CTB-MPR is a fusion protein between the B subunit of cholera toxin (CTB) and the membrane-proximal region of gp41 (MPR), the transmembrane envelope protein of Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1), and has previously been shown to induce the production of anti-HIV-1 antibodies with antiviral functions. To further improve the design of this candidate vaccine, X-ray crystallography experiments were performed to obtain structural information about this fusion protein. Several variants of CTB-MPR were designed, constructed and recombinantly expressed in Escherichia coli. The first variant contained a flexible GPGP linker between CTB and MPR, and yielded crystals that diffracted to a resolution of 2.3?Å, but only the CTB region was detected in the electron-density map. A second variant, in which the CTB was directly attached to MPR, was shown to destabilize pentamer formation. A third construct containing a polyalanine linker between CTB and MPR proved to stabilize the pentameric form of the protein during purification. The purification procedure was shown to produce a homogeneously pure and monodisperse sample for crystallization. Initial crystallization experiments led to pseudo-crystals which were ordered in only two dimensions and were disordered in the third dimension. Nanocrystals obtained using the same precipitant showed promising X-ray diffraction to 5?Å resolution in femtosecond nanocrystallography experiments at the Linac Coherent Light Source at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. The results demonstrate the utility of femtosecond X-ray crystallography to enable structural analysis based on nano/microcrystals of a protein for which no macroscopic crystals ordered in three dimensions have been observed before.
Advanced cholangiocarcinoma continues to harbor a difficult prognosis and therapeutic options have been limited. During the course of a clinical trial of whole genomic sequencing seeking druggable targets, we examined six patients with advanced cholangiocarcinoma. Integrated genome-wide and whole transcriptome sequence analyses were performed on tumors from six patients with advanced, sporadic intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (SIC) to identify potential therapeutically actionable events. Among the somatic events captured in our analysis, we uncovered two novel therapeutically relevant genomic contexts that when acted upon, resulted in preliminary evidence of anti-tumor activity. Genome-wide structural analysis of sequence data revealed recurrent translocation events involving the FGFR2 locus in three of six assessed patients. These observations and supporting evidence triggered the use of FGFR inhibitors in these patients. In one example, preliminary anti-tumor activity of pazopanib (in vitro FGFR2 IC50?350 nM) was noted in a patient with an FGFR2-TACC3 fusion. After progression on pazopanib, the same patient also had stable disease on ponatinib, a pan-FGFR inhibitor (in vitro, FGFR2 IC50?8 nM). In an independent non-FGFR2 translocation patient, exome and transcriptome analysis revealed an allele specific somatic nonsense mutation (E384X) in ERRFI1, a direct negative regulator of EGFR activation. Rapid and robust disease regression was noted in this ERRFI1 inactivated tumor when treated with erlotinib, an EGFR kinase inhibitor. FGFR2 fusions and ERRFI mutations may represent novel targets in sporadic intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma and trials should be characterized in larger cohorts of patients with these aberrations.
As next-generation sequencing continues to have an expanding presence in the clinic, the identification of the most cost-effective and robust strategy for identifying copy number changes and translocations in tumor genomes is needed. We hypothesized that performing shallow whole genome sequencing (WGS) of 900-1000-bp inserts (long insert WGS, LI-WGS) improves our ability to detect these events, compared with shallow WGS of 300-400-bp inserts. A priori analyses show that LI-WGS requires less sequencing compared with short insert WGS to achieve a target physical coverage, and that LI-WGS requires less sequence coverage to detect a heterozygous event with a power of 0.99. We thus developed an LI-WGS library preparation protocol based off of Illuminas WGS library preparation protocol and illustrate the feasibility of performing LI-WGS. We additionally applied LI-WGS to three separate tumor/normal DNA pairs collected from patients diagnosed with different cancers to demonstrate our application of LI-WGS on actual patient samples for identification of somatic copy number alterations and translocations. With the evolution of sequencing technologies and bioinformatics analyses, we show that modifications to current approaches may improve our ability to interrogate cancer genomes.
miRNAs play an important role in the regulation of a wide assortment of cellular processes by sequestering target mRNAs and inhibiting translation of the proteins that they encode. Multiple miRNAs can regulate single mRNA molecules and, alternatively, a single miRNA can act on a number of mRNA targets. Dysfunctional miRNAs are commonly found in a variety of solid cancers and are attractive candidates for next-generation therapeutics. This article highlights miRNA signatures proposed for lung cancer classification and diagnosis, chemo- and radio-therapy resistance, metastasis and prediction of treatment outcome and survival.
