Mills AM, Beck AH, Pourmand N, Le QT, Kong CS. Evaluation of ProExC as a prognostic marker in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinomas. Am J Surg Pathol 2012;36(8):1158-64.Abstract
ProExC expression has been shown to perform similarly to p16 as an aid in the diagnosis of cervical dysplasia but has not been well characterized in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas (SCC). The purpose of this study is to determine whether ProExC performs similarly to p16 as a prognostic marker in oropharyngeal SCC and to evaluate the threshold of ProExC and p16 staining that correlates with survival. ProExC, p16, and human papillomavirus DNA in situ hybridization were performed on tissue microarray (TMA) cores and whole sections from 62 patients with oropharyngeal SCC. Sensitivity and specificity for high-risk HPV and correlation with overall survival (OS), cancer-specific survival (CSS), and time to distant metastasis (TDM) were calculated for ProExC and p16 at different thresholds. ProExC did not prove to be a robust marker. It showed strong correlation with OS at a 66% threshold on TMA cores, but correlation with OS was lost on whole sections. It also exhibited low sensitivity (53.7%) on TMA cores and low specificity on whole sections (65%). ProExC at a 33% threshold exhibited unacceptably low specificity and did not correlate with OS, CSS, or TDM. Sensitivity and specificity of p16 varied predictably with threshold: higher sensitivity and lower specificity with lower thresholds and vice versa for higher thresholds. p16 at a 50% threshold offers a balance between sensitivity and specificity, and correlates with OS, CSS, and TDM on whole sections; correlation with TDM is lost on TMA cores. These findings indicate that ProExC does not perform well enough to be used as a prognostic marker in oropharyngeal SCC. p16 should be used and scored as positive when at least half the tumor is strongly stained.
Ogino S, King EE, Beck AH, Sherman ME, Milner DA, Giovannucci E. Interdisciplinary education to integrate pathology and epidemiology: towards molecular and population-level health science. Am J Epidemiol 2012;176(8):659-67.Abstract
In recent decades, epidemiology, public health, and medical sciences have been increasingly compartmentalized into narrower disciplines. The authors recognize the value of integration of divergent scientific fields in order to create new methods, concepts, paradigms, and knowledge. Herein they describe the recent emergence of molecular pathological epidemiology (MPE), which represents an integration of population and molecular biologic science to gain insights into the etiologies, pathogenesis, evolution, and outcomes of complex multifactorial diseases. Most human diseases, including common cancers (such as breast, lung, prostate, and colorectal cancers, leukemia, and lymphoma) and other chronic diseases (such as diabetes mellitus, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, autoimmune diseases, psychiatric diseases, and some infectious diseases), are caused by alterations in the genome, epigenome, transcriptome, proteome, metabolome, microbiome, and interactome of all of the above components. In this era of personalized medicine and personalized prevention, we need integrated science (such as MPE) which can decipher diseases at the molecular, genetic, cellular, and population levels simultaneously. The authors believe that convergence and integration of multiple disciplines should be commonplace in research and education. We need to be open-minded and flexible in designing integrated education curricula and training programs for future students, clinicians, practitioners, and investigators.
Ogino S, Beck AH, King EE, Sherman ME, Milner DA, Giovannucci E. Ogino et Al. Respond to "the 21st century epidemiologist". Am J Epidemiol 2012;176(8):672-4.
