. Therefore, analyses of cancer genome sequences and structures provide insights for understanding cancer biology, diagnosis and therapy. The application of second-generation DNA sequencing technologies (also known as next-generation sequencing) - through whole-genome, whole-exome and whole-transcriptome approaches - is allowing substantial advances in cancer genomics. These methods are facilitating an increase in the efficiency and resolution of detection of each of the principal types of somatic cancer genome alterations, including nucleotide substitutions, small insertions and deletions, copy number alterations, chromosomal rearrangements and microbial infections. This Review focuses on the methodological considerations for characterizing somatic genome alterations in cancer and the future prospects for these approaches.
The International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) was launched to coordinate large-scale cancer genome studies in tumours from 50 different cancer types and/or subtypes that are of clinical and societal importance across the globe. Systematic studies of more than 25,000 cancer genomes at the genomic, epigenomic and transcriptomic levels will reveal the repertoire of oncogenic mutations, uncover traces of the mutagenic influences, define clinically relevant subtypes for prognosis and therapeutic management, and enable the development of new cancer therapies.
Global studies of transcript structure and abundance in cancer cells enable the systematic discovery of aberrations that contribute to carcinogenesis, including gene fusions, alternative splice isoforms, and somatic mutations. We developed a systematic approach to characterize the spectrum of cancer-associated mRNA alterations through integration of transcriptomic and structural genomic data, and we applied this approach to generate new insights into melanoma biology. Using paired-end massively parallel sequencing of cDNA (RNA-seq) together with analyses of high-resolution chromosomal copy number data, we identified 11 novel melanoma gene fusions produced by underlying genomic rearrangements, as well as 12 novel readthrough transcripts. We mapped these chimeric transcripts to base-pair resolution and traced them to their genomic origins using matched chromosomal copy number information. We also used these data to discover and validate base-pair mutations that accumulated in these melanomas, revealing a surprisingly high rate of somatic mutation and lending support to the notion that point mutations constitute the major driver of melanoma progression. Taken together, these results may indicate new avenues for target discovery in melanoma, while also providing a template for large-scale transcriptome studies across many tumor types.
A powerful way to discover key genes with causal roles in oncogenesis is to identify genomic regions that undergo frequent alteration in human cancers. Here we present high-resolution analyses of somatic copy-number alterations (SCNAs) from 3,131 cancer specimens, belonging largely to 26 histological types. We identify 158 regions of focal SCNA that are altered at significant frequency across several cancer types, of which 122 cannot be explained by the presence of a known cancer target gene located within these regions. Several gene families are enriched among these regions of focal SCNA, including the BCL2 family of apoptosis regulators and the NF-kappaBeta pathway. We show that cancer cells containing amplifications surrounding the MCL1 and BCL2L1 anti-apoptotic genes depend on the expression of these genes for survival. Finally, we demonstrate that a large majority of SCNAs identified in individual cancer types are present in several cancer types.
The Cancer Genome Atlas Network recently cataloged recurrent genomic abnormalities in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). We describe a robust gene expression-based molecular classification of GBM into Proneural, Neural, Classical, and Mesenchymal subtypes and integrate multidimensional genomic data to establish patterns of somatic mutations and DNA copy number. Aberrations and gene expression of EGFR, NF1, and PDGFRA/IDH1 each define the Classical, Mesenchymal, and Proneural subtypes, respectively. Gene signatures of normal brain cell types show a strong relationship between subtypes and different neural lineages. Additionally, response to aggressive therapy differs by subtype, with the greatest benefit in the Classical subtype and no benefit in the Proneural subtype. We provide a framework that unifies transcriptomic and genomic dimensions for GBM molecular stratification with important implications for future studies.
Soft-tissue sarcomas, which result in approximately 10,700 diagnoses and 3,800 deaths per year in the United States, show remarkable histologic diversity, with more than 50 recognized subtypes. However, knowledge of their genomic alterations is limited. We describe an integrative analysis of DNA sequence, copy number and mRNA expression in 207 samples encompassing seven major subtypes. Frequently mutated genes included TP53 (17% of pleomorphic liposarcomas), NF1 (10.5% of myxofibrosarcomas and 8% of pleomorphic liposarcomas) and PIK3CA (18% of myxoid/round-cell liposarcomas, or MRCs). PIK3CA mutations in MRCs were associated with Akt activation and poor clinical outcomes. In myxofibrosarcomas and pleomorphic liposarcomas, we found both point mutations and genomic deletions affecting the tumor suppressor NF1. Finally, we found that short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-based knockdown of several genes amplified in dedifferentiated liposarcoma, including CDK4 and YEATS4, decreased cell proliferation. Our study yields a detailed map of molecular alterations across diverse sarcoma subtypes and suggests potential subtype-specific targets for therapy.
Somatic genetic alterations in cancers have been linked with response to targeted therapeutics by creation of specific dependency on activated oncogenic signaling pathways. However, no tools currently exist to systematically connect such genetic lesions to therapeutic vulnerability. We have therefore developed a genomics approach to identify lesions associated with therapeutically relevant oncogene dependency. Using integrated genomic profiling, we have demonstrated that the genomes of a large panel of human non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines are highly representative of those of primary NSCLC tumors. Using cell-based compound screening coupled with diverse computational approaches to integrate orthogonal genomic and biochemical data sets, we identified molecular and genomic predictors of therapeutic response to clinically relevant compounds. Using this approach, we showed that v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations confer enhanced Hsp90 dependency and validated this finding in mice with KRAS-driven lung adenocarcinoma, as these mice exhibited dramatic tumor regression when treated with an Hsp90 inhibitor. In addition, we found that cells with copy number enhancement of v-abl Abelson murine leukemia viral oncogene homolog 2 (ABL2) and ephrin receptor kinase and v-src sarcoma (Schmidt-Ruppin A-2) viral oncogene homolog (avian) (SRC) kinase family genes were exquisitely sensitive to treatment with the SRC/ABL inhibitor dasatinib, both in vitro and when it xenografted into mice. Thus, genomically annotated cell-line collections may help translate cancer genomics information into clinical practice by defining critical pathway dependencies amenable to therapeutic inhibition.
Lineage-survival oncogenes are activated by somatic DNA alterations in cancers arising from the cell lineages in which these genes play a role in normal development. Here we show that a peak of genomic amplification on chromosome 3q26.33 found in squamous cell carcinomas (SCCs) of the lung and esophagus contains the transcription factor gene SOX2, which is mutated in hereditary human esophageal malformations, is necessary for normal esophageal squamous development, promotes differentiation and proliferation of basal tracheal cells and cooperates in induction of pluripotent stem cells. SOX2 expression is required for proliferation and anchorage-independent growth of lung and esophageal cell lines, as shown by RNA interference experiments. Furthermore, ectopic expression of SOX2 here cooperated with FOXE1 or FGFR2 to transform immortalized tracheobronchial epithelial cells. SOX2-driven tumors show expression of markers of both squamous differentiation and pluripotency. These characteristics identify SOX2 as a lineage-survival oncogene in lung and esophageal SCC.
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