Publications by authors named "Nurten Yigit"

24 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Charting Extracellular Transcriptomes in The Human Biofluid RNA Atlas.

Cell Rep 2020 Dec;33(13):108552

Center for Medical Genetics, Department of Biomolecular Medicine, Ghent University, C. Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; OncoRNALab, Cancer Research Institute Ghent (CRIG), Ghent University, C. Heymanslaan 10, 9000 Ghent, Belgium. Electronic address:

Extracellular RNAs present in biofluids have emerged as potential biomarkers for disease. Where most studies focus on blood-derived fluids, other biofluids may be more informative. We present an atlas of messenger, circular, and small RNA transcriptomes of a comprehensive collection of 20 human biofluids. By means of synthetic spike-in controls, we compare RNA content across biofluids, revealing a 10,000-fold difference in concentration. The circular RNA fraction is increased in most biofluids compared to tissues. Each biofluid transcriptome is enriched for RNA molecules derived from specific tissues and cell types. Our atlas enables an informed selection of the most relevant biofluid to monitor particular diseases. To verify the biomarker potential in these biofluids, four validation cohorts representing a broad spectrum of diseases were profiled, revealing numerous differential RNAs between case and control subjects. Spike-normalized data are publicly available in the R2 web portal for further exploration.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2020.108552DOI Listing
December 2020

Author Correction: Integrative analysis identifies lincRNAs up- and downstream of neuroblastoma driver genes.

Sci Rep 2019 Jul 17;9(1):10536. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, 9000, Belgium.

A correction to this article has been published and is linked from the HTML and PDF versions of this paper. The error has been fixed in the paper.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-46785-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6635357PMC
July 2019

SMARTer single cell total RNA sequencing.

Nucleic Acids Res 2019 09;47(16):e93

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Single cell RNA sequencing methods have been increasingly used to understand cellular heterogeneity. Nevertheless, most of these methods suffer from one or more limitations, such as focusing only on polyadenylated RNA, sequencing of only the 3' end of the transcript, an exuberant fraction of reads mapping to ribosomal RNA, and the unstranded nature of the sequencing data. Here, we developed a novel single cell strand-specific total RNA library preparation method addressing all the aforementioned shortcomings. Our method was validated on a microfluidics system using three different cancer cell lines undergoing a chemical or genetic perturbation and on two other cancer cell lines sorted in microplates. We demonstrate that our total RNA-seq method detects an equal or higher number of genes compared to classic polyA[+] RNA-seq, including novel and non-polyadenylated genes. The obtained RNA expression patterns also recapitulate the expected biological signal. Inherent to total RNA-seq, our method is also able to detect circular RNAs. Taken together, SMARTer single cell total RNA sequencing is very well suited for any single cell sequencing experiment in which transcript level information is needed beyond polyadenylated genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkz535DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6895261PMC
September 2019

Integrative analysis identifies lincRNAs up- and downstream of neuroblastoma driver genes.

Sci Rep 2019 04 5;9(1):5685. Epub 2019 Apr 5.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University, Ghent, 9000, Belgium.

Long intergenic non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are emerging as integral components of signaling pathways in various cancer types. In neuroblastoma, only a handful of lincRNAs are known as upstream regulators or downstream effectors of oncogenes. Here, we exploit RNA sequencing data of primary neuroblastoma tumors, neuroblast precursor cells, neuroblastoma cell lines and various cellular perturbation model systems to define the neuroblastoma lincRNome and map lincRNAs up- and downstream of neuroblastoma driver genes MYCN, ALK and PHOX2B. Each of these driver genes controls the expression of a particular subset of lincRNAs, several of which are associated with poor survival and are differentially expressed in neuroblastoma tumors compared to neuroblasts. By integrating RNA sequencing data from both primary tumor tissue and cancer cell lines, we demonstrate that several of these lincRNAs are expressed in stromal cells. Deconvolution of primary tumor gene expression data revealed a strong association between stromal cell composition and driver gene status, resulting in differential expression of these lincRNAs. We also explored lincRNAs that putatively act upstream of neuroblastoma driver genes, either as presumed modulators of driver gene activity, or as modulators of effectors regulating driver gene expression. This analysis revealed strong associations between the neuroblastoma lincRNAs MIAT and MEG3 and MYCN and PHOX2B activity or expression. Together, our results provide a comprehensive catalogue of the neuroblastoma lincRNome, highlighting lincRNAs up- and downstream of key neuroblastoma driver genes. This catalogue forms a solid basis for further functional validation of candidate neuroblastoma lincRNAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-42107-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6451017PMC
April 2019

Prognostic and Therapeutic Implications of Circulating Androgen Receptor Gene Copy Number in Prostate Cancer Patients Using Droplet Digital Polymerase Chain Reaction.

