Publications by authors named "John A Ligon"

9 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Immuno-transcriptomic profiling of extracranial pediatric solid malignancies.

Cell Rep 2021 Nov;37(8):110047

University of Toronto Musculoskeletal Oncology Unit, Sinai Health System; Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada.

We perform an immunogenomics analysis utilizing whole-transcriptome sequencing of 657 pediatric extracranial solid cancer samples representing 14 diagnoses, and additionally utilize transcriptomes of 131 pediatric cancer cell lines and 147 normal tissue samples for comparison. We describe patterns of infiltrating immune cells, T cell receptor (TCR) clonal expansion, and translationally relevant immune checkpoints. We find that tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes and TCR counts vary widely across cancer types and within each diagnosis, and notably are significantly predictive of survival in osteosarcoma patients. We identify potential cancer-specific immunotherapeutic targets for adoptive cell therapies including cell-surface proteins, tumor germline antigens, and lineage-specific transcription factors. Using an orthogonal immunopeptidomics approach, we find several potential immunotherapeutic targets in osteosarcoma and Ewing sarcoma and validated PRAME as a bona fide multi-pediatric cancer target. Importantly, this work provides a critical framework for immune targeting of extracranial solid tumors using parallel immuno-transcriptomic and -peptidomic approaches.
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November 2021

Consequences of hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis-like cytokine release syndrome toxicities and concurrent bacteremia.

Pediatr Blood Cancer 2021 Oct 26;68(10):e29247. Epub 2021 Jul 26.

Pediatric Oncology Branch, CCR, NCI, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.

Serious bacterial infections (SBI) can lead to devastating complications with CD19 CAR T cells and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Little is known about consequences of and risk factors for SBI with novel CAR T-cell constructs or with CRS complicated by HLH-like toxicities. We report on three patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia treated with CD22 CAR T cells who developed SBI and CRS-associated HLH. Serum cytokine profiling revealed sustained elevations well beyond CRS resolution, suggesting ongoing systemic inflammation. Heightened inflammatory states converging with SBI contribute to poor outcomes, and recognition and prevention of extended inflammation may be needed to improve outcomes.
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October 2021

Pathways of immune exclusion in metastatic osteosarcoma are associated with inferior patient outcomes.

J Immunother Cancer 2021 05;9(5)

Department of Oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

Background: Current therapy for osteosarcoma pulmonary metastases (PMs) is ineffective. The mechanisms that prevent successful immunotherapy in osteosarcoma are incompletely understood. We investigated the tumor microenvironment of metastatic osteosarcoma with the goal of harnessing the immune system as a therapeutic strategy.

Methods: 66 osteosarcoma tissue specimens were analyzed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immune markers were digitally quantified. Tumor-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) from 25 specimens were profiled by functional cytometry. Comparative transcriptomic studies of distinct tumor-normal lung 'PM interface' and 'PM interior' regions from 16 PMs were performed. Clinical follow-up (median 24 months) was available from resection.

Results: IHC revealed a statistically significantly higher concentration of TILs expressing immune checkpoint and immunoregulatory molecules in PMs compared with primary bone tumors (including programmed cell death 1 (PD-1), programmed death ligand 1 (PD-L1), lymphocyte-activation gene 3 (LAG-3), T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain-containing protein 3 (TIM-3), and indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase (IDO1). Remarkably, these lymphocytes are excluded at the PM interface compared with PM interior. TILs from PMs exhibited significantly higher amounts of PD-1 and LAG-3 and functional cytokines including interferon-γ (IFNγ) by flow cytometry. Gene expression profiling further confirmed the presence of CD8 and CD4 lymphocytes concentrated at the PM interface, along with upregulation of immunoregulatory molecules and IFNγ-driven genes in the same region. We further discovered a strong alternatively activated macrophage signature throughout the entire PMs along with a polymorphonuclear myeloid-derived suppressor cell signature focused at the PM interface. Expression of PD-L1, LAG-3, and colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) at the PM interface was associated with significantly worse progression-free survival (PFS), while gene sets indicative of productive T cell immune responses (CD8 T cells, T cell survival, and major histocompatibility complex class 1 expression) were associated with significantly improved PFS.

Conclusions: Osteosarcoma PMs exhibit immune exclusion characterized by the accumulation of TILs at the PM interface. These TILs produce effector cytokines, suggesting their capability of activation and recognition of tumor antigens. Our findings suggest cooperative immunosuppressive mechanisms in osteosarcoma PMs including immune checkpoint molecule expression and the presence of immunosuppressive myeloid cells. We identify cellular and molecular signatures that are associated with patient outcomes, which could be exploited for successful immunotherapy.
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May 2021

Predictors of Recurrence and Patterns of Initial Failure in Localized Ewing Sarcoma: A Contemporary 20-Year Experience.

Sarcoma 2021 17;2021:6681741. Epub 2021 Apr 17.

