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Posts Tagged ‘The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)’


New Potential for Presonalized Medicine

Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP, Curator

LPBI

Updated 11/22/2015

New Tool to Identify Tumor Heterogeneity Could Help Pave Way for Personalized Cancer Therapies and Help Pathologists Add Value for Oncologists

November 20, 2015

Ohio State University study shows correlation between genetic variability among cancer cells within tumors and the survival of patients with head-and-neck cancers

 

Anatomic pathologists and clinical laboratories may gain a tool to identify tumorheterogeneity. This would enable them to ultimately guide personalized cancer therapies if a new method for measuring genetic variability within a tumor and predicting outcomes is confirmed in future studies.

Scientists Seek Cause of Resistance to Cancer Treatment

The new tool was dubbed “MATH” by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center–Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute  (OSUCCC–James). MATH is the scoring method they developed and stands for  mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity. MATH was used to measure the genetic variability among cancer cells within tumors from 305 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), treated at multiple institutions, from The Cancer Genome Atlas.

In announcing the study results, OSUCCC-James stated  that cancers that showed high genetic variability—called “intra-tumor heterogeneity”—correlated with lower patient survival.

James Rocco, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, led the research team that developed a new method for measuring genetic variability within a tumor. The team showed that high MATH (mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity) scores correlated to lower patient survival. the team used MATH values “to document a relation between intra-tumor heterogeneity and overall survival in any type of cancer.”

Genetic Variability Linked with Treatment Failure

Their findings were published in the February 2015 issue of the journal PLOS Medicine.

“Genetic variability within tumors is likely why people fail treatment,” Rocco said in the statement. “In patients who have high heterogeneity tumors it is likely that there are several clusters of underlying mutations—in the same tumor—driving the cancer. So their tumors are likely to have some cells that are already resistant to any particular therapy.”

Medical News Today reported that each 10% increase in MATH score corresponded to an 8.8% increased likelihood of death.

“Our retrospective analysis showed that patients with high heterogeneity tumors were more than twice as likely to die compared to patients with low heterogeneity tumors,” Rocco told Medical News Today. “This type of information could refine the dialog about how we tackle cancer by helping us predict a patient’s treatment success and justify clinical decisions based on the unique makeup of a patient’s tumor.”

MATH Scores  of Tumor Heterogeneity in Clinical Settings to Guide Diagnostics

Until now, oncologists have been reluctant to use “tumor heterogeneity to guide clinical care decisions or assess disease prognosis because there is no single, easy-to-implement method of doing so in clinical practice,” reported the OSUCCC-James statement. The MATH score, however, overcomes that issue since it can be computed from whole-exome sequencing data obtained from a single formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor sample.

It is pathologists who take tumor tissues and produce formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples in their histology  laboratories. Thus, as further clinical studies confirm that the use of the MATH tool can produce useful diagnostic and prognostic information for oncologists, pathologist will be perfectly positioned to add MATH to their menu of pathology services.

In a guest editorial in PLOS Medicine , Andrew H. Beck, MD, PhD,  of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston, pointed out that Rocco’s MATH score “approach may be more easily translated into clinical use, as compared with approaches requiring multiregion sampling and more complex computational algorithms for the assessment of intratumoral heterogeneity.”

Beck also discussed the important role large sets of cancer samples have in cancer research and in the development of improved personalized therapies for the disease. He observed that open access to large-scale datasets from large populations of cancer patients is “critically important” for devising computational methods for using cancer heterogeneity in clinical settings during the diagnostic process.

“The continuing generation of high-quality, open-access Omics datasets  from large populations of cancer patients will be critically important to enable the development of computational methods to translate knowledge of cancer heterogeneity into new diagnostics and improved clinical outcomes for cancer patients,” Beck wrote.

Researchers Suggest MATH Should Be Biomarker for Treatment Decision-making

While their results must be confirmed in further studies and with other cancers, Rocco’s team believes their scoring method holds great promise as prognostic tool.

“These findings suggest that MATH should be considered a biomarker for survival in HNSCC and other tumor types, and raise the possibility that clinicians could use MATH values to decide on the best treatment for individual patients and to choose patients for inclusion in clinical trials,” they wrote in PLOS Medicine. Pathologists, particularly in academic pathology departments, might want to track the ongoing development of MATH and how it could be used in patient care.

—Andrea Downing Peck

 

Related Information:

Intra-tumor Genetic Heterogeneity and Mortality in Head and Neck Cancer: Analysis of Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas

New Genomics Tool Could Help Predict Tumor Aggressiveness, Treatment Outcomes

 

OMICs Data Analysis

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Functional analysis is widely applicable in personalized and translational medicine, drug repositioning, and patient stratification, among many practice areas.

OMICs data analysis relies on quality knowledge base of pathway maps, protein interactions, functional ontologies, gene-disease associations, for example, and advanced analytical algorithms for enrichment, interactome and network analysis. Thomson Reuters offers arguably the most comprehensive systems analysis platform on the market. Highlights:

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OMICs Data Analysis Table

 

 

Open Access to Large Scale Datasets Is Needed to Translate Knowledge of Cancer Heterogeneity into Better Patient Outcomes

PLOS   Published: Feb 24, 2015    DOI: http://dx.doi.org:/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001794
Citation: Beck AH (2015) Open Access to Large Scale Datasets Is Needed to Translate Knowledge of Cancer Heterogeneity into Better Patient Outcomes.
PLoS Med 12(2): e1001794.     http://dx.doi.org:/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001794

Cancer is a heterogeneous disease, which is comprised of a collection of diseases traditionally categorized by tissue type of origin. A distinct set of etiologic causes, treatments, and prognoses are associated with different cancers, and even within a given tissue type, cancer shows significant variability in molecular and clinical features across patients. This interpatient heterogeneity is a major rationale for large-scale research efforts (such as The Cancer Genome Atlas [TCGA] and the International Cancer Genome Consortium [ICGC]) to comprehensively profile the molecular landscape of patient cancer samples across all major cancers [1,2]. These efforts have been bolstered by the recent development of new genomic [3] and computational [4] technologies to enable increasingly detailed and comprehensive analyses of the molecular landscape of solid cancers. It is hoped that the comprehensive molecular characterization of large sets of cancer samples will lead to the identification of new therapeutic targets and the development of improved personalized therapies for cancer patients.

A major challenge in cancer therapy is the development of resistance to molecularly targeted therapies. Although targeted therapies may show initial benefit in the subset of patients carrying a targeted molecular alteration, most patients will nevertheless go on to develop resistance for most advanced solid cancers. Identifying and overcoming drug resistance represents one of the most significant challenges facing cancer researchers today [5]. It is increasingly recognized that cancer is not only a heterogeneous disease across patients but also a heterogeneous disease within individual patients, with different regions of a tumor showing different molecular features at the DNA, RNA, and protein levels [69]. This intratumoral molecular heterogeneity is hypothesized to be a major cause of drug resistance and treatment failure in cancer [10]. However, the clinical significance of intratumoral molecular heterogeneity is not yet well-defined, and assessment of intratumoral molecular heterogeneity is not currently used in clinical cancer medicine for assessing disease prognosis or guiding therapy. Two recent research articles published in PLOS Medicine show the potential clinical utility of measuring intratumoral genetic heterogeneity in clinical cancer samples.

In one, James Brenton, Florian Markowetz, and colleagues applied the Minimum Event Distance for Intra-tumour Copy-number Comparisons (MEDICC) algorithm they recently developed for phylogenetic quantification of intratumoral genetic heterogeneity from multiregion DNA copy number profiling data [11] to predict treatment resistance in high-grade serous ovarian cancer [12]. Their analysis suggests that multiregion tumor sampling, DNA copy number profiling, and quantification of intratumoral genetic heterogeneity with the MEDICC algorithm could be a useful approach for predicting patient survival in ovarian cancer, in which higher levels of heterogeneity associated with decreased survival. This study provides data to support the long-standing hypothesis regarding treatment resistance and intratumoral genetic heterogeneity [10]. Although these results are promising, the developed approach requires sampling multiple distinct regions of tumor, which would be more expensive and complex than molecular profiling from a single tissue sample. It is not yet known how much tumor sampling will be required to adequately quantify intratumoral heterogeneity in the clinic or if measuring intratumoral heterogeneity from multiple tumor samples will outperform other molecular approaches (e.g., prognostic expression signatures [13,14]) for predicting response to therapy in ovarian cancer. These are important research questions that will need to be answered prior to clinical translation.

