Chromothripsis is a newly discovered mutational phenomenon involving massive, clustered genomic rearrangements that occurs in cancer and other diseases. Recent studies in cancer suggest that chromothripsis may be far more common than initially inferred from low resolution DNA copy number data. Here, we analyze the patterns of chromothripsis across 2,658 tumors spanning 39 cancer types using whole-genome sequencing data. We find that chromothripsis events are pervasive across cancers, with a frequency of >50% in several cancer types. Whereas canonical chromothripsis profiles display oscillations between two copy number states, a considerable fraction of the events involves multiple chromosomes as well as additional structural alterations. In addition to non-homologous end-joining, we detect signatures of replicative processes and templated insertions. Chromothripsis contributes to oncogene amplification as well as to inactivation of genes such as mismatch-repair related genes. These findings show that chromothripsis is a major process driving genome evolution in human cancer.
Kim J, Hu C, Moufawad El Achkar C, Black LE, Douville J, Larson A, Pendergast MK, Goldkind SF, Lee EA, Kuniholm A, Soucy A, Vaze J, Belur NR, Fredriksen K, Stojkovska I, Tsytsykova A, Armant M, DiDonato RL, Choi J, Cornelissen L, Pereira LM, Augustine EF, Genetti CA, Dies K, Barton B, Williams L, Goodlett BD, Riley BL, Pasternak A, Berry ER, Pflock KA, Chu S, Reed C, Tyndall K, Agrawal PB, Beggs AH, Grant EP, Urion DK, Snyder RO, Waisbren SE, Poduri A, Park PJ, Patterson A, Biffi A, Mazzulli JR, Bodamer O, Berde CB, Yu TW. Patient-Customized Oligonucleotide Therapy for a Rare Genetic Disease. N Engl J Med 2019;Abstract
Genome sequencing is often pivotal in the diagnosis of rare diseases, but many of these conditions lack specific treatments. We describe how molecular diagnosis of a rare, fatal neurodegenerative condition led to the rational design, testing, and manufacture of milasen, a splice-modulating antisense oligonucleotide drug tailored to a particular patient. Proof-of-concept experiments in cell lines from the patient served as the basis for launching an "N-of-1" study of milasen within 1 year after first contact with the patient. There were no serious adverse events, and treatment was associated with objective reduction in seizures (determined by electroencephalography and parental reporting). This study offers a possible template for the rapid development of patient-customized treatments. (Funded by Mila's Miracle Foundation and others.).
Mutations in BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) are the most common indication of deficiency in the homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair pathway. However, recent genome-wide analyses have shown that the same pattern of mutations found in BRCA1/2-mutant tumors is also present in several other tumors. Here, we present a new computational tool called Signature Multivariate Analysis (SigMA), which can be used to accurately detect the mutational signature associated with HR deficiency from targeted gene panels. Whereas previous methods require whole-genome or whole-exome data, our method detects the HR-deficiency signature even from low mutation counts, by using a likelihood-based measure combined with machine-learning techniques. Cell lines that we identify as HR deficient show a significant response to poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitors; patients with ovarian cancer whom we found to be HR deficient show a significantly longer overall survival with platinum regimens. By enabling panel-based identification of mutational signatures, our method substantially increases the number of patients that may be considered for treatments targeting HR deficiency.
Whole-genome sequencing of DNA from single cells has the potential to reshape our understanding of mutational heterogeneity in normal and diseased tissues. However, a major difficulty is distinguishing amplification artifacts from biologically derived somatic mutations. Here, we describe linked-read analysis (LiRA), a method that accurately identifies somatic singlenucleotide variants (sSNVs) by using read-level phasing with nearby germline heterozygous polymorphisms, thereby enabling the characterization of mutational signatures and estimation of somatic mutation rates in single cells.
Cancer is often seen as a disease of mutations and chromosomal abnormalities. However, some cancers, including pediatric rhabdoid tumors (RTs), lack recurrent alterations targetable by current drugs and need alternative, informed therapeutic options. To nominate potential targets, we performed a high-throughput small-molecule screen complemented by a genome-scale CRISPR-Cas9 gene-knockout screen in a large number of RT and control cell lines. These approaches converged to reveal several receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) as therapeutic targets, with RTK inhibition effective in suppressing RT cell growth in vitro and against a xenograft model in vivo. RT cell lines highly express and activate (phosphorylate) different RTKs, creating dependency without mutation or amplification. Downstream of RTK signaling, we identified PTPN11, encoding the pro-growth signaling protein SHP2, as a shared dependency across all RT cell lines. This study demonstrates that large-scale perturbational screening can uncover vulnerabilities in cancers with "quiet" genomes.