Clin Genitourin Cancer 2018 06 29;16(3):197-205.e5. Epub 2017 Dec 29.

Department of Urology, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Background: Resistance mechanisms in the androgen receptor (AR) signaling pathway remain key drivers in the progression to castration-resistant prostate cancer (CRPC) and relapse under antihormonal therapy.

Materials And Methods: We evaluated the circulating AR gene copy number (CN) gain using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction in 21 control and 91 prostate cancer serum samples and its prognostic and therapeutic implications in prostate cancer.

Results: In CRPC, AR CN gain was associated with faster progression to CRPC (P = .026), a greater number of previous treatments (P = .045), and previous chemotherapy (P = .016). Comparing patients with and without CN gain, the median progression-free survival (PFS) in the abiraterone subgroup was 1.7 months versus not reached (P = .004), and the median overall survival (OS) was 7 months versus 20.9 months (P = .020). In the enzalutamide subgroup, PFS was 1.7 versus 10.8 months (P = .006), and OS was 6.1 versus 16.5 months (P = .042). In the taxane subgroup, PFS was 3.2 versus 6.5 months (P = .093), and OS was 3.9 months versus not reached (P = .026). The presence of more AR copies correlated with shorter androgen deprivation (P = .002), abiraterone (P = .022), enzalutamide (P = .008), and taxane (P = .039) therapy.

Conclusion: Circulating AR CN gain predicts for a poor prognosis in CRPC. It is a promising biomarker predetermining rapid CRPC progression and predicting worse abiraterone and enzalutamide outcomes. Furthermore, it is associated with multiple previous treatments and previous chemotherapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.clgc.2017.12.008DOI Listing
June 2018

Dual targeting of MDM2 and BCL2 as a therapeutic strategy in neuroblastoma.

Oncotarget 2017 Aug 4;8(34):57047-57057. Epub 2017 Jul 4.

Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (CMGG), Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

Wild-type p53 tumor suppressor activity in neuroblastoma tumors is hampered by increased MDM2 activity, making selective MDM2 antagonists an attractive therapeutic strategy for this childhood malignancy. Since monotherapy in cancer is generally not providing long-lasting clinical responses, we here aimed to identify small molecule drugs that synergize with idasanutlin (RG7388). To this purpose we evaluated 15 targeted drugs in combination with idasanutlin in three p53 wild type neuroblastoma cell lines and identified the BCL2 inhibitor venetoclax (ABT-199) as a promising interaction partner. The venetoclax/idasanutlin combination was consistently found to be highly synergistic in a diverse panel of neuroblastoma cell lines, including cells with high MCL1 expression levels. A more pronounced induction of apoptosis was found to underlie the synergistic interaction, as evidenced by caspase-3/7 and cleaved PARP measurements. Mice carrying orthotopic xenografts of neuroblastoma cells treated with both idasanutlin and venetoclax had drastically lower tumor weights than mice treated with either treatment alone. In conclusion, these data strongly support the further evaluation of dual BCL2/MDM2 targeting as a therapeutic strategy in neuroblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18982DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5593624PMC
August 2017

Depletion of tRNA-halves enables effective small RNA sequencing of low-input murine serum samples.

Sci Rep 2016 11 30;6:37876. Epub 2016 Nov 30.

Center for Medical Genetics Ghent (CMGG), Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium.

The ongoing ascent of sequencing technologies has enabled researchers to gain unprecedented insights into the RNA content of biological samples. MiRNAs, a class of small non-coding RNAs, play a pivotal role in regulating gene expression. The discovery that miRNAs are stably present in circulation has spiked interest in their potential use as minimally-invasive biomarkers. However, sequencing of blood-derived samples (serum, plasma) is challenging due to the often low RNA concentration, poor RNA quality and the presence of highly abundant RNAs that dominate sequencing libraries. In murine serum for example, the high abundance of tRNA-derived small RNAs called 5' tRNA halves hampers the detection of other small RNAs, like miRNAs. We therefore evaluated two complementary approaches for targeted depletion of 5' tRNA halves in murine serum samples. Using a protocol based on biotinylated DNA probes and streptavidin coated magnetic beads we were able to selectively deplete 95% of the targeted 5' tRNA half molecules. This allowed an unbiased enrichment of the miRNA fraction resulting in a 6-fold increase of mapped miRNA reads and 60% more unique miRNAs detected. Moreover, when comparing miRNA levels in tumor-carrying versus tumor-free mice, we observed a three-fold increase in differentially expressed miRNAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep37876DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5129013PMC
November 2016

