Publications by authors named "Katia Nones"

64 Publications

Correction: McCart Reed et al. The Genomic Landscape of Lobular Breast Cancer. 2021, , 1950.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Aug 9;13(16). Epub 2021 Aug 9.

Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia.

The authors wish to make the following corrections to this paper [...].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13164010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8392523PMC
August 2021

Acquired Promoter Methylation Loss Causes PARP Inhibitor Resistance in High-Grade Serous Ovarian Carcinoma.

Cancer Res 2021 Sep 28;81(18):4709-4722. Epub 2021 Jul 28.

The Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.

In high-grade serous ovarian carcinoma (HGSC), deleterious mutations in DNA repair gene are established drivers of defective homologous recombination and are emerging biomarkers of PARP inhibitor (PARPi) sensitivity. promoter methylation (me) is detected at similar frequencies to mutations, yet its effects on PARPi responses remain unresolved.In this study, three HGSC patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models with methylation at most or all examined CpG sites in the promoter show responses to PARPi. Both complete and heterogeneous methylation patterns were associated with gene silencing and homologous recombination deficiency (HRD). PDX models lost me following treatment with PARPi rucaparib or niraparib, where a single unmethylated copy of was sufficient to drive PARPi resistance. Genomic copy number profiling of one of the PDX models using SNP arrays revealed that this resistance was acquired independently in two genetically distinct lineages.In a cohort of 12 patients with -methylated HGSC, various patterns of me were associated with genomic "scarring," indicative of HRD history, but exhibited no clear correlations with clinical outcome. Differences in methylation stability under treatment pressure were also observed between patients, where one HGSC was found to maintain me after six lines of therapy (four platinum-based), whereas another HGSC sample was found to have heterozygous me and elevated gene expression (relative to homozygous me controls) after only neoadjuvant chemotherapy.As me loss in a single gene copy was sufficient to cause PARPi resistance in PDX, methylation zygosity should be carefully assessed in previously treated patients when considering PARPi therapy. SIGNIFICANCE: Homozygous methylation is a positive predictive biomarker for sensitivity to PARP inhibitors, whereas a single unmethylated gene copy is sufficient to confer resistance.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-21-0774DOI Listing
September 2021

The Genomic Landscape of Lobular Breast Cancer.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Apr 18;13(8). Epub 2021 Apr 18.

Centre for Clinical Research, The University of Queensland, Herston, Brisbane, QLD 4029, Australia.

Invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC) is the second most common breast cancer histologic subtype, accounting for approximately 15% of all breast cancers. It is only recently that its unique biology has been assessed in high resolution. Here, we present a meta-analysis of ILC sequencing datasets, to provide a long-awaited ILC-specific resource, and to confirm the prognostic value and strength of association between a number of clinico-pathology features and genomics in this special tumour type. We consider panel ( = 684), whole exome ( = 215) and whole genome sequencing data ( = 48), and review histology of The Cancer Genome Atlas cases to assign grades and determine whether the ILC is of classic type or a variant, such as pleomorphic, prior to performing statistical analyses. We demonstrate evidence of considerable genomic heterogeneity underlying a broadly homogeneous tumour type (typically grade 2, estrogen receptor (ER)-positive); with genomes exhibiting few somatic mutations or structural alterations, genomes with a hypermutator phenotype, and tumours with highly rearranged genomes. We show that while (E-cadherin) and mutations do not significantly impact survival, overall survival is significantly poorer for patients with a higher tumour mutation burden; this is also true for grade 3 tumours, and those carrying a somatic mutation (and these cases were more likely to be ER-negative). Taken together, we have compiled a meta-dataset of ILC with molecular profiling, and our analyses show that the genomic landscape significantly impacts the tumour's variable natural history and overall survival of ILC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13081950DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8073944PMC
April 2021

DNA methylation patterns identify subgroups of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors with clinical association.

Commun Biol 2021 02 3;4(1):155. Epub 2021 Feb 3.

University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, 2006, Australia.

Here we report the DNA methylation profile of 84 sporadic pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNETs) with associated clinical and genomic information. We identified three subgroups of PanNETs, termed T1, T2 and T3, with distinct patterns of methylation. The T1 subgroup was enriched for functional tumors and ATRX, DAXX and MEN1 wild-type genotypes. The T2 subgroup contained tumors with mutations in ATRX, DAXX and MEN1 and recurrent patterns of chromosomal losses in half of the genome with no association between regions with recurrent loss and methylation levels. T2 tumors were larger and had lower methylation in the MGMT gene body, which showed positive correlation with gene expression. The T3 subgroup harboured mutations in MEN1 with recurrent loss of chromosome 11, was enriched for grade G1 tumors and showed histological parameters associated with better prognosis. Our results suggest a role for methylation in both driving tumorigenesis and potentially stratifying prognosis in PanNETs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s42003-020-01469-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7859232PMC
February 2021

Verifying explainability of a deep learning tissue classifier trained on RNA-seq data.

Sci Rep 2021 01 29;11(1):2641. Epub 2021 Jan 29.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.

