Gene Summary

Gene:FGF4; fibroblast growth factor 4
Aliases: HST, KFGF, HST-1, HSTF1, K-FGF, HBGF-4
Summary:The protein encoded by this gene is a member of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family. FGF family members possess broad mitogenic and cell survival activities and are involved in a variety of biological processes including embryonic development, cell growth, morphogenesis, tissue repair, tumor growth and invasion. This gene was identified by its oncogenic transforming activity. This gene and FGF3, another oncogenic growth factor, are located closely on chromosome 11. Co-amplification of both genes was found in various kinds of human tumors. Studies on the mouse homolog suggested a function in bone morphogenesis and limb development through the sonic hedgehog (SHH) signaling pathway. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:fibroblast growth factor 4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 09 March, 2017


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1992-2017)
Graph generated 09 March 2017 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 09 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (5)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: FGF4 (cancer-related)

Katoh M
FGFR inhibitors: Effects on cancer cells, tumor microenvironment and whole-body homeostasis (Review).
Int J Mol Med. 2016; 38(1):3-15 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fibroblast growth factor (FGF)2, FGF4, FGF7 and FGF20 are representative paracrine FGFs binding to heparan-sulfate proteoglycan and fibroblast growth factor receptors (FGFRs), whereas FGF19, FGF21 and FGF23 are endocrine FGFs binding to Klotho and FGFRs. FGFR1 is relatively frequently amplified and overexpressed in breast and lung cancer, and FGFR2 in gastric cancer. BCR-FGFR1, CNTRL-FGFR1, CUX1-FGFR1, FGFR1OP-FGFR1, MYO18A-FGFR1 and ZMYM2-FGFR1 fusions in myeloproliferative neoplasms are non-receptor-type FGFR kinases, whereas FGFR1-TACC1, FGFR2-AFF3, FGFR2-BICC1, FGFR2-PPHLN1, FGFR3-BAIAP2L1 and FGFR3-TACC3 fusions in solid tumors are transmembrane-type FGFRs with C-terminal alterations. AZD4547, BGJ398 (infigratinib), Debio-1347 and dovitinib are FGFR1/2/3 inhibitors; BLU9931 is a selective FGFR4 inhibitor; FIIN-2, JNJ-42756493, LY2874455 and ponatinib are pan-FGFR inhibitors. AZD4547, dovitinib and ponatinib are multi-kinase inhibitors targeting FGFRs, colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R), vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)R2, and others. The tumor microenvironment consists of cancer cells and stromal/immune cells, such as cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs), endothelial cells, M2-type tumor-associating macrophages (M2-TAMs), myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) and regulatory T cells. FGFR inhibitors elicit antitumor effects directly on cancer cells, as well as indirectly through the blockade of paracrine signaling. The dual inhibition of FGF and CSF1 or VEGF signaling is expected to enhance the antitumor effects through the targeting of immune evasion and angiogenesis in the tumor microenvironment. Combination therapy using tyrosine kinase inhibitors (FGFR or CSF1R inhibitors) and immune checkpoint blockers (anti-PD-1 or anti-CTLA-4 monoclonal antibodies) may be a promising choice for cancer patients. The inhibition of FGF19-FGFR4 signaling is associated with a risk of liver toxicity, whereas the activation of FGF23-FGFR4 signaling is associated with a risk of heart toxicity. Endocrine FGF signaling affects the pathophysiology of cancer patients who are prescribed FGFR inhibitors. Whole-genome sequencing is necessary for the detection of promoter/enhancer alterations of FGFR genes and rare alterations of other genes causing FGFR overexpression. To sustain the health care system in an aging society, a benefit-cost analysis should be performed with a focus on disease-free survival and the total medical cost before implementing genome-based precision medicine for cancer patients.

Tan Q, Li F, Wang G, et al.
Identification of FGF19 as a prognostic marker and potential driver gene of lung squamous cell carcinomas in Chinese smoking patients.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(14):18394-402 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Comprehensive genomic characterizations of lung squamous cell carcinoma (LSCC) have been performed, but the differences between smokers (S-LSCC) and never smokers (NS-LSCC) are not clear, as NS-LSCC could be considered as a different disease from S-LSCC. In this study we delineated genomic alterations in a cohort of 21 NS-LSCC and 16 S-LSCC patients, and identified common gene mutations and amplifications as previously reported. Inclusion of more NS-LSCC patients enabled us to identify unreported S-LSCC- or NS-LSCC-specific alterations. Importantly, an amplification region containing FGF19, FGF3, FGF4 and CCND1 was found five-times more frequent in S-LSCC than in NS-LSCC. Amplification of FGF19 was validated in independent LSCC samples. Furthermore, FGF19 stimulated LSCC cell growth in vitro. These data implicate FGF19 as a potential driver gene in LSCC with clinic characteristics as smoking.

