Publications by authors named "Nicola Cahill"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Detection of leukemia gene fusions by targeted RNA-sequencing in routine diagnostics.

BMC Med Genomics 2020 07 29;13(1):106. Epub 2020 Jul 29.

Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Background: We have evaluated an NGS-based method to detect recurrent gene fusions of diagnostic and prognostic importance in hematological malignancies. Our goal was to achieve a highly specific assay with a simple workflow, short turnaround time and low cost.

Method: The assay uses a commercially available anchored multiplex PCR panel for target enrichment and library preparation, followed by sequencing using a MiSeq instrument. The panel includes all recurrent gene fusions in AML and ALL and is designed to detect gene-specific fusions without prior knowledge of the partner sequence or specific break points. Diagnostic RNA samples from 27 cases with hematological malignancies encompassing 23 different transcript variants were analyzed. In addition, 12 cases from a validation cohort were assessed.

Result: All known fusion transcripts were identified with a high degree of confidence, with a large number of reads covering the breakpoints. Importantly, we could identify gene fusions where conventional methods had failed due to cryptic rearrangements or rare fusion partners. The newly-identified fusion partners were verified by RT-PCR and transcript-specific qPCR was designed for patient-specific follow-up. In addition, 12 cases were correctly assessed in a blind test, without prior knowledge of molecular cytogenetics or diagnosis.

Conclusion: In summary, our results demonstrate that targeted RNA sequencing using anchored multiplex PCR can be implemented in a clinical laboratory for the detection of recurrent and rare gene fusions in hematological diagnostic samples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12920-020-00739-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7388219PMC
July 2020

Revertant mosaicism repairs skin lesions in a patient with keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness syndrome by second-site mutations in connexin 26.

Hum Mol Genet 2017 03;26(6):1070-1077

Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Revertant mosaicism (RM) is a naturally occurring phenomenon where the pathogenic effect of a germline mutation is corrected by a second somatic event. Development of healthy-looking skin due to RM has been observed in patients with various inherited skin disorders, but not in connexin-related disease. We aimed to clarify the underlying molecular mechanisms of suspected RM in the skin of a patient with keratitis-ichthyosis-deafness (KID) syndrome. The patient was diagnosed with KID syndrome due to characteristic skin lesions, hearing deficiency and keratitis. Investigation of GJB2 encoding connexin (Cx) 26 revealed heterozygosity for the recurrent de novo germline mutation, c.148G > A, p.Asp50Asn. At age 20, the patient developed spots of healthy-looking skin that grew in size and number within widespread erythrokeratodermic lesions. Ultra-deep sequencing of two healthy-looking skin biopsies identified five somatic nonsynonymous mutations, independently present in cis with the p.Asp50Asn mutation. Functional studies of Cx26 in HeLa cells revealed co-expression of Cx26-Asp50Asn and wild-type Cx26 in gap junction channel plaques. However, Cx26-Asp50Asn with the second-site mutations identified in the patient displayed no formation of gap junction channel plaques. We argue that the second-site mutations independently inhibit Cx26-Asp50Asn expression in gap junction channels, reverting the dominant negative effect of the p.Asp50Asn mutation. To our knowledge, this is the first time RM has been reported to result in the development of healthy-looking skin in a patient with KID syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddx017DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5409067PMC
March 2017

Clonal distribution of BCR-ABL1 mutations and splice isoforms by single-molecule long-read RNA sequencing.

BMC Cancer 2015 Feb 12;15:45. Epub 2015 Feb 12.

Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Science for Life Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Background: The evolution of mutations in the BCR-ABL1 fusion gene transcript renders CML patients resistant to tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) based therapy. Thus screening for BCR-ABL1 mutations is recommended particularly in patients experiencing poor response to treatment. Herein we describe a novel approach for the detection and surveillance of BCR-ABL1 mutations in CML patients.

Methods: To detect mutations in the BCR-ABL1 transcript we developed an assay based on the Pacific Biosciences (PacBio) sequencing technology, which allows for single-molecule long-read sequencing of BCR-ABL1 fusion transcript molecules. Samples from six patients with poor response to therapy were analyzed both at diagnosis and follow-up. cDNA was generated from total RNA and a 1,6 kb fragment encompassing the BCR-ABL1 transcript was amplified using long range PCR. To estimate the sensitivity of the assay, a serial dilution experiment was performed.