For complex machine learning (ML) algorithms to gain widespread acceptance in decision making, we must be able to identify the features driving the predictions. Explainability models allow transparency of ML algorithms, however their reliability within high-dimensional data is unclear. To test the reliability of the explainability model SHapley Additive exPlanations (SHAP), we developed a convolutional neural network to predict tissue classification from Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx) RNA-seq data representing 16,651 samples from 47 tissues. Our classifier achieved an average F1 score of 96.1% on held-out GTEx samples. Using SHAP values, we identified the 2423 most discriminatory genes, of which 98.6% were also identified by differential expression analysis across all tissues. The SHAP genes reflected expected biological processes involved in tissue differentiation and function. Moreover, SHAP genes clustered tissue types with superior performance when compared to all genes, genes detected by differential expression analysis, or random genes. We demonstrate the utility and reliability of SHAP to explain a deep learning model and highlight the strengths of applying ML to transcriptome data.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-81773-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7846764PMC
January 2021

Pathogenic germline variants are associated with poor survival in stage III/IV melanoma patients.

Sci Rep 2020 10 19;10(1):17687. Epub 2020 Oct 19.

The University of Queensland Diamantina Institute, The University of Queensland, Woolloongabba, QLD, 4102, Australia.

Patients with late stage resected cutaneous melanoma have poor overall survival (OS) and experience irreversible adverse events from systemic therapy. There is a clinical need to identify biomarkers to predict outcome. Performing germline/tumour whole-exome sequencing of 44 stage III/IV melanoma patients we identified pathogenic germline mutations in CDKN2A, CDK4, ATM, POLH, MRE11A, RECQL4 and XPC, affecting 7/44 patients. These mutations were associated with poor OS (p = 0.0082). We confirmed our findings in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) human skin cutaneous melanoma cohort where we identified pathogenic variants in 40/455 patients (p = 0.0203). Combining these cohorts (n = 499) further strengthened these findings showing germline carriers had worse OS (p = 0.0009). Additionally, we determined whether tumour mutation burden (TMB) or BRAF status were prognostic markers of survival. Low TMB rate (< 20 Mut/Mb; p = 0.0034) and BRAF p.V600 mutation (p = 0.0355) were associated with worse progression-free survival. Combining these biomarkers indicated that V600 mutant patients had significantly lower TMB (p = 0.0155). This was confirmed in the TCGA (n = 443, p = 0.0007). Integrative analysis showed germline mutation status conferred the highest risk (HR 5.2, 95% CI 1.72-15.7). Stage IV (HR 2.5, 0.74-8.6) and low TMB (HR 2.3, 0.57-9.4) were similar, whereas BRAF V600 status was the weakest prognostic biomarker (HR 1.5, 95% CI 0.44-5.2).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-74956-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7572377PMC
October 2020

Whole-genome sequencing of acral melanoma reveals genomic complexity and diversity.

Nat Commun 2020 10 16;11(1):5259. Epub 2020 Oct 16.

Center for Rare Melanomas, University of Colorado Cancer Center, Aurora, Colorado, USA.

To increase understanding of the genomic landscape of acral melanoma, a rare form of melanoma occurring on palms, soles or nail beds, whole genome sequencing of 87 tumors with matching transcriptome sequencing for 63 tumors was performed. Here we report that mutational signature analysis reveals a subset of tumors, mostly subungual, with an ultraviolet radiation signature. Significantly mutated genes are BRAF, NRAS, NF1, NOTCH2, PTEN and TYRP1. Mutations and amplification of KIT are also common. Structural rearrangement and copy number signatures show that whole genome duplication, aneuploidy and complex rearrangements are common. Complex rearrangements occur recurrently and are associated with amplification of TERT, CDK4, MDM2, CCND1, PAK1 and GAB2, indicating potential therapeutic options.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-18988-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7567804PMC
October 2020

The Impact of Next Generation Sequencing in Cancer Research.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Oct 12;12(10). Epub 2020 Oct 12.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, 4006 Queensland, Australia.

Next generation sequencing (NGS) describes the technical revolution that enabled massively parallel sequencing of fragmented nucleic acids, thus making possible our current genomic understanding of cancers [...].
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12102928DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7601779PMC
October 2020

Using whole-genome sequencing data to derive the homologous recombination deficiency scores.

NPJ Breast Cancer 2020 7;6:33. Epub 2020 Aug 7.

Centre for Clinical Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD Australia.

The homologous recombination deficiency (HRD) score was developed using whole-genome copy number data derived from arrays as a way to infer deficiency in the homologous recombination DNA damage repair pathway (in particular or deficiency) in breast cancer samples. The score has utility in understanding tumour biology and may be indicative of response to certain therapeutic strategies. Studies have used whole-exome sequencing to derive the HRD score, however, with increasing use of whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to characterise tumour genomes, there has yet to be a comprehensive comparison between HRD scores derived by array versus WGS. Here we demonstrate that there is both a high correlation and a good agreement between array- and WGS-derived HRD scores and between the scores derived from WGS and downsampled WGS to represent shallow WGS. For samples with an HRD score close to threshold for stratifying HR proficiency or deficiency there was however some disagreement in the HR status between array and WGS data, highlighting the importance of not relying on a single method of ascertaining the homologous recombination status of a tumour.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41523-020-0172-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7414867PMC
August 2020

Estimating the costs of genomic sequencing in cancer control.