BACKGROUND: Genomic rearrangements exert a heavy influence on the molecular landscape of cancer. New analytical approaches integrating somatic structural variants (SSVs) with altered gene features represent a framework by which we can assign global significance to a core set of genes, analogous to established methods that identify genes non-randomly targeted by somatic mutation or copy number alteration. While recent studies have defined broad patterns of association involving gene transcription and nearby SSV breakpoints, global alterations in DNA methylation in the context of SSVs remain largely unexplored. RESULTS: By data integration of whole genome sequencing, RNA sequencing, and DNA methylation arrays from more than 1400 human cancers, we identify hundreds of genes and associated CpG islands (CGIs) for which the nearby presence of a somatic structural variant (SSV) breakpoint is recurrently associated with altered expression or DNA methylation, respectively, independently of copy number alterations. CGIs with SSV-associated increased methylation are predominantly promoter-associated, while CGIs with SSV-associated decreased methylation are enriched for gene body CGIs. Rearrangement of genomic regions normally having higher or lower methylation is often involved in SSV-associated CGI methylation alterations. Across cancers, the overall structural variation burden is associated with a global decrease in methylation, increased expression in methyltransferase genes and DNA damage response genes, and decreased immune cell infiltration. CONCLUSION: Genomic rearrangement appears to have a major role in shaping the cancer DNA methylome, to be considered alongside commonly accepted mechanisms including histone modifications and disruption of DNA methyltransferases.
We introduce Tibanna, an open-source software tool for automated execution of bioinformatics pipelines on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Tibanna accepts reproducible and portable pipeline standards including Common Workflow Language (CWL), Workflow Description Language (WDL) and Docker. It adopts a strategy of isolation and optimization of individual executions, combined with a serverless scheduling approach. Pipelines are executed and monitored using local commands or the Python Application Programming Interface (API) and cloud configuration is automatically handled. Tibanna is well suited for projects with a range of computational requirements, including those with large and widely fluctuating loads. Notably, it has been used to process terabytes of data for the 4D Nucleome (4DN) Network.
Mutational processes giving rise to lung adenocarcinomas (LADCs) in non-smokers remain elusive. We analyzed 138 LADC whole genomes, including 83 cases with minimal contribution of smoking-associated mutational signature. Genomic rearrangements were not correlated with smoking-associated mutations and frequently served as driver events of smoking-signature-low LADCs. Complex genomic rearrangements, including chromothripsis and chromoplexy, generated 74% of known fusion oncogenes, including EML4-ALK, CD74-ROS1, and KIF5B-RET. Unlike other collateral rearrangements, these fusion-oncogene-associated rearrangements were frequently copy-number-balanced, representing a genomic signature of early oncogenesis. Analysis of mutation timing revealed that fusions and point mutations of canonical oncogenes were often acquired in the early decades of life. During a long latency, cancer-related genes were disrupted or amplified by complex rearrangements. The genomic landscape was different between subgroups-EGFR-mutant LADCs had frequent whole-genome duplications with p53 mutations, whereas fusion-oncogene-driven LADCs had frequent SETD2 mutations. Our study highlights LADC oncogenesis driven by endogenous mutational processes.