The Hedgehog Signaling Pathway (HHSP) has been implicated in the development of multiple cancers. HHSP activation may primarily be hedgehog ligand-dependent in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC); while a subset may be ligand-independent. In this study NSCLC primary tumors were used to identify correlations between multiple biomarkers thought to be involved in the HHSP and the clinical outcomes of patients with NSCLC. Identification of such correlations could be used to aid in NSCLC treatment and predicting patient prognosis.
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) have been in use as cancer therapeutics for nearly a decade, and their utility in targeting specific malignancies with defined genetic lesions has proven to be remarkably effective. Recent efforts to characterize the spectrum of genetic lesions found in non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC) have provided important insights into the molecular basis of this disease and have also revealed a wide array of tyrosine kinases that might be effectively targeted for rationally designed therapies. The findings of these studies, however, also provide a cautionary tale about the limitations of single-agent therapies, which fail to account for the genetic heterogeneity and pathway redundancy that characterize advanced NSCLC. Emergence of drug resistance mechanisms to specific TKIs, such as gefitinib and erlotinib, suggests that more sophisticated chemotherapeutic paradigms that target multiple pathways at the same time will be required to effectively treat this disease.
The concept of using cholinesterase bioscavengers for prophylaxis against organophosphorous nerve agents and pesticides has progressed from the bench to clinical trial. However, the supply of the native human proteins is either limited (e.g., plasma-derived butyrylcholinesterase and erythrocytic acetylcholinesterase) or nonexisting (synaptic acetylcholinesterase). Here we identify a unique form of recombinant human butyrylcholinesterase that mimics the native enzyme assembly into tetramers; this form provides extended effective pharmacokinetics that is significantly enhanced by polyethylene glycol conjugation. We further demonstrate that this enzyme (but not a G117H/E197Q organophosphorus acid anhydride hydrolase catalytic variant) can prevent morbidity and mortality associated with organophosphorous nerve agent and pesticide exposure of animal subjects of two model species.
Organophosphorous pesticides and nerve agents inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase at neuronal synapses and in neuromuscular junctions. The resulting accumulation of acetylcholine overwhelms regulatory mechanisms, potentially leading to seizures and death from respiratory collapse. While current therapies are only capable of reducing mortality, elevation of the serum levels of the related enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) by application of the purified protein as a bioscavenger of organophosphorous compounds is effective in preventing all symptoms associated with poisoning by these toxins. However, BChE therapy requires large quantities of enzyme that can easily overwhelm current sources. Here, we report genetic optimization, cloning and high-level expression of human BChE in plants. Plant-derived BChE is shown to be biochemically similar to human plasma-derived BChE in terms of catalytic activity and inhibitor binding. We further demonstrate the ability of the plant-derived bioscavenger to protect animals against an organophosphorous pesticide challenge.
Plants are potentially the most economical platforms for the large-scale production of recombinant proteins. Thus, plant-based expression of subunit human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vaccines provides an opportunity for their global use against the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome pandemic. CTB-MPR(649-684)[CTB, cholera toxin B subunit; MPR, membrane proximal (ectodomain) region of gp41] is an HIV-1 vaccine candidate that has been shown previously to induce antibodies that block a pathway of HIV-1 mucosal transmission. In this article, the molecular characterization of CTB-MPR(649-684) expressed in transgenic Nicotiana benthamiana plants is reported. Virtually all of the CTB-MPR(649-684) proteins expressed in the selected line were shown to have assembled into pentameric, GM1 ganglioside-binding complexes. Detailed biochemical analyses on the purified protein revealed that it was N-glycosylated, predominantly with high-mannose-type glycans (more than 75%), as predicted from a consensus asparagine-X-serine/threonine (Asn-X-Ser/Thr) N-glycosylation sequon on the CTB domain and an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal attached at the C-terminus of the fusion protein. Despite this modification, the plant-expressed protein retained the nanomolar affinity to GM1 ganglioside and the critical antigenicity of the MPR(649-684) moiety. Furthermore, the protein induced mucosal and serum anti-MPR(649-684) antibodies in mice after mucosal prime-systemic boost immunization. Our data indicate that plant-based expression can be a viable alternative for the production of this subunit HIV-1 vaccine candidate.