BMC Health Serv Res 2020 Jun 3;20(1):492. Epub 2020 Jun 3.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Medical Genomics Laboratory, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Despite the rapid uptake of genomic technologies within cancer care, few studies provide detailed information on the costs of sequencing across different applications. The objective of the study was to examine and categorise the complete costs involved in genomic sequencing for a range of applications within cancer settings.

Methods: We performed a cost-analysis using gross and micro-costing approaches for genomic sequencing performed during 2017/2018 across different settings in Brisbane, Australia. Sequencing was undertaken for patients with lung, breast, oesophageal cancers, melanoma or mesothelioma. Aggregated resource data were captured for a total of 1433 patients and point estimates of per patient costs were generated. Deterministic sensitivity analyses addressed the uncertainty in the estimates. Estimated costs to the public health system for resources were categorised into seven distinct activities in the sequencing process: sampling, extraction, library preparation, sequencing, analysis, data storage and clinical reporting. Costs were also aggregated according to labour, consumables, testing, equipment and 'other' categories.

Results: The per person costs were AU$347-429 (2018 US$240-297) for targeted panels, AU$871-$2788 (2018 US$604-1932) for exome sequencing, and AU$2895-4830 (2018 US$2006-3347) for whole genome sequencing. Cost proportions were highest for library preparation/sequencing materials (average 76.8% of total costs), sample extraction (8.1%), data analysis (9.2%) and data storage (2.6%). Capital costs for the sequencers were an additional AU$34-197 (2018 US$24-67) per person.

Conclusions: Total costs were most sensitive to consumables and sequencing activities driven by commercial prices. Per person sequencing costs for cancer are high when tumour/blood pairs require testing. Using the natural steps involved in sequencing and categorising resources accordingly, future evaluations of costs or cost-effectiveness of clinical genomics across cancer projects could be more standardised and facilitate easier comparison of cost drivers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12913-020-05318-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7268398PMC
June 2020

Whole-genome landscape of mucosal melanoma reveals diverse drivers and therapeutic targets.

Nat Commun 2019 07 18;10(1):3163. Epub 2019 Jul 18.

Department of Pathology, University of California, San Francisco, CA, 94143, USA.

Knowledge of key drivers and therapeutic targets in mucosal melanoma is limited due to the paucity of comprehensive mutation data on this rare tumor type. To better understand the genomic landscape of mucosal melanoma, here we describe whole genome sequencing analysis of 67 tumors and validation of driver gene mutations by exome sequencing of 45 tumors. Tumors have a low point mutation burden and high numbers of structural variants, including recurrent structural rearrangements targeting TERT, CDK4 and MDM2. Significantly mutated genes are NRAS, BRAF, NF1, KIT, SF3B1, TP53, SPRED1, ATRX, HLA-A and CHD8. SF3B1 mutations occur more commonly in female genital and anorectal melanomas and CTNNB1 mutations implicate a role for WNT signaling defects in the genesis of some mucosal melanomas. TERT aberrations and ATRX mutations are associated with alterations in telomere length. Mutation profiles of the majority of mucosal melanomas suggest potential susceptibility to CDK4/6 and/or MEK inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-11107-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6639323PMC
July 2019

Mechanisms of Genomic Instability in Breast Cancer.

Trends Mol Med 2019 07 8;25(7):595-611. Epub 2019 May 8.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia. Electronic address:

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women globally. Genomic instability (GI) refers to the increased tendency to accrue genomic alterations. It drives heterogeneity and is a hallmark of cancer. Genomic integrity is closely guarded by several mechanisms, including DNA damage checkpoints, the DNA repair machinery, and the mitotic checkpoint. Alterations in these surveillance mechanisms cause GI. In breast cancer, several pathways maintaining genomic integrity are distinctly altered, including some that have been successfully exploited for therapeutic targeting. In this review, we comprehensively discuss the recent advances on the mechanisms of GI in breast cancer, highlighting DNA repair defects and chromosome segregation errors during mitosis. We further review the clinical implications and therapeutic potential of targeting GI in the era of precision medicine.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molmed.2019.04.004DOI Listing
July 2019

Integrative Genome-Scale DNA Methylation Analysis of a Large and Unselected Cohort Reveals 5 Distinct Subtypes of Colorectal Adenocarcinomas.

Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019 5;8(2):269-290. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Conjoint Gastroenterology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Queensland, Australia; School of Medicine, University of Queensland, Queensland, Australia; Chemical Pathology Department, Pathology Queensland, Queensland, Australia.

Background & Aims: Colorectal cancer is an epigenetically heterogeneous disease, however, the extent and spectrum of the CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP) is not clear.