Edris B, Espinosa I, Mühlenberg T, Mikels A, Lee C-H, Steigen SE, Zhu S, Montgomery KD, Lazar AJF, Lev D, Fletcher JA, Beck AH, West RB, Nusse R, van de Rijn M. ROR2 is a novel prognostic biomarker and a potential therapeutic target in leiomyosarcoma and gastrointestinal stromal tumour. J Pathol 2012;227(2):223-33.Abstract
Soft-tissue sarcomas are a group of malignant tumours whose clinical management is complicated by morphological heterogeneity, inadequate molecular markers and limited therapeutic options. Receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) have been shown to play important roles in cancer, both as therapeutic targets and as prognostic biomarkers. An initial screen of gene expression data for 48 RTKs in 148 sarcomas showed that ROR2 was expressed in a subset of leiomyosarcoma (LMS), gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) and desmoid-type fibromatosis (DTF). This was further confirmed by immunohistochemistry (IHC) on 573 tissue samples from 59 sarcoma tumour types. Here we provide evidence that ROR2 expression plays a role in the invasive abilities of LMS and GIST cells in vitro. We also show that knockdown of ROR2 significantly reduces tumour mass in vivo using a xenotransplantation model of LMS. Lastly, we show that ROR2 expression, as measured by IHC, predicts poor clinical outcome in patients with LMS and GIST, although it was not independent of other clinico-pathological features in a multivariate analysis, and that ROR2 expression is maintained between primary tumours and their metastases. Together, these results show that ROR2 is a useful prognostic indicator in the clinical management of these soft-tissue sarcomas and may represent a novel therapeutic target.
Volkmer J-P, Sahoo D, Chin RK, Ho PL, Tang C, Kurtova AV, Willingham SB, Pazhanisamy SK, Contreras-Trujillo H, Storm TA, Lotan Y, Beck AH, Chung BI, Alizadeh AA, Godoy G, Lerner SP, van de Rijn M, Shortliffe LD, Weissman IL, Chan KS. Three differentiation states risk-stratify bladder cancer into distinct subtypes. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012;109(6):2078-83.Abstract
Current clinical judgment in bladder cancer (BC) relies primarily on pathological stage and grade. We investigated whether a molecular classification of tumor cell differentiation, based on a developmental biology approach, can provide additional prognostic information. Exploiting large preexisting gene-expression databases, we developed a biologically supervised computational model to predict markers that correspond with BC differentiation. To provide mechanistic insight, we assessed relative tumorigenicity and differentiation potential via xenotransplantation. We then correlated the prognostic utility of the identified markers to outcomes within gene expression and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue datasets. Our data indicate that BC can be subclassified into three subtypes, on the basis of their differentiation states: basal, intermediate, and differentiated, where only the most primitive tumor cell subpopulation within each subtype is capable of generating xenograft tumors and recapitulating downstream populations. We found that keratin 14 (KRT14) marks the most primitive differentiation state that precedes KRT5 and KRT20 expression. Furthermore, KRT14 expression is consistently associated with worse prognosis in both univariate and multivariate analyses. We identify here three distinct BC subtypes on the basis of their differentiation states, each harboring a unique tumor-initiating population.
Brunner AL, Beck AH, Edris B, Sweeney RT, Zhu SX, Li R, Montgomery K, Varma S, Gilks T, Guo X, Foley JW, Witten DM, Giacomini CP, Flynn RA, Pollack JR, Tibshirani R, Chang HY, van de Rijn M, West RB. Transcriptional profiling of long non-coding RNAs and novel transcribed regions across a diverse panel of archived human cancers. Genome Biol 2012;13(8):R75.Abstract
BACKGROUND: Molecular characterization of tumors has been critical for identifying important genes in cancer biology and for improving tumor classification and diagnosis. Long non-coding RNAs, as a new, relatively unstudied class of transcripts, provide a rich opportunity to identify both functional drivers and cancer-type-specific biomarkers. However, despite the potential importance of long non-coding RNAs to the cancer field, no comprehensive survey of long non-coding RNA expression across various cancers has been reported. RESULTS: We performed a sequencing-based transcriptional survey of both known long non-coding RNAs and novel intergenic transcripts across a panel of 64 archival tumor samples comprising 17 diagnostic subtypes of adenocarcinomas, squamous cell carcinomas and sarcomas. We identified hundreds of transcripts from among the known 1,065 long non-coding RNAs surveyed that showed variability in transcript levels between the tumor types and are therefore potential biomarker candidates. We discovered 1,071 novel intergenic transcribed regions and demonstrate that these show similar patterns of variability between tumor types. We found that many of these differentially expressed cancer transcripts are also expressed in normal tissues. One such novel transcript specifically expressed in breast tissue was further evaluated using RNA in situ hybridization on a panel of breast tumors. It was shown to correlate with low tumor grade and estrogen receptor expression, thereby representing a potentially important new breast cancer biomarker. CONCLUSIONS: This study provides the first large survey of long non-coding RNA expression within a panel of solid cancers and also identifies a number of novel transcribed regions differentially expressed across distinct cancer types that represent candidate biomarkers for future research.