Previous studies have now demonstrated that both genic and global hypomethylation characterizes the multiple myeloma (MM) epigenome. Whether these methylation changes are associated with global and corresponding increases (or decreases) in transcriptional activity are poorly understood. The purpose of our current study was to correlate DNA methylation levels in MM to gene expression. We analyzed matching datasets generated by the GoldenGate methylation BeadArray and Affymetrix gene expression platforms in 193 MM samples. We subsequently utilized two independent statistical approaches to identify methylation-expression correlations. In the first approach, we used a linear correlation parameter by computing a Pearson correlation coefficient. In the second approach, we discretized samples into low and high methylation groups and then compared the gene expression differences between the groups. Only methylation of 2.1% and 25.3% of CpG sites on the methylation array correlated to gene expression by Pearson correlation or the discretization method, respectively. Among the genes with methylation-expression correlations were IGF1R, DLC1, p16, and IL17RB. In conclusion, DNA methylation may directly regulate relatively few genes and suggests that additional studies are needed to determine the effects of genome-wide methylation changes in MM.
Maxillary sinus carcinoma (MSC) is a rare cancer of the head and neck region. Patients are treated with surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy and the treatment regimen is based on patients age, general health condition, disease stage, and its extent of spread. There is very little information available on the genetics of this disease. DNA content based flow sorting of tumor cells followed by array comparative genomic hybridization allows for high definition global assessment of distinct clonal changes within tumor populations.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Recent advances in the treatment of cancer have focused on targeting genomic aberrations with selective therapeutic agents. In rare tumors, where large-scale clinical trials are daunting, this targeted genomic approach offers a new perspective and hope for improved treatments. Cancers of the ampulla of Vater are rare tumors that comprise only about 0.2% of gastrointestinal cancers. Consequently, they are often treated as either distal common bile duct or pancreatic cancers. METHODS: We analyzed DNA from a resected cancer of the ampulla of Vater and whole blood DNA from a 63 year-old man who underwent a pancreaticoduodenectomy by whole genome sequencing, achieving 37× and 40× coverage, respectively. We determined somatic mutations and structural alterations. RESULTS: We identified relevant aberrations, including deleterious mutations of KRAS and SMAD4 as well as a homozygous focal deletion of the PTEN tumor suppressor gene. These findings suggest that these tumors have a distinct oncogenesis from either common bile duct cancer or pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, this combination of genomic aberrations suggests a therapeutic context for dual mTOR/PI3K inhibition. CONCLUSIONS: Whole genome sequencing can elucidate an oncogenic context and expose potential therapeutic vulnerabilities in rare cancers.
Olfactory neuroblastoma (ONB) is a rare cancer of the sinonasal tract with little molecular characterization. We performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) on paired normal and tumor DNA from a patient with metastatic-ONB to identify the somatic alterations that might be drivers of tumorigenesis and/or metastatic progression.
Constitutive activation of STAT3 is a common feature in many solid tumors including non-small cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). While activation of STAT3 is commonly achieved by somatic mutations to JAK2 in hematologic malignancies, similar mutations are not often found in solid tumors. Previous work has instead suggested that STAT3 activation in solid tumors is more commonly induced by hyperactive growth factor receptors or autocrine cytokine signaling. The interplay between STAT3 activation and other well-characterized oncogenic "driver" mutations in NSCLC has not been fully characterized, though constitutive STAT3 activation has been proposed to play an important role in resistance to various small-molecule therapies that target these oncogenes. In this study we demonstrate that STAT3 is constitutively activated in human NSCLC samples and in a variety of NSCLC lines independent of activating KRAS or tyrosine kinase mutations. We further show that genetic or pharmacologic inhibition of the gp130/JAK2 signaling pathway disrupts activation of STAT3. Interestingly, treatment of NSCLC cells with the JAK1/2 inhibitor ruxolitinib has no effect on cell proliferation and viability in two-dimensional culture, but inhibits growth in soft agar and xenograft assays. These data demonstrate that JAK2/STAT3 signaling operates independent of known driver mutations in NSCLC and plays critical roles in tumor cell behavior that may not be effectively inhibited by drugs that selectively target these driver mutations.
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