Results: Over 10,000 full-length BCR-ABL1 sequences were obtained for all samples studied. Through the serial dilution analysis, mutations in CML patient samples could be detected down to a level of at least 1%. Notably, the assay was determined to be sufficiently sensitive even in patients harboring a low abundance of BCR-ABL1 levels. The PacBio sequencing successfully identified all mutations seen by standard methods. Importantly, we identified several mutations that escaped detection by the clinical routine analysis. Resistance mutations were found in all but one of the patients. Due to the long reads afforded by PacBio sequencing, compound mutations present in the same molecule were readily distinguished from independent alterations arising in different molecules. Moreover, several transcript isoforms of the BCR-ABL1 transcript were identified in two of the CML patients. Finally, our assay allowed for a quick turn around time allowing samples to be reported upon within 2 days.

Conclusions: In summary the PacBio sequencing assay can be applied to detect BCR-ABL1 resistance mutations in both diagnostic and follow-up CML patient samples using a simple protocol applicable to routine diagnosis. The method besides its sensitivity, gives a complete view of the clonal distribution of mutations, which is of importance when making therapy decisions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-015-1046-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4335374PMC
February 2015

Short telomere length is associated with NOTCH1/SF3B1/TP53 aberrations and poor outcome in newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients.

Am J Hematol 2013 Aug 20;88(8):647-51. Epub 2013 Jun 20.

Department of Immunology, Genetics, and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Most previous studies on telomere length (TL) in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) are based on referral cohorts including a high proportion of aggressive cases. Here, the impact of TL was analyzed in a population-based cohort of newly diagnosed CLL (n = 265) and in relation to other prognostic markers. Short telomeres were particularly associated with high-risk genetic markers, such as NOTCH1, SF3B1, or TP53 aberrations, and predicted a short time to treatment (TTT) and overall survival (OS) (both P < 0.0001). TL was an independent prognostic factor and subdivided patients with otherwise good-prognostic features (e.g., mutated IGHV genes, favorable cytogenetics) into subgroups with different outcome. Furthermore, in follow-up samples (n = 119) taken 5-8 years after diagnosis, TL correlated well with TL at diagnosis and remained unaffected by treatment. Altogether, these novel data indicate that short TL already at diagnosis is associated with poor outcome in CLL and that TL can be measured at later stages of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ajh.23466DOI Listing
August 2013

Uncovering the DNA methylome in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Epigenetics 2013 Feb 15;8(2):138-48. Epub 2013 Jan 15.

Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology; Uppsala University; Uppsala, Sweden.

Over the past two decades, aberrant DNA methylation has emerged as a key player in the pathogenesis of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), and knowledge regarding its biological and clinical consequences in this disease has evolved rapidly. Since the initial studies relating DNA hypomethylation to genomic instability in CLL, a plethora of reports have followed showing the impact of DNA hypermethylation in silencing vital single gene promoters and the reversible nature of DNA methylation through inhibitor drugs. With the recognition that DNA hypermethylation events could potentially act as novel prognostic and treatment targets in CLL, the search for aberrantly methylated genes, gene families and pathways has ensued. Subsequently, the advent of microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies has supported the hunt for such targets, allowing exploration of the methylation landscape in CLL at an unprecedented scale. In light of these analyses, we now understand that different CLL prognostic subgroups are characterized by differential methylation profiles; we recognize DNA methylation of a number of signaling pathways genes to be altered in CLL, and acknowledge the role of DNA methylation outside of traditional CpG island promoters as fundamental players in the regulation of gene expression. Today, the significance and timing of altered DNA methylation within the complex epigenetic network of concomitant epigenetic messengers such as histones and miRNAs is an intensive area of research. In CLL, it appears that DNA methylation is a rather stable epigenetic mark occurring rather early in the disease pathogenesis. However, other consequences, such as how and why aberrant methylation marks occur, are less explored. In this review, we will not only provide a comprehensive summary of the current literature within the epigenetics field of CLL, but also highlight some of the novel findings relating to when, where, why and how altered DNA methylation materializes in CLL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.4161/epi.23439DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3592899PMC
February 2013

The movement characteristics of English Premiership rugby union players.

