Gene expression microarrays are the most widely used technique for genome-wide expression profiling. However, microarrays do not perform well on formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue (FFPET). Consequently, microarrays cannot be effectively utilized to perform gene expression profiling on the vast majority of archival tumor samples. To address this limitation of gene expression microarrays, we designed a novel procedure (3'-end sequencing for expression quantification (3SEQ)) for gene expression profiling from FFPET using next-generation sequencing. We performed gene expression profiling by 3SEQ and microarray on both frozen tissue and FFPET from two soft tissue tumors (desmoid type fibromatosis (DTF) and solitary fibrous tumor (SFT)) (total n = 23 samples, which were each profiled by at least one of the four platform-tissue preparation combinations). Analysis of 3SEQ data revealed many genes differentially expressed between the tumor types (FDR<0.01) on both the frozen tissue (approximately 9.6K genes) and FFPET (approximately 8.1K genes). Analysis of microarray data from frozen tissue revealed fewer differentially expressed genes (approximately 4.64K), and analysis of microarray data on FFPET revealed very few (69) differentially expressed genes. Functional gene set analysis of 3SEQ data from both frozen tissue and FFPET identified biological pathways known to be important in DTF and SFT pathogenesis and suggested several additional candidate oncogenic pathways in these tumors. These findings demonstrate that 3SEQ is an effective technique for gene expression profiling from archival tumor samples and may facilitate significant advances in translational cancer research.
Recent advances in the study of the tumor microenvironment have revealed significant interaction between tumor cells and their surrounding stroma in model systems. We have previously shown that two distinct stromal signatures derived from a macrophage (CSF1) response and a fibroblastic (DTF-like) response are present in subsets of invasive breast cancers and show a correlation with clinical outcome. In the present study we explore whether these signatures also exist in the stroma of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). We studied the signatures by both gene expression profile analysis of a publically available data set of DCIS and by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on a tissue microarray of DCIS and invasive breast cancer cases. Both the gene expression and immunohistochemical data show that the macrophage response and fibroblast expression signatures are present in the stroma of subsets of DCIS cases. The incidence of the stromal signatures in DCIS is similar to the incidence in invasive breast cancer that we have previously reported. We also find that the macrophage response signature is associated with higher grade DCIS and cases which are ER and PR negative, whereas the fibroblast signature was not associated with any clinicopathologic features in DCIS. A comparison of 115 matched cases of DCIS and invasive breast cancer found a correlation between the type of stromal response in DCIS and invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) within the same patient for both the macrophage response and the fibroblast stromal signatures (P = 0.03 and 0.08, respectively). This study is a first characterization of these signatures in DCIS. These signatures have significant clinicopathologic associations and tend to be conserved as the tumor progresses from DCIS to invasive breast cancer.
The distinction between mycosis fungoides (MF) and inflammatory dermatoses (ID) by clinicopathologic criteria can be challenging. There is limited information regarding the performance characteristics and utility of TCRG and TCRB clonality assays in diagnosis of MF and ID from paraffin-embedded tissue sections. In this study, PCR tests were performed with both TCRG and TCRB BIOMED-2 clonality methods followed by capillary electrophoresis and Genescan analysis using DNA samples from 35 MF and 96 ID patients with 69 and 133 paraffin-embedded specimens, respectively. Performance characteristics were determined for each test individually and in combination. TCRG and TCRB tests demonstrated identical sensitivity (64%) and specificity (84%) when analyzed as individual assays. The positive predictive value, negative predictive value, and change of posttest MF probability over a range of MF pretest probabilities were obtained. These data were used to construct an algorithm for sequential use of TCRG and TCRB. As single tests, commercially available BIOMED-2 PCR-based TCRG and TCRB clonality tests on paraffin-embedded tissue have no significant difference in terms of sensitivity and specificity. Combined use of the two tests in patients with intermediate pretest probabilities as proposed in the algorithm could improve test utility.
Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a soft tissue tumor with a significant degree of morphologic and molecular heterogeneity. We used integrative molecular profiling to discover and characterize molecular subtypes of LMS. Gene expression profiling was performed on 51 LMS samples. Unsupervised clustering showed three reproducible LMS clusters. Array comparative genomic hybridization (aCGH) was performed on 20 LMS samples and showed that the molecular subtypes defined by gene expression showed distinct genomic changes. Tumors from the 'muscle-enriched' cluster showed significantly increased copy number changes (P=0.04). A majority of the muscle-enriched cases showed loss at 16q24, which contains Fanconi anemia, complementation group A, known to have an important role in DNA repair, and loss at 1p36, which contains PRDM16, of which loss promotes muscle differentiation. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) was performed on LMS tissue microarrays (n=377) for five markers with high levels of messenger RNA in the muscle-enriched cluster (ACTG2, CASQ2, SLMAP, CFL2 and MYLK) and showed significantly correlated expression of the five proteins (all pairwise P<0.005). Expression of the five markers was associated with improved disease-specific survival in a multivariate Cox regression analysis (P<0.04). In this analysis that combined gene expression profiling, aCGH and IHC, we characterized distinct molecular LMS subtypes, provided insight into their pathogenesis, and identified prognostic biomarkers.
Soft tissue sarcomas are malignant neoplasms derived from mesenchymal tissues. Their pathogenesis is poorly understood and there are few effective treatment options for advanced disease. In the past decade, gene expression profiling has been applied to sarcomas to facilitate understanding of sarcoma pathogenesis and to identify diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive markers. In this paper, we review this body of work and discuss how gene expression profiling has led to advancements in the understanding of sarcoma pathobiology, the identification of clinically useful biomarkers, and the refinement of sarcoma classification schemes. Lastly, we conclude with a discussion of strategies to further optimize the translation of gene expression data into a greater understanding of sarcoma pathogenesis and improved clinical outcomes for sarcoma patients.
Malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumours (MPNSTs) are aggressive soft tissue tumours that occur either sporadically or in patients with neurofibromatosis type 1. The malignant transformation of the benign neurofibroma to MPNST is incompletely understood at the molecular level. We have determined the gene expression signature for benign and malignant PNSTs and found that the major trend in malignant transformation from neurofibroma to MPNST consists of the loss of expression of a large number of genes, rather than widespread increase in gene expression. Relatively few genes are expressed at higher levels in MPNSTs and these include genes involved in cell proliferation and genes implicated in tumour metastasis. In addition, a gene expression signature indicating p53 inactivation is seen in the majority of MPNSTs. Subsequent microRNA profiling of benign and malignant PNSTs indicated a relative down-regulation of miR-34a in most MPNSTs compared to neurofibromas. In vitro studies using the cell lines MPNST-14 (NF1 mutant) and MPNST-724 (from a non-NF1 individual) show that exogenous expression of p53 or miR-34a promotes apoptotic cell death. In addition, exogenous expression of p53 in MPNST cells induces miR-34a and other miRNAs. Our data show that p53 inactivation and subsequent loss of expression of miR-34a may significantly contribute to the MPNST development. Collectively, our findings suggest that deregulation of miRNAs has a potential role in the malignant transformation process in peripheral nerve sheath tumours.
Follicular lymphoma (FL) can exhibit variant histologic patterns that can lead to confusion with other B-cell lymphomas and reactive conditions. Diagnostic markers such as CD10 and BCL2 may be difficult to interpret in variant FL patterns, and are often diminished or absent in the interfollicular and diffuse components. We evaluated 2 recently characterized germinal center B-cell markers, human germinal center associated lymphoma (HGAL), and LIM-only transcription factor 2 (LMO2), in 127 FL patient biopsies (94 nodal, 33 extranodal), and correlated the findings with histologic pattern, cellular composition, grade, and additional immunostains (CD20, CD3, CD21, CD10, BCL2, and BCL6). Architectural patterns included predominantly follicular (75%) and follicular and diffuse components (25%); 10 cases showed marginal zone differentiation and 3 were floral variants. Eighty-nine cases were low grade (38 grade 1; 51 grade 2) and 38 were grade 3 (29 grade 3A and 9 grade 3B). HGAL had the highest overall sensitivity of detecting FL and was superior in detecting the interfollicular and diffuse components compared with BCL2, LMO2, CD10, and BCL6. All 28 cases that lacked CD10, expressed HGAL, and the majority also expressed LMO2. Our results show that HGAL and LMO2 are sensitive markers for FL diagnosis. The addition of HGAL and LMO2 to the immunohistologic panel is beneficial in the work-up of nodal and extranodal B-cell lymphomas and the efficacy of HGAL in detecting the follicular, interfollicular and diffuse components of FL is of particular value in the setting of variant immunoarchitectural patterns.