Functional analysis of the p53 pathway in neuroblastoma cells using the small-molecule MDM2 antagonist nutlin-3.

Mol Cancer Ther 2011 Jun 1;10(6):983-93. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Suppression of p53 activity is essential for proliferation and survival of tumor cells. A direct p53-activating compound, nutlin-3, was used in this study, together with p53 mutation analysis, to characterize p53 pathway defects in a set of 34 human neuroblastoma cell lines. We identified 9 cell lines (26%) with a p53 loss-of-function mutation, including 6 missense mutations, 1 nonsense mutation, 1 in-frame deletion, and 1 homozygous deletion of the 3' end of the p53 gene. Sensitivity to nutlin-3 was highly predictive of absence of p53 mutation. Signaling pathways downstream of p53 were functionally intact in 23 of 25 cell lines with wild-type p53. Knockdown and overexpression experiments revealed a potentiating effect of p14(ARF) expression on the response of neuroblastoma cells to nutlin-3. Our findings shed light on the spectrum of p53 pathway lesions in neuroblastoma cells, indicate that defects in effector molecules downstream of p53 are remarkably rare in neuroblastoma, and identify p14(ARF) as a determinant of the outcome of the response to MDM2 inhibition. These insights may prove useful for the clinical translation of evolving strategies aimed at p53 reactivation and for the development of new therapeutic approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-10-1090DOI Listing
June 2011

RNA pre-amplification enables large-scale RT-qPCR gene-expression studies on limiting sample amounts.

BMC Res Notes 2009 Nov 25;2:235. Epub 2009 Nov 25.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Background: The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is a widely utilized method for gene-expression analysis. However, insufficient material often compromises large-scale gene-expression studies. The aim of this study is to evaluate an RNA pre-amplification method to produce micrograms of cDNA as input for qPCR.

Findings: The linear isothermal Ribo-SPIA pre-amplification method (WT-Ovation; NuGEN) was first evaluated by measuring the expression of 20 genes in RNA samples from six neuroblastoma cell lines and of 194 genes in two commercially available reference RNA samples before and after pre-amplification, and subsequently applied on a large panel of 738 RNA samples extracted from neuroblastoma tumours. All RNA samples were evaluated for RNA integrity and purity. Starting from 5 to 50 nanograms of total RNA the sample pre-amplification method was applied, generating approximately 5 microgams of cDNA, sufficient to measure more than 1000 target genes. The results obtained from this study show a constant yield of pre-amplified cDNA independent of the amount of input RNA; preservation of differential gene-expression after pre-amplification without introduction of substantial bias; no co-amplification of contaminating genomic DNA; no necessity to purify the pre-amplified material; and finally the importance of good RNA quality to enable pre-amplification.

Conclusion: Application of this unbiased and easy to use sample pre-amplification technology offers great advantage to generate sufficient material for diagnostic and prognostic work-up and enables large-scale qPCR gene-expression studies using limited amounts of sample material.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1756-0500-2-235DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2789097PMC
November 2009

Antitumor activity of the selective MDM2 antagonist nutlin-3 against chemoresistant neuroblastoma with wild-type p53.

J Natl Cancer Inst 2009 Nov 10;101(22):1562-74. Epub 2009 Nov 10.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Background: Restoring p53 function by antagonizing its interaction with the negative regulator MDM2 is an appealing nongenotoxic approach to treating tumors with wild-type p53. Mutational inactivation of p53 is rare in neuroblastoma tumors at diagnosis and occurs in only a subset of multidrug-resistant neuroblastomas.