J Sports Sci 2013 26;31(3):229-37. Epub 2012 Sep 26.

University of Chester, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Chester, UK.

The purpose of this investigation was to quantify the movement characteristics of elite rugby union players during competitive play and identify whether position-related differences exist. Ninety-eight elite players from eight English Premiership Clubs were tracked using global positioning systems (GPS) during 44 competitive matches throughout the 2010/2011 season. Player positions were defined as: (1) backs or forwards; (2) front, second and back rows, scrum half, inside and outside backs; (3) 15 individual positions (numbers 1-15). Analysis revealed the game is predominantly played at low speeds with little distance covered 'sprinting' by either the backs (50 ± 76 m) or the forwards (37 ± 64 m). The backs travelled greater (P < 0.05) absolute and relative distances than the forwards. The scrum half covered the greatest total distance during a match (7098 ± 778 m) and the front row the least (5158 ± 200 m). The back row covered the greatest distances at 'sprinting' speeds, particularly the number 8 position (77 m). These findings reflect notable differences in the movement characteristics displayed by elite rugby union players in specific positional roles, and reinforce the contemporary view that training programmes for such players ought to be structured with this in mind.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02640414.2012.727456DOI Listing
August 2013

IGHV3-21 gene frequency in a Swedish cohort of patients with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Clin Lymphoma Myeloma Leuk 2012 Jun 29;12(3):201-6. Epub 2012 Mar 29.

Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden; Department of Biological Sciences, Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland.

Unlabelled: The IGHV3-21 gene has been shown to be overrepresented in Scandinavian patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). By investigating a population-based cohort of 337 Swedish patients with CLL, a lower (6.5%)IGHV3-21 frequency was determined relative to our previous hospital-based studies (10.1%-12.7%), yet this frequency remained higher compared to other Western CLL cohorts (2.6%-4.1%). Furthermore, we confirmed the poor outcome for patients with IGHV3-21 to be independent of mutational and stereotypy status.

Background: Scandinavian patients with CLL have shown an overrepresentation of the poor-prognostic IGHV3-21 gene. Furthermore, approximately 50% of patients with IGHV3-21 carry stereotyped B-cell receptors, which implicate antigen selection in leukemogenesis. These patients have also been reported to have shorter time to progression than patients with nonstereotyped IGHV3-21.

Materials And Methods: To investigate the IGHV3-21 frequency and the clinical impact of IGHV3-21 stereotypy, 337 newly diagnosed Swedish CLL patients from a population-based cohort were analyzed.

Results: Interestingly, the IGHV3-21 frequency was indeed lower (6.5%) in this indolent patient cohort than in our previous hospital-based cohort studies (10.1%-12.7%). Hence, a selection bias of more-aggressive cases rendered a higher proportion of IGHV3-21 cases in our original studies. Nevertheless, the Swedish IGHV3-21 frequency still remained higher when compared with other larger European or American studies (2.6%-4.1%). Finally, we confirmed the poor outcome for IGHV3-21 patients to be independent of mutational status and found stereotypy to have no impact on survival or time to treatment.

Conclusion: The Swedish geographic bias in IGHV3-21 gene frequency was validated albeit at a lower frequency than previously reported. Moreover, no prognostic value could be attributed to IGHV3-21 stereotype status.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clml.2012.01.009DOI Listing
June 2012

Stereotyped B-cell receptors in one-third of chronic lymphocytic leukemia: a molecular classification with implications for targeted therapies.

Blood 2012 May 13;119(19):4467-75. Epub 2012 Mar 13.

