Cancers require telomere maintenance mechanisms for unlimited replicative potential. They achieve this through TERT activation or alternative telomere lengthening associated with ATRX or DAXX loss. Here, as part of the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium, we dissect whole-genome sequencing data of over 2500 matched tumor-control samples from 36 different tumor types aggregated within the ICGC/TCGA Pan-Cancer Analysis of Whole Genomes (PCAWG) Consortium to characterize the genomic footprints of these mechanisms. While the telomere content of tumors with ATRX or DAXX mutations (ATRX/DAXXtrunc) is increased, tumors with TERT modifications show a moderate decrease of telomere content. One quarter of all tumor samples contain somatic integrations of telomeric sequences into non-telomeric DNA. This fraction is increased to 80% prevalence in ATRX/DAXXtrunc tumors, which carry an aberrant telomere variant repeat (TVR) distribution as another genomic marker. The latter feature includes enrichment or depletion of the previously undescribed singleton TVRs TTCGGG and TTTGGG, respectively. Our systematic analysis provides new insight into the recurrent genomic alterations associated with telomere maintenance mechanisms in cancer.
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.
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.
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.
Molecular profiling of actionable mutations in refractory cancer patients has the potential to enable "precision medicine," wherein individualized therapies are guided based on genomic profiling. The molecular-screening program was intended to route participants to different candidate drugs in trials based on clinical-sequencing reports. In this screening program, we used a custom target-enrichment panel consisting of cancer-related genes to interrogate single-nucleotide variants, insertions and deletions, copy number variants, and a subset of gene fusions. From August 2014 through April 2015, 654 patients consented to participate in the program at Samsung Medical Center. Of these patients, 588 passed the quality control process for the 381-gene cancer-panel test, and 418 patients were included in the final analysis as being eligible for any anticancer treatment (127 gastric cancer, 122 colorectal cancer, 62 pancreatic/biliary tract cancer, 67 sarcoma/other cancer, and 40 genitourinary cancer patients). Of the 418 patients, 55 (12%) harbored a biomarker that guided them to a biomarker-selected clinical trial, and 184 (44%) patients harbored at least one genomic alteration that was potentially targetable. This study demonstrated that the panel-based sequencing program resulted in an increased rate of trial enrollment of metastatic cancer patients into biomarker-selected clinical trials. Given the expanding list of biomarker-selected trials, the guidance percentage to matched trials is anticipated to increase. IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: This study demonstrated that the panel-based sequencing program resulted in an increased rate of trial enrollment of metastatic cancer patients into biomarker-selected clinical trials. Given the expanding list of biomarker-selected trials, the guidance percentage to matched trials is anticipated to increase.
Release of promoter-proximally paused RNA polymerase II (RNAPII) is a recently recognized transcriptional regulatory checkpoint. The biological roles of RNAPII pause release and the mechanisms by which extracellular signals control it are incompletely understood. Here we show that VEGF stimulates RNAPII pause release by stimulating acetylation of ETS1, a master endothelial cell transcriptional regulator. In endothelial cells, ETS1 binds transcribed gene promoters and stimulates their expression by broadly increasing RNAPII pause release. 34 VEGF enhances ETS1 chromatin occupancy and increases ETS1 acetylation, enhancing its binding to BRD4, which recruits the pause release machinery and increases RNAPII pause release. Endothelial cell angiogenic responses in vitro and in vivo require ETS1-mediated transduction of VEGF signaling to release paused RNAPII. Our results define an angiogenic pathway in which VEGF enhances ETS1-BRD4 interaction to broadly promote RNAPII pause release and drive angiogenesis.Promoter proximal RNAPII pausing is a rate-limiting transcriptional mechanism. Chen et al. show that this process is essential in angiogenesis by demonstrating that the endothelial master transcription factor ETS1 promotes global RNAPII pause release, and that this process is governed by VEGF.
Purpose Histologic transformation of EGFR mutant lung adenocarcinoma (LADC) into small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) has been described as one of the major resistant mechanisms for epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKIs). However, the molecular pathogenesis is still unclear. Methods We investigated 21 patients with advanced EGFR-mutant LADCs that were transformed into EGFR TKI-resistant SCLCs. Among them, whole genome sequencing was applied for nine tumors acquired at various time points from four patients to reconstruct their clonal evolutionary history and to detect genetic predictors for small-cell transformation. The findings were validated by immunohistochemistry in 210 lung cancer tissues. Results We identified that EGFR TKI-resistant LADCs and SCLCs share a common clonal origin and undergo branched evolutionary trajectories. The clonal divergence of SCLC ancestors from the LADC cells occurred before the first EGFR TKI treatments, and the complete inactivation of both RB1 and TP53 were observed from the early LADC stages in sequenced tumors. We extended the findings by immunohistochemistry in the early-stage LADC tissues of 75 patients treated with EGFR TKIs; inactivation of both Rb and p53 was strikingly more frequent in the small-cell-transformed group than in the nontransformed group (82% v 3%; odds ratio, 131; 95% CI, 19.9 to 859). Among patients registered in a predefined cohort (n = 65), an EGFR mutant LADC that harbored completely inactivated Rb and p53 had a 43× greater risk of small-cell transformation (relative risk, 42.8; 95% CI, 5.88 to 311). Branch-specific mutational signature analysis revealed that apolipoprotein B mRNA editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like (APOBEC)-induced hypermutation was frequent in the branches toward small-cell transformation. Conclusion EGFR TKI-resistant SCLCs are branched out early from the LADC clones that harbor completely inactivated RB1 and TP53. The evaluation of RB1 and TP53 status in EGFR TKI-treated LADCs is informative in predicting small-cell transformation.