Methods: The antiproliferative and cytotoxic effect of nutlin-3, a small-molecule MDM2 antagonist, was examined in chemosensitive (UKF-NB-3) and matched chemoresistant neuroblastoma cells with wild-type p53 (UKF-NB-3(r)DOX20) or with mutant p53 (UKF-NB-3(r)VCR10). Activation of the p53 pathway was assessed by expression analysis of p53 target genes, flow cytometric cell cycle analysis, and apoptosis assays. Mice with established chemoresistant tumor xenografts were treated orally with nutlin-3 or vehicle control (n = 5-10 mice per group) and were used to evaluate effects on tumor growth, p53 pathway activity, and metastatic tumor burden. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Nutlin-3 induced a similar activation of the p53 pathway in UKF-NB-3 and UKF-NB-3(r)DOX20 cells, as evidenced by increased expression of p53 target genes, G1 cell cycle arrest, and induction of apoptosis. No such response was observed in UKF-NB-3(r)VCR10 cells with mutant p53. Oral administration of nutlin-3 to UKF-NB-3(r)DOX20 xenograft-bearing mice led to inhibition of primary tumor growth (mean tumor volume after 3 weeks of treatment, nutlin-3- vs vehicle-treated mice: 772 vs 1661 mm3, difference = 890 mm3, 95% confidence interval = 469 to 1311 mm3, P < .001), p53 pathway activation, and reduction in the extent of metastatic disease. The growth of UKF-NB-3(r)VCR10 xenografts was unaffected by nutlin-3.

Conclusions: Nutlin-3 activates the p53 pathway and suppresses tumor growth in this model system of chemoresistant neuroblastoma, provided that wild-type p53 is present.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnci/djp355DOI Listing
November 2009

Chromosome 3p microsatellite allelotyping in neuroblastoma: a report on the technical hurdles.

Cancer Invest 2009 Oct;27(8):857-68

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Belgium.

Pinpointing critical regions of recurrent loss may help localize tumor suppressor genes. To determine the regions of loss on chromosome 3p in neuroblastoma, we performed loss of heterozygosity analysis using 16 microsatellite markers in a series of 65 primary tumors and 29 neuroblastoma cell lines. In this study, we report the results and discuss the technical hurdles that we encountered during data generation and interpretation that are of relevance for current studies or tests employing microsatellites. To provide functional support for the implication of 3p tumor suppressor genes in this childhood malignancy, we performed a microcell-mediated chromosome 3 transfer in neuroblastoma cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/07357900902769731DOI Listing
October 2009

Aberrant methylation of candidate tumor suppressor genes in neuroblastoma.

Cancer Lett 2009 Jan 25;273(2):336-46. Epub 2008 Sep 25.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

CpG island hypermethylation has been recognized as an alternative mechanism for tumor suppressor gene inactivation. In this study, we performed methylation-specific PCR (MSP) to investigate the methylation status of 10 selected tumor suppressor genes in neuroblastoma. Seven of the investigated genes (CD44, RASSF1A, CASP8, PTEN, ZMYND10, CDH1, PRDM2) showed high frequencies (> or =30%) of methylation in 33 neuroblastoma cell lines. In 42 primary neuroblastoma tumors, the frequencies of methylation were 69%, CD44; 71%, RASSF1A; 56%, CASP8; 25%, PTEN; 15%, ZMYND10; 8%, CDH1; and 0%, PRDM2. Furthermore, CASP8 and CDH1 hypermethylation was significantly associated with poor event-free survival. Meta-analysis of 115 neuroblastoma tumors demonstrated a significant correlation between CASP8 methylation and MYCN amplification. In addition, there was a correlation between ZMYND10 methylation and MYCN amplification. The MSP data, together with optimized mRNA re-expression experiments (in terms of concentration and time of treatment and use of proper reference genes) further strengthen the notion that epigenetic alterations could play a significant role in NB oncogenesis. This study thus warrants the need for a global profiling of gene promoter hypermethylation to identify genome-wide aberrantly methylated genes in order to further understand neuroblastoma pathogenesis and to identify prognostic methylation markers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.canlet.2008.08.019DOI Listing
January 2009

EVI1 overexpression in t(3;17) positive myeloid malignancies results from juxtaposition of EVI1 to the MSI2 locus at 17q22.

Haematologica 2008 Dec 24;93(12):1903-7. Epub 2008 Sep 24.