Institute of Agrobiotechnology, Center for Research and Technology Hellas, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Mounting evidence indicates that grouping of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) into distinct subsets with stereotyped BCRs is functionally and prognostically relevant. However, several issues need revisiting, including the criteria for identification of BCR stereotypy and its actual frequency as well as the identification of "CLL-biased" features in BCR Ig stereotypes. To this end, we examined 7596 Ig VH (IGHV-IGHD-IGHJ) sequences from 7424 CLL patients, 3 times the size of the largest published series, with an updated version of our purpose-built clustering algorithm. We document that CLL may be subdivided into 2 distinct categories: one with stereotyped and the other with nonstereotyped BCRs, at an approximate ratio of 1:2, and provide evidence suggesting a different ontogeny for these 2 categories. We also show that subset-defining sequence patterns in CLL differ from those underlying BCR stereotypy in other B-cell malignancies. Notably, 19 major subsets contained from 20 to 213 sequences each, collectively accounting for 943 sequences or one-eighth of the cohort. Hence, this compartmentalized examination of VH sequences may pave the way toward a molecular classification of CLL with implications for targeted therapeutic interventions, applicable to a significant number of patients assigned to the same subset.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2011-11-393694DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3392073PMC
May 2012

Array-based genomic screening at diagnosis and during follow-up in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Haematologica 2011 Aug 5;96(8):1161-9. Epub 2011 May 5.

Department of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Background: High-resolution genomic microarrays enable simultaneous detection of copy-number aberrations such as the known recurrent aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia [del(11q), del(13q), del(17p) and trisomy 12], and copy-number neutral loss of heterozygosity. Moreover, comparison of genomic profiles from sequential patients' samples allows detection of clonal evolution.

Design And Methods: We screened samples from 369 patients with newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia from a population-based cohort using 250K single nucleotide polymorphism-arrays. Clonal evolution was evaluated in 59 follow-up samples obtained after 5-9 years.

Results: At diagnosis, copy-number aberrations were identified in 90% of patients; 70% carried known recurrent alterations, including del(13q) (55%), trisomy 12 (10.5%), del(11q) (10%), and del(17p) (4%). Additional recurrent aberrations were detected on chromosomes 2 (1.9%), 4 (1.4%), 8 (1.6%) and 14 (1.6%). Thirteen patients (3.5%) displayed recurrent copy-number neutral loss of heterozygosity on 13q, of whom 11 had concurrent homozygous del(13q). Genomic complexity and large 13q deletions correlated with inferior outcome, while the former was linked to poor-prognostic aberrations. In the follow-up study, clonal evolution developed in 8/24 (33%) patients with unmutated IGHV, and in 4/25 (16%) IGHV-mutated and treated patients. In contrast, untreated patients with mutated IGHV (n=10) did not acquire additional aberrations. The most common secondary event, del(13q), was detected in 6/12 (50%) of all patients with acquired alterations. Interestingly, aberrations on, for example, chromosome 6q, 8p, 9p and 10q developed exclusively in patients with unmutated IGHV.

Conclusions: Whole-genome screening revealed a high frequency of genomic aberrations in newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Clonal evolution was associated with other markers of aggressive disease and commonly included the known recurrent aberrations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2010.039768DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3148910PMC
August 2011

LPL is the strongest prognostic factor in a comparative analysis of RNA-based markers in early chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Haematologica 2011 Aug 20;96(8):1153-60. Epub 2011 Apr 20.

Dept. of Immunology, Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Background: The expression levels of LPL, ZAP70, TCL1A, CLLU1 and MCL1 have recently been proposed as prognostic factors in chronic lymphocytic leukemia. However, few studies have systematically compared these different RNA-based markers.

Design And Methods: Using real-time quantitative PCR, we measured the mRNA expression levels of these genes in unsorted samples from 252 newly diagnosed chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients and correlated our data with established prognostic markers (for example Binet stage, CD38, IGHV gene mutational status and genomic aberrations) and clinical outcome.

Results: High expression levels of all RNA-based markers, except MCL1, predicted shorter overall survival and time to treatment, with LPL being the most significant. In multivariate analysis including the RNA-based markers, LPL expression was the only independent prognostic marker for overall survival and time to treatment. When studying LPL expression and the established markers, LPL expression retained its independent prognostic strength for overall survival. All of the RNA-based markers, albeit with varying ability, added prognostic information to established markers, with LPL expression giving the most significant results. Notably, high LPL expression predicted a worse outcome in good-prognosis subgroups, such as patients with mutated IGHV genes, Binet stage A, CD38 negativity or favorable cytogenetics. In particular, the combination of LPL expression and CD38 could further stratify Binet stage A patients.