Shi H, Li Y, Feng G, et al.
The oncoprotein HBXIP up-regulates FGF4 through activating transcriptional factor Sp1 to promote the migration of breast cancer cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2016; 471(1):89-94 [PubMed] Related Publications
We have reported that the oncoprotein hepatitis B X-interacting protein (HBXIP) is able to promote migration of breast cancer cells. Fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) is a multipotent growth factor and is highly expressed in various human cancers. However, the regulatory mechanism of FGF4 in breast cancer remains poorly understood. In the present study, we report that HBXIP is able to up-regulate FGF4 to enhance the migration of breast cancer cells. Immunohistochemistry staining showed that HBXIP and FGF4 were highly expressed in clinical metastatic lymph nodes of breast tumor. The expression levels of HBXIP were positively related to those of FGF4 in clinical breast cancer tissues. Then, we validated that HBXIP up-regulated the expression of FGF4 at the levels of promoter, mRNA and protein by luciferase reporter gene assays, reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and Western blot analysis. Moreover, we found that HBXIP was able to activate FGF4 promoter through transcriptional factor Sp1 by luciferase reporter gene assays. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays confirmed that HBXIP coactivated Sp1 to stimulate FGF4 promoter. In function, we showed that HBXIP promoted breast cancer cell migration through FGF4 by wound healing and transwell cell migration assays. Thus, we conclude that the oncoprotein HBXIP up-regulates FGF4 through activating transcriptional factor Sp1 to promote the migration of breast cancer cells. Therapeutically, HBXIP may serve as a novel target in breast cancer.

Ross JS, Gay LM, Nozad S, et al.
Clinically advanced and metastatic pure mucinous carcinoma of the breast: a comprehensive genomic profiling study.
Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2016; 155(2):405-13 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Pure mucinous breast carcinoma (pmucBC) is a distinctive variant of breast cancer (BC) featuring an excellent overall prognosis. However, on rare occasions, pmucBC pursues an aggressive clinical course. We queried whether comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) would uncover clinically relevant genomic alterations (CRGA) that could lead to targeted therapy treatment for patients with an advanced and metastatic form of pmucBC.
METHODS: From a series of 51,238 total cancer samples, which included 5605 cases of clinically advanced BC and 22 cases of stage IV pmucBC, DNA was extracted from 40 microns of FFPE sections. Comprehensive genomic profiling was performed using a hybrid-capture, adaptor ligation-based next generation sequencing assay to a mean coverage depth of 564X. The results were analyzed for all classes of genomic alterations (GA) including base substitutions, insertions and deletions, select rearrangements, and copy number changes. Clinically relevant genomic alterations were defined as those indicating possible treatment with anti-cancer drugs on the market or in registered clinical trials.
RESULTS: Samples were obtained from breast (11), lymph nodes (3), chest wall (2), liver (2), soft tissue (2), bone (1), and pleura (1). The median age of the 22 pmucBC patients was 57 years (range 32-79 years). Three pmucBCs were grade 1, 17 were grade 2, and 2 were grade 3. Twenty-one (95 %) pmucBC were ER+, 18 (82 %) were PR+, and 3 (14 %) were HER2+ by IHC and/or FISH. A total of 132 GA were identified (6.0 GA per tumor), including 53 CRGA, for a mean of 2.4 GA per tumor. Amplification of FGFR1 or ZNF703, located within the same amplicon, was found in 8 of 22 cases (36 %). This enrichment of FGFR1 amplification in 36 % of pmucBC versus 11 % of non-mucinous ER+ BC (601 cases) was significant (p < 0.005). Other frequently altered genes of interest in pmucBC were CCND1 and the FGF3/FGF4/FGF19 amplicon (27 %), often co-amplified together. ERBB2/HER2 alterations were identified in 5 pmucBC (23 %): ERBB2 amplification was found in 3 of 3 cases (100 %) that were HER2+ by IHC and/or FISH; 1 pmucBC was negative for HER2 overexpression by IHC, but positive for amplification by CGP; and 2 pmucBC harbored the ERBB2 substitutions D769Y and V777L (one sample also featured ERBB2 amplification). The enrichment of ERBB2 GA in metastatic pmucBC versus non-metastatic primary pmucBC was significant (p = 0.03). CRGA were also found in 20 additional genes including PIK3CA (5), BRCA1 (1), TSC2 (1), STK11 (1), AKT3 (1), and ESR1 (1).
CONCLUSIONS: Metastatic pmucBC is a distinct form of breast cancer that features a relatively high frequency of CRGA, including a significant enrichment of FGFR1 alterations and a high frequency of ERBB2 alterations when compared with non-metastatic pmucBC. These findings suggest that CGP can identify a variety of known and emerging therapy targets that have the potential to improve outcomes for patients with clinically advanced and metastatic forms of this disease.

