Eosinophilia-associated myeloid neoplasms with rearrangement of chromosome bands 5q31-33 are frequently associated with PDGFRB fusion genes, which are exquisitely sensitive to treatment with imatinib. In search for novel fusion partners of PDGFRB, we analyzed three cases with translocation t(5;20)(q33;p11), t(5;14)(q33;q32), and t(5;17;14)(q33;q11;q32) by 5?-rapid amplification of cDNA ends polymerase chain reaction (5?-RACE-PCR) and DNA-based long-distance inverse PCR (LDI-PCR) with primers derived from PDGFRB. LDI-PCR revealed a fusion between CCDC88C exon 25 and PDGFRB exon 11 in the case with t(5;17;14)(q33;q11;q32) while 5?-RACE-PCR identified fusions between CCDC88C exon 10 and PDGFRB exon 12 and between DTD1 exon 4 and PDGFRB exon 12 in the cases with t(5;14)(q33;q32) and t(5;20)(q33;p11), respectively. The PDGFRB tyrosine-kinase domain is predicted to be retained in all three fusion proteins. The partner proteins contained coiled-coil domains or other domains, which putatively lead to constitutive activation of the PDGFRB fusion protein. In vitro functional analyses confirmed transforming activity and imatinib-sensitivity of the fusion proteins. All three patients achieved rapid and durable complete hematologic remissions on imatinib.
Centrosomes play important roles in the maintenance of genetic stability and centrosomal aberrations are a hallmark of cancer. Deregulation of centriole duplication leads to supernumerary centrosomes, sister chromatid missegregation and could result in chromosomal instability (CIN) and aneuploidy. CIN is a common feature in at least 45% of patients with myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS). Therefore, we sought to investigate the centrosomal status and its role for development of CIN in bone marrow (BM) cells of MDS patients. BM cells of 34 MDS patients were examined cytogenetically. Furthermore, cells were immunostained with a centrosome-specific antibody to pericentrin to analyze the centrosomal status. Umbilical cord blood specimens and BM cells of healthy persons (n = 11 and n = 4) served as controls. In addition, the protein expression of the protease separase responsible for genetic stability was examined by western blot analysis. Centrosome abnormalities were detected in 10% (range, 4-17%) of cells of MDS samples, but in only 2% (range, 0-4%) of cells of healthy controls. Normal karyotypes were found in control cells and in BM cells of 16/34 MDS patients. The incidence of centrosomal alterations was higher in BM cells of patients with cytogenetic alterations (mean, 12%) compared to BM cells of patients without cytogenetic changes (mean, 7%). Our results indicate that centrosome alterations are a common and early detectable feature in MDS patients and may contribute to the acquisition of chromosomal aberrations. We assume that centrosome defects could be involved in disease progression and may serve as a future prognostic marker.
The pathomechanism of mycosis fungoides (MF), the most common type of primary cutaneous T-cell lymphomas (CTCLs) and a malignancy of non-recirculating, skin-resident T-cells, is unknown albeit underlying viral infections have been sought for. Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) are ancient retroviral sequences in the human genome and their transcription is often deregulated in cancers. We explored the transcriptional activity of HERV sequences in a total of 34 samples comprising MF and psoriasis skin lesions, as well as corresponding non-malignant skin using a retrovirus-specific microarray and quantitative RT-PCR. To identify active HERV-W loci, we cloned the HERV-W specific RT-PCR products, sequenced the cDNA clones and assigned the sequences to HERV-W loci. Finally, we used immunohistochemistry on MF patient and non-malignant inflammatory skin samples to confirm specific HERV-encoded protein expression. Firstly, a distinct, skin-specific transcription profile consisting of five constitutively active HERV groups was established. Although individual variability was common, HERV-W showed significantly increased transcription in MF lesions compared to clinically intact skin from the same patient. Predominantly transcribed HERV-W loci were found to be located in chromosomes 6q21 and 7q21.2, chromosomal regions typically altered in CTCL. Surprisingly, we also found the expression of 7q21.2/ERVWE1-encoded Syncytin-1 (Env) protein in MF biopsies and expression of Syncytin-1 was seen in malignant lymphocytes, especially in the epidermotropic ones, in 15 of 30 cases studied. Most importantly, no Syncytin-1 expression was detected in inflammatory dermatosis (Lichen ruber planus) with skin-homing, non-malignant T lymphocytes. The expression of ERVWE1 mRNA was further confirmed in 3/7 MF lesions analyzed. Our observations strengthen the association between activated HERVs and cancer. The study offers a new perspective into the pathogenesis of CTCL since we demonstrate that differences in HERV-W transcription levels between lesional MF and non-malignant skin are significant, and that ERVWE1-encoded Syncytin-1 is expressed in MF lymphoma cells.