The second study comes from James Rocco and colleagues [15]. Previously, these investigators used a publicly available data set of whole exome sequencing data in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) from Stransky et al. [16] to develop a simple quantitative measure of intratumoral heterogeneity (mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity [MATH]) and showed that MATH scores were higher in poor outcome classes of HNSCC [17]. In the current study, the authors used publicly available whole exome sequencing data provided by TCGA and showed that the MATH score is associated with prognosis in HNSCC and contributes additional prognostic information beyond that provided by traditional clinical and molecular features. Since the MATH score can be computed from whole exome sequencing data obtained from a single tumor sample (which is a data type that can be obtained from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor tissue, as is routinely collected in pathology laboratories [18]), this approach may be more easily translated into clinical use, as compared with approaches requiring multiregion sampling and more complex computational algorithms for the assessment of intratumoral heterogeneity. Nonetheless, establishing the utility of the MATH score as an effective prognostic and/or predictive biomarker in HNSCC will require additional studies of the MATH score on well-controlled clinical cohorts comprised of homogeneously treated patients with tumors at specific head and neck anatomic locations. It is important to note that the development and application of MATH for assessing prognosis in HNSCC was based entirely on the analysis of publically available clinically annotated whole exome sequencing data, which demonstrates the value in making these data open to the community.

The continuing generation of high-quality, open-access Omics data sets from large populations of cancer patients will be critically important to enable the development of computational methods to translate knowledge of cancer heterogeneity into new diagnostics and improved clinical outcomes for cancer patients. As one step towards this goal, the DREAM (Dialogue for Reverse Engineering Assessments and Methods) consortium will use open innovation crowd sourcing to identify top-performing computational methods for inferring genetic heterogeneity from next-generation sequencing data provided by a large multi-institutional community of cancer genomics projects, including the ICGC and TCGA [19]. If successful, this open innovation competition may identify a set of best-in-class methods for measuring intratumoral genetic heterogeneity in cancer.

In parallel with these advances in computational methods for inferring intratumoral heterogeneity from genomics data, genomics technologies for measuring intratumoral heterogeneity at increasingly fine levels of granularity continue to improve. For example, recent advances in single-cell sequencing of DNA have provided detailed portraits of intratumoral genetic heterogeneity and clonal evolution in cancer [20,21], and recent advances in single-cell RNA sequencing [22], in situ RNA sequencing [23,24], and highly multiplexed next-generation immunohistochemistry [2528] enable characterization of intratumoral heterogeneity in gene expression at a single cell level with subcellular resolution. Thus, there are now many options—both molecular and computational—for measuring and analyzing intratumoral molecular heterogeneity from clinical cancer samples.

Establishing the clinical utility of these new approaches for measuring intratumoral molecular heterogeneity will require applying these methods to large sets of archival tumor samples from randomized trials of cancer therapeutics [29] and high-quality prospective observational studies [30]. To maximize the value of the data that would be produced from such an undertaking, it is critical that infrastructure be created and supported to enable sharing of the Omics and clinical data with a large community of cancer researchers and data scientists. Ensuring open access to high-quality datasets will ensure that the largest possible community of researchers is able to address the most important problems in cancer medicine today. And in generating and sharing these data widely, we will massively increase our chances of effectively translating knowledge of intratumoral heterogeneity into meaningful advances for cancer patients.

References

  1. 1.Hudson TJ, Anderson W, Artez A, Barker AD, Bell C, et al. (2010) International network of cancer genome projects. Nature 464: 993–998. doi: 10.1038/nature08987. pmid:20393554
  2. 2.Garraway LA, Lander ES (2013) Lessons from the cancer genome. Cell 153: 17–37. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2013.03.002. pmid:23540688
  3. 3.Meyerson M, Gabriel S, Getz G (2010) Advances in understanding cancer genomes through second-generation sequencing. Nat Rev Genet 11: 685–696. doi: 10.1038/nrg2841. pmid:20847746
  4. 4.Ding L, Wendl MC, McMichael JF, Raphael BJ (2014) Expanding the computational toolbox for mining cancer genomes. Nat Rev Genet 15: 556–570. doi: 10.1038/nrg3767. pmid:25001846
  5. 5.Garraway LA, Jänne PA (2012) Circumventing cancer drug resistance in the era of personalized medicine. Cancer Discov 2: 214–226. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-12-0012. pmid:22585993
  6. 6.Burrell RA, McGranahan N, Bartek J, Swanton C (2013) The causes and consequences of genetic heterogeneity in cancer evolution. Nature 501: 338–345. doi: 10.1038/nature12625. pmid:24048066
  7. 7.Gerlinger M, Rowan AJ, Horswell S, Larkin J, Endesfelder D, et al. (2012) Intratumor heterogeneity and branched evolution revealed by multiregion sequencing. N Engl J Med 366: 883–892. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa1113205. pmid:22397650
  8. 8.Bashashati A, Ha G, Tone A, Ding J, Prentice LM, et al. (2013) Distinct evolutionary trajectories of primary high-grade serous ovarian cancers revealed through spatial mutational profiling. J Pathol 231: 21–34. doi: 10.1002/path.4230. pmid:23780408
  9. 9.De Bruin EC, McGranahan N, Mitter R, Salm M, Wedge DC, et al. (2014) Spatial and temporal diversity in genomic instability processes defines lung cancer evolution. Science (80-) 346: 251–256. doi: 10.1126/science.1253462
  10. 10.Burrell RA, Swanton C (2014) Tumour heterogeneity and the evolution of polyclonal drug resistance. Mol Oncol 8: 1095–1111. doi: 10.1016/j.molonc.2014.06.005. pmid:25087573

….. more

New Genomics Tool Could Help Predict Tumor Aggressiveness, Treatment Outcomes

APRIL 16, 2015

OSUCCC – James researchers Edmund Mroz, PhD, and James Rocco, MD, PhD, developed the MATH method.

http://cancer.osu.edu/news-and-media/news/new-genomics-tool-could-help-predict-tumor-aggressiveness-treatment-outcomes

 

COLUMBUS, Ohio — A new method for measuring genetic variability within a tumor might one day help doctors identify patients with aggressive cancers that are more likely to resist therapy, according to a study led by researchers now at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Researchers used a new scoring method they developed called MATH (mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity) to measure the genetic variability among cancer cells within tumors from 305 patients with head and neck cancer. High MATH scores corresponded to tumors with many differences among the gene mutations present in different cancer cells.

Cancers that showed high genetic variability – called “intra-tumor heterogeneity” – correlated with lower patient survival. If prospective studies verify the findings, MATH scores could help identify the most effective treatment for patients and predict a patient’s prognosis.

Researchers have long hypothesized that multiple sub-populations of mutated cells within a single cancer lead to worse clinical outcomes; however, oncologists do not use tumor heterogeneity to guide clinical care decisions or assess disease prognosis because there is no single, easy-to-implement method of doing so in clinical practice.