Espinosa I, Edris B, Lee C-H, Cheng HW, Gilks BC, Wang Y, Montgomery KD, Varma S, Li R, Marinelli RJ, West RB, Nielsen T, Beck AH, van de Rijn M. CSF1 expression in nongynecological leiomyosarcoma is associated with increased tumor angiogenesis. Am J Pathol 2011;179(4):2100-7.Abstract
Leiomyosarcoma (LMS) is a malignant tumor of smooth muscle cells for which few effective therapies exist. A subset of LMS cases express macrophage colony-stimulating factor (CSF1) and the resultant tumor-associated macrophage (TAM) infiltration predicts poor clinical outcome. Further, TAMs have been shown to increase tumor angiogenesis. Here, we analyzed 149 LMS cases by immunohistochemistry for vascular marker CD34 and show that high microvessel density (MVD) in nongynecological LMS cases significantly predicts poor patient outcome. The majority of high MVD cases were also CSF1-positive, and when combining high MVD with CSF1 expression, an even stronger prognostic correlation with patient outcome was obtained. Gene expression profiling revealed that MVD has a stronger correlation with CSF1 expression than with expression of vascular endothelial growth factor isoforms, which have traditionally been used as markers of angiogenesis and as anti-angiogenic therapeutic targets. Finally, patterns of CSF1 expression and TAM recruitment remained consistent between primary tumors and their metastases, and between primary tumors and those grown as xenografts in mice, highlighting the stability of these features to the biology of LMS tumors. Together, these findings suggest an important role for CSF1 and the resulting TAM infiltration in the pathological neovascularization of LMS tumors and provide a rationale for CSF1-targeted therapies in LMS.
Wu K, Liu J-J, Adams W, Sonn GA, Mach KE, Pan Y, Beck AH, Jensen KC, Liao JC. Dynamic real-time microscopy of the urinary tract using confocal laser endomicroscopy. Urology 2011;78(1):225-31.Abstract
OBJECTIVES: To develop the diagnostic criteria for benign and neoplastic conditions of the urinary tract using probe-based confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE), a new technology for dynamic, in vivo imaging with micron-scale resolution. The suggested diagnostic criteria will formulate a guide for pCLE image interpretation in urology. METHODS: Patients scheduled for transurethral resection of bladder tumor (TURBT) or nephrectomy were recruited. After white-light cystoscopy (WLC), fluorescein was administered as contrast. Different areas of the urinary tract were imaged with pCLE via direct contact between the confocal probe and the area of interest. Confocal images were subsequently compared with standard hematoxylin and eosin analysis. RESULTS: pCLE images were collected from 66 participants, including 2 patients who underwent nephrectomy. We identified key features associated with different anatomic landmarks of the urinary tract, including the kidney, ureter, bladder, prostate, and urethra. In vivo pCLE of the bladder demonstrated distinct differences between normal mucosa and neoplastic tissue. Using mosaicing, a post hoc image-processing algorithm, individual image frames were juxtaposed to form wide-angle views to better evaluate tissue microarchitecture. CONCLUSIONS: In contrast to standard pathologic analysis of fixed tissue with hematoxylin and eosin, pCLE provides real time microscopy of the urinary tract to enable dynamic interrogation of benign and neoplastic tissues in vivo. The diagnostic criteria developed in this study will facilitate adaptation of pCLE for use in conjunction with WLC to expedite diagnosis of urinary tract pathology, particularly bladder cancer.