Lefkowitch JH, Lagana SM, Kato T
Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Noncirrhotic Liver with Glycogenotic Foci: Basic Science Meets Genomic Medicine.
Semin Liver Dis. 2015; 35(4):450-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
During the past decade, the application of genomic analysis to liver tumors has provided extensive data concerning tumor phenotypes, signatures, outcomes, and prognosis. In this report the authors describe a middle-aged man without known risk factors for liver disease or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) who developed a 19-cm HCC in his right lobe. The underlying liver was normal histologically except for multifocal glycogenotic foci similar to those found in experimental chemical carcinogenesis. Precision genomic analysis of this tumor disclosed five alterations with amplifications of genes CCNE1, FGF3 and FGF4, MYCL1, and ARID1A. The roles of these gene mutations and their potential effects in carcinogenesis in this case are discussed.

Marquard AM, Birkbak NJ, Thomas CE, et al.
TumorTracer: a method to identify the tissue of origin from the somatic mutations of a tumor specimen.
BMC Med Genomics. 2015; 8:58 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: A substantial proportion of cancer cases present with a metastatic tumor and require further testing to determine the primary site; many of these are never fully diagnosed and remain cancer of unknown primary origin (CUP). It has been previously demonstrated that the somatic point mutations detected in a tumor can be used to identify its site of origin with limited accuracy. We hypothesized that higher accuracy could be achieved by a classification algorithm based on the following feature sets: 1) the number of nonsynonymous point mutations in a set of 232 specific cancer-associated genes, 2) frequencies of the 96 classes of single-nucleotide substitution determined by the flanking bases, and 3) copy number profiles, if available.
METHODS: We used publicly available somatic mutation data from the COSMIC database to train random forest classifiers to distinguish among those tissues of origin for which sufficient data was available. We selected feature sets using cross-validation and then derived two final classifiers (with or without copy number profiles) using 80 % of the available tumors. We evaluated the accuracy using the remaining 20 %. For further validation, we assessed accuracy of the without-copy-number classifier on three independent data sets: 1669 newly available public tumors of various types, a cohort of 91 breast metastases, and a set of 24 specimens from 9 lung cancer patients subjected to multiregion sequencing.
RESULTS: The cross-validation accuracy was highest when all three types of information were used. On the left-out COSMIC data not used for training, we achieved a classification accuracy of 85 % across 6 primary sites (with copy numbers), and 69 % across 10 primary sites (without copy numbers). Importantly, a derived confidence score could distinguish tumors that could be identified with 95 % accuracy (32 %/75 % of tumors with/without copy numbers) from those that were less certain. Accuracy in the independent data sets was 46 %, 53 % and 89 % respectively, similar to the accuracy expected from the training data.
CONCLUSIONS: Identification of primary site from point mutation and/or copy number data may be accurate enough to aid clinical diagnosis of cancers of unknown primary origin.

Pasini A, Delmonte A, Tesei A, et al.
Targeting Chromatin-Mediated Transcriptional Control of Gene Expression in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Therapy: Preclinical Rationale and Clinical Results.
Drugs. 2015; 75(15):1757-71 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting chromatin-mediated transcriptional control of gene expression is nowadays considered a promising new strategy, transcending conventional anticancer therapy. As a result, molecules acting as DNA demethylating agents or histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) have entered the clinical arena in the last decade. Given the evidence suggesting that epigenetic regulation is significantly involved in lung cancer development and progression, the potential of epigenetically active compounds to modulate gene expression and reprogram cancer cells to a less aggressive phenotype is, at present, a promising strategy. Accordingly, a large number of compounds that interact with the epigenetic machinery of gene expression regulation are now being developed and tested as potential antitumor agents, either alone or in combination with standard therapy. The preclinical rationale and clinical data concerning the pharmacological modulation of chromatin organization in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is described in this review. Although preclinical data suggest that a pharmacological treatment targeting the epigenetic machinery has relevant activity over the neoplastic phenotype of NSCLC cells, clinical results are disappointing, leading only to short periods of disease stabilization in NSCLC patients. This evidence calls for a significant rethinking of strategies for an effective epigenetic therapy of NSCLC. The synergistic effect of concurrent epigenetic therapies, use at low doses, the priming of current treatments with previous epigenetic drugs, and the selection of clinical trial populations based on epigenetic biomarkers/signatures appear to be the cornerstones of a mature therapeutic strategy aiming to establish new regimens for reprogramming malignant cells and improving the clinical history of affected patients.