Department of Pediatric Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Background: The majority of patients with localized Ewing sarcoma will remain disease-free long term, but for those who suffer recurrence, successful treatment remains a challenge. Identification of clinicopathologic factors predictive of recurrence could suggest areas for treatment optimization. We sought to describe our experience regarding predictors of recurrence and patterns of first failure in patients receiving modern systemic therapy for nonmetastatic Ewing sarcoma.

Methods: The medical records of pediatric and adult patients treated for localized Ewing sarcoma between 1999 and 2019 at Johns Hopkins Hospital were retrospectively analyzed. Local control was surgery, radiotherapy, or both. Recurrence-free survival (RFS) was calculated using the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariable and multivariable Cox proportional-hazards modeling was performed to obtain hazard ratios (HR) for recurrence.

Results: In 94 patients with initially localized disease, there were 21 recurrences: 4 local, 14 distant, and 3 combined. 5-year and 10-year RFS were 75.6% and 70.5%, respectively. On multivariable analysis including age at diagnosis and tumor size, <95% tumor necrosis following neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NAC; HR 14.3,  = 0.028) and radiological tumor size change during NAC (HR 1.04 per 1% decrease in size change,  = 0.032) were independent predictors of recurrence. Among patients experiencing distant recurrence, pulmonary metastases were present in 82% and were the only identifiable site of disease in 53%.

Conclusions: Poor pathologic or radiologic response to NAC is predictive of recurrence in patients with localized Ewing sarcoma. Suboptimal tumor size reduction following chemotherapy provides a means to risk-stratify patients who do not undergo definitive resection. Isolated pulmonary recurrence was a common event.
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April 2021

The Immunosuppressive Niche of Soft-Tissue Sarcomas is Sustained by Tumor-Associated Macrophages and Characterized by Intratumoral Tertiary Lymphoid Structures.

Clin Cancer Res 2020 08 24;26(15):4018-4030. Epub 2020 Apr 24.

Departement of Oncology, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center, Baltimore, MD.

Purpose: Clinical trials with immune checkpoint inhibition in sarcomas have demonstrated minimal response. Here, we interrogated the tumor microenvironment (TME) of two contrasting soft-tissue sarcomas (STS), rhabdomyosarcomas and undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcomas (UPS), with differing genetic underpinnings and responses to immune checkpoint inhibition to understand the mechanisms that lead to response.

Experimental Design: Utilizing fresh and formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue from patients diagnosed with UPS and rhabdomyosarcomas, we dissected the TME by using IHC, flow cytometry, and comparative transcriptomic studies.

Results: Our results demonstrated both STS subtypes to be dominated by tumor-associated macrophages and infiltrated with immune cells that localized near the tumor vasculature. Both subtypes had similar T-cell densities, however, their distribution diverged. UPS specimens demonstrated diffuse intratumoral infiltration of T cells, while rhabdomyosarcomas samples revealed intratumoral T cells that clustered with B cells near perivascular beds, forming tertiary lymphoid structures (TLS). T cells in UPS specimens were comprised of abundant CD8 T cells exhibiting high PD-1 expression, which might represent the tumor reactive repertoire. In rhabdomyosarcomas, T cells were limited to TLS, but expressed immune checkpoints and immunomodulatory molecules which, if appropriately targeted, could help unleash T cells into the rest of the tumor tissue.

Conclusions: Our work in STS revealed an immunosuppressive TME dominated by myeloid cells, which may be overcome with activation of T cells that traffic into the tumor. In rhabdomyosarcomas, targeting T cells found within TLS may be key to achieve antitumor response.
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August 2020

Invasive fusariosis masquerading as extramedullary disease in rapidly progressive acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Pediatr Blood Cancer 2019 07 22;66(7):e27732. Epub 2019 Mar 22.

Pediatric Oncology Branch, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland.

Invasive fusariosis (IF) most commonly occurs in patients with hematologic malignancies and severe neutropenia, particularly during concomitant corticosteroid use. Breakthrough infections can occur in high-risk patients despite Aspergillus-active antifungal prophylaxis. We describe a patient with rapid acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) progression who presented with multifocal skin nodules thought to be choloromatous disease. These lesions were ultimately diagnosed as IF and the patient had two simultaneously active disease processes. This case highlights the importance of pathologic diagnosis of new skin lesions in ALL patients, even during leukemia progression, and demonstrates that IF can occur despite normal neutrophil counts and Aspergillus-active prophylaxis.
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July 2019

Differentiation of Deep Venous Thrombosis Among Children With or Without Osteomyelitis.

J Pediatr Orthop 2018 Nov/Dec;38(10):e597-e603

Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Pediatrics, University of Texas Southwestern, Dallas, TX.

Background: Children with osteomyelitis are at risk for deep venous thrombosis (DVT). This study evaluates the characteristics of DVT among children to differentiate between those with and without osteomyelitis.

Methods: Children with DVT of any cause were studied between 2008 and 2016. Children with DVT and osteomyelitis were compared with those with DVT without osteomyelitis. Another comparison cohort included children with osteomyelitis but without DVT. Comorbidities, severity of illness (SOI), and clinical course were compared between cohorts.