 

Intra-tumor Genetic Heterogeneity and Mortality in Head and Neck Cancer: Analysis of Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas

PLOS  Published: Feb 10, 2015   DOI: http://dx.doi.org:/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001786
9 Jun 2015: The PLOS Medicine Staff (2015) Correction: Intra-tumor Genetic Heterogeneity and Mortality in Head and Neck Cancer: Analysis of Data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. PLoS Med 12(6): e1001844.
http://dx.doi.org:/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001844View correction

Although the involvement of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity in tumor progression, treatment resistance, and metastasis is established, genetic heterogeneity is seldom examined in clinical trials or practice. Many studies of heterogeneity have had prespecified markers for tumor subpopulations, limiting their generalizability, or have involved massive efforts such as separate analysis of hundreds of individual cells, limiting their clinical use. We recently developed a general measure of intra-tumor genetic heterogeneity based on whole-exome sequencing (WES) of bulk tumor DNA, called mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity (MATH). Here, we examine data collected as part of a large, multi-institutional study to validate this measure and determine whether intra-tumor heterogeneity is itself related to mortality.

Methods and Findings

Clinical and WES data were obtained from The Cancer Genome Atlas in October 2013 for 305 patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC), from 14 institutions. Initial pathologic diagnoses were between 1992 and 2011 (median, 2008). Median time to death for 131 deceased patients was 14 mo; median follow-up of living patients was 22 mo. Tumor MATH values were calculated from WES results. Despite the multiple head and neck tumor subsites and the variety of treatments, we found in this retrospective analysis a substantial relation of high MATH values to decreased overall survival (Cox proportional hazards analysis: hazard ratio for high/low heterogeneity, 2.2; 95% CI 1.4 to 3.3). This relation of intra-tumor heterogeneity to survival was not due to intra-tumor heterogeneity’s associations with other clinical or molecular characteristics, including age, human papillomavirus status, tumor grade and TP53 mutation, and N classification. MATH improved prognostication over that provided by traditional clinical and molecular characteristics, maintained a significant relation to survival in multivariate analyses, and distinguished outcomes among patients having oral-cavity or laryngeal cancers even when standard disease staging was taken into account. Prospective studies, however, will be required before MATH can be used prognostically in clinical trials or practice. Such studies will need to examine homogeneously treated HNSCC at specific head and neck subsites, and determine the influence of cancer therapy on MATH values. Analysis of MATH and outcome in human-papillomavirus-positive oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma is particularly needed.

Conclusions

To our knowledge this study is the first to combine data from hundreds of patients, treated at multiple institutions, to document a relation between intra-tumor heterogeneity and overall survival in any type of cancer. We suggest applying the simply calculated MATH metric of heterogeneity to prospective studies of HNSCC and other tumor types.

 

Editors’ Summary

Background

Normally, the cells in human tissues and organs only reproduce (a process called cell division) when new cells are needed for growth or to repair damaged tissues. But sometimes a cell somewhere in the body acquires a genetic change (mutation) that disrupts the control of cell division and allows the cell to grow continuously. As the mutated cell grows and divides, it accumulates additional mutations that allow it to grow even faster and eventually from a lump, or tumor (cancer). Other mutations subsequently allow the tumor to spread around the body (metastasize) and destroy healthy tissues. Tumors can arise anywhere in the body—there are more than 200 different types of cancer—and about one in three people will develop some form of cancer during their lifetime. Many cancers can now be successfully treated, however, and people often survive for years after a diagnosis of cancer before, eventually, dying from another disease.

Why Was This Study Done?

The gradual acquisition of mutations by tumor cells leads to the formation of subpopulations of cells, each carrying a different set of mutations. This “intra-tumor heterogeneity” can produce tumor subclones that grow particularly quickly, that metastasize aggressively, or that are resistant to cancer treatments. Consequently, researchers have hypothesized that high intra-tumor heterogeneity leads to worse clinical outcomes and have suggested that a simple measure of this heterogeneity would be a useful addition to the cancer staging system currently used by clinicians for predicting the likely outcome (prognosis) of patients with cancer. Here, the researchers investigate whether a measure of intra-tumor heterogeneity called “mutant-allele tumor heterogeneity” (MATH) is related to mortality (death) among patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC)—cancers that begin in the cells that line the moist surfaces inside the head and neck, such as cancers of the mouth and the larynx (voice box). MATH is based on whole-exome sequencing (WES) of tumor and matched normal DNA. WES uses powerful DNA-sequencing systems to determine the variations of all the coding regions (exons) of the known genes in the human genome (genetic blueprint).

What Did the Researchers Do and Find?

The researchers obtained clinical and WES data for 305 patients who were treated in 14 institutions, primarily in the US, after diagnosis of HNSCC from The Cancer Genome Atlas, a catalog established by the US National Institutes of Health to map the key genomic changes in major types and subtypes of cancer. They calculated tumor MATH values for the patients from their WES results and retrospectively analyzed whether there was an association between the MATH values and patient survival. Despite the patients having tumors at various subsites and being given different treatments, every 10% increase in MATH value corresponded to an 8.8% increased risk (hazard) of death. Using a previously defined MATH-value cutoff to distinguish high- from low-heterogeneity tumors, compared to patients with low-heterogeneity tumors, patients with high-heterogeneity tumors were more than twice as likely to die (a hazard ratio of 2.2). Other statistical analyses indicated that MATH provided improved prognostic information compared to that provided by established clinical and molecular characteristics and human papillomavirus (HPV) status (HPV-positive HNSCC at some subsites has a better prognosis than HPV-negative HNSCC). In particular, MATH provided prognostic information beyond that provided by standard disease staging among patients with mouth or laryngeal cancers.

What Do These Findings Mean?

By using data from more than 300 patients treated at multiple institutions, these findings validate the use of MATH as a measure of intra-tumor heterogeneity in HNSCC. Moreover, they provide one of the first large-scale demonstrations that intra-tumor heterogeneity is clinically important in the prognosis of any type of cancer. Before the MATH metric can be used in clinical trials or in clinical practice as a prognostic tool, its ability to predict outcomes needs to be tested in prospective studies that examine the relation between MATH and the outcomes of patients with identically treated HNSCC at specific head and neck subsites, that evaluate the use of MATH for prognostication in other tumor types, and that determine the influence of cancer treatments on MATH values. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that MATH should be considered as a biomarker for survival in HNSCC and other tumor types, and raise the possibility that clinicians could use MATH values to decide on the best treatment for individual patients and to choose patients for inclusion in clinical trials.

Additional Information

Please access these websites via the online version of this summary athttp://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001786.

 

SJ Williams, PhD

There are two very important criteria which is located in the papers: First these are data from WES sequencing form the TCGA database therefore the method makes an assumption on INTRA tumoral heterogeneity as there the algorithm test cases were based on whole tumor and not compared to temporal or spatial distribution (a simple solution would be to compare the sequencing results from Dr. Sawyers studies with this algorithm). The model also assumes that the distribution of loci mutants predicts the temporal accumulation of mutants during a clonal evolution. Secondly the authors segregate out HPV positive and negative Head and neck cancers and curious why this was the observed case: is this algorithm good at analyzing the clonal evolution of cancers containing indels or just point mutants. Interesting if they do a larger prospective study where they compare their algorithm versus the multi-core biopsy method. The editor is correct is justifying the need for further larger studies, especially for tumors like lung which is hard or dangerous to biopsy.

Mood Regulation Subject to Mixed Serotonin Signals
http://www.genengnews.com/gen-news-highlights/mood-regulation-subject-to-mixed-serotonin-signals/81252009/

Gene drive, an emerging technology for ecosystem management, is being considered for a range of applications. For example, it could be used to render mosquito populations unable to transmit malaria. Prominent gene-drive researchers are calling for open, well-informed discussion of the technology, which has far-reaching implications for the shared environment, well in advance of any field tests.[Columbia University Department of Psychiatry]

A new study indicates different serotonin-producing brain regions can have opposing effects on emotional behaviors. According to this study, two brain regions in particular, the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) and the median raphe nucleus (MRN), appear to have a yin-and-yang relationship when it comes to mood regulation.

Specifically, one region’s serotonergic activity can offset the other region’s serotonergic activity. This finding, which emerged from pharmacogenetic research conducted at Columbia University, provides new insights into the development of mood disorders and may aid in designing improved therapies.