Methods: Genome-scale methylation and transcript expression were measured by DNA Methylation and RNA expression microarray in 216 unselected colorectal cancers, and findings were validated using The Cancer Genome Atlas 450K and RNA sequencing data. Mutations in epigenetic regulators were assessed using CIMP-subtyped Cancer Genome Atlas exomes.

Results: CIMP-high cancers dichotomized into CIMP-H1 and CIMP-H2 based on methylation profile. KRAS mutation was associated significantly with CIMP-H2 cancers, but not CIMP-H1 cancers. Congruent with increasing methylation, there was a stepwise increase in patient age from 62 years in the CIMP-negative subgroup to 75 years in the CIMP-H1 subgroup (P < .0001). CIMP-H1 predominantly comprised consensus molecular subtype 1 cancers (70%) whereas consensus molecular subtype 3 was over-represented in the CIMP-H2 subgroup (55%). Polycomb Repressive Complex-2 (PRC2)-marked loci were subjected to significant gene body methylation in CIMP cancers (P < 1.6 × 10). We identified oncogenes susceptible to gene body methylation and Wnt pathway antagonists resistant to gene body methylation. CIMP cluster-specific mutations were observed in chromatin remodeling genes, such as in the SWItch/Sucrose Non-Fermentable and Chromodomain Helicase DNA-Binding gene families.

Conclusions: There are 5 clinically and molecularly distinct subgroups of colorectal cancer. We show a striking association between CIMP and age, sex, and tumor location, and identify a role for gene body methylation in the progression of serrated neoplasia. These data support our recent findings that CIMP is uncommon in young patients and that BRAF mutant polyps in young patients may have limited potential for malignant progression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcmgh.2019.04.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6699251PMC
July 2020

Patterns of Genomic Instability in Breast Cancer.

Trends Pharmacol Sci 2019 03 6;40(3):198-211. Epub 2019 Feb 6.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia. Electronic address:

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers affecting women. Despite significant improvements in overall survival, it remains a significant cause of death worldwide. Genomic instability (GI) is a hallmark of cancer and plays a pivotal role in breast cancer development and progression. In the past decade, high-throughput technologies have provided a wealth of information that has facilitated the identification of a diverse repertoire of mutated genes and mutational processes operative across cancers. Here, we review recent findings on genomic alterations and mutational processes in breast cancer pathogenesis. Most importantly, we summarize the clinical challenges and opportunities to utilize omics-based signatures for better management of breast cancer patients and treatment decision-making.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tips.2019.01.005DOI Listing
March 2019

Intratumoural Heterogeneity Underlies Distinct Therapy Responses and Treatment Resistance in Glioblastoma.

Cancers (Basel) 2019 Feb 6;11(2). Epub 2019 Feb 6.

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane 4006, QLD, Australia.

Glioblastomas are the most common and lethal neoplasms of the central nervous system. Neighbouring glioma cells maintain extreme degrees of genetic and phenotypic variation that form intratumoural heterogeneity. This genetic diversity allows the most adaptive tumour clones to develop treatment resistance, ultimately leading to disease recurrence. We aimed to model this phenomenon and test the effectiveness of several targeted therapeutic interventions to overcome therapy resistance. Heterogeneous tumour masses were first deconstructed into single tumour cells, which were expanded independently as single-cell clones. Single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, whole-genome and RNA sequencing, and CpG methylation analysis validated the unique molecular profile of each tumour clone, which displayed distinct pathologic features, including cell morphology, growth rate, and resistance to temozolomide and ionizing radiation. We also identified variable sensitivities to AURK, CDK, and EGFR inhibitors which were consistent with the heterogeneous molecular alterations that each clone harboured. These targeted therapies effectively eliminated the temozolomide- and/or irradiation-resistant clones and also parental polyclonal cells. Our findings indicate that polyclonal tumours create a dynamic environment that consists of diverse tumour elements and treatment responses. Designing targeted therapies based on a range of molecular profiles can be a more effective strategy to eradicate treatment resistance, recurrence, and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers11020190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6406894PMC
February 2019

Diff-Quik Cytology Smears from Endobronchial Ultrasound Transbronchial Needle Aspiration Lymph Node Specimens as a Source of DNA for Next-Generation Sequencing Instead of Cell Blocks.

Respiration 2019;97(6):525-539. Epub 2019 Feb 7.

Centre for Clinical Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Next-generation sequencing (NGS) in lung cancer specimens from endobronchial ultrasound transbronchial needle aspiration (EBUS-TBNA) is usually performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded cell block material.

Objectives: Since DNA can be damaged by this process, we investigated the potential of using DNA extracted from Diff-Quik cytology smears made for rapid on-site evaluation during EBUS-TBNA.

Methods: In a prospective study, 67 patients undergoing diagnostic EBUS-TBNA were ana-lysed. We compared cell blocks and smears for DNA yields and sequencing (TruSeq Amplicon Cancer Panel) outcomes. Smears were also evaluated for tumour cell fraction and overall cellularity (cell count).