Results: DVT was identified in 224 children, a prevalence of 2.5 per 10,000 children. Among those with DVT, 28 (12.1%) had osteomyelitis. The DVT rate among 466 children with osteomyelitis was 6.0%. Children with osteomyelitis and DVT had greater SOI (9.1 vs. 2.7), bacteremia rate (82.1% vs. 38.4%), methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus rate (89.3% vs. 21.2%), surgeries per child (2.1 vs. 0.7), and intensive care unit admission rate (67.9% vs. 5.9%) than that of children without DVT (P<0.00001). Of 196 children who had DVT without osteomyelitis, 166 (84.7%) had comorbidities including defined hypercoagulability (27 or 13.8%). Children with DVT due to osteomyelitis were without comorbidities or hypercoagulability (P<0.00001). The rate of pulmonary embolism was similar for children with DVT with or without osteomyelitis (3/28, or 10.7% vs. 18/196, or 9.2%).

Conclusions: Children with DVT and osteomyelitis differ substantially from other children with DVT by the absence of comorbidities or post-thrombotic syndrome. They also differ from children with osteomyelitis without DVT by higher SOI, methicillin-resistant S. aureus rate, and occurrence of intensive care. Awareness of for the characteristics of DVT among children with osteomyelitis will reduce delay to diagnostic ultrasound and improve anticoagulation management which must be carefully coordinated given the high rate of surgery of these children.

Level Of Evidence: Level II-prognostic, retrospective cohort comparison.
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December 2018

Staphylococcus aureus Infections in Children With Congenital Heart Disease.

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc 2013 Dec 11;2(4):337-44. Epub 2013 Jul 11.

Section of Infectious Diseases and.

Background: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common risk factor for infective endocarditis (IE) in children. Staphylococcus aureus is among the most common organisms to cause IE, yet there are little data describing the risk factors for invasive S aureus disease in children with CHD. We examined the epidemiology of S aureus infections in children with CHD.

Methods: Patients with a history of CHD and S aureus infection were identified from a surveillance study of S aureus infections at Texas Children's Hospital. Clinical and laboratory data from medical records were reviewed. All isolates were screened for the presence of the antiseptic tolerance gene qacA/B. Dichotomous variables were compared with Fisher's exact test and continuous variables with Mann-Whitney U tests, and two-tailed P values of <.05 were considered significant.

Results: Two hundred forty-eight S aureus infections developed in 216 patients with CHD. Methicillin resistance was seen in 53.6% of isolates. Surgical site infections accounted for 28.2% of cases and bacteremia accounted for 20.4% of cases. Bacteremia was associated with IE in 29.5% of the episodes. Infective endocarditis was more often associated with prolonged bacteremia, thrombocytopenia, and a higher C-reactive protein (CRP) compared with uncomplicated bacteremia. The qacA/B gene was found in 16.9% of isolates and was associated with bacteremia and prolonged hospitalization.

Conclusions: Staphylococcus aureus is an important cause of morbidity among children with CHD. Infective endocarditis was common with S aureus bacteremia in this population; in addition, prolonged bacteremia, thrombocytopenia, and CRP >10 mg/dL may serve as diagnostic adjuncts for IE. qacA/B-positive isolates are associated with adverse clinical outcomes.
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December 2013

Yersinia pestis outer membrane type III secretion protein YscC: expression, purification, characterization, and induction of specific antiserum.

Protein Expr Purif 2005 Mar;40(1):152-63

Bacteriology Division, US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, Fort Detrick, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.

The type III secretion system (YscC) protein of Yersinia pestis plays an essential role in the translocation of Yersinia outer proteins (Yops) into eukaryotic target cells through a type III secretion mechanism. To assess the immunogenicity and potential protective efficacy of YscC against lethal plague challenge, we cloned, overexpressed, and purified YscC using two different bacterial expression and purification systems. The resulting expression plasmids for YscC, pETBlue-2-YscC and pTYB11-YscC, were regulated by robust T7 promoters that were induced with isopropyl-beta-D-thiogalactopyranoside. The intein-fusion pTYB11-YscC system and the six-histidine-tagging pETBlue-2-YscC system were both successful for producing and purifying YscC. The intein-mediated purification system produced about 1mg of soluble YscC per liter of bacterial culture while the YscC-His(6)-tag method resulted in 16mg of insoluble YscC per liter of bacterial culture. Protein identity for purified YscC-His(6) was confirmed by ion trap mass spectrometry. Antisera were produced against both YscC and YscC-His(6). The specific immune response generated in YscC-vaccinated mice was relative to the particular purified protein, YscC or YscC-His(6), which was used for vaccination as determined by Western blot analysis and ELISA. Regardless of the purification method, either form of the YscC protein failed to elicit a protective immune response against lethal plague challenge with either F1 capsule forming Y. pestis CO92 or the isogenic F1(-)Y. pestis C12.
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March 2005