Centre for Medical Genetics Gent, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Chromosomal translocations involving the EVI1 locus are a recurrent finding in myeloid leukemia and are associated with poor prognosis. In this study, we performed a detailed molecular characterization of the recurrent translocation t(3;17)(q26;q22) in 13 hematologic malignancies. The EVI1 gene locus was rearranged in all 13 patients and was associated with EVI1 overexpression. In 9 out of 13 patients, the 17q breakpoints clustered in a 250 kb region on band 17q22 encompassing the MSI2 (musashi homologue 2) gene. Expression analyses failed to demonstrate ectopic MSI2 expression or the presence of an MSI2/EVI1 fusion gene. In conclusion, we show for the first time that the t(3;17) is indeed a recurrent chromosomal aberration in myeloid malignancies. In keeping with findings in other recurrent 3q26 rearrangements, overexpression of the EVI1 gene appears to be the major contributor to leukemogenesis in patients with a t(3;17).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3324/haematol.13192DOI Listing
December 2008

High resolution tiling-path BAC array deletion mapping suggests commonly involved 3p21-p22 tumor suppressor genes in neuroblastoma and more frequent tumors.

Int J Cancer 2007 Feb;120(3):533-8

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

The recurrent loss of 3p segments in neuroblastoma suggests the implication of 1 or more tumor suppressor genes but thus far few efforts have been made to pinpoint their detailed chromosomal position. To achieve this goal, array-based comparative genomic hybridization was performed on a panel of 23 neuroblastoma cell lines and 75 primary tumors using a tiling-path bacterial artificial chromosome array for chromosome 3p. A total of 45 chromosome 3 losses were detected, including whole chromosome losses, large terminal deletions and interstitial deletions. The latter, observed in cell lines as well as a number of distal deletions detected in primary tumors, allowed us to demarcate 3 minimal regions of loss of 3.6 Mb [3p21.31-p21.2, shortest regions of overlap (SRO)1], 1.4 Mb (3p22.3-3p22.2, SRO2) and 3.8 Mb (3p25.3-p25.1, SRO3) in size. The present data significantly extend previous findings and now firmly establish critical regions on 3p implicated in neuroblastoma. Interestingly, the 2 proximal regions coincide with previously defined SROs on 3p21.3 in more frequent tumors including lung and breast cancer. As such, similar tumor suppressor genes may play a critical role in development or progression of a variety of neoplasms, including neuroblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.22326DOI Listing
February 2007

Small-molecule MDM2 antagonists as a new therapy concept for neuroblastoma.

Cancer Res 2006 Oct;66(19):9646-55

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Circumvention of the p53 tumor suppressor barrier in neuroblastoma is rarely caused by TP53 mutation but might arise from inappropriately increased activity of its principal negative regulator MDM2. We show here that targeted disruption of the p53-MDM2 interaction by the small-molecule MDM2 antagonist nutlin-3 stabilizes p53 and selectively activates the p53 pathway in neuroblastoma cells with wild-type p53, resulting in a pronounced antiproliferative and cytotoxic effect through induction of G(1) cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. A nutlin-3 response was observed regardless of MYCN amplification status. Remarkably, surviving SK-N-SH cells adopted a senescence-like phenotype, whereas CLB-GA and NGP cells underwent neuronal differentiation. p53 dependence of these alternative outcomes of nutlin-3 treatment was evidenced by abrogation of the effects when p53 was knocked down by lentiviral-mediated short hairpin RNA interference. The diversity of cellular responses reveals pleiotropic mechanisms of nutlins to disable neuroblastoma cells and exemplifies the feasibility of exploiting, by a single targeted intervention, the multiplicity of anticancer activities exerted by a key tumor suppressor as p53. The observed treatment effects without the need of imposing a genotoxic burden suggest that selective MDM2 antagonists might be beneficial for treatment of neuroblastoma patients with and without MYCN amplification.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-06-0792DOI Listing
October 2006

Human fetal neuroblast and neuroblastoma transcriptome analysis confirms neuroblast origin and highlights neuroblastoma candidate genes.

Genome Biol 2006 ;7(9):R84

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, De Pintelaan, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Background: Neuroblastoma tumor cells are assumed to originate from primitive neuroblasts giving rise to the sympathetic nervous system. Because these precursor cells are not detectable in postnatal life, their transcription profile has remained inaccessible for comparative data mining strategies in neuroblastoma. This study provides the first genome-wide mRNA expression profile of these human fetal sympathetic neuroblasts. To this purpose, small islets of normal neuroblasts were isolated by laser microdissection from human fetal adrenal glands.