Prion diseases such as bovine spongiform encephalopathies (BSE) are transmissible neurodegenerative diseases which are presumably caused by an infectious conformational isoform of the cellular prion protein. Previous work has provided evidence that in murine prion disease the endogenous retrovirus (ERV) expression is altered in the brain. To determine if prion-induced changes in ERV expression are a general phenomenon we used a non-human primate model for prion disease.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) accounting for 9% of the human genome are considered as surrogate markers for genetic instability and as a driving force of genetic variation. Moreover, they modulate regular gene activities and give rise to expression of disease-associated peptides that may serve as diagnostic markers or even targets for T cell-based immune responses. To date, no data are available on the potential link between urothelial carcinogenesis, HERV activity, and tobacco smoking, the main risk for bladder cancer. Here, we report on potential alterations in HERV transcription induced by smoking in a newly established in vitro model and in human urothelium. Normal human dermal fibroblasts were cultivated with urine from never (n = 6) and current smokers (n = 6) and transcription levels for the HERV subfamilies HERV-E 4-1, HERV-T S71-TK1, and HERV-K HML-6 were measured by quantitative real-time PCR. Tendencies toward increased mean transcript levels were detected for cells treated with urine from current smokers. Equally, activity measured in human urothelium supported an increase of HERV transcription in current smokers (n = 9) compared to never smokers (n = 4).
Tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs) target various pathways associated with proliferation of aberrant clones in malignant diseases. Despite good response and acceptable tolerability, little is known concerning long-term toxicity. Furthermore, the influence of these inhibitors on disease-unrelated cells is not investigated yet.
Tobacco smoke containing numerous derived chemical carcinogens is the main risk factor for urothelial carcinoma. These carcinogens can induce DNA damage leading to chromosomal instability, which plays a fundamental role in urothelial carcinogenesis. Possible mechanisms could be centrosomal aberrations, which cause defective spindles and may be responsible for genetic instability. We evaluated the effect of urine from never smokers (NS) and current smokers (CS) in concentrations of 0 to 50% on cell proliferation, chromosomes, centrosomes, and the spindle status of normal human dermal fibroblasts and normal human urothelial cells (UROtsa). After 2 weeks of urine treatment, cell cultures were analyzed by centrosome and spindle immunostaining and conventional cytogenetics. Effects were compared to results of untreated controls. Analysis of normal human dermal fibroblasts and UROtsa cells revealed that urine from CS induced higher values of centrosome aberrations in a dose-dependent and cell line-independent manner when compared to cultures treated with urine from NS and untreated controls. Centrosomal alterations correlated with spindle defects and an increase of sporadic chromosomal aberrations. The observations suggest a causative role of chemical carcinogens in urine from CS in the origin of centrosome and spindle defects in vitro leading to chromosomal instability and may be involved in urothelial carcinogenesis.