Invasive micropapillary carcinoma (IMPC) of the urinary tract is a well-described variant of the urothelial carcinoma with aggressive clinical behavior. Recent studies have proposed that patients with IMPC on transurethral resection should be treated with radical cystectomy regardless of the pathologic stage. Despite the potentially important therapeutic implications of this diagnosis, interobserver variation in the diagnosis of IMPC has not been studied. Sixty digital images, each from hematoxylin and eosin-stained slides, representing 30 invasive urothelial carcinomas (2 images per case), were distributed to 14 genitourinary subspecialists and each pathologist was requested to classify cases as IMPC or not. These cases included "classic" IMPC (n=10) and urothelial carcinoma with retraction and variably sized nests that might potentially be regarded as IMPC (n=20). The following 13 morphologic features were recorded as positive/negative for all cases independent of the reviewers' diagnoses: columnar cells, elongate nests or processes, extensive stromal retraction, lumen formation with internal epithelial tufting, epithelial ring forms, intracytoplasmic vacuolization, multiple nests within the same lacunar space, back-to-back lacunar spaces, epithelial nest anastomosis/confluence, marked nuclear pleomorphism, peripherally oriented nuclei, randomly distributed nuclei, and tumor nest size. In addition, a mean tumor nest size was calculated for each image based on the number of nuclei spanning the width of the nests. Interobserver reproducibility was assessed and the morphologic features were correlated with the classic IMPC and nonclassic/potential IMPC groups. In addition, the relationships between morphologic features, pathologists' interpretations, and case type (classic IMPC vs. nonclassic/potential IMPC) were evaluated using unsupervised hierarchical clustering analysis. Interobserver reproducibility for a diagnosis of IMPC in the 30 study cases was moderate (kappa: 0.54). Although classification as IMPC among the 10 "classic" IMPC cases was relatively uniform (93% agreement), the classification in the subset of 20 invasive urothelial carcinomas with extensive retraction and varying sized tumor nests was more variable. Multiple nests within the same lacunar space had the highest association with a diagnosis of classic IMPC. These findings suggest that more study of IMPC is needed to identify the individual pathologic features that might potentially correlate with an aggressive outcome and response to intravesical therapy.
Endometrial and endocervical adenocarcinomas may seem histologically identical and it can be difficult to determine primary site of origin based on morphology alone. As the distinction is significant and cannot always be made on the basis of clinical findings, various immunohistochemical panels have been proposed to aid in determining site of origin. Stains for vimentin, estrogen receptor (ER), progesterone receptor (PR), monoclonal carcinoembryonic antigen, p16 and ProExC, and HPV in situ hybridization (ISH), were performed on 283 tissue microarray (TMA) cores and 38 whole sections. The TMA consisted of 214 endometrial carcinomas, 33 endocervical adenocarcinomas, and 36 problematic cases. The endometrial and endocervical carcinomas represented usual endometrioid and mucinous types, and special variants (uterine serous carcinoma, uterine clear cell carcinoma, minimal deviation endocervical adenocarcinoma, cervical small cell carcinoma, adenoid basal cell carcinoma, mesonephric carcinoma). Univariate analysis showed that 6 markers (vimentin, ER, PR, p16, ProExC, and HPV ISH) performed well in distinguishing between endocervical and endometrial origin for the usual endometrioid and mucinous types. Multivariate analysis showed that vimentin, p16, and HPV ISH are the strongest predictors of site. Using a script written in R, the diagnostic accuracy of all possible combinations of markers was evaluated and it was shown that a 3 marker panel including vimentin, ER, or PR, and an HPV marker (p16, ProExC, or HPV ISH) is optimal for determining site of origin for usual endometrial and endocervical adenocarcinomas. However, these panels do not perform well with special variant carcinomas.
The tumour microenvironment (TME) plays an important role in tumour survival and growth, but little is known about the degree of preservation between different stromal response patterns found in primary tumours and their metastases. We have previously identified gene expression profiles for two distinct stromal signatures in breast carcinoma of fibroblast (aka DTF) and macrophage (aka CSF1) response and found them to be correlated with clinicopathological features, including outcome. In this study, we compare the DTF fibroblast and CSF1 macrophage stromal response patterns in primary breast and colorectal cancers to their matched lymph node metastases. In both breast and colorectal cancer, there was a significant positive correlation between the CSF1 macrophage signature in the primary tumours and the matched lymph node metastases, as assessed by immunohistochemical markers. No such correlation was observed for the DTF fibroblast signature. A similar result was seen in independent analysis of two published gene expression microarray datasets. The variations of these stromal reaction patterns from the primary to the metastasis shed light on the relationship between the neoplastic cells and the non-neoplastic cells in the TME. The preservation of the CSF1 macrophage response pattern in metastases lends support to targeting the CSF1 pathway in cancer.