Results: Primary lung cancer was diagnosed in 64 patients and metastatic malignancy in 3 patients. The DNA yield from smears was significantly higher than that obtained from matched cell blocks (mean 1,740 vs. 434 ng; p = 0.001). For 33 cases with matched smears and cell blocks the mutation profiles were similar. Smears with abundant malignant cells (using a cut-off of > 25% tumour cell fraction and > 1,000 cells) accurately predicted high (> 50 ng) DNA yield and therefore success in triaging samples to sequencing. In terms of tissue workflow, using only smears as source DNA for sequencing was an improvement in the use of only cell blocks (54/67 [80.6%] vs. 41/67 [61.2%]); however, the use of cell blocks when smears were not available or did not yield sufficient DNA further improved the success rate to 62/67 (92.5%) cases.

Conclusion: We recommend smears in laboratory workflows as the primary source of DNA for NGS following an EBUS procedure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000495661DOI Listing
September 2020

Complex structural rearrangements are present in high-grade dysplastic Barrett's oesophagus samples.

BMC Med Genomics 2019 02 4;12(1):31. Epub 2019 Feb 4.

Surgical Oncology Group, Diamantina Institute, The University of Queensland, Translational Research Institute, Woolloongabba, Brisbane, QLD, 4102, Australia.

Background: Oesophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) incidence is increasing and has a poor survival rate. Barrett's oesophagus (BE) is a precursor condition that is associated with EAC and often occurs in conjunction with chronic gastro-oesophageal reflux, however many individuals diagnosed with BE never progress to cancer. An understanding of the genomic features of BE and EAC may help with the early identification of at-risk individuals.

Methods: In this study, we assessed the genomic features of 16 BE samples using whole-genome sequencing. These included non-dysplastic samples collected at two time-points from two BE patients who had not progressed to EAC over several years. Seven other non-dysplastic samples and five dysplastic BE samples with high-grade dysplasia were also examined. We compared the genome profiles of these 16 BE samples with 22 EAC samples.

Results: We observed that samples from the two non-progressor individuals had low numbers of somatic single nucleotide variants, indels and structural variation events compared to dysplastic and the remaining non-dysplastic BE. EAC had the highest level of somatic genomic variations. Mutational signature 17, which is common in EAC, was also present in non-dysplastic and dysplastic BE, but was not present in the non-progressors. Many dysplastic samples had mutations in genes previously reported in EAC, whereas only mutations in CDKN2A or in the fragile site genes appeared common in non-dysplastic samples. Rearrangement signatures were used to identify a signature associated with localised complex events such as chromothripsis and breakage fusion-bridge that are characteristic of EACs. Two dysplastic BE samples had a high contribution of this signature and contained evidence of localised rearrangements. Two other dysplastic samples also had regions of localised structural rearrangements. There was no evidence for complex events in non-dysplastic samples.

Conclusions: The presence of complex localised rearrangements in dysplastic samples indicates a need for further investigations into the role such events play in the progression from BE to EAC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12920-019-0476-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360790PMC
February 2019

Phenotypic and molecular dissection of metaplastic breast cancer and the prognostic implications.

J Pathol 2019 02 20;247(2):214-227. Epub 2018 Dec 20.

Department of Histopathology, Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology, Bowen Hills, Australia.

Metaplastic breast carcinoma (MBC) is relatively rare but accounts for a significant proportion of global breast cancer mortality. This group is extremely heterogeneous and by definition exhibits metaplastic change to squamous and/or mesenchymal elements, including spindle, squamous, chondroid, osseous, and rhabdomyoid features. Clinically, patients are more likely to present with large primary tumours (higher stage), distant metastases, and overall, have shorter 5-year survival compared to invasive carcinomas of no special type. The current World Health Organisation (WHO) diagnostic classification for this cancer type is based purely on morphology - the biological basis and clinical relevance of its seven sub-categories are currently unclear. By establishing the Asia-Pacific MBC (AP-MBC) Consortium, we amassed a large series of MBCs (n = 347) and analysed the mutation profile of a subset, expression of 14 breast cancer biomarkers, and clinicopathological correlates, contextualising our findings within the WHO guidelines. The most significant indicators of poor prognosis were large tumour size (T3; p = 0.004), loss of cytokeratin expression (lack of staining with pan-cytokeratin AE1/3 antibody; p = 0.007), EGFR overexpression (p = 0.01), and for 'mixed' MBC, the presence of more than three distinct morphological entities (p = 0.007). Conversely, fewer morphological components and EGFR negativity were favourable indicators. Exome sequencing of 30 cases confirmed enrichment of TP53 and PTEN mutations, and intriguingly, concurrent mutations of TP53, PTEN, and PIK3CA. Mutations in neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) were also overrepresented [16.7% MBCs compared to ∼5% of breast cancers overall; enrichment p = 0.028; mutation significance p = 0.006 (OncodriveFM)], consistent with published case reports implicating germline NF1 mutations in MBC risk. Taken together, we propose a practically minor but clinically significant modification to the guidelines: all WHO_1 mixed-type tumours should have the number of morphologies present recorded, as a mechanism for refining prognosis, and that EGFR and pan-cytokeratin expression are important prognostic markers. Copyright © 2018 Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.5184DOI Listing
February 2019

Whole genome sequencing of melanomas in adolescent and young adults reveals distinct mutation landscapes and the potential role of germline variants in disease susceptibility.