Seltzer J, Scotton TC, Kang K, et al.
Gene expression in prolactinomas: a systematic review.
Pituitary. 2016; 19(1):93-104 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Prolactinomas are the most common functional pituitary adenomas. Current classification systems rely on phenotypic elements and have few molecular markers for complementary classification. Treatment protocols for prolactinomas are also devoid of molecular targets, leaving those refractory to standard treatments without many options.
METHODS: A systematic literature review was performed utilizing the PRISMA guidelines. We aimed to summarize prior research exploring gene and protein expression in prolactinomas in order to highlight molecular variations associated with tumor development, growth, and prolactin secretion. A PubMed search of select MeSH terms was performed to identify all studies reporting gene and protein expression findings in prolactinomas from 1990 to 2014.
RESULTS: 1392 abstracts were screened and 51 manuscripts were included in the analysis, yielding 54 upregulated and 95 downregulated genes measured by various direct and indirect analytical methods. Of the many genes identified, three upregulated (HMGA2, HST, SNAP25), and three downregulated (UGT2B7, Let7, miR-493) genes were selected for further analysis based on our subjective identification of strong potential targets.
CONCLUSIONS: Many significant genes have been identified and validated in prolactinomas and most have not been fully analyzed for therapeutic and diagnostic potential. These genes could become candidate molecular targets for biomarker development and precision drug targeting as well as catalyze deeper research efforts utilizing next generation profiling/sequencing techniques, particularly genome scale expression and epigenomic analyses.

Amente S, Milazzo G, Sorrentino MC, et al.
Lysine-specific demethylase (LSD1/KDM1A) and MYCN cooperatively repress tumor suppressor genes in neuroblastoma.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(16):14572-83 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The chromatin-modifying enzyme lysine-specific demethylase 1, KDM1A/LSD1 is involved in maintaining the undifferentiated, malignant phenotype of neuroblastoma cells and its overexpression correlated with aggressive disease, poor differentiation and infaust outcome. Here, we show that LSD1 physically binds MYCN both in vitro and in vivo and that such an interaction requires the MYCN BoxIII. We found that LSD1 co-localizes with MYCN on promoter regions of CDKN1A/p21 and Clusterin (CLU) suppressor genes and cooperates with MYCN to repress the expression of these genes. KDM1A needs to engage with MYCN in order to associate with the CDKN1A and CLU promoters. The expression of CLU and CDKN1A can be restored in MYCN-amplified cells by pharmacological inhibition of LSD1 activity or knockdown of its expression. Combined pharmacological inhibition of MYCN and LSD1 through the use of small molecule inhibitors synergistically reduces MYCN-amplified Neuroblastoma cell viability in vitro. These findings demonstrate that LSD1 is a critical co-factor of the MYCN repressive function, and suggest that combination of LSD1 and MYCN inhibitors may have strong therapeutic relevance to counteract MYCN-driven oncogenesis.