Results: Expression of catecholamine metabolism genes, and neuronal and neuroendocrine markers in the neuroblasts indicated that the proper cells were microdissected. The similarities in expression profile between normal neuroblasts and malignant neuroblastomas provided strong evidence for the neuroblast origin hypothesis of neuroblastoma. Next, supervised feature selection was used to identify the genes that are differentially expressed in normal neuroblasts versus neuroblastoma tumors. This approach efficiently sifted out genes previously reported in neuroblastoma expression profiling studies; most importantly, it also highlighted a series of genes and pathways previously not mentioned in neuroblastoma biology but that were assumed to be involved in neuroblastoma pathogenesis.

Conclusion: This unique dataset adds power to ongoing and future gene expression studies in neuroblastoma and will facilitate the identification of molecular targets for novel therapies. In addition, this neuroblast transcriptome resource could prove useful for the further study of human sympathoadrenal biogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/gb-2006-7-9-r84DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1794547PMC
January 2007

The von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor gene expression level has prognostic value in neuroblastoma.

Int J Cancer 2006 Aug;119(3):624-9

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Deletions of the short arm of chromosome 3 are often observed in a specific subset of aggressive neuroblastomas (NBs) with loss of distal 11q and without MYCN amplification. The critical deleted region encompasses the locus of the von Hippel-Lindau gene (VHL, 3p25). Constitutional loss of function mutations in the VHL gene are responsible for the VHL syndrome, a dominantly inherited familial cancer syndrome predisposing to a variety of neoplasms, including pheochromocytoma. Pheochromocytomas are, like NB, derived from neural crest cells, but, unlike NB, consist of more mature chromaffin cells instead of immature neuroblasts. Further arguments for a putative role of VHL in NB are its function as oxygen sensitizer and the reported relation between hypoxia and dedifferentiation of NB cells, leading to a more aggressive phenotype. To test the possible involvement of VHL in NB, we did mRNA expression analysis and sought evidence for VHL gene inactivation. Although no evidence for a classic tumor suppressor role for VHL in NB could be obtained, a strong correlation was observed between reduced levels of VHL mRNA and low patient survival probability (p=0.013). Furthermore, VHL appears to have predictive power in NTRK1 (TRKA) positive tumor samples with presumed favorable prognosis, which makes it a potentially valuable marker for more accurate risk assessment in this subgroup of patients. The significance of the reduced VHL expression levels in relation to NB tumor biology remains unexplained, as functional analysis demonstrated no clear effect of the reduction in VHL mRNA expression on protein stability of its downstream target hypoxia-inducible factor alpha.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijc.21888DOI Listing
August 2006

EVI1 is consistently expressed as principal transcript in common and rare recurrent 3q26 rearrangements.

Genes Chromosomes Cancer 2006 Apr;45(4):349-56

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

In contrast to the well-documented involvement of EVI1 in various 3q26 aberrations, the transcriptional status of EVI1 in rare recurrent or sporadic 3q26 chromosomal defects has remained largely unexplored. Moreover, in a recent report, the association between 3q26 alterations in myeloid proliferations and ectopic EVI1 expression was questioned. Therefore, we performed a detailed physical mapping of 3q26 breakpoints using a 1.3-Mb tiling path BAC contig covering the EVI1 locus and a carefully designed quantification of both EVI1 and MDS/EVI1 transcripts in 30 hematological malignancies displaying 3q26 aberrations. Cases included well-known rare, recurring chromosomal aberrations such as t(3;17)(q26;q22), t(2;3)(p21-22;q26), and t(3;6)(q26;q25), as well as 10 new sporadic cases. Extensive 3q26 breakpoint mapping allowed unequivocal and sensitive FISH detection of EVI1 rearrangements on both metaphases and interphase nuclei. Real-time quantitative PCR analyses indicated that typically both MDS1/EVI1 and EVI1, but not MDS1, were expressed in these malignancies, with EVI1 the primary transcript. In conclusion, we have demonstrated EVI1 involvement in numerous novel sporadic and recurrent 3q26 rearrangements. Our results underscore the feasibility of FISH as an adjunct to PCR for the identification of EVI1 deranged leukemias and identified EVI1 as the principal transcript expressed in these malignancies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gcc.20295DOI Listing
April 2006

HOXA gene cluster rearrangement in a t(7;9)(p15;q34) in a child with MDS.

Cancer Genet Cytogenet 2005 Oct;162(1):82-4

Center for Medical Genetics, University Hospital Ghent 1K5, De Pintelaan 185, Getnt B-9000, Belgium.