The Columbia University research effort was led by Mark S. Ansorge, Ph.D. “Our study breaks with the simplistic view that ‘more is good and less is bad,’ when it comes to serotonin for mood regulation,” he said. “Rather, it tells us that a more nuanced view is necessary.”

The study’s details appeared November 19 in Cell Reports, in an article entitled, “Activity of Raphé Serotonergic Neurons Controls Emotional Behaviors.” The article noted that even though serotonin signaling has a well-established role in mood regulation, the causal relationships between serotonergic neuronal activity and behavior remain unclear.

To explore these relationships, Dr. Ansorge’s team used a technique called pharmacogenetics to control the activity of serotonergic neurons in the DRN and MRN in both normal mice and in a mouse model of depression- and anxiety-like behavior. (The model was created by giving mice the drug fluoxetine shortly after birth, which produces long-lasting behavioral changes.)

“[Selectively] increasing serotonergic neuronal activity in wild-type mice is anxiogenic and reduces floating in the forced-swim test, whereas inhibition has no effect on the same measures,” wrote the authors of the Cell Reports article. “In a developmental mouse model of altered emotional behavior, increased anxiety and depression-like behaviors correlate with reduced dorsal raphé and increased median raphé serotonergic activity. These mice display blunted responses to serotonergic stimulation and behavioral rescues through serotonergic inhibition.”

In addition, the researchers identified opposing consequences of dorsal versus median raphé serotonergic neuron inhibition on floating behavior. This observation, the researchers surmised, could mean that median raphé hyperactivity increases anxiety, whereas a low dorsal/median raphé serotonergic activity ratio increases depression-like behavior.

http://www.cell.com/cell-reports/abstract/S2211-1247(15)01250-4

Anne Teissier, Alexei Chemiakine, Benjamin Inbar, Sneha Bagchi, Russell S. Ray, et al.   http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2015.10.061

Figure thumbnail fx1

  • Increasing 5-HT neuronal activity increases anxiety-like behavior
  • Low DR/MR 5-HTergic activity correlates with altered emotional behavior in PNFLX mice
  • Reducing 5-HT neuronal activity normalizes emotional behavior in PNFLX mice
  • MR and DR 5-HT neuronal activity exert opposing consequences on floating behavior

Despite the well-established role of serotonin signaling in mood regulation, causal relationships between serotonergic neuronal activity and behavior remain poorly understood. Using a pharmacogenetic approach, we find that selectively increasing serotonergic neuronal activity in wild-type mice is anxiogenic and reduces floating in the forced-swim test, whereas inhibition has no effect on the same measures. In a developmental mouse model of altered emotional behavior, increased anxiety and depression-like behaviors correlate with reduced dorsal raphé and increased median raphé serotonergic activity. These mice display blunted responses to serotonergic stimulation and behavioral rescues through serotonergic inhibition. Furthermore, we identify opposing consequences of dorsal versus median raphé serotonergic neuron inhibition on floating behavior, together suggesting that median raphé hyperactivity increases anxiety, whereas a low dorsal/median raphé serotonergic activity ratio increases depression-like behavior. Thus, we find a critical role of serotonergic neuronal activity in emotional regulation and uncover opposing roles of median and dorsal raphé function.

 

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Multiple Lung Cancer Genomic Projects Suggest New Targets, Research Directions for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

Curator, Writer: Stephen J. Williams, Ph.D.

lung cancer

(photo credit: cancer.gov)

A report Lung Cancer Genome Surveys Find Many Potential Drug Targets, in the NCI Bulletin,

http://www.cancer.gov/ncicancerbulletin/091812/page2

summarizes the clinical importance of five new lung cancer genome sequencing projects. These studies have identified genetic and epigenetic alterations in hundreds of lung tumors, of which some alterations could be taken advantage of using currently approved medications.

The reports, all published this month, included genomic information on more than 400 lung tumors. In addition to confirming genetic alterations previously tied to lung cancer, the studies identified other changes that may play a role in the disease.

Collectively, the studies covered the main forms of the disease—lung adenocarcinomas, squamous cell cancers of the lung, and small cell lung cancers.

“All of these studies say that lung cancers are genomically complex and genomically diverse,” said Dr. Matthew Meyerson of Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, who co-led several of the studies, including a large-scale analysis of squamous cell lung cancer by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) Research Network.

Some genes, Dr. Meyerson noted, were inactivated through different mechanisms in different tumors. He cautioned that little is known about alterations in DNA sequences that do not encode genes, which is most of the human genome.

Four of the papers are summarized below, with the first described in detail, as the Nature paper used a multi-‘omics strategy to evaluate expression, mutation, and signaling pathway activation in a large cohort of lung tumors. A literature informatics analysis is given for one of the papers.  Please note that links on GENE names usually refer to the GeneCard entry.

Paper 1. Comprehensive genomic characterization of squamous cell lung cancers[1]

The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network Project just reported, in the journal Nature, the results of their comprehensive profiling of 230 resected lung adenocarcinomas. The multi-center teams employed analyses of

  • microRNA
  • Whole Exome Sequencing including
    • Exome mutation analysis
    • Gene copy number
    • Splicing alteration
  • Methylation
  • Proteomic analysis

Summary:

Some very interesting overall findings came out of this analysis including:

  • High rates of somatic mutations including activating mutations in common oncogenes
  • Newly described loss of function MGA mutations
  • Sex differences in EGFR and RBM10 mutations
  • driver roles for NF1, MET, ERBB2 and RITI identified in certain tumors
  • differential mutational pattern based on smoking history
  • splicing alterations driven by somatic genomic changes
  • MAPK and PI3K pathway activation identified by proteomics not explained by mutational analysis = UNEXPLAINED MECHANISM of PATHWAY ACTIVATION

however, given the plethora of data, and in light of a similar study results recently released, there appears to be a great need for additional mining of this CGAP dataset. Therefore I attempted to curate some of the findings along with some other recent news relevant to the surprising findings with relation to biomarker analysis.

Makeup of tumor samples

230 lung adenocarcinomas specimens were categorized by:

Subtype

33% acinar

25% solid

14% micro-papillary

9% papillary

8% unclassified

5% lepidic

4% invasive mucinous
Gender

Smoking status

81% of patients reported past of present smoking

The authors note that TCGA samples were combined with previous data for analysis purpose.

A detailed description of Methodology and the location of deposited data are given at the following addresses:

Publication TCGA Web Page: https://tcga-data.nci.nih.gov/docs/publications/luad_2014/

Sequence files: https://cghub.ucsc.edu

Results:

Gender and Smoking Habits Show different mutational patterns

 

WES mutational analysis

  1. a) smoking status

– there was a strong correlations of cytosine to adenine nucleotide transversions with past or present smoking. In fact smoking history separated into transversion high (past and previous smokers) and transversion low (never smokers) groups, corroborating previous results.

mutations in groups              Transversion High                   Transversion Low

TP53, KRAS, STK11,                 EGFR, RB1, PI3CA

     KEAP1, SMARCA4 RBM10

 

  1. b) Gender

Although gender differences in mutational profiles have been reported, the study found minimal number of significantly mutated genes correlated with gender. Notably:

  • EGFR mutations enriched in female cohort
  • RBM10 loss of function mutations enriched in male cohort

Although the study did not analyze the gender differences with smoking patterns, it was noted that RBM10 mutations among males were more prevalent in the transversion high group.

Whole exome Sequencing and copy number analysis reveal Unique, Candidate Driver Genes

Whole exome sequencing revealed that 62% of tumors contained mutations (either point or indel) in known cancer driver genes such as:

KRAS, EGFR, BRMF, ERBB2

However, authors looked at the WES data from the oncogene-negative tumors and found unique mutations not seen in the tumors containing canonical oncogenic mutations.