Int J Cancer 2019 03 21;144(5):1049-1060. Epub 2018 Nov 21.

Melanoma Institute Australia, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Cutaneous melanoma accounts for at least >10% of all cancers in adolescents and young adults (AYA, 15-30 years of age) in Western countries. To date, little is known about the correlations between germline variants and somatic mutations and mutation signatures in AYA melanoma patients that might explain why they have developed a cancer predominantly affecting those over 65 years of age. We performed genomic analysis of 50 AYA melanoma patients (onset 10-30 years, median 20); 25 underwent whole genome sequencing (WGS) of both tumor and germline DNA, exome data were retrieved from 12 TCGA AYA cases, and targeted DNA sequencing was conducted on 13 cases. The AYA cases were compared with WGS data from 121 adult cutaneous melanomas. Similar to mature adult cutaneous melanomas, AYA melanomas showed a high mutation burden and mutation signatures of ultraviolet radiation (UVR) damage. The frequencies of somatic mutations in BRAF (96%) and PTEN (36%) in the AYA WGS cohort were double the rates observed in adult melanomas (Q < 6.0 × 10 and 0.028, respectively). Furthermore, AYA melanomas contained a higher proportion of non-UVR-related mutation signatures than mature adult melanomas as a proportion of total mutation burden (p = 2.0 × 10 ). Interestingly, these non-UVR mutation signatures relate to APOBEC or mismatch repair pathways, and germline variants in related genes were observed in some of these cases. We conclude that AYA melanomas harbor some of the same molecular aberrations and mutagenic insults occurring in older adults, but in different proportions. Germline variants that may have conferred disease susceptibility correlated with somatic mutation signatures in a subset of AYA melanomas.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.31791DOI Listing
March 2019

CEP55 is a determinant of cell fate during perturbed mitosis in breast cancer.

EMBO Mol Med 2018 09;10(9)

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Herston, Qld, Australia

The centrosomal protein, CEP55, is a key regulator of cytokinesis, and its overexpression is linked to genomic instability, a hallmark of cancer. However, the mechanism by which it mediates genomic instability remains elusive. Here, we showed that CEP55 overexpression/knockdown impacts survival of aneuploid cells. Loss of CEP55 sensitizes breast cancer cells to anti-mitotic agents through premature CDK1/cyclin B activation and CDK1 caspase-dependent mitotic cell death. Further, we showed that CEP55 is a downstream effector of the MEK1/2-MYC axis. Blocking MEK1/2-PLK1 signaling therefore reduced outgrowth of basal-like syngeneic and human breast tumors in models. In conclusion, high CEP55 levels dictate cell fate during perturbed mitosis. Forced mitotic cell death by blocking MEK1/2-PLK1 represents a potential therapeutic strategy for MYC-CEP55-dependent basal-like, triple-negative breast cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.15252/emmm.201708566DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6127888PMC
September 2018

Early Changes in CD4+ T-Cell Activation During Blood-Stage Plasmodium falciparum Infection.

J Infect Dis 2018 08;218(7):1119-1129

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

We examined transcriptional changes in CD4+ T cells during blood-stage Plasmodium falciparum infection in individuals without a history of previous parasite exposure. Transcription of CXCL8 (encoding interleukin 8) in CD4+ T cells was identified as an early biomarker of submicroscopic P. falciparum infection, with predictive power for parasite growth. Following antiparasitic drug treatment, a CD4+ T-cell regulatory phenotype developed. PD1 expression on CD49b+CD4+ T (putative type I regulatory T) cells after drug treatment negatively correlated with earlier parasite growth. Blockade of PD1 but no other immune checkpoint molecules tested increased interferon γ and interleukin 10 production in an ex vivo antigen-specific cellular assay at the peak of infection. These results demonstrate the early development of an immunoregulatory CD4+ T-cell phenotype in blood-stage P. falciparum infection and show that a selective immune checkpoint blockade may be used to modulate early developing antiparasitic immunoregulatory pathways as part of malaria vaccine and/or drug treatment protocols.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiy281DOI Listing
August 2018

Telomere sequence content can be used to determine ALT activity in tumours.

Nucleic Acids Res 2018 06;46(10):4903-4918

Telomere Length Regulation Unit, Children's Medical Research Institute, University of Sydney, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia.

The replicative immortality of human cancer cells is achieved by activation of a telomere maintenance mechanism (TMM). To achieve this, cancer cells utilise either the enzyme telomerase, or the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) pathway. These distinct molecular pathways are incompletely understood with respect to activation and propagation, as well as their associations with clinical outcomes. We have identified significant differences in the telomere repeat composition of tumours that use ALT compared to tumours that do not. We then employed a machine learning approach to stratify tumours according to telomere repeat content with an accuracy of 91.6%. Importantly, this classification approach is applicable across all tumour types. Analysis of pathway mutations that were under-represented in ALT tumours, across 1,075 tumour samples, revealed that the autophagy, cell cycle control of chromosomal replication, and transcriptional regulatory network in embryonic stem cells pathways are involved in the survival of ALT tumours. Overall, our approach demonstrates that telomere sequence content can be used to stratify ALT activity in cancers, and begin to define the molecular pathways involved in ALT activation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gky297DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6007693PMC
June 2018

Characterization of a novel breast cancer cell line derived from a metastatic bone lesion of a breast cancer patient.