We describe the molecular characterization of a t(7;9)(p15;q34) found in a 15-month-old female patient, diagnosed with refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (RAEBt), in progression to acute myeloid leukemia (AML) M7. Molecular characterization of the 7p15 breakpoint showed that this was localized within a fully sequenced PAC clone RP1-170O19 containing the HOXA4 to HOXA13 genes and the EVX1 gene. The 9q34 breakpoint was mapped distal to ABL1 and proximal to NOTCH1 excluding their involvement as fusion gene partners. Our findings suggest a causal role for HOXA genes in childhood myelodysplasia and warrant investigation of this locus in a larger series of patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cancergencyto.2005.03.004DOI Listing
October 2005

Novel cryptic chromosomal rearrangements in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia detected by multiple color fluorescent in situ hybridization.

Haematologica 2005 Sep;90(9):1179-85

Center for Medical Genetics, University Hospital Ghent, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Background And Objectives: It is often difficult to obtain good karyotypes of cells from children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) because of poor morphology and spreading. Detailed karyotyping can be further hampered by the presence of multiple rearrangements. Our objective was to search for cryptic rearrangements in childhood ALL.

Design And Methods: A series of eight cases of childhood ALL with at least two structural defects were selected and studied by multiple color fluorescent in situ hybridization (M-FISH).

Results: Four previously not reported translocations were detected: a t(14;20) (q32;q11.2) in a 3-year old girl with T-ALL, a cryptic t(7;11)(q35;q24) in association with a t(1;14)(p32;q32) in a patient with T-ALL and two translocations possibly involving the same 6q26 region on the distal end of the long arm of chromosome 6. Further FISH analysis on the t(7;11) indicated rearrangement of the TCRB locus at 7q35 suggesting that this t(7;11) leads to overexpression of an as yet unidentified gene at 11q24. This observation also triggered further screening for TCRB rearrangements in T-ALL. FISH analysis of the t(14;20) with an IGH locus-specific probe provided evidence for an unusual rearrangement of the IGH gene, in the variable gene segment region. Finally, we also observed cryptic insertions of AF4 and ETV6 in combination with complex rearrangements, leading to MLL/AF4 and ETV6/RUNX1 gene fusions.

Interpretation And Conclusions: This study underscores the importance and power of M-FISH analysis in unraveling complex karyotypes and identifying cryptic chromosomal rearrangements. It also sheds some light on the implication of cryptic TCRB rearrangements in T-ALL.
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September 2005

Positional and functional mapping of a neuroblastoma differentiation gene on chromosome 11.

BMC Genomics 2005 Jul 6;6:97. Epub 2005 Jul 6.

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, MRB 2nd floor, De Pintelaan 185, B-9000 Ghent, Belgium.

Background: Loss of chromosome 11q defines a subset of high-stage aggressive neuroblastomas. Deletions are typically large and mapping efforts have thus far not lead to a well defined consensus region, which hampers the identification of positional candidate tumour suppressor genes. In a previous study, functional evidence for a neuroblastoma suppressor gene on chromosome 11 was obtained through microcell mediated chromosome transfer, indicated by differentiation of neuroblastoma cells with loss of distal 11q upon introduction of chromosome 11. Interestingly, some of these microcell hybrid clones were shown to harbour deletions in the transferred chromosome 11. We decided to further exploit this model system as a means to identify candidate tumour suppressor or differentiation genes located on chromosome 11.

Results: In a first step, we performed high-resolution array CGH DNA copy-number analysis in order to evaluate the chromosome 11 status in the hybrids. Several deletions in both parental and transferred chromosomes in the investigated microcell hybrids were observed. Subsequent correlation of these deletion events with the observed morphological changes lead to the delineation of three putative regions on chromosome 11: 11q25, 11p13-->11p15.1 and 11p15.3, that may harbour the responsible differentiation gene.

Conclusion: Using an available model system, we were able to put forward some candidate regions that may be involved in neuroblastoma. Additional studies will be required to clarify the putative role of the genes located in these chromosomal segments in the observed differentiation phenotype specifically or in neuroblastoma pathogenesis in general.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2164-6-97DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1185534PMC
July 2005

PAX5/IGH rearrangement is a recurrent finding in a subset of aggressive B-NHL with complex chromosomal rearrangements.