Parish A, Schwaederle M, Daniels G, et al.
Fibroblast growth factor family aberrations in cancers: clinical and molecular characteristics.
Cell Cycle. 2015; 14(13):2121-8 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fibroblast growth factor ligands and receptors (FGF and FGFR) play critical roles in tumorigenesis, and several drugs have been developed to target them. We report the biologic correlates of FGF/FGFR abnormalities in diverse malignancies. The medical records of patients with cancers that underwent targeted next generation sequencing (182 or 236 cancer-related genes) were reviewed. The following FGF/FGFR genes were tested: FGF3, 4, 6, 7, 10, 12, 14, 19, 23 and FGFR1, 2, 3, and 4. Of 391 patients, 56 (14.3%) had aberrant FGF (N = 38, all amplifications) and/or FGFR (N = 22 including 5 mutations and one FGFR3-TACC3 fusion). FGF/FGFR aberrations were most frequent in breast cancers (26/81, 32.1%, p = 0.0003). In multivariate analysis, FGF/FGFR abnormalities were independently associated with CCND1/2, RICTOR, ZNF703, RPTOR, AKT2, and CDK8 alterations (all P < 0.02), as well as with an increased median number of alterations (P < 0.0001). FGF3, FGF4, FGF19 and CCND1 were co-amplified in 22 of 391 patients (5.6%, P < 0.0001), most likely because they co-localize on the same chromosomal region (11q13). There was no significant difference in time to metastasis or overall survival when comparing patients harboring FGF/FGFR alterations versus those not. Overall, FGF/FGFR was one of the most frequently aberrant pathways in our population comprising patients with diverse malignancies. These aberrations frequently co-exist with anomalies in a variety of other genes, suggesting that tailored combination therapy may be necessary in these patients.

Yamada T, Abei M, Danjoh I, et al.
Identification of a unique hepatocellular carcinoma line, Li-7, with CD13(+) cancer stem cells hierarchy and population change upon its differentiation during culture and effects of sorafenib.
BMC Cancer. 2015; 15:260 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUNDS: Cancer stem cell (CSC) research has highlighted the necessity of developing drugs targeting CSCs. We investigated a hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell line that not only has CSC hierarchy but also shows phenotypic changes (population changes) upon differentiation of CSC during culture and can be used for screening drugs targeting CSC.
METHODS: Based on a hypothesis that the CSC proportion should decrease upon its differentiation into progenitors (population change), we tested HCC cell lines (HuH-7, Li-7, PLC/PRF/5, HLF, HLE) before and after 2 months culture for several markers (CD13, EpCAM, CD133, CD44, CD90, CD24, CD166). Tumorigenicity was tested using nude mice. To evaluate the CSC hierarchy, we investigated reconstructivity, proliferation, ALDH activity, spheroid formation, chemosensitivity and microarray analysis of the cell populations sorted by FACS.
RESULTS: Only Li-7 cells showed a population change during culture: the proportion of CD13 positive cells decreased, while that of CD166 positive cells increased. The high tumorigenicity of the Li-7 was lost after the population change. CD13(+)/CD166(-) cells showed slow growth and reconstructed the bulk Li-7 populations composed of CD13(+)/CD166(-), CD13(-)/CD166(-) and CD13(-)/CD166(+) fractions, whereas CD13(-)/CD166(+) cells showed rapid growth but could not reproduce any other population. CD13(+)/CD166(-) cells showed high ALDH activity, spheroid forming ability and resistance to 5-fluorouracil. Microarray analysis demonstrated higher expression of stemness-related genes in CD166(-) than CD166(+) fraction. These results indicated a hierarchy in Li-7 cells, in which CD13(+)/CD166(-) and CD13(-)/CD166(+) cells serve as slow growing CSCs and rapid growing progenitors, respectively. Sorafenib selectively targeted the CD166(-) fraction, including CD13(+) CSCs, which exhibited higher mRNA expression for FGF3 and FGF4, candidate biomarkers for sorafenib. 5-fluorouracil followed by sorafenib inhibited the growth of bulk Li-7 cells more effectively than the reverse sequence or either alone.
CONCLUSIONS: We identified a unique HCC line, Li-7, which not only shows heterogeneity for a CD13(+) CSC hierarchy, but also undergoes a "population change" upon CSC differentiation. Sorafenib targeted the CSC in vitro, supporting the use of this model for screening drugs targeting the CSC. This type of "heterogeneous, unstable" cell line may prove more useful in the CSC era than conventional "homogeneous, stable" cell lines.

Evans L, Chen L, Milazzo G, et al.
SKP2 is a direct transcriptional target of MYCN and a potential therapeutic target in neuroblastoma.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 363(1):37-45 [PubMed] Related Publications
SKP2 is the substrate recognition subunit of the ubiquitin ligase complex which targets p27(KIP1) for degradation. Induced at the G1/S transit of the cell cycle, SKP2 is frequently overexpressed in human cancers and contributes to malignancy. We previously identified SKP2 as a possible MYCN target gene and hence hypothesise that SKP2 is a potential therapeutic target in MYCN amplified disease. A positive correlation was identified between MYCN activity and SKP2 mRNA expression in Tet21N MYCN-regulatable cells and a panel of MYCN amplified and non-amplified neuroblastoma cell lines. In chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter gene