Unique potential driver mutations were found in

TP53, KEAP1, NF1, and RIT1

The genomics and expression data were backed up by a proteomics analysis of three pathways:

  1. MAPK pathway
  2. mTOR
  3. PI3K pathway

…. showing significant activation of all three pathways HOWEVER the analysis suggested that activation of signaling pathways COULD NOT be deduced from DNA sequencing alone. Phospho-proteomic analysis was required to determine the full extent of pathway modification.

For example, many tumors lacked an obvious mutation which could explain mTOR or MAPK activation.

 

Altered cell signaling pathways included:

  • Increased MAPK signaling due to activating KRAS
  • Higher mTOR due to inactivating STK11 leading to increased proliferation, translation

Pathway analysis of mutations revealed alterations in multiple cellular pathways including:

  • Reduced oxidative stress response
  • Nucleosome remodeling
  • RNA splicing
  • Cell cycle progression
  • Histone methylation

Summary:

Authors noted some interesting conclusions including:

  1. MET and ERBB2 amplification and mutations in NF1 and RIT1 may be unique driver events in lung adenocarcinoma
  2. Possible new drug development could be targeted to the RTK/RAS/RAF pathway
  3. MYC pathway as another important target
  4. Cluster analysis using multimodal omics approach identifies tumors based on single-gene driver events while other tumor have multiple driver mutational events (TUMOR HETEROGENEITY)

Paper 2. A Genomics-Based Classification of Human Lung Tumors[2]

The paper can be found at

http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/209/209ra153

by The Clinical Lung Cancer Genome Project (CLCGP) and Network Genomic Medicine (NGM),*,

Paper Summary

This sequencing project revealed discrepancies between histologic and genomic classification of lung tumors.

Methodology

– mutational analysis by whole exome sequencing of 1255 lung tumors of histologically

defined subtypes

– immunohistochemistry performed to verify reclassification of subtypes based on sequencing data

Results

  • 55% of all cases had at least one oncogenic alteration amenable to current personalized treatment approaches
  • Marked differences existed between cluster analysis within and between preclassified histo-subtypes
  • Reassignment based on genomic data eliminated large cell carcinomas
  • Prospective classification of 5145 lung cancers allowed for genomic classification in 75% of patients
  • Identification of EGFR and ALK mutations led to improved outcomes

Conclusions:

It is feasible to successfully classify and diagnose lung tumors based on whole exome sequencing data.

Paper 3. Genomic Landscape of Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer in Smokers and Never-Smokers[3]

A link to the paper can be found here with Graphic Summary: http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674%2812%2901022-7?cc=y?cc=y

Methodology

  • Whole genome sequencing and transcriptome sequencing of cancerous and adjacent normal tissues from 17 patients with NSCLC
  • Integrated RNASeq with WES for analysis of
    • Variant analysis
    • Clonality by variant allele frequency anlaysis
    • Fusion genes
  • Bioinformatic analysis

Results

  • 3,726 point mutations and more than 90 indels in the coding sequence
  • Smokers with lung cancer show 10× the number of point mutations than never-smokers
  • Novel lung cancer genes, including DACH1, CFTR, RELN, ABCB5, and HGF were identified
  • Tumor samples from males showed high frequency of MYCBP2 MYCBP2 involved in transcriptional regulation of MYC.
  • Variant allele frequency analysis revealed 10/17 tumors were at least biclonal while 7/17 tumors were monoclonal revealing majority of tumors displayed tumor heterogeneity
  • Novel pathway alterations in lung cancer include cell-cycle and JAK-STAT pathways
  • 14 fusion proteins found, including ROS1-ALK fusion. ROS1-ALK fusions have been frequently found in lung cancer and is indicative of poor prognosis[4].
  • Novel metabolic enzyme fusions
  • Alterations were identified in 54 genes for which targeted drugs are available.           Drug-gable mutant targets include: AURKC, BRAF, HGF, EGFR, ERBB4, FGFR1, MET, JAK2, JAK3, HDAC2, HDAC6, HDAC9, BIRC6, ITGB1, ITGB3, MMP2, PRKCB, PIK3CG, TERT, KRAS, MMP14

Table. Validated Gene-Fusions Obtained from Ref-Seq Data

Note: Gene columns contain links for GeneCard while Gene function links are to the    gene’s GO (Gene Ontology) function.

GeneA (5′) GeneB (3′) GeneA function (link to Gene Ontology) GeneB function (link to Gene Ontology) known function (refs)
GRIP1 TNIP1 glutamate receptor IP transcriptional repressor
SGMS1 STK10 sphingolipid synthesis ser/thr kinase
RASSF3 TTYH2 GTP-binding protein chloride anion channel
KDELR2 ROS1, GOPC ER retention seq. binding proto-oncogenic tyr kinase
ACSL4 DCAF6 fatty acid synthesis ?
MARCH8 PRKG1 ubiquitin ligase cGMP dependent protein kinase
APAF1 UNC13B, TLN1 caspase activation cytoskeletal
EML4 ALK microtubule protein tyrosine kinase
EDR3,PHC3 LOC441601 polycomb pr/DNA binding ?
DKFZp761L1918,RHPN2 ANKRD27 Rhophilin (GTP binding pr ankyrin like
VANGL1 HAO2 tetraspanin family oxidase
CACNA2D3 FLNB VOC Ca++ channel filamin (actin binding)

Author’s Note:

There has been a recent literature on the importance of the EML4-ALK fusion protein in lung cancer. EML4-ALK positive lung tumors were found to be les chemo sensitive to cytotoxic therapy[5] and these tumor cells may exhibit an epitope rendering these tumors amenable to immunotherapy[6]. In addition, inhibition of the PI3K pathway has sensitized EMl4-ALK fusion positive tumors to ALK-targeted therapy[7]. EML4-ALK fusion positive tumors show dependence on the HSP90 chaperone, suggesting this cohort of patients might benefit from the new HSP90 inhibitors recently being developed[8].

Table. Significantly mutated genes (point mutations, insertions/deletions) with associated function.

Gene Function
TP53 tumor suppressor
KRAS oncogene
ZFHX4 zinc finger DNA binding
DACH1 transcription factor
EGFR epidermal growth factor receptor
EPHA3 receptor tyrosine kinase
ENSG00000205044
RELN cell matrix protein
ABCB5 ABC Drug Transporter

Table. Literature Analysis of pathways containing significantly altered genes in NSCLC reveal putative targets and risk factors, linkage between other tumor types, and research areas for further investigation.

Note: Significantly mutated genes, obtained from WES, were subjected to pathway analysis (KEGG Pathway Analysis) in order to see which pathways contained signicantly altered gene networks. This pathway term was then used for PubMed literature search together with terms “lung cancer”, “gene”, and “NOT review” to determine frequency of literature coverage for each pathway in lung cancer. Links are to the PubMEd search results.

KEGG pathway Name # of PUBMed entries containing Pathway Name, Gene ANDLung Cancer
Cell cycle 1237
Cell adhesion molecules (CAMs) 372
Glioma 294
Melanoma 219
Colorectal cancer 207
Calcium signaling pathway 175
Prostate cancer 166
MAPK signaling pathway 162
Pancreatic cancer 88
Bladder cancer 74
Renal cell carcinoma 68
Focal adhesion 63
Regulation of actin cytoskeleton 34
Thyroid cancer 32
Salivary secretion 19
Jak-STAT signaling pathway 16
Natural killer cell mediated cytotoxicity 11
Gap junction 11
Endometrial cancer 11
Long-term depression 9
Axon guidance 8
Cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction 8
Chronic myeloid leukemia 7
ErbB signaling pathway 7
Arginine and proline metabolism 6
Maturity onset diabetes of the young 6
Neuroactive ligand-receptor interaction 4
Aldosterone-regulated sodium reabsorption 2
Systemic lupus erythematosus 2
Olfactory transduction 1
Huntington’s disease 1
Chemokine signaling pathway 1
Cardiac muscle contraction 1
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) 1

A few interesting genetic risk factors and possible additional targets for NSCLC were deduced from analysis of the above table of literature including HIF1-α, mIR-31, UBQLN1, ACE, mIR-193a, SRSF1. In addition, glioma, melanoma, colorectal, and prostate and lung cancer share many validated mutations, and possibly similar tumor driver mutations.