Genes Chromosomes Cancer 2005 Oct;44(2):218-23

Center for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

We present an extensive characterization of 10 B-cell lymphomas with a t(9;14)(p13;q32). The presence of the PAX5/IGH gene rearrangement was demonstrated by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using a validated probe set, whereas complex karyotypic changes were reassessed by multiplex-FISH (M-FISH). Pathologic and clinical review revealed the presence of this rearrangement in 4 histiocyte-rich, T-cell-rich B-cell lymphomas (HRTR-BCLs) and 2 posttransplantation diffuse large B-cell lymphomas (PTLD-DLBCLs). In contrast to initial observations describing this translocation in lymphoplasmacytic lymphoma (LPL) and LPL-derived large B-cell lymphoma, our data showed a wide morphologic and clinical spectrum associated with the PAX5/IGH rearrangement, pointing to an association between this aberration and a subset of de novo DLBCLs presenting with advanced disease and adverse prognosis. In addition, the recurrent incidence of this rearrangement in both HRTR-BCL (4 cases) and PTLD-DLBCL (2 cases) was previously unrecognized and is intriguing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/gcc.20214DOI Listing
October 2005

Rapid detection of VHL exon deletions using real-time quantitative PCR.

Lab Invest 2005 Jan;85(1):24-33

Centre for Medical Genetics, Ghent University Hospital, Ghent, Belgium.

Various types of mutations exist that exert an effect on the normal function of a gene. Among these, exon/gene deletions often remain unnoticed in initial mutation screening. Until recently, no fast and efficient methods were available to detect this type of mutation. Molecular detection methods for gene copy number changes included Southern blot (SB) and fluorescence in situ hybridisation, both with their own intrinsic limitations. In this paper, we report the development and application of a fast, sensitive and high-resolution method for the detection of single exon or larger deletions in the VHL gene based on real-time quantitative PCR (Q-PCR). These deletions account for approximately one-fifth of all patients with the von Hippel-Lindau syndrome, a dominantly inherited highly penetrant familial cancer syndrome predisposing to specific malignancies including phaeochromocytomas and haemangioblastomas. Our VHL exon quantification strategy is based on SYBR Green I detection and normalisation using two reference genes with a normal copy number, that is, ZNF80 (3q13.31) and GPR15 (3q12.1). Choice of primer sequences and the use of two reference genes appears to be critical for accurate discrimination between 1 and 2 exon copies. In a blind Q-PCR study of 29 samples, all 14 deletions were detected, which is in perfect agreement with previously determined SB results. We propose Q-PCR as the method of choice for fast (within 3.5 h), accurate and sensitive (ng amount of input DNA) exon deletion screening in routine DNA diagnosis of VHL disease. Similar assays can be designed for deletion screening in other genetic disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/labinvest.3700209DOI Listing
January 2005

Expression analyses identify MLL as a prominent target of 11q23 amplification and support an etiologic role for MLL gain of function in myeloid malignancies.

Blood 2004 Jan 28;103(1):229-35. Epub 2003 Aug 28.

Centre for Medical Genetics, University Hospital Ghent, Belgium.

MLL amplification was recently recognized as a recurrent aberration in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and myelodys-plastic syndrome (MDS), associated with adverse prognosis and karyotype complexity. Here we present detailed results of fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and expression analyses of MLL and 5 selected 11q candidate oncogenes (CBL, DDX6, ETS1, FLI1, and PLZF) in 31 patient samples and one cell line with 11q23 gain. FISH analyses revealed that the 11q23 amplicon invariably encompassed MLL, DDX6, ETS1, and FLI1, whereas expression analyses identified MLL and DDX6 as the most differentially expressed genes among samples with and without 11q23 copy gain or amplification. In MLL-amplified samples, a significant transcriptional up-regulation of MEIS1, PROML1, ADAM10, NKG2D, and ITPA was noted. Further analyses, designed to elucidate a possible role of the 11q overexpressed genes (MLL, DDX6, FLI1, and ETS1) in unselected MDS and AML samples, revealed a significant upregulation of MLL in MDS. Our findings confirm the MLL gene as a prominent target of 11q23 amplification and provide further evidence for an etiologic role for MLL gain of function in myeloid malignancies. In addition, our results indicate that the transcriptional program associated with MLL rearrangements and MLL overexpression displays significant similarities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1182/blood-2003-06-2163DOI Listing
January 2004