Blastocyst-derived embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and gonad-derived embryonic germ cells (EGCs) represent two classic types of pluripotent cell lines, yet their molecular equivalence remains incompletely understood. Here, we compare genome-wide methylation patterns between isogenic ESC and EGC lines to define epigenetic similarities and differences. Surprisingly, we find that sex rather than cell type drives methylation patterns in ESCs and EGCs. Cell fusion experiments further reveal that the ratio of X chromosomes to autosomes dictates methylation levels, with female hybrids being hypomethylated and male hybrids being hypermethylated. We show that the X-linked MAPK phosphatase DUSP9 is upregulated in female compared to male ESCs, and its heterozygous loss in female ESCs leads to male-like methylation levels. However, male and female blastocysts are similarly hypomethylated, indicating that sex-specific methylation differences arise in culture. Collectively, our data demonstrate the epigenetic similarity of sex-matched ESCs and EGCs and identify DUSP9 as a regulator of female-specific hypomethylation.
Genes encoding subunits of SWI/SNF (BAF) chromatin-remodeling complexes are collectively mutated in ∼20% of all human cancers. Although ARID1A is the most frequent target of mutations, the mechanism by which its inactivation promotes tumorigenesis is unclear. Here we demonstrate that Arid1a functions as a tumor suppressor in the mouse colon, but not the small intestine, and that invasive ARID1A-deficient adenocarcinomas resemble human colorectal cancer (CRC). These tumors lack deregulation of APC/β-catenin signaling components, which are crucial gatekeepers in common forms of intestinal cancer. We find that ARID1A normally targets SWI/SNF complexes to enhancers, where they function in coordination with transcription factors to facilitate gene activation. ARID1B preserves SWI/SNF function in ARID1A-deficient cells, but defects in SWI/SNF targeting and control of enhancer activity cause extensive dysregulation of gene expression. These findings represent an advance in colon cancer modeling and implicate enhancer-mediated gene regulation as a principal tumor-suppressor function of ARID1A.
Chromatin plays a critical role in faithful implementation of gene expression programs. Different post-translational modifications (PTMs) of histone proteins reflect the underlying state of gene activity, and many chromatin proteins write, erase, bind, or are repelled by, these histone marks. One such protein is UpSET, the Drosophila homolog of yeast Set3 and mammalian KMT2E (MLL5). Here, we show that UpSET is necessary for the proper balance between active and repressed states. Using CRISPR/Cas-9 editing, we generated S2 cells that are mutant for upSET We found that loss of UpSET is tolerated in S2 cells, but that heterochromatin is misregulated, as evidenced by a strong decrease in H3K9me2 levels assessed by bulk histone PTM quantification. To test whether this finding was consistent in the whole organism, we deleted the upSET coding sequence using CRISPR/Cas-9, which we found to be lethal in both sexes in flies. We were able to rescue this lethality using a tagged upSET transgene, and found that UpSET protein localizes to transcriptional start sites (TSS) of active genes throughout the genome. Misregulated heterochromatin is apparent by suppressed position effect variegation of the w(m4) allele in heterozygous upSET-deleted flies. Using nascent-RNA sequencing in the upSET-mutant S2 lines, we show that this result applies to heterochromatin genes generally. Our findings support a critical role for UpSET in maintaining heterochromatin, perhaps by delimiting the active chromatin environment.
Chromatin accessibility plays a fundamental role in gene regulation. Nucleosome placement, usually measured by quantifying protection of DNA from enzymatic digestion, can regulate accessibility. We introduce a metric that uses micrococcal nuclease (MNase) digestion in a novel manner to measure chromatin accessibility by combining information from several digests of increasing depths. This metric, MACC (MNase accessibility), quantifies the inherent heterogeneity of nucleosome accessibility in which some nucleosomes are seen preferentially at high MNase and some at low MNase. MACC interrogates each genomic locus, measuring both nucleosome location and accessibility in the same assay. MACC can be performed either with or without a histone immunoprecipitation step, and thereby compares histone and non-histone protection. We find that changes in accessibility at enhancers, promoters and other regulatory regions do not correlate with changes in nucleosome occupancy. Moreover, high nucleosome occupancy does not necessarily preclude high accessibility, which reveals novel principles of chromatin regulation.
BACKGROUND: While active LINE-1 (L1) elements possess the ability to mobilize flanking sequences to different genomic loci through a process termed transduction influencing genomic content and structure, an approach for detecting polymorphic germline non-reference transductions in massively-parallel sequencing data has been lacking. RESULTS: Here we present the computational approach TIGER (Transduction Inference in GERmline genomes), enabling the discovery of non-reference L1-mediated transductions by combining L1 discovery with detection of unique insertion sequences and detailed characterization of insertion sites. We employed TIGER to characterize polymorphic transductions in fifteen genomes from non-human primate species (chimpanzee, orangutan and rhesus macaque), as well as in a human genome. We achieved high accuracy as confirmed by PCR and two single molecule DNA sequencing techniques, and uncovered differences in relative rates of transduction between primate species. CONCLUSIONS: By enabling detection of polymorphic transductions, TIGER makes this form of relevant structural variation amenable for population and personal genome analysis.