Younes SF, Beck AH, Ohgami RS, Lossos IS, Levy R, Warnke RA, Natkunam Y. The efficacy of HGAL and LMO2 in the separation of lymphomas derived from small B cells in nodal and extranodal sites, including the bone marrow. Am J Clin Pathol 2011;135(5):697-708.Abstract
We studied the efficacy of 2 germinal center B-cell markers, HGAL and LMO2, in the separation of lymphomas derived from small B cells, particularly follicular lymphoma (FL) and marginal zone lymphoma occurring in nodal, extranodal, splenic, and bone marrow sites using immunohistochemical analysis for CD10, BCL6, BCL2, HGAL, and LMO2. Our results showed that HGAL and LMO2 are sensitive and specific markers for detecting FL in nodal and extranodal sites. In contrast, all markers were down-regulated in FL infiltrates in the bone marrow. CD10 and HGAL were expressed in a subset of FLs in the bone marrow and were highly correlated with each other and with CD21, a marker of follicular dendritic cells. We conclude that HGAL and LMO2 should be considered in immunohistochemical panels used for the routine workup of lymphomas derived from small B cells. In the bone marrow, staining for HGAL or CD10 can be helpful in making a diagnosis of FL, although they are absent in a subset of cases.
Wu JM, Beck AH, Pate LL, Witten D, Zhu SX, Montgomery KD, Allison KH, van de Rijn M, West RB. Endogenous versus tumor-specific host response to breast carcinoma: a study of stromal response in synchronous breast primaries and biopsy site changes. Clin Cancer Res 2011;17(3):437-46.Abstract
PURPOSE: We recently described two types of stromal response in breast cancer derived from gene expression studies of tenosynovial giant cell tumors and fibromatosis. The purpose of this study is to elucidate the basis of this stromal response--whether they are elicited by individual tumors or whether they represent an endogenous host reaction produced by the patient. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: Stromal signatures from patients with synchronous dual primaries were analyzed by immunohistochemistry on a tissue microarray (n = 26 pairs) to evaluate the similarity of stromal responses in different tumors within the same patient. We also characterized the extent to which the stromal signatures were conserved between stromal response to injury compared to the stromal response to carcinoma using gene expression profiling and tissue microarray immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: The two stromal response signatures showed divergent associations in synchronous primaries: the DTF fibroblast response is more likely to be similar in a patient with multiple breast primaries (permutation analysis P = 0.0027), whereas CSF1 macrophage response shows no significant concordance in separate tumors within a given patient. The DTF fibroblast signature showed more concordance across normal, cancer, and biopsy site samples from within a patient, than across normal, cancer, and biopsy site samples from a random group of patients, whereas the CSF1 macrophage response did not. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the DTF fibroblast response is host-specific, whereas the CSF1 response may be tumor-elicited. Our findings provide further insight into stromal response and may facilitate the development of therapeutic strategies to target particular stromal subtypes.
Beck AH, Rodriguez-Paris J, Zehnder J, Schrijver I. Evaluation of a gene expression microarray-based assay to determine tissue type of origin on a diverse set of 49 malignancies. Am J Surg Pathol 2011;35(7):1030-7.Abstract
The Tissue of Origin Frozen (TOO-FRZ) assay from Pathwork Diagnostics has been cleared by the Food and Drug Administration as a diagnostic study for malignancies of unknown primary. The goal of this study was to evaluate the performance of TOO-FRZ on a diverse collection of malignancies. We collected a diverse set of 49 malignancies. We classified each case into 1 of 4 groups: common morphology from a tissue type included in the TOO-FRZ assay (n=29), uncommon morphology from a tissue type included in the TOO-FRZ assay (n=10), tumor from a tissue type not included in the TOO-FRZ assay (n=3), and malignancies of unknown primary (n=7). We found strong diagnostic performance for common morphologies from tissue types on the TOO-FRZ [overall accuracy=26 of 29 (90%, 95% CI, 73% to 97%)], with perfect performance in all tissue types except gastric (0 of 2) and pancreatic (1 of 2) tissues. There was a significant decline in performance for uncommon morphologies from tissue types included in the TOO-FRZ assay [6 of 10 (60%) cases with an indeterminate result, 1 of 10 (10%) cases with an incorrect prediction, and 3 of 10 (30%) with a correct prediction] and for tumors from tissue types not included in the assay (incorrect prediction in 2 of 3 cases). For the 7 malignancies of unknown primary in our study set, the TOO-FRZ provided a likely clinically useful result in only 2 of 7 cases. These results provide an insight into the strengths and limitations of this molecular assay for the surgical pathologist, and our findings suggest future directions for research in this area.