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERV) and related elements account for more than 8% of the human genome and significantly contribute to the human transcriptome by long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter activity. In this context, HERVs are thought to intervene in the expression of adjacent genes by providing regulatory sequences (cis-effect) or via noncoding RNA including natural antisense transcripts. To address the potential impact of HERV activity in urothelial carcinoma, we comparatively analyzed the HERV transcription profiles in paired samples of non-malignant urothelium and urothelial carcinoma derived from 13 patients with bladder cancer by means of a retrovirus-specific microarray (RetroArray). We established a characteristic HERV signature consisting of six ubiquitously active HERV subgroups (E4-1, HERV-Rb, ERV9, HERV-K-T47D, NMWV3, HERV-KC4). The transcription pattern is largely identical in human urothelial carcinoma, non-malignant urothelial tissue, four tumor-derived cell lines and in a non-malignant urothelial cell line (UROtsa). Quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR (qRT-PCR) of HERV-E4-1, HERV-K(HML-6) and HERV-T(S71-TK1) revealed a bias to lower HERV activity in carcinoma samples compared to non-malignant tissue. Determination of active HERV-E4-1 loci by cloning and sequencing revealed six HERV-E4-1 proviral loci that are differentially regulated in urothelial carcinoma cells and normal tissue. Two full-length HERV-E4-1 proviruses, HERV-Ec1 and HERV-Ec6, are located in antisense orientation in introns of the genes PLA2G4A and RNGTT, respectively. PLA2G4A encodes a cytosolic phospholipase A2 (cPLA2) that is dysregulated in many human tumors. PLA2G4A and HERV-Ec1 displayed reciprocal transcript levels in 7 of 11 urothelial carcinoma patients. Moreover, reciprocal shifts were observed after treatment of UROtsa cells with HERV-Ec1 and PLA2G4A-directed siRNAs or 5-aza-2-deoxycytidine (aza-dC) pointing to an antagonistic regulation of PLA2G4A and HERV-Ec1 transcription in human urothelial cells. We suggest that transcription of HERV-Ec1 contributes to fine tuning of cPLA2 expression, thereby facilitating tumorigenesis.
Separase, an endopeptidase required for the separation of sister-chromatides in mitotic anaphase, triggers centriole disengagement during centrosome duplication. In cancer, separase is frequently overexpressed, pointing to a functional role as an aneuploidy promoter associated with centrosomal amplification and genomic instability. Recently, we have shown that centrosomal amplification and subsequent chromosomal aberrations are a hallmark of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), increasing from chronic phase (CP) toward blast crisis (BC). Moreover, a functional linkage of p210BCR-ABL tyrosine kinase activity with centrosomal amplification and clonal evolution has been established in long-term cell culture experiments. Unexpectedly, therapeutic doses of imatinib (IM) did not counteract; instead induced similar centrosomal alterations in vitro. We investigated the influence of IM and p210BCR-ABL on Separase as a potential driver of centrosomal amplification in CML. Short-term cell cultures of p210BCR-ABL-negative (NHDF, UROtsa, HL-60, U937), positive (K562, LAMA-84) and inducible (U937p210BCR-ABL/c6 (Tet-ON)) human cell lines were treated with therapeutic doses of IM and analyzed by qRT-PCR, Western blot analysis and quantitative Separase activity assays. Decreased Separase protein levels were observed in all cells treated with IM in a dose dependent manner. Accordingly, in all p210BCR-ABL-negative cell lines, decreased proteolytic activity of Separase was found. In contrast, p210BCR-ABL-positive cells showed increased Separase proteolytic activity. This activation of Separase was consistent with changes in the expression levels of Separase regulators (Separase phosphorylation at serine residue 1126, Securin, CyclinB1 and PP2A). Our data suggest that regulation of Separase in IM-treated BCR-ABL-positive cells occurs on both the protein expression and the proteolytic activity levels. Activation of Separase proteolytic activity exclusively in p210BCR-ABL-positive cells during IM treatment may act as a driving force for centrosomal amplification, contributing to genomic instability, clonal evolution and resistance in CML.