Conclusions: LPL expression is the strongest RNA-based prognostic marker in chronic lymphocytic leukemia that could potentially be applied to predict outcome in the clinical setting, particularly in the large group of patients with favorable prognosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2010.039396DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3148909PMC
August 2011

High-density screening reveals a different spectrum of genomic aberrations in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients with 'stereotyped' IGHV3-21 and IGHV4-34 B-cell receptors.

Haematologica 2010 Sep 26;95(9):1519-25. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, SE-751-85 Uppsala, Sweden.

Background: The existence of multiple subsets of chronic lymphocytic leukemia expressing 'stereotyped' B-cell receptors implies the involvement of antigen(s) in leukemogenesis. Studies also indicate that 'stereotypy' may influence the clinical course of patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia, for example, in subsets with stereotyped IGHV3-21 and IGHV4-34 B-cell receptors; however, little is known regarding the genomic profile of patients in these subsets.

Design And Methods: We applied 250K single nucleotide polymorphism-arrays to study copy-number aberrations and copy-number neutral loss-of-heterozygosity in patients with stereotyped IGHV3-21 (subset #2, n=29), stereotyped IGHV4-34 (subset #4, n=17; subset #16, n=8) and non-subset #2 IGHV3-21 (n=13) and non-subset #4/16 IGHV4-34 (n=34) patients.

Results: Over 90% of patients in subset #2 and non-subset #2 carried copy-number aberrations, whereas 75-76% of patients in subset #4 and subset #16 showed copy-number aberrations. Subset #2 and non-subset #2 patients also displayed a higher average number of aberrations compared to patients in subset #4. Deletion of 13q was the only known recurrent aberration detected in subset #4 (35%); this aberration was even more frequent in subset #2 (79%). del(11q) was more frequent in subset #2 and non-subset #2 (31% and 23%) patients than in subset #4 and non-subset #4/16 patients. Recurrent copy-number neutral loss-of-heterozygosity was mainly detected on chromosome 13q, independently of B-cell receptor stereotypy.

Conclusions: Genomic aberrations were more common in subset #2 and non-subset #2 than in subset #4. The particularly high frequency of del(11q) in subset #2 may be linked to the adverse outcome reported for patients in this subset. Conversely, the lower prevalence of copy-number aberrations and the absence of poor-prognostic aberrations in subset #4 may reflect an inherently low-proliferative disease, which would prevent accumulation of genomic alterations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2009.021014DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2930953PMC
September 2010

Differential genome-wide array-based methylation profiles in prognostic subsets of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Blood 2010 Jan 6;115(2):296-305. Epub 2009 Nov 6.

Department of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.

Global hypomethylation and regional hypermethylation are well-known epigenetic features of cancer; however, in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), studies on genome-wide epigenetic modifications are limited. Here, we analyzed the global methylation profiles in CLL, by applying high-resolution methylation microarrays (27,578 CpG sites) to 23 CLL samples, belonging to the immunoglobulin heavy-chain variable (IGHV) mutated (favorable) and IGHV unmutated/IGHV3-21 (poor-prognostic) subsets. Overall, results demonstrated significant differences in methylation patterns between these subgroups. Specifically, in IGHV unmutated CLL, we identified methylation of 7 known or candidate tumor suppressor genes (eg, VHL, ABI3, and IGSF4) as well as 8 unmethylated genes involved in cell proliferation and tumor progression (eg, ADORA3 and PRF1 enhancing the nuclear factor-kappaB and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways, respectively). In contrast, these latter genes were silenced by methylation in IGHV mutated patients. The array data were validated for selected genes using methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction, quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction, and bisulfite sequencing. Finally, the significance of DNA methylation in regulating gene promoters was shown by reinducing 4 methylated tumor suppressor genes (eg, VHL and ABI3) in IGHV unmutated samples using the methyl-inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. Taken together, our data for the first time reveal differences in global methylation profiles between prognostic subsets of CLL, which may unfold epigenetic silencing mechanisms involved in CLL pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2009-07-232868DOI Listing
January 2010

Lack of association between the MDM2 promoter polymorphism SNP309 and clinical outcome in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Leuk Res 2010 Mar 1;34(3):335-9. Epub 2009 Jul 1.