Mills AM, Beck AH, Montgomery KD, Zhu SX, Espinosa I, Lee C-H, Subramanian S, Fletcher CD, van de Rijn M, West RB. Expression of subtype-specific group 1 leiomyosarcoma markers in a wide variety of sarcomas by gene expression analysis and immunohistochemistry. Am J Surg Pathol 2011;35(4):583-9.Abstract
Leiomyosarcomas (LMSs) constitute approximately one quarter of all sarcomas and are usually defined by morphologic criteria and/or immunoreactivity for actin or desmin. Among high-grade lesions, the distinction from undifferentiated pleomorphic sarcoma (UPS) can be problematic, and previous studies have shown that a significant number of LMS cases may be hiding under the diagnosis of UPS. We recently described 3 novel molecular LMS subtypes that are distributed similarly over LMSs of gyneocologic and non-gyneocologic origins. The group 1 subtype shows an improved disease-specific survival compared with the other 2 groups that is independent of histologic grade. Group 1 comprises approximately 25% of all LMSs, and is defined by a shared pattern of gene expression, a distinct pattern of genomic changes, and reactivity for at least 3 of 5 immunohistochemistry (IHC) markers (smooth muscle gamma actin, calsequestrin 2, human muscle cofilin2, myosin light chain kinase, and sarcolemmal membrane associated protein), as tested on 271 cases of LMS in tissue microarrays. These IHC markers have not been well characterized in non-LMS sarcomas. Here we provide a characterization of these 5 markers across normal tissues, an additional 59 cases of LMS, and a wide range of 565 non-LMS soft tissue tumors from 44 diagnostic categories, with a focus on UPS. When analyzed individually, the 5 markers were found to be expressed in many sarcomas other than LMSs. However, when analyzed by the same criteria used for the recognition of group 1 LMSs, in which a case is scored positive when at least 3 of 5 markers reacted, coordinate expression was seen in significant numbers of cases from only 3 diagnostic groups that included 22% of leiomyomas (n=22), 16% of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (n=43), and 18% of endometrial stromal sarcomas (n=11). In addition, 5% (n=57) of UPSs showed a staining pattern similar to that seen in group 1 LMSs. To further examine the possibility that group 1 LMS constitutes a small part of cases diagnosed as UPS, we examined the expression of the top 500 genes from the group 1 LMS expression signature in 29 UPSs by complementary DNA microarray. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of 29 UPS expression showed that 2 (7%) had coordinated high levels of expression of genes from the group 1 LMS signature, a rate similar to that seen by IHC analysis. These findings show that group 1 LMS IHC markers smooth muscle gamma actin, calsequestrin 2, human muscle cofilin2, myosin light chain kinase, and sarcolemmal membrane associated protein when coordinately expressed have specificity for a subset of LMS when compared with other sarcomas, and may be useful for the recognition of group 1 LMS cases within cases diagnosed as UPS.
