Cancer genome characterization has revealed driver mutations in genes that govern ubiquitylation; however, the mechanisms by which these alterations promote tumorigenesis remain incompletely characterized. Here, we analyzed changes in the ubiquitin landscape induced by prostate cancer-associated mutations of SPOP, an E3 ubiquitin ligase substrate-binding protein. SPOP mutants impaired ubiquitylation of a subset of proteins in a dominant-negative fashion. Of these, DEK and TRIM24 emerged as effector substrates consistently up-regulated by SPOP mutants. We highlight DEK as a SPOP substrate that exhibited decreases in ubiquitylation and proteasomal degradation resulting from heteromeric complexes of wild-type and mutant SPOP protein. DEK stabilization promoted prostate epithelial cell invasion, which implicated DEK as an oncogenic effector. More generally, these results provide a framework to decipher tumorigenic mechanisms linked to dysregulated ubiquitylation.
Defining the chronology of molecular alterations may identify milestones in carcinogenesis. To unravel the temporal evolution of aberrations from clinical tumors, we developed CLONET, which upon estimation of tumor admixture and ploidy infers the clonal hierarchy of genomic aberrations. Comparative analysis across 100 sequenced genomes from prostate, melanoma, and lung cancers established diverse evolutionary hierarchies, demonstrating the early disruption of tumor-specific pathways. The analyses highlight the diversity of clonal evolution within and across tumor types that might be informative for risk stratification and patient selection for targeted therapies. CLONET addresses heterogeneous clinical samples seen in the setting of precision medicine.
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 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.
By making dynamic changes to the area of a droplet interface bilayer (DIB), we are able to measure the specific capacitance of lipid bilayers with improved accuracy and precision over existing methods. The dependence of membrane specific capacitance on the chain-length of the alkane oil present in the bilayer is similar to that observed in black lipid membranes. In contrast to conventional artificial bilayers, DIBs are not confined by an aperture, which enables us to determine that the dependence of whole bilayer capacitance on applied potential is predominantly a result of a spontaneous increase in bilayer area. This area change arises from the creation of new bilayer at the three phase interface and is driven by changes in surface tension with applied potential that can be described by the Young-Lippmann equation. By accounting for this area change, we are able to determine the proportion of the capacitance dependence that arises from a change in specific capacitance with applied potential. This method provides a new tool with which to investigate the vertical compression of the bilayer and understand the changes in bilayer thickness with applied potential. We find that, for 1,2-diphytanoyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine membranes in hexadecane, specific bilayer capacitance varies by 0.6-1.5% over an applied potential of ±100 mV.
A more detailed understanding of the somatic genetic events that drive gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas is necessary to improve diagnosis and therapy. Using data from high-density genomic profiling arrays, we conducted an analysis of somatic copy-number aberrations in 486 gastrointestinal adenocarcinomas including 296 esophageal and gastric cancers. Focal amplifications were substantially more prevalent in gastric/esophageal adenocarcinomas than colorectal tumors. We identified 64 regions of significant recurrent amplification and deletion, some shared and others unique to the adenocarcinoma types examined. Amplified genes were noted in 37% of gastric/esophageal tumors, including in therapeutically targetable kinases such as ERBB2, FGFR1, FGFR2, EGFR, and MET, suggesting the potential use of genomic amplifications as biomarkers to guide therapy of gastric and esophageal cancers where targeted therapeutics have been less developed compared with colorectal cancers. Amplified loci implicated genes with known involvement in carcinogenesis but also pointed to regions harboring potentially novel cancer genes, including a recurrent deletion found in 15% of esophageal tumors where the Runt transcription factor subunit RUNX1 was implicated, including by functional experiments in tissue culture. Together, our results defined genomic features that were common and distinct to various gut-derived adenocarcinomas, potentially informing novel opportunities for targeted therapeutic interventions.
Prostate cancer is a common malignancy in men, with a markedly variable clinical course. Somatic alterations in DNA drive the growth of prostate cancers and may underlie the behavior of aggressive versus indolent tumors. The accelerating application of genomic technologies over the last two decades has identified mutations that drive prostate cancer formation, progression, and therapeutic resistance. Here, we discuss exemplary somatic mutations in prostate cancer, and highlight mutated cellular pathways with biological and possible therapeutic importance. Examples include mutated genes involved in androgen signaling, cell cycle regulation, signal transduction, and development. Some genetic alterations may also predict the clinical course of disease or response to therapy, although the molecular heterogeneity of prostate tumors poses challenges to genomic biomarker identification. The widespread application of massively parallel sequencing technology to the analysis of prostate cancer genomes should continue to advance both discovery-oriented and diagnostic avenues.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men worldwide and causes over 250,000 deaths each year. Overtreatment of indolent disease also results in significant morbidity. Common genetic alterations in prostate cancer include losses of NKX3.1 (8p21) and PTEN (10q23), gains of AR (the androgen receptor gene) and fusion of ETS family transcription factor genes with androgen-responsive promoters. Recurrent somatic base-pair substitutions are believed to be less contributory in prostate tumorigenesis but have not been systematically analyzed in large cohorts. Here, we sequenced the exomes of 112 prostate tumor and normal tissue pairs. New recurrent mutations were identified in multiple genes, including MED12 and FOXA1. SPOP was the most frequently mutated gene, with mutations involving the SPOP substrate-binding cleft in 6-15% of tumors across multiple independent cohorts. Prostate cancers with mutant SPOP lacked ETS family gene rearrangements and showed a distinct pattern of genomic alterations. Thus, SPOP mutations may define a new molecular subtype of prostate cancer.
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