Howard TP, Arnoff TE, Song MR, Giacomelli AO, Wang X, Hong AL, Dharia NV, Wang S, Vazquez F, Pham M-T, Morgan AM, Wachter F, Bird GH, Kugener G, Oberlick EM, Rees MG, Tiv HL, Hwang JH, Walsh KH, Cook A, Krill-Burger JM, Tsherniak A, Gokhale PC, Park PJ, Stegmaier K, Walensky LD, Hahn WC, Roberts CWM. MDM2 and MDM4 Are Therapeutic Vulnerabilities in Malignant Rhabdoid Tumors. Cancer Research 2019;79(9)Abstract
Malignant rhabdoid tumors (MRT) are highly aggressive pediatric cancers that respond poorly to current therapies. In this study, we screened several MRT cell lines with large-scale RNAi, CRISPR-Cas9, and small-molecule libraries to identify potential drug targets specific for these cancers. We discovered MDM2 and MDM4, the canonical negative regulators of p53, as significant vulnerabilities. Using two compounds currently in clinical development, idasanutlin (MDM2-specific) and ATSP-7041 (MDM2/4-dual), we show that MRT cells were more sensitive than other p53 wild-type cancer cell lines to inhibition of MDM2 alone as well as dual inhibition of MDM2/4. These compounds caused significant upregulation of the p53 pathway in MRT cells, and sensitivity was ablated by CRISPR-Cas9–mediated inactivation of TP53. We show that loss of SMARCB1, a subunit of the SWI/SNF (BAF) complex mutated in nearly all MRTs, sensitized cells to MDM2 and MDM2/4 inhibition by enhancing p53-mediated apoptosis. Both MDM2 and MDM2/4 inhibition slowed MRT xenograft growth in vivo, with a 5-day idasanutlin pulse causing marked regression of all xenografts, including durable complete responses in 50% of mice. Together, these studies identify a genetic connection between mutations in the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling complex and the tumor suppressor gene TP53 and provide preclinical evidence to support the targeting of MDM2 and MDM4 in this often-fatal pediatric cancer.
Glioblastoma is a malignant brain tumor characterized by rapid growth, diffuse invasion and therapeutic resistance. We recently used microRNA expression profiles to subclassify glioblastoma into five genetically and clinically distinct subclasses, and showed that microRNAs both define and contribute to the phenotypes of these subclasses. Here we show that miR-29a activates a multi-faceted growth and invasion program that promotes glioblastoma aggressiveness.
Cell behaviors are dictated by epigenetic and transcriptional programs. Little is known about how extracellular stimuli modulate these programs to reshape gene expression and control cell behavioral responses. Here, we interrogated the epigenetic and transcriptional response of endothelial cells to VEGFA treatment and found rapid chromatin changes that mediate broad transcriptomic alterations. VEGFA-responsive genes were associated with active promoters, but changes in promoter histone marks were not tightly linked to gene expression changes. VEGFA altered transcription factor occupancy and the distal epigenetic landscape, which profoundly contributed to VEGFA-dependent changes in gene expression. Integration of gene expression, dynamic enhancer, and transcription factor occupancy changes induced by VEGFA yielded a VEGFA-regulated transcriptional regulatory network, which revealed that the small MAF transcription factors are master regulators of the VEGFA transcriptional program and angiogenesis. Collectively these results revealed that extracellular stimuli rapidly reconfigure the chromatin landscape to coordinately regulate biological responses.
Bromodomain-containing protein 9 (BRD9) is a recently identified subunit of SWI/SNF(BAF) chromatin remodeling complexes, yet its function is poorly understood. Here, using a genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen, we show that BRD9 is a specific vulnerability in pediatric malignant rhabdoid tumors (RTs), which are driven by inactivation of the SMARCB1 subunit of SWI/SNF. We find that BRD9 exists in a unique SWI/SNF sub-complex that lacks SMARCB1, which has been considered a core subunit. While SMARCB1-containing SWI/SNF complexes are bound preferentially at enhancers, we show that BRD9-containing complexes exist at both promoters and enhancers. Mechanistically, we show that SMARCB1 loss causes increased BRD9 incorporation into SWI/SNF thus providing insight into BRD9 vulnerability in RTs. Underlying the dependency, while its bromodomain is dispensable, the DUF3512 domain of BRD9 is essential for SWI/SNF integrity in the absence of SMARCB1. Collectively, our results reveal a BRD9-containing SWI/SNF subcomplex is required for the survival of SMARCB1-mutant RTs.
It has long been hypothesized that aging and neurodegeneration are associated with somatic mutation in neurons; however, methodological hurdles have prevented testing this hypothesis directly. We used single-cell whole-genome sequencing to perform genome-wide somatic single-nucleotide variant (sSNV) identification on DNA from 161 single neurons from the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of fifteen normal individuals (aged 4 months to 82 years) as well as nine individuals affected by early-onset neurodegeneration due to genetic disorders of DNA repair (Cockayne syndrome and Xeroderma pigmentosum). sSNVs increased approximately linearly with age in both areas (with a higher rate in hippocampus) and were more abundant in neurodegenerative disease. The accumulation of somatic mutations with age-which we term genosenium-shows age-related, region-related, and disease-related molecular signatures, and may be important in other human age-associated conditions.