Pai RK, Beck AH, Mitchem J, Linehan DC, Chang DT, Norton JA, Pai RK. Pattern of lymph node involvement and prognosis in pancreatic adenocarcinoma: direct lymph node invasion has similar survival to node-negative disease. Am J Surg Pathol 2011;35(2):228-34.Abstract
Lymph node status is one of the most important predictors of survival in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Surgically resected pancreatic adenocarcinoma is often locally invasive and may invade directly into peripancreatic lymph nodes. The significance of direct invasion into lymph nodes in the absence of true lymphatic metastases is unclear. The purpose of this study was to retrospectively compare clinical outcome in patients with pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma with direct invasion into peripancreatic lymph nodes with patients with node-negative adenocarcinomas and patients with true lymphatic lymph node metastasis. A total of 380 patients with invasive pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma classified as pT3, were evaluated: ductal adenocarcinoma with true lymphatic metastasis to regional lymph nodes (248 cases), ductal adenocarcinoma without lymph node involvement (97 cases), and ductal adenocarcinoma with regional lymph nodes involved only by direct invasion from the main tumor mass (35 cases). Isolated lymph node involvement by direct invasion occurred in 35 of 380 (9%) patients. Overall survival for patients with direct invasion of lymph nodes (median survival, 21 mo; 5-year overall survival, 36%) was not statistically different from patients with node-negative adenocarcinomas (median survival, 30 mo; 5-year overall survival, 31%) (P=0.609). Patients with node-negative adenocarcinomas had an improved survival compared with patients with lymph node involvement by true lymphatic metastasis (median survival, 15 mo; 5-year overall survival, 8%) (P<0.001) regardless of the number of lymph nodes involved by adenocarcinoma. There was a trend toward decreased overall survival for patients with 1 or 2 lymph nodes involved by true lymphatic metastasis compared with patients with direct invasion of tumor into lymph nodes (P=0.056). However, this did not reach statistical significance. Our results indicate that patients with isolated direct lymph node invasion have a comparable overall survival with patients with node-negative adenocarcinomas as opposed to true lymphatic lymph node metastasis.
Sangoi AR, Ohgami RS, Pai RK, Beck AH, McKenney JK, Pai RK. PAX8 expression reliably distinguishes pancreatic well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors from ileal and pulmonary well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors and pancreatic acinar cell carcinoma. Mod Pathol 2011;24(3):412-24.Abstract
PAX (paired box) genes encode a family of transcription factors that regulate organogenesis in a variety of organs. Very little is known about the role of PAX8 in endocrine cell development and the expression of PAX8 in neuroendocrine tumors. The purpose of this study was to analyze PAX8 immunohistochemical expression in gastroenteropancreatic and pulmonary well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors to determine whether PAX8 can reliably distinguish pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors from neuroendocrine tumors of other anatomic sites and other pancreatic non-ductal neoplasms. In total, 221 well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors were evaluated: 174 primary neuroendocrine tumors (66 pancreatic, 31 ileal, 21 pulmonary, 20 gastric, 17 rectal, 11 appendiceal, and 8 duodenal) and 47 neuroendocrine tumors metastatic to the liver (31 pancreatic, 11 ileal, 2 pulmonary, 2 duodenal, and 1 rectal). Fifteen solid-pseudopapillary neoplasms and six acinar cell carcinomas of the pancreas were also evaluated. PAX8 was positive in 49/66 (74%) primary pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors. PAX8 expression did not correlate with World Health Organization categorization, grade, size, functional status, or the presence of liver or lymph node metastasis. PAX8 expression was identified in 0/31 (0%) ileal, 0/21 (0%) pulmonary, 2/20 (10%) gastric, 5/17 (29%) rectal, 1/11 (9%) appendiceal, and 6/8 (75%) duodenal neuroendocrine tumors. PAX8 was positive in 4/15 (27%) solid-pseudopapillary neoplasms of the pancreas, whereas all acinar cell carcinomas (0/6) lacked immunoreactivity. Among liver metastases, only pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (20/31, 65%) were PAX8 positive, whereas no cases of ileal (0/11), pulmonary (0/2), duodenal (0/2), and rectal (0/1) neuroendocrine tumor metastases were PAX8 positive. PAX8 is expressed in primary and metastatic pancreatic well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors, and its expression can reliably distinguish pancreatic from ileal and pulmonary well-differentiated neuroendocrine tumors. Duodenal neuroendocrine tumors and a subset of rectal, gastric, and appendiceal neuroendocrine tumors may also express PAX8. PAX8 expression can distinguish pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors from acinar cell carcinomas, but its utility in distinguishing neuroendocrine tumors from solid-pseudopapillary neoplasms is limited.