Breast Cancer Res Treat 2018 Jul 21;170(1):179-188. Epub 2018 Feb 21.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Royal Brisbane Hospital, Locked Bag 2000, Brisbane, QLD, 4029, Australia.

Purpose: We aimed to generate and characterize a novel cell line from a breast cancer bone metastasis to better study the progression of the disease.

Methods: The cell line, P7731, was derived from a metastatic bone lesion of a breast cancer patient and assessed for marker expression. P7731 was analyzed for DNA copy number variation, somatic mutations, and gene expression and was compared with the primary tumor.

Results: P7731 cells are negative for estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), progesterone receptor (PR), and HER2 (triple-negative); strongly express vimentin (100% of cells positive) and also express cytokeratins 8/18 and 19 but at lower frequencies. Flow cytometry indicates P7731 cells are predominantly CD44/CD49f/EpCAM, consistent with a primitive, mesenchymal-like phenotype. The cell line is tumorigenic in immunocompromised mice. Exome sequencing identified a total of 45 and 76 somatic mutations in the primary tumor and cell line, respectively, of which 32 were identified in both samples and included mutations in known driver genes PIK3CA, TP53, and ARID1A. P7731 retains the DNA copy number alterations present in the matching primary tumor. Homozygous deletions detected in the cell line and in the primary tumor were found in regions containing three known (CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and CDKN1B) and 23 putative tumor suppressor genes. Cell line-specific gene amplification coupled with mRNA expression analysis revealed genes and pathways with potential pro-metastatic functions.

Conclusion: This novel human breast cancer-bone metastasis cell line will be a useful model to study aspects of breast cancer biology, particularly metastasis-related changes from breast to bone.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10549-018-4719-9DOI Listing
July 2018

Copy number profiles of paired primary and metastatic colorectal cancers.

Oncotarget 2018 Jan 15;9(3):3394-3405. Epub 2017 Dec 15.

Conjoint Gastroenterology Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Liver metastasis is the major cause of death following a diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC). In this study, we compared the copy number profiles of paired primary and liver metastatic CRC to better understand how the genomic structure of primary CRC differs from the metastasis. Paired primary and metastatic tumors from 16 patients and their adjacent normal tissue samples were analyzed using single nucleotide polymorphism arrays. Genome-wide chromosomal copy number alterations were assessed, with particular attention to 188 genes known to be somatically altered in CRC and 24 genes that are clinically actionable in CRC. These data were analyzed with respect to the timing of primary and metastatic tissue resection and with exposure to chemotherapy. The genomic differences between the tumor and paired metastases revealed an average copy number discordance of 22.0%. The pairs of tumor samples collected prior to treatment revealed significantly higher copy number differences compared to post-therapy liver metastases ( = 0.014). Loss of heterozygosity acquired in liver metastases was significantly higher in previously treated liver metastasis samples compared to treatment naive liver metastasis samples ( = 0.003). Amplification of the clinically actionable genes , , or was observed in the metastatic tissue of 4 patients but not in the paired primary CRC. These examples highlight the intra-patient genomic discrepancies that can occur between metastases and the primary tumors from which they arose. We propose that precision medicine strategies may therefore identify different actionable targets in metastatic tissue, compared to primary tumors, due to substantial genomic differences.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.23277DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5790471PMC
January 2018

Mixed ductal-lobular carcinomas: evidence for progression from ductal to lobular morphology.

J Pathol 2018 04 9;244(4):460-468. Epub 2018 Mar 9.

Centre for Clinical Research, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.

Mixed ductal-lobular carcinomas (MDLs) show both ductal and lobular morphology, and constitute an archetypal example of intratumoural morphological heterogeneity. The mechanisms underlying the coexistence of these different morphological entities are poorly understood, although theories include that these components either represent 'collision' of independent tumours or evolve from a common ancestor. We performed comprehensive clinicopathological analysis of a cohort of 82 MDLs, and found that: (1) MDLs more frequently coexist with ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) than with lobular carcinoma in situ (LCIS); (2) the E-cadherin-catenin complex was normal in the ductal component in 77.6% of tumours; and (3) in the lobular component, E-cadherin was almost always aberrantly located in the cytoplasm, in contrast to invasive lobular carcinoma (ILC), where E-cadherin is typically absent. Comparative genomic hybridization and multiregion whole exome sequencing of four representative cases revealed that all morphologically distinct components within an individual case were clonally related. The mutations identified varied between cases; those associated with a common clonal ancestry included BRCA2, TBX3, and TP53, whereas those associated with clonal divergence included CDH1 and ESR1. Together, these data support a model in which separate morphological components of MDLs arise from a common ancestor, and lobular morphology can arise via a ductal pathway of tumour progression. In MDLs that present with LCIS and DCIS, the clonal divergence probably occurs early, and is frequently associated with complete loss of E-cadherin expression, as in ILC, whereas, in the majority of MDLs, which present with DCIS but not LCIS, direct clonal divergence from the ductal to the lobular phenotype occurs late in tumour evolution, and is associated with aberrant expression of E-cadherin. The mechanisms driving the phenotypic change may involve E-cadherin-catenin complex deregulation, but are yet to be fully elucidated, as there is significant intertumoural heterogeneity, and each case may have a unique molecular mechanism. © 2018 The Authors. The Journal of Pathology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Pathological Society of Great Britain and Ireland.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/path.5040DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5873281PMC
April 2018

Germline and somatic variant identification using BGISEQ-500 and HiSeq X Ten whole genome sequencing.

PLoS One 2018 10;13(1):e0190264. Epub 2018 Jan 10.

Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Technological innovation and increased affordability have contributed to the widespread adoption of genome sequencing technologies in biomedical research. In particular large cancer research consortia have embraced next generation sequencing, and have used the technology to define the somatic mutation landscape of multiple cancer types. These studies have primarily utilised the Illumina HiSeq platforms. In this study we performed whole genome sequencing of three malignant pleural mesothelioma and matched normal samples using a new platform, the BGISEQ-500, and compared the results obtained with Illumina HiSeq X Ten. Germline and somatic, single nucleotide variants and small insertions or deletions were independently identified from data aligned human genome reference. The BGISEQ-500 and HiSeq X Ten platforms showed high concordance for germline calls with genotypes from SNP arrays (>99%). The germline and somatic single nucleotide variants identified in both sequencing platforms were highly concordant (86% and 72% respectively). These results indicate the potential applicability of the BGISEQ-500 platform for the identification of somatic and germline single nucleotide variants by whole genome sequencing. The BGISEQ-500 datasets described here represent the first publicly-available cancer genome sequencing performed using this platform.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0190264PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5761881PMC
February 2018

DNA methylation in schizophrenia in different patient-derived cell types.

NPJ Schizophr 2017 23;3. Epub 2017 Jan 23.

Griffith Institute for Drug Discovery, Griffith University, Nathan, QLD Australia.

DNA methylation of gene promoter regions represses transcription and is a mechanism via which environmental risk factors could affect cells during development in individuals at risk for schizophrenia. We investigated DNA methylation in patient-derived cells that might shed light on early development in schizophrenia. Induced pluripotent stem cells may reflect a "ground state" upon which developmental and environmental influences would be minimal. Olfactory neurosphere-derived cells are an adult-derived neuro-ectodermal stem cell modified by developmental and environmental influences. Fibroblasts provide a non-neural control for life-long developmental and environmental influences. Genome-wide profiling of DNA methylation and gene expression was done in these three cell types from the same individuals. All cell types had distinct, statistically significant schizophrenia-associated differences in DNA methylation and linked gene expression, with Gene Ontology analysis showing that the differentially affected genes clustered in networks associated with cell growth, proliferation, and movement, functions known to be affected in schizophrenia patient-derived cells. Only five gene loci were differentially methylated in all three cell types. Understanding the role of epigenetics in cell function in the brain in schizophrenia is likely to be complicated by similar cell type differences in intrinsic and environmentally induced epigenetic regulation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41537-016-0006-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5441549PMC
January 2017

Whole-genome landscapes of major melanoma subtypes.

Nature 2017 05 3;545(7653):175-180. Epub 2017 May 3.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Queensland 4006, Australia.

Melanoma of the skin is a common cancer only in Europeans, whereas it arises in internal body surfaces (mucosal sites) and on the hands and feet (acral sites) in people throughout the world. Here we report analysis of whole-genome sequences from cutaneous, acral and mucosal subtypes of melanoma. The heavily mutated landscape of coding and non-coding mutations in cutaneous melanoma resolved novel signatures of mutagenesis attributable to ultraviolet radiation. However, acral and mucosal melanomas were dominated by structural changes and mutation signatures of unknown aetiology, not previously identified in melanoma. The number of genes affected by recurrent mutations disrupting non-coding sequences was similar to that affected by recurrent mutations to coding sequences. Significantly mutated genes included BRAF, CDKN2A, NRAS and TP53 in cutaneous melanoma, BRAF, NRAS and NF1 in acral melanoma and SF3B1 in mucosal melanoma. Mutations affecting the TERT promoter were the most frequent of all; however, neither they nor ATRX mutations, which correlate with alternative telomere lengthening, were associated with greater telomere length. Most melanomas had potentially actionable mutations, most in components of the mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphoinositol kinase pathways. The whole-genome mutation landscape of melanoma reveals diverse carcinogenic processes across its subtypes, some unrelated to sun exposure, and extends potential involvement of the non-coding genome in its pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature22071DOI Listing
May 2017
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