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  • 1
    Keywords: carcinoma ; IN-VIVO ; PATHWAY ; GENES ; MUTATIONS ; MOUSE MODEL ; C-KIT ; CYCLE ARREST ; NEUROENDOCRINE TUMORS ; NOTCH
    Abstract: We have sequenced the genomes of 110 small cell lung cancers (SCLC), one of the deadliest human cancers. In nearly all the tumours analysed we found bi-allelic inactivation of TP53 and RB1, sometimes by complex genomic rearrangements. Two tumours with wild-type RB1 had evidence of chromothripsis leading to overexpression of cyclin D1 (encoded by the CCND1 gene), revealing an alternative mechanism of Rb1 deregulation. Thus, loss of the tumour suppressors TP53 and RB1 is obligatory in SCLC. We discovered somatic genomic rearrangements of TP73 that create an oncogenic version of this gene, TP73Deltaex2/3. In rare cases, SCLC tumours exhibited kinase gene mutations, providing a possible therapeutic opportunity for individual patients. Finally, we observed inactivating mutations in NOTCH family genes in 25% of human SCLC. Accordingly, activation of Notch signalling in a pre-clinical SCLC mouse model strikingly reduced the number of tumours and extended the survival of the mutant mice. Furthermore, neuroendocrine gene expression was abrogated by Notch activity in SCLC cells. This first comprehensive study of somatic genome alterations in SCLC uncovers several key biological processes and identifies candidate therapeutic targets in this highly lethal form of cancer.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 26168399
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  • 2
    Keywords: APOPTOSIS ; IN-VIVO ; THERAPY ; PHOSPHORYLATION ; p53 ; DNA-DAMAGE ; TARGETS ; RNA INTERFERENCE ; CHK1 INHIBITION ; WEE1
    Abstract: Chemotherapy of advanced pancreatic cancer has mainly been gemcitabine-based for the past 15 years, with only limited effect. Recently, combination therapy that also targets checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) has become an attractive option. The central role of CHK1 in many DNA-damage response pathways, however, may result in undesired cytotoxicity in normal cells, causing side effects. We were searching for other target molecules of similar function that may be more specific and thus better suited for combination therapy. To this end a negative selection RNAi screen was performed in cell lines with small hairpin RNA molecules targeting over 10,000 genes. Genes that were found to be synthetically lethal with gemcitabine and whose proteins act upstream of CHK1 were characterised in more detail. In particular, the inhibition of RAD17 potentiated gemcitabine cytotoxicity in the pancreatic cancer cell lines BxPC-3 and MiaPaca-2 and in the primary cell line JoPaca-1 that closely resembles primary tumour tissue. Further analysis showed that the synergistic effect of RAD17 knockdown and gemcitabine leads to forced mitotic entry of cells arrested in S phase by gemcitabine treatment, resulting in asymmetric DNA distribution during anaphase followed by DNA fragmentation and finally cell death by mitotic catastrophe. Our data suggest RAD17 as a novel target protein for gemcitabine combination therapy supplementing or complementing inhibition of CHK1. In contrast to CHK1, RAD17 knockdown by itself does not lead to abnormal DNA segregation, suggesting a more specific action.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23687379
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  • 3
    Keywords: CANCER ; EXPRESSION ; IN-VITRO ; SURVIVAL ; IN-VIVO ; GENE ; TUMORS ; MECHANISM ; CELL-LINES ; breast cancer ; PROGRESSION ; METASTASIS ; chemotherapy ; inflammation ; EPITHELIAL-MESENCHYMAL TRANSITION ; AUTOPHAGY ; ATG8-PE DECONJUGATION ; IN-VITRO PROPAGATION
    Abstract: Introduction: Breast cancer stem cells are suspected to be responsible for tumour recurrence, metastasis formation as well as chemoresistance. Consequently, great efforts have been made to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying cancer stem cell maintenance. In order to study these rare cells in-vitro, they are typically enriched via mammosphere culture. Here we developed a mammosphere-based negative selection shRNAi screening system suitable to analyse the involvement of thousands of genes in the survival of cells with cancer stem cell properties. Methods: We describe a sub-population expressing the stem-like marker CD44(+)/CD24(-/low) in SUM149 that were enriched in mammospheres. To identify genes functionally involved in the maintenance of the sub-population with cancer stem cell properties, we targeted over 5000 genes by RNAi and tested their ability to grow as mammospheres. The identified candidate ATG4A was validated in mammosphere and soft agar colony formation assays. Further, we evaluated the influence of ATG4A expression on the sub-population expressing the stem-like marker CD44(+)/CD24(low). Next, the tumorigenic potential of SUM149 after up-or down-regulation of ATG4A was examined by xenograft experiments. Results: Using this method, Jak-STAT as well as cytokine signalling were identified to be involved in mammosphere formation. Furthermore, the autophagy regulator ATG4A was found to be essential for the maintenance of a sub-population with cancer stem cell properties and to regulate breast cancer cell tumourigenicity in vivo. Conclusion: In summary, we present a high-throughput screening system to identify genes involved in cancer stem cell maintenance and demonstrate its utility by means of ATG4A
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24229464
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