Systematic analysis of breast cancer morphology uncovers stromal features associated with survival.
Beck AH, Sangoi AR, Leung S, Marinelli RJ, Nielsen TO, van de Vijver MJ, West RB, van de Rijn M, Koller D. Systematic analysis of breast cancer morphology uncovers stromal features associated with survival. Sci Transl Med 2011;3(108):108ra113.Abstract

The morphological interpretation of histologic sections forms the basis of diagnosis and prognostication for cancer. In the diagnosis of carcinomas, pathologists perform a semiquantitative analysis of a small set of morphological features to determine the cancer's histologic grade. Physicians use histologic grade to inform their assessment of a carcinoma's aggressiveness and a patient's prognosis. Nevertheless, the determination of grade in breast cancer examines only a small set of morphological features of breast cancer epithelial cells, which has been largely unchanged since the 1920s. A comprehensive analysis of automatically quantitated morphological features could identify characteristics of prognostic relevance and provide an accurate and reproducible means for assessing prognosis from microscopic image data. We developed the C-Path (Computational Pathologist) system to measure a rich quantitative feature set from the breast cancer epithelium and stroma (6642 features), including both standard morphometric descriptors of image objects and higher-level contextual, relational, and global image features. These measurements were used to construct a prognostic model. We applied the C-Path system to microscopic images from two independent cohorts of breast cancer patients [from the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) cohort, n = 248, and the Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) cohort, n = 328]. The prognostic model score generated by our system was strongly associated with overall survival in both the NKI and the VGH cohorts (both log-rank P ≤ 0.001). This association was independent of clinical, pathological, and molecular factors. Three stromal features were significantly associated with survival, and this association was stronger than the association of survival with epithelial characteristics in the model. These findings implicate stromal morphologic structure as a previously unrecognized prognostic determinant for breast cancer.

Beck AH, Weng Z, Witten DM, Zhu S, Foley JW, Lacroute P, Smith CL, Tibshirani R, van de Rijn M, Sidow A, West RB. 3'-end sequencing for expression quantification (3SEQ) from archival tumor samples. PLoS One 2010;5(1):e8768.Abstract
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.
Sharma M, Beck AH, Webster JA, Espinosa I, Montgomery K, Varma S, van de Rijn M, Jensen KC, West RB. Analysis of stromal signatures in the tumor microenvironment of ductal carcinoma in situ. Breast Cancer Res Treat 2010;123(2):397-404.Abstract
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.
Zhang B, Beck AH, Taube JM, Kohler S, Seo K, Zwerner J, Viakhereva N, Sundram U, Kim YH, Schrijver I, Arber DA, Zehnder JL. Combined use of PCR-based TCRG and TCRB clonality tests on paraffin-embedded skin tissue in the differential diagnosis of mycosis fungoides and inflammatory dermatoses. J Mol Diagn 2010;12(3):320-7.Abstract
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.
Beck AH, Lee C-H, Witten DM, Gleason BC, Edris B, Espinosa I, Zhu S, Li R, Montgomery KD, Marinelli RJ, Tibshirani R, Hastie T, Jablons DM, Rubin BP, Fletcher CD, West RB, van de Rijn M. Discovery of molecular subtypes in leiomyosarcoma through integrative molecular profiling. Oncogene 2010;29(6):845-54.Abstract
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.
Beck AH, West RB, van de Rijn M. Gene expression profiling for the investigation of soft tissue sarcoma pathogenesis and the identification of diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive biomarkers. Virchows Arch 2010;456(2):141-51.Abstract
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.