The increasing incidence of azole resistance in Aspergillus fumigatus causing invasive aspergillosis (IA) in immunocompromised/hematological patients emphasizes the need to improve the detection of resistance-mediating cyp51A gene mutations from primary clinical samples, particularly as the diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis is rarely based on a positive culture yield in this group of patients. We generated primers from the unique sequence of the Aspergillus fumigatus cyp51A gene to establish PCR assays with consecutive DNA sequence analysis to detect and identify the A. fumigatus cyp51A tandem repeat (TR) mutation in the promoter region and the L98H and M220 alterations directly in clinical samples. After testing of the sensitivity and specificity of the assays using serially diluted A. fumigatus and human DNA, A. fumigatus cyp51A gene fragments of about 150 bp potentially carrying the mutations were amplified directly from primary clinical samples and subsequently DNA sequenced. The determined sensitivities of the PCR assays were 600 fg, 6 pg, and 4 pg of A. fumigatus DNA for the TR, L98H, and M220 mutations, respectively. There was no cross-reactivity with human genomic DNA detectable. Sequencing of the PCR amplicons for A. fumigatus wild-type DNA confirmed the cyp51A wild-type sequence, and PCR products from one azole-resistant A. fumigatus isolate showed the L98H and TR mutations. The second azole-resistant isolate revealed an M220T alteration. We consider our assay to be of high epidemiological and clinical relevance to detect azole resistance and to optimize antifungal therapy in patients with IA.
To search for new copy number alterations (CNAs) in acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), we analyzed DNA from leukemic blasts of 93 acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) patients with Genome-Wide SNP 6.0 arrays (SNP-A). We identified 259 CNAs consisting of 170 heterozygous deletions, 82 amplifications, and 7 regions of copy number neutral loss of heterozygosity. One of the most common CNAs was a deletion on chromosomal subband 1q31.3 in 13 of 93 (14%) patients encompassing the coding regions for the microRNAs mir181a1/b1. In multivariable analysis with the covariates age, white blood cell count, platelet count, and FLT3-ITD/FLT3 D835 mutations we found that after adjustment for patients age (P<0.0001), patients with 2 or more CNAs detected by SNP-A had a higher risk of death (hazard ratio=5.942, P=0.0015) than patients with 0 or 1 CNA. Deletions of 1q31.3 were associated with a higher number of CNAs (median 2 vs. 8, P<0.0001) and were a strong independent prognostic factor for an increased risk of relapse (hazard ratio=28.9, P=0.0031). This study presents a comprehensive assessment of new CNAs as pathomechanistically relevant targets and possible prognostic factors which could refine risk stratification of APL.
Human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) have been associated with various neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Transcripts and proteins of at least three HERV groups, HERV-W, ERV9 and HERV-K(HML-2) have been detected repeatedly in brain samples or cerebrospinal fluid of patients with schizophrenia suggesting that alterations in HERV activity may play a role in etiopathogenesis. Current therapies otherwise include neuroleptics and/or antidepressants that may induce epigenetic alterations and thus influence HERV expression. To investigate the effects of these drugs on HERV transcriptional activity, HERV expression profiles of a broad range of human brain cell lines treated with valproic acid (VPA), haloperidol, risperidone, and clozapine were analyzed using a retrovirus-specific microarray and qRT-PCR. Investigation of 52 HERV subgroups revealed upregulation of several class I and class II HERV elements by VPA in a dose-dependent manner. The strongest effect was observed on HERV-W and ERV9 groups in the human glioblastoma cell lines SK-N-SH and SK-N-MC, respectively. The transcript level of HERV-K(HML-2) elements was not influenced. Transcription of HERV-W, ERV9 and HERV-K(HML-2) taxa was further quantified in postmortem brain samples of patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorders and a healthy control group with regard to their medication. Patients with schizophrenia showed a significantly higher HERV-W transcription associated with VPA treatment. However in case of ERV9, enhanced transcript levels could not be explained solely by VPA treatment, since a slight increase was also found in untreated patients compared to healthy controls. HERV-K(HML-2) elements appeared to be upregulated in some patients with bipolar disorders independent from medication. In conclusion, these results suggest that antipsychotic medication may contribute to increased expression of distinct HERV taxa in patients with neuropsychiatric diseases.
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