KEGGinliteroanalysislungcancer

 please click on graph for larger view

Paper 4. Mapping the Hallmarks of Lung Adenocarcinoma with Massively Parallel Sequencing[9]

For full paper and graphical summary please follow the link: http://www.cell.com/cell/abstract/S0092-8674%2812%2901061-6

Highlights

  • Exome and genome characterization of somatic alterations in 183 lung adenocarcinomas
  • 12 somatic mutations/megabase
  • U2AF1, RBM10, and ARID1A are among newly identified recurrently mutated genes
  • Structural variants include activating in-frame fusion of EGFR
  • Epigenetic and RNA deregulation proposed as a potential lung adenocarcinoma hallmark

Summary

Lung adenocarcinoma, the most common subtype of non-small cell lung cancer, is responsible for more than 500,000 deaths per year worldwide. Here, we report exome and genome sequences of 183 lung adenocarcinoma tumor/normal DNA pairs. These analyses revealed a mean exonic somatic mutation rate of 12.0 events/megabase and identified the majority of genes previously reported as significantly mutated in lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, we identified statistically recurrent somatic mutations in the splicing factor gene U2AF1 and truncating mutations affecting RBM10 and ARID1A. Analysis of nucleotide context-specific mutation signatures grouped the sample set into distinct clusters that correlated with smoking history and alterations of reported lung adenocarcinoma genes. Whole-genome sequence analysis revealed frequent structural rearrangements, including in-frame exonic alterations within EGFR and SIK2 kinases. The candidate genes identified in this study are attractive targets for biological characterization and therapeutic targeting of lung adenocarcinoma.

Paper 5. Integrative genome analyses identify key somatic driver mutations of small-cell lung cancer[10]

Highlights

  • Whole exome and transcriptome (RNASeq) sequencing 29 small-cell lung carcinomas
  • High mutation rate 7.4 protein-changing mutations/million base pairs
  • Inactivating mutations in TP53 and RB1
  • Functional mutations in CREBBP, EP300, MLL, PTEN, SLIT2, EPHA7, FGFR1 (determined by literature and database mining)
  • The mutational spectrum seen in human data also present in a Tp53-/- Rb1-/- mouse lung tumor model

 

Curator Graphical Summary of Interesting Findings From the Above Studies

DGRAPHICSUMMARYNSLCSEQPOST

The above figure (please click on figure) represents themes and findings resulting from the aforementioned studies including

questions which will be addressed in Future Posts on this site.

References:

  1. Comprehensive genomic characterization of squamous cell lung cancers. Nature 2012, 489(7417):519-525.
  2. A genomics-based classification of human lung tumors. Science translational medicine 2013, 5(209):209ra153.
  3. Govindan R, Ding L, Griffith M, Subramanian J, Dees ND, Kanchi KL, Maher CA, Fulton R, Fulton L, Wallis J et al: Genomic landscape of non-small cell lung cancer in smokers and never-smokers. Cell 2012, 150(6):1121-1134.
  4. Takeuchi K, Soda M, Togashi Y, Suzuki R, Sakata S, Hatano S, Asaka R, Hamanaka W, Ninomiya H, Uehara H et al: RET, ROS1 and ALK fusions in lung cancer. Nature medicine 2012, 18(3):378-381.
  5. Morodomi Y, Takenoyama M, Inamasu E, Toyozawa R, Kojo M, Toyokawa G, Shiraishi Y, Takenaka T, Hirai F, Yamaguchi M et al: Non-small cell lung cancer patients with EML4-ALK fusion gene are insensitive to cytotoxic chemotherapy. Anticancer research 2014, 34(7):3825-3830.
  6. Yoshimura M, Tada Y, Ofuzi K, Yamamoto M, Nakatsura T: Identification of a novel HLA-A 02:01-restricted cytotoxic T lymphocyte epitope derived from the EML4-ALK fusion gene. Oncology reports 2014, 32(1):33-39.
  7. Yang L, Li G, Zhao L, Pan F, Qiang J, Han S: Blocking the PI3K pathway enhances the efficacy of ALK-targeted therapy in EML4-ALK-positive nonsmall-cell lung cancer. Tumour biology : the journal of the International Society for Oncodevelopmental Biology and Medicine 2014.
  8. Workman P, van Montfort R: EML4-ALK fusions: propelling cancer but creating exploitable chaperone dependence. Cancer discovery 2014, 4(6):642-645.
  9. Imielinski M, Berger AH, Hammerman PS, Hernandez B, Pugh TJ, Hodis E, Cho J, Suh J, Capelletti M, Sivachenko A et al: Mapping the hallmarks of lung adenocarcinoma with massively parallel sequencing. Cell 2012, 150(6):1107-1120.
  10. Peifer M, Fernandez-Cuesta L, Sos ML, George J, Seidel D, Kasper LH, Plenker D, Leenders F, Sun R, Zander T et al: Integrative genome analyses identify key somatic driver mutations of small-cell lung cancer. Nature genetics 2012, 44(10):1104-1110.

Other posts on this site which refer to Lung Cancer and Cancer Genome Sequencing include:

Multi-drug, Multi-arm, Biomarker-driven Clinical Trial for patients with Squamous Cell Carcinoma called the Lung Cancer Master Protocol, or Lung-MAP launched by NCI, Foundation Medicine, and Five Pharma Firms

US Personalized Cancer Genome Sequencing Market Outlook 2018 –

Comprehensive Genomic Characterization of Squamous Cell Lung Cancers

International Cancer Genome Consortium Website has 71 Committed Cancer Genome Projects Ongoing

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer drugs – where does the Future lie?

Lung cancer breathalyzer trialed in the UK

Diagnosing Lung Cancer in Exhaled Breath using Gold Nanoparticles

Multi-drug, Multi-arm, Biomarker-driven Clinical Trial for patients with Squamous Cell Carcinoma called the Lung Cancer Master Protocol, or Lung-MAP launched by NCI, Foundation Medicine, and Five Pharma Firms

Read Full Post »


Cancer Mutations Across the Landscape

Curator: Larry H. Bernstein, MD, FCAP

This is an up-to-date article about the significance of mutations found in 12 major types of cancer.

Mutational landscape and significance across 12 major cancer types

Cyriac Kandoth1*, Michael D. McLellan1*, Fabio Vandin2, Kai Ye1,3, Beifang Niu1, Charles Lu1, et al.

1The Genome Institute, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA. 2Department of Computer Science, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA. 3Department of Genetics, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA. 4Department of Medicine, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA. 5Siteman Cancer Center, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA. 6Department of Mathematics, Washington University in St Louis, Missouri 63108, USA.

NATURE 17 Oct 2013;  5 0 2      http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature12634

The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) has used the latest sequencing and analysis methods to identify somatic variants across thousands of tumours. Here we present data and analytical results for point mutations and small insertions/deletions from 3,281 tumours across 12 tumour types as part of the TCGA Pan-Cancer effort. We illustrate

  1. the distributions of mutation frequencies,
  2. types and contexts across tumour types, and
  3. establish their links to tissues of origin,
  4. environmental/ carcinogen influences, and
  5. DNA repair defects.

Using the integrated data sets, we identified 127 significantly mutated genes from well-knownand emerging cellular processes in cancer.

  1. (for example, mitogen-activated protein kinase, phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase,Wnt/b-catenin and receptor tyrosine kinase signalling pathways, and cell cycle control)
  2. (for example, histone, histone modification, splicing, metabolism and proteolysis)

The average number of mutations in these significantly mutated genes varies across tumour types;

  1. most tumours have two to six, indicating that the number of driver mutations required during oncogenesis is relatively small.
  2. Mutations in transcriptional factors/regulators show tissue specificity, whereas
  3. histone modifiers are often mutated across several cancer types.