We present HiGlass, an open source visualization tool built on web technologies that provides a rich interface for rapid, multiplex, and multiscale navigation of 2D genomic maps alongside 1D genomic tracks, allowing users to combine various data types, synchronize multiple visualization modalities, and share fully customizable views with others. We demonstrate its utility in exploring different experimental conditions, comparing the results of analyses, and creating interactive snapshots to share with collaborators and the broader public. HiGlass is accessible online at http://higlass.io and is also available as a containerized application that can be run on any platform.
Characterization of intratumoral heterogeneity is critical to cancer therapy, as the presence of phenotypically diverse cell populations commonly fuels relapse and resistance to treatment. Although genetic variation is a well-studied source of intratumoral heterogeneity, the functional impact of most genetic alterations remains unclear. Even less understood is the relative importance of other factors influencing heterogeneity, such as epigenetic state or tumor microenvironment. To investigate the relationship between genetic and transcriptional heterogeneity in a context of cancer progression, we devised a computational approach called HoneyBADGER to identify copy number variation and loss of heterozygosity in individual cells from single-cell RNA-sequencing data. By integrating allele and normalized expression information, HoneyBADGER is able to identify and infer the presence of subclone-specific alterations in individual cells and reconstruct the underlying subclonal architecture. By examining several tumor types, we show that HoneyBADGER is effective at identifying deletions, amplifications, and copy-neutral loss-of-heterozygosity events and is capable of robustly identifying subclonal focal alterations as small as 10 megabases. We further apply HoneyBADGER to analyze single cells from a progressive multiple myeloma patient to identify major genetic subclones that exhibit distinct transcriptional signatures relevant to cancer progression. Other prominent transcriptional subpopulations within these tumors did not line up with the genetic subclonal structure and were likely driven by alternative, nonclonal mechanisms. These results highlight the need for integrative analysis to understand the molecular and phenotypic heterogeneity in cancer.
Epigenetic regulation of gene expression has a crucial role allowing for the self-renewal and differentiation of stem and progenitor populations during organogenesis. The mammalian kidney maintains a population of self-renewing stem cells that differentiate to give rise to thousands of nephrons, which are the functional units that carry out filtration to maintain physiological homeostasis. The polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) epigenetically represses gene expression during development by placing the H3K27me3 mark on histone H3 at promoter and enhancer sites, resulting in gene silencing. To understand the role of PRC2 in nephron differentiation, we conditionally inactivated the Eed gene, which encodes a nonredundant component of the PRC2 complex, in nephron progenitor cells. Resultant kidneys were smaller and showed premature loss of progenitor cells. The progenitors in Eedmutant mice that were induced to differentiate did not develop into properly formed nephrons. Lhx1, normally expressed in the renal vesicle, was overexpressed in kidneys of Eed mutant mice. Thus, PRC2 has a crucial role in suppressing the expression of genes that maintain the progenitor state, allowing nephron differentiation to proceed.
The greatest opportunity for lifelong impact of genomic sequencing is during the newborn period. The "BabySeq Project" is a randomized trial that explores the medical, behavioral, and economic impacts of integrating genomic sequencing into the care of healthy and sick newborns.
Families of newborns are enrolled from Boston Children's Hospital and Brigham and Women's Hospital nurseries, and half are randomized to receive genomic sequencing and a report that includes monogenic disease variants, recessive carrier variants for childhood onset or actionable disorders, and pharmacogenomic variants. All families participate in a disclosure session, which includes the return of results for those in the sequencing arm. Outcomes are collected through review of medical records and surveys of parents and health care providers and include the rationale for choice of genes and variants to report; what genomic data adds to the medical management of sick and healthy babies; and the medical, behavioral, and economic impacts of integrating genomic sequencing into the care of healthy and sick newborns.
The BabySeq Project will provide empirical data about the risks, benefits and costs of newborn genomic sequencing and will inform policy decisions related to universal genomic screening of newborns.
The study is registered in ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02422511 . Registration date: 10 April 2015.