Department of Genetics and Pathology, Rudbeck Laboratory, Uppsala University, SE-751 85 Uppsala, Sweden.

The 309T>G polymorphism in the promoter region of the MDM2 gene, known as SNP309, has recently been suggested as an unfavorable prognostic marker in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) although this has been questioned. To investigate this further, we analyzed the MDM2 SNP309 genotypes in 418 CLL patients and correlated the results with established CLL prognostic factors, time to treatment and overall survival. In this Swedish cohort, no association existed between any particular MDM2 SNP309 genotype, overall survival and time to treatment. Furthermore, no correlation was shown between the MDM2 SNP309 genotypes and Binet stage, IGHV mutational status and recurrent genomic aberrations. In summary, this study argues against the use of the MDM2 SNP309 as a prognostic marker in CLL.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leukres.2009.06.006DOI Listing
March 2010

Targeted disruption of Pten in ovarian granulosa cells enhances ovulation and extends the life span of luteal cells.

Mol Endocrinol 2008 Sep 7;22(9):2128-40. Epub 2008 Jul 7.

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.

FSH activates the phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/acute transforming retrovirus thymoma protein kinase pathway and thereby enhances granulosa cell differentiation in culture. To identify the physiological role of the PI3K pathway in vivo we disrupted the PI3K suppressor, Pten, in developing ovarian follicles. To selectively disrupt Pten expression in granulosa cells, Ptenfl/fl mice were mated with transgenic mice expressing cAMP response element recombinase driven by Cyp19 promoter (Cyp19-Cre). The resultant Pten mutant mice were fertile, ovulated more oocytes, and produced moderately more pups than control mice. These physiological differences in the Pten mutant mice were associated with hyperactivation of the PI3K/acute transforming retrovirus thymoma protein kinase pathway, decreased susceptibility to apoptosis, and increased proliferation of mutant granulosa cells. Strikingly, corpora lutea of the Pten mutant mice persisted longer than those of control mice. Although the follicular and luteal cell steroidogenesis in Ptenfl/fl;Cyp19-Cre mice was similar to controls, viable nonsteroidogenic luteal cells escaped structural luteolysis. These findings provide the novel evidence that Pten impacts the survival/life span of granulosa/luteal cells and that its loss not only results in the facilitated ovulation but also in the persistence of nonsteroidogenic luteal structures in the adult mouse ovary.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1210/me.2008-0095DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2631369PMC
September 2008

Selective expression of KrasG12D in granulosa cells of the mouse ovary causes defects in follicle development and ovulation.

Development 2008 Jun;135(12):2127-37

Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Activation of the RAS family of small G-proteins is essential for follicle stimulating hormone-induced signaling events and the regulation of target genes in cultured granulosa cells. To analyze the functions of RAS protein in granulosa cells during ovarian follicular development in vivo, we generated conditional knock-in mouse models in which the granulosa cells express a constitutively active KrasG12D. The KrasG12D mutant mice were subfertile and exhibited signs of premature ovarian failure. The mutant ovaries contained numerous abnormal follicle-like structures that were devoid of mitotic and apoptotic cells and cells expressing granulosa cell-specific marker genes. Follicles that proceeded to the antral stage failed to ovulate and expressed reduced levels of ovulation-related genes. The human chorionic gonadotropin-stimulated phosphorylation of ERK1/2 was markedly reduced in mutant cells. Reduced ERK1/2 phosphorylation was due, in part, to increased expression of MKP3, an ERK1/2-specific phosphatase. By contrast, elevated levels of phospho-AKT were evident in granulosa cells of immature KrasG12D mice, even in the absence of hormone treatments, and were associated with the progressive decline of FOXO1 in the abnormal follicle-like structures. Thus, inappropriate activation of KRAS in granulosa cells blocks the granulosa cell differentiation pathway, leading to the persistence of abnormal non-mitotic, non-apoptotic cells rather than tumorigenic cells. Moreover, those follicles that reach the antral stage exhibit impaired responses to hormones, leading to ovulation failure. Transient but not sustained activation of RAS in granulosa cells is therefore crucial for directing normal follicle development and initiating the ovulation process.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1242/dev.020560DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3541831PMC
June 2008