Summary Whole-genome-sequencing (WGS) of human tumors has revealed distinct mutation patterns that hint at the causative origins of cancer. We examined mutational signatures in 324 WGS human-induced pluripotent stem cells exposed to 79 known or suspected environmental carcinogens. Forty-one yielded characteristic substitution mutational signatures. Some were similar to signatures found in human tumors. Additionally, six agents produced double-substitution signatures and eight produced indel signatures. Investigating mutation asymmetries across genome topography revealed fully functional mismatch and transcription-coupled repair pathways. DNA damage induced by environmental mutagens can be resolved by disparate repair and/or replicative pathways, resulting in an assortment of signature outcomes even for a single agent. This compendium of experimentally induced mutational signatures permits further exploration of roles of environmental agents in cancer etiology and underscores how human stem cell DNA is directly vulnerable to environmental agents. Video Abstract
Summary Whole genome sequencing (WGS) brings comprehensive insights to cancer genome interpretation. To explore clinical value of WGS, we sequenced 254 triple negative breast cancers (TNBC) with associated treatment and outcome data collected between 2010-2015 via the population-based Sweden Cancerome Analysis Network-Breast (SCAN-B) project (ClinicalTrials.gov ID:NCT02306096). Applying the HRDetect mutational-signature-based algorithm to classify tumors, 59% were predicted to have Homologous-recombination-repair deficiency (HRDetect-high): 67% explained by germline/somatic mutations of BRCA1/BRCA2, BRCA1 promoter hypermethylation, RAD51C hypermethylation or biallelic loss of PALB2. A novel mechanism of BRCA1 abrogation was discovered via germline SINE-VNTR-Alu retrotransposition. HRDetect provided independent prognostic information, with HRDetect-high patients having better outcome on adjuvant chemotherapy for invasive disease-free survival (Hazard Ratio, HR=0.42, 95% confidence interval, CI=0.2-0.87), and distant relapse-free interval (HR=0.31, CI=0.13-0.76) compared to HRDetect-low, regardless of whether a genetic/epigenetic cause was identified. HRDetect-intermediate, some possessing potentially targetable biological abnormalities, had poorest outcomes. HRDetect-low cancers also had inadequate outcomes: ~4.7% were mismatch-repair-deficient - another targetable defect, not typically sought; and was enriched for (but not restricted to) PIK3CA/AKT1 pathway abnormalities. New treatment options need to be considered for now-discernible HRDetect-intermediate and HRDetect-low categories. This population-based study advocates for WGS of TNBC to better inform trial stratification and improve clinical decision-making.
Mutational signatures are patterns of mutations that arise during tumorigenesis. We present an enhanced, practical framework for mutational signature analyses. Applying these methods on 3,107 whole genome sequenced (WGS) primary cancers of 21 organs reveals known signatures and nine previously undescribed rearrangement signatures. We highlight inter-organ variability of
Analysis of mutational signatures is becoming routine in cancer genomics, with implications for pathogenesis, classification, prognosis, and even treatment decisions. However, the field lacks a consensus on analysis and result interpretation. Using whole-genome sequencing of multiple myeloma (MM), chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute myeloid leukemia, we compare the performance of public signature analysis tools. We describe caveats and pitfalls of de novo signature extraction and fitting approaches, reporting on common inaccuracies: erroneous signature assignment, identification of localized hyper-mutational processes, overcalling of signatures. We provide reproducible solutions to solve these issues and use orthogonal approaches to validate our results. We show how a comprehensive mutational signature analysis may provide relevant biological insights, reporting evidence of c-AID activity among unmutated CLL cases or the absence of BRCA1/BRCA2-mediated homologous recombination deficiency in a MM cohort. Finally, we propose a general analysis framework to ensure production of accurate and reproducible mutational signature data.
SummaryDynamic interactions between RhoA and Rac1, members of the Rho small GTPase family, play a vital role in the control of cell migration. Using predictive mathematical modeling, mass spectrometry-based quantitation of network components, and experimental validation in MDA-MB-231 mesenchymal breast cancer cells, we show that a network containing Rac1, RhoA, and PAK family kinases can produce bistable, switch-like responses to a graded PAK inhibition. Using a small chemical inhibitor of PAK, we demonstrate that cellular RhoA and Rac1 activation levels respond in a history-dependent, bistable manner to PAK inhibition. Consequently, we show that downstream signaling, actin dynamics, and cell migration also behave in a bistable fashion, displaying switches and hysteresis in response to PAK inhibition. Our results demonstrate that PAK is a critical component in the Rac1-RhoA inhibitory crosstalk that governs bistable GTPase activity, cell morphology, and cell migration switches.
Western blot data are widely used in quantitative applications such as statistical testing and mathematical modelling. To ensure accurate quantitation and comparability between experiments, Western blot replicates must be normalised, but it is unclear how the available methods affect statistical properties of the data. Here we evaluate three commonly used normalisation strategies: (i) by fixed normalisation point or control; (ii) by sum of all data points in a replicate; and (iii) by optimal alignment of the replicates. We consider how these different strategies affect the coefficient of variation (CV) and the results of hypothesis testing with the normalised data. Normalisation by fixed point tends to increase the mean CV of normalised data in a manner that naturally depends on the choice of the normalisation point. Thus, in the context of hypothesis testing, normalisation by fixed point reduces false positives and increases false negatives. Analysis of published experimental data shows that choosing normalisation points with low quantified intensities results in a high normalised data CV and should thus be avoided. Normalisation by sum or by optimal alignment redistributes the raw data uncertainty in a mean-dependent manner, reducing the CV of high intensity points and increasing the CV of low intensity points. This causes the effect of normalisations by sum or optimal alignment on hypothesis testing to depend on the mean of the data tested; for high intensity points, false positives are increased and false negatives are decreased, while for low intensity points, false positives are decreased and false negatives are increased. These results will aid users of Western blotting to choose a suitable normalisation strategy and also understand the implications of this normalisation for subsequent hypothesis testing.
Triple negative breast cancer (TNBC) encompasses molecularly different subgroups, with a subgroup harboring evidence of defective homologous recombination (HR) DNA repair. Here, within a phase 2 window clinical trial, RIO trial (EudraCT 2014-003319-12), we investigate the activity of PARP inhibitors in 43 patients with untreated TNBC. The primary end point, decreased Ki67, occured in 12% of TNBC. In secondary end point analyses, HR deficiency was identified in 69% of TNBC with the mutational-signature-based HRDetect assay. Cancers with HRDetect mutational signatures of HR deficiency had a functional defect in HR, assessed by impaired RAD51 foci formation on end of treatment biopsy. Following rucaparib treatment there was no association of Ki67 change with HR deficiency. In contrast, early circulating tumor DNA dynamics identified activity of rucaparib, with end of treatment ctDNA levels suppressed by rucaparib in mutation-signature HR-deficient cancers. In ad hoc analysis, rucaparib induced expression of interferon response genes in HR-deficient cancers. The majority of TNBCs have a defect in DNA repair, identifiable by mutational signature analysis, that may be targetable with PARP inhibitors.
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