Clinical association analysis identifies genes having a significant effect on survival, and

  • investigations of mutations with respect to clonal/subclonal architecture delineate their temporal orders during tumorigenesis.

Taken together, these results lay the groundwork for developing new diagnostics and individualizing cancer treatment

Introduction

The advancement of DNA sequencing technologies now enables the processing of thousands of tumours of many types for systematic mutation discovery. This expansion of scope, coupled with appreciable progress in algorithms1–5, has led directly to characterization of signifi­cant functional mutations, genes and pathways6–18. Cancer encompasses more than 100 related diseases19, making it crucial to understand the commonalities and differences among various types and subtypes. TCGA was founded to address these needs, and its large data sets are providing unprecedented opportunities for systematic, integrated analysis.

We performed a systematic analysis of 3,281 tumours from 12 cancer types to investigate underlying mechanisms of cancer initiation and progression. We describe variable mutation frequencies and contexts and their associations with environmental factors and defects in DNA repair. We identify 127 significantlymutated genes (SMGs) from diverse signalling and enzymatic processes. The finding of a TP53-driven breast, head and neck, and ovarian cancer cluster with a dearth of other mutations in SMGs suggests common therapeutic strategies might be applied for these tumours. We determined interactions among muta­tions and correlated mutations in BAP1, FBXW7 and TP53 with det­rimental phenotypes across several cancer types. The subclonal structure and transcription status of underlying somatic mutations reveal the trajectory of tumour progression in patients with cancer.

Standardization of mutation data

Stringent filters (Methods) were applied to ensure high quality muta­tion calls for 12 cancer types: breast adenocarcinoma (BRCA), lung adenocarcinoma (LUAD), lung squamous cell carcinoma (LUSC), uterine corpus endometrial carcinoma (UCEC), glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSC), colon and rectal carcinoma (COAD, READ),bladder urothelial carcinoma (BLCA), kidney renal clear cell carcinoma (KIRC), ovarian serous carcinoma (OV) and acute myeloid leukaemia (LAML; conventionally called AML) (Supplementary Table 1). A total of 617,354 somatic mutations, consisting of

  • 398,750 missense,
  • 145,488 silent,
  • 36,443 nonsense,
  • 9,778 splice site,
  • 7,693 non-coding RNA,
  • 523 non-stop/readthrough,
  • 15,141 frameshift insertions/deletions (indels) and
  • 3,538 inframe indels,

were included for downstream analyses (Supplementary Table 2).

Distinct mutation frequencies and sequence context

Figure 1a shows that AML has the lowest median mutation frequency and LUSC the highest (0.28 and 8.15 mutations per megabase (Mb), respectively). Besides AML, all types average over 1 mutation per Mb, substantially higher than in pediatric tumours20. Clustering21 illus­trates that

  • mutation frequencies for KIRC, BRCA, OV and AML are normally distributed within a single cluster, whereas
  • other types have several clusters (for example, 5 and 6 clusters in UCEC and COAD/ READ, respectively) (Fig. 1a and Supplementary Table 3a, b).

In UCEC, the largest patient cluster has a frequency of approximately 1.5 muta­tions per Mb, and

  • the cluster with the highest frequency is more than 150 times greater.

Multiple clusters suggest that factors other than age contribute to development in these tumours14,16. Indeed,

  • there is a significant correlation between high mutation frequency and DNA repair pathway genes (for example, PRKDC, TP53 and MSH6) (Sup­plementary Table 3c). Notably,
  • PRKDC mutations are associated with high frequency in BLCA, COAD/READ, LUAD and UCEC, whereas
  • TP53 mutations are related with higher frequencies in AML, BLCA, BRCA, HNSC, LUAD, LUSC and UCEC (all P < 0.05).

Mutations in POLQ and POLE associate with high frequencies in multiple cancer types; POLE association in UCEC is consistent with previous observations14.

Comparison of spectra across the 12 types (Fig. 1b and Supplemen­tary Table 3d) reveals that LUSC and LUAD contain increased C>A transversions, a signature of cigarette smoke exposure10. Sequence context analysis across 12 types revealed

  • the largest difference being in C>T transitions and C>G transversions (Fig. 1c).

The frequency of thymine 1-bp (base pair) upstream of C>G transversions is mark­edly higher in BLCA, BRCA and HNSC than in other cancer types (Extended Data Fig. 1). GBM, AML, COAD/READ and UCEC have similar contexts in that

  • the proportions of guanine 1 base downstream of C>T transitions are between
    • 59% and 67%, substantially higher than the approximately 40% in other cancer types.

Higher frequencies of transition mutations at CpG in gastrointestinal tumours, including colorectal, were previously reported22. We found three additional cancer types (GBM, AML and UCEC) clustered in the C>T mutation at CpG, consistent with previous findings of

  • aberrant DNA methylation in endometrial cancer23 and glioblastoma24.

BLCA has a unique signature for C>T transitions compared to the other types (enriched for TC) (Extended Data Fig. 1).

Significantly mutated genes

Genes under positive selection, either in individual or multiple tumour types, tend to display higher mutation frequencies above background. Our statistical analysis3, guided by expression data and curation (Methods), identified 127 such genes (SMGs; Supplementary Table 4). These SMGs are involved in a wide range of cellular processes, broadly classified into 20 categories (Fig. 2), including

  • transcription factors/regulators, histone modifiers, genome integrity, receptor tyrosine kinase signal­ling, cell cycle, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK) signalling, phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI(3)K) signalling, Wnt/ -catenin signalling, histones, ubiquitin-mediatedproteolysis, and splicing (Fig. 2).

The identification of MAPK, PI(3)K and Wnt/ -catenin signaling path­ways is consistent with classical cancer studies. Notably, newer categories (for example, splicing, transcription regulators, metabolism, proteolysis and histones) emerge as exciting guides for the development of new therapeutic targets. Genes categorized as histone modifiers (Z = 0.57), PI(3)K signalling (Z = 1.03), and genome integrity (Z = 0.66) all relate to more than one cancer type, whereas

  • transcription factor/regulator (Z = 0.40), TGF- signalling (Z = 0.66), and Wnt/ -catenin signalling (Z = 0.55) genes tend to associate with single types (Methods).

Notably, 3,053 out of 3,281 total samples (93%) across the Pan-Cancer collection had at least one non-synonymous mutation in at least one SMG. The average number of point mutations and small indels in these genes varies across tumour types, with the highest (,6 mutations per tumour) in UCEC, LUAD and LUSC, and the lowest (,2 mutations per tumour) in AML, BRCA, KIRC and OV. This suggests that the numbers of both cancer-related genes (only 127 identified in this study) and cooperating driver mutations required during oncogenesis are small (most cases only had 2–6) (Fig. 3), although large-scale structural rearrangements were not included in this analysis.

Common mutations

The most frequently mutated gene in the Pan-Cancer cohort is TP53 (42% of samples). Its mutations predominate in serous ovarian (95%) and serous endometrial carcinomas (89%) (Fig. 2). TP53 mutations are also associated with basal subtype breast tumours. PIK3CA is the second most commonly mutated gene, occurring frequently (>10%) in most cancer types except OV, KIRC, LUAD and AML. PIK3CA mutations frequented UCEC (52%) and BRCA (33.6%), being speci­fically enriched in luminal subtype tumours. Tumours lacking PIK3CA mutations often had mutations in PIK3R1, with the highest occur­rences in UCEC (31%) and GBM (11%) (Fig. 2).

Many cancer types carried mutations in chromatin re-modelling genes. In particular, histone-lysine N-methyltransferase genes (MLL2 (also known as KMT2D), MLL3 (KMT2C) and MLL4 (KMT2B)) clus­ter in bladder, lung and endometrial cancers, whereas the lysine (K)-specific demethylase KDM5C is prevalently mutated in KIRC (7%). Mutations in ARID1A are frequent in BLCA, UCEC, LUAD and LUSC, whereas mutations in ARID5B predominate in UCEC (10%) (Fig. 2).

