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  • 1
    Abstract: PURPOSE: Altered FGFR1 signaling has emerged as therapeutic target in epithelial malignancies. In contrast, the role of FGFR1 in soft-tissue sarcoma (STS) has not been established. Prompted by the detection and subsequent therapeutic inhibition of amplified FGFR1 in a patient with metastatic leiomyosarcoma, we investigated the oncogenic properties and potential as drug target of FGFR1 in STS. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The frequency of FGFR1 amplification and overexpression, as assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization, microarray-based comparative genomic hybridization and mRNA expression profiling, SNP array profiling, and RNA sequencing, was determined in three patient cohorts. The sensitivity of STS cell lines with or without FGFR1 alterations to genetic and pharmacologic FGFR1 inhibition and the signaling pathways engaged by FGFR1 were investigated using viability assays, colony formation assays, and biochemical analysis. RESULTS: Increased FGFR1 copy number was detected in 74 of 190 (38.9%; Cohort 1), 13 of 79 (16.5%; Cohort 2), and 80 of 254 (31.5%; Cohort 3) patients. FGFR1 overexpression occurred in 16 of 79 (20.2%, Cohort 2) and 39 of 254 (15.4%; Cohort 3) patients. Targeting of FGFR1 by RNA interference and small-molecule inhibitors (PD173074, AZD4547, BGJ398) revealed that the requirement for FGFR1 signaling in STS cells is dictated by FGFR1 expression levels, and identified the MAPK-ERK1/2 axis as critical FGFR1 effector pathway. CONCLUSIONS: These data identify FGFR1 as driver gene in multiple STS subtypes and support FGFR1 inhibition, guided by patient selection according to FGFR1 expression and monitoring of MAPK-ERK1/2 signaling, as therapeutic option in this challenging group of diseases.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 27535980
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  • 2
    Abstract: Loss of TFAP2C in mouse leads to developmental defects in the extra-embryonic compartment with lethality at embryonic day (E)7.5. To investigate the requirement of TFAP2C in later placental development, deletion of TFAP2C was induced throughout extra-embryonic ectoderm at E6.5, leading to severe placental abnormalities caused by reduced trophoblast population and resulting in embryonic retardation by E8.5. Deletion of TFAP2C in TPBPA(+) progenitors at E8.5 results in growth arrest of the junctional zone. TFAP2C regulates its target genes Cdkn1a (previously p21) and Dusp6, which are involved in repression of MAPK signaling. Loss of TFAP2C reduces activation of ERK1/2 in the placenta. Downregulation of Akt1 and reduced activation of phosphorylated AKT in the mutant placenta are accompanied by impaired glycogen synthesis. Loss of TFAP2C led to upregulation of imprinted gene H19 and downregulation of Slc38a4 and Ascl2. The placental insufficiency post E16.5 causes fetal growth restriction, with 19% lighter mutant pups. Knockdown of TFAP2C in human trophoblast choriocarcinoma JAr cells inhibited MAPK and AKT signaling. Thus, we present a model where TFAP2C in trophoblasts controls proliferation by repressing Cdkn1a and activating the MAPK pathway, further supporting differentiation of glycogen cells by activating the AKT pathway.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 26811378
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  • 3
    Abstract: Soft-tissue sarcomas (STS) are rare malignancies that account for 1% of adult cancers and comprise more than 50 entities. Current therapeutic options for advanced-stage STS are limited. Immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting the PD-1/PD-L1 signaling axis are being explored as new treatment modality in STS; however, the determinants of response to these agents are largely unknown. Using the sarcoma data set of The Cancer Genome Altas (TCGA) and an independent cohort of untreated high-grade STS, we analyzed DNA copy number status and mRNA expression of PD-L1 in a total of 335 STS cases. Copy number gains (CNG) were detected in 54 TCGA cases (21.1%), of which 21 (8.2%) harbored focal PD-L1 CNG and that were most prevalent in myxofibrosarcoma (35%) and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (34%). In the untreated high-grade STS cohort, we detected CNG in six cases (7.6%). Analysis of co-amplified genes identified a 5.6-Mb core region comprising 27 genes, including JAK2. Patients with PD-L1 CNG had higher PD-L1 expression compared with STS without CNG (fold change, 1.8; p = 0.02), an effect that was most pronounced in the setting of focal PD-L1 CNG (fold change, 3.0; p = 0.0027). STS with PD-L1 CNG showed a significantly higher mutational load compared with tumors with a diploid PD-L1 locus (median number of mutated genes; 58 vs. 40; p = 3.6E-06), and PD-L1 CNG were associated with inferior survival (HR = 1.82; p = 0.025). In contrast, T-cell infiltrates quantified by mRNA expression of CD3Z were associated with improved survival (HR = 0.88; p = 0.024) and consequently influenced the prognostic power of PD-L1 CNG, with low CD3Z levels conferring poor survival in cases with PD-L1 CNG (HR = 1.8; p = 0.049). These data demonstrate that PD-L1 GNG and elevated expression of PD-L1 occur in a substantial proportion of STS, have prognostic impact that is modulated by T-cell infiltrates, and thus warrant investigation as response predictors for immune checkpoint inhibition.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28405504
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