Fig. 1.  Distribution of mutation frequencies across 12 cancer types.

Fig. 1.  | Distribution of mutation frequencies across 12 cancer types.

Dashed grey and solid white lines denote average across cancer types and median for each type, respectively. b, Mutation spectrum of six transition (Ti) and transversion (Tv) categories for each cancer type. c, Hierarchically clustered mutation context (defined by the proportion of A, T, C and G nucleotides within ±2bp of variant site) for six mutation categories. Cancer types correspond to colours in a. Colour denotes degree of correlation: yellow (r = 0.75) and red (r = 1).

Fig. 2.  The 127 SMGs from 20 cellular processes in cancer identified in and Pan-Cancer are shown, with the highest percentage in each gene among 12 (not shown)

Fig. 3.  Distribution of mutations in 127 SMGs across Pan-Cancer cohort.

Fig. 3. | Distribution of mutations in 127 SMGs across Pan-Cancer cohort.

Box plot displays median numbers of non-synonymous mutations, with outliers shown as dots. In total, 3,210 tumours were used for this analysis (hypermutators excluded).

Figure 4 | Unsupervised clustering based on mutation status of SMGs. Tumours having no mutation or more than 500 mutations were excluded. A mutation status matrix was constructed for 2,611 tumours. Major clusters of mutations detected in UCEC, COAD, GBM, AML, KIRC, OV and BRCA were highlighted.
Complete gene list shown in Extended Data Fig. 3.  (not shown)

Fig. 5. Driver initiation and progression mutations and tumour clonal mutation is in the subclone

Figure 5 | Driver initiation and progression mutations and tumour clonal mutation is in the subclone

Survival Analysis

We examined which genes correlate with survival using the Cox proportional hazards model, first analysing individual cancer types using age and gender as covariates; an average of 2 genes (range: 0–4) with mutation frequency 2% were significant (P<_0.05) in each type (Supplementary Table 10a and Extended Data Fig. 6). KDM6A and ARID1A mutations correlate with better survival in BLCA (P = 0.03, hazard ratio (HR) = 0.36, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.14–0.92) and UCEC (P = 0.03, HR = 0.11, 95% CI: 0.01–0.84), respectively, but mutations in SETBP1, recently identified with worse prognosis in atypical chronic myeloid leukaemia (aCML)31, have a significant detrimental effect in HNSC (P = 0.006, HR = 3.21, 95% CI: 1.39–7.44). BAP1 strongly correlates with poor survival (P = 0.00079, HR = 2.17, 95% CI: 1.38–3.41) in KIRC. Conversely, BRCA2 muta­tions (P = 0.02, HR = 0.31, 95% CI: 0.12–0.85) associate with better survival in ovarian cancer, consistent with previous reports32,33; BRCA1 mutations showed positive correlation with better survival, but did not reach significance here.

We extended our survival analysis across cancer types, restricting our attention to the subset of 97 SMGs whose mutations appeared in 2% of patients having survival data in 2 tumour types. Taking type, age and gender as covariates, we found 7 significant genes: BAP1DNMT3AHGFKDM5CFBXW7BRCA2 and TP53 (Extended Data Table 1).  In particular, BAP1 was highly significant (0.00013, HR = 2.20, 95% CI: 1.47–3.29, more than 53 mutated tumours out of 888 total), with mutations associating with detrimental outcome in four tumour types and notable associations in KIRC (P = 0.00079), consistent with a recent report28, and in UCEC(P = 0.066). Mutations in several other genes are detrimental, including DNMT3A (HR = 1.59), previously identified with poor prognosis in AML34, and KDM5C (HR = 1.63), FBXW7 (HR = 1.57) and TP53 (HR = 1.19). TP53 has significant associations with poor outcome in KIRC (P = 0.012), AML (P = 0.0007) and HNSC (P = 0.00007). Conversely, BRCA2 (P = 0.05, HR = 0.62, 95% CI: 0.38 to 0.99) correlates with survival benefit in six types, including OV and UCEC (Supplementary Table 10a, b). IDH1 mutations are associated with improved prognosis across the Pan-Cancer set (HR = 0.67, P = 0.16) and also in GBM (HR = 0.42, P = 0.09) (Supplementary Table 10a, b), consistent with previous work.35

 Driver mutations and tumour clonal architecture

To understand the temporal order of somatic events, we analysed the variant allele fraction (VAF) distribution of mutations in SMGs across AML, BRCA and UCEC (Fig. 5a and Supplementary Table 11a) and other tumour types (Extended Data Fig. 7). To minimize the effect of copy number alterations, we focused on mutations in copy neutral segments. Mutations in TP53 have higher VAFs on average in all three cancer types, suggesting early appearance during tumorigenesis.

It is worth noting that copy neutral loss of heterozygosity is commonly found in classical tumour suppressors such as TP53, BRCA1, BRCA2 and PTEN, leading to increased VAFs in these genes. In AML, DNMT3A (permutation test P = 0), RUNX1 (P = 0.0003) and SMC3 (P = 0.05) have significantly higher VAFs than average among SMGs (Fig. 5a and Supplementary Table 11b). In breast cancer, AKT1, CBFB, MAP2K4, ARID1A, FOXA1 and PIK3CA have relatively high average VAFs. For endometrial cancer, multiple SMGs (for example, PIK3CA, PIK3R1, PTEN, FOXA2 and ARID1A) have similar median VAFs. Conversely, KRAS and/or NRAS mutations tend to have lower VAFs in all three tumour types (Fig. 5a), suggesting NRAS (for example, P = 0 in AML) and KRAS (for example, P = 0.02 in BRCA) have a progression role in a subset of AML, BRCA and UCEC tumours. For all three cancer types, we clearly observed a shift towards higher expression VAFs in SMGs versus non-SMGs, most apparent in BRCA and UCEC (Extended Data Fig. 8a and Methods).

Previous analysis using whole-genome sequencing (WGS) detected subclones in approximately 50% of AML cases15,36,37; however, ana­lysis is difficult using AML exome owing to its relatively few coding mutations. Using 50 AML WGS cases, sciClone (http://github.com/ genome/sciclone) detected DNMT3A mutations in the founding clone for 100% (8 out of 8) of cases and NRAS mutations in the subclone for 75% (3 out of 4) of cases (Extended Data Fig. 8b). Among 304 and 160 of BRCA and UCEC tumours, respectively, with enough coding muta­tions for clustering, 35% BRCA and 44% UCEC tumours contained subclones. Our analysis provides the lower bound for tumour hetero­geneity, because only coding mutations were used for clustering. In BRCA, 95% (62 out of 65) of cases contained PIK3CA mutations in the founding clone, whereas 33% (3 out of 9) of cases had MLL3 muta­tions in the subclone. Similar patterns were found in UCEC tumours, with 96% (65 out of 68) and 95% (62 out of 65) of tumours containing PIK3CA and PTEN mutations, respectively, in the founding clone, and 9% (2 out of22) ofKRAS and 14% (1 out of 7) ofNRAS mutations in the subclone (Extended Data Fig. 8b and Supplementary Table 12).

Mutation con­text (-2 to +2 bp) was calculated for each somatic variant in each mutation category, and hierarchical clustering was then performed using the pairwise mutation context correlation across all cancer types. The mutational significance in cancer (MuSiC)3 package was used to identify significant genes for both indi­vidual tumour types and the Pan-Cancer collective. An R function ‘hclust’ was used for complete-linkage hierarchical clustering across mutations and samples, and Dendrix30 was used to identify sets of approximately mutual exclusive muta­tions. Cross-cancer survival analysis was based on the Cox proportional hazards model, as implemented in the R package ‘survival’ (http://cran.r-project.org/web/ packages/survival/), and the sciClone algorithm (http://github.com/genome/sci-clone) generated mutation clusters using point mutations from copy number neutral segments. A complete description of the materials and methods used to generate this data set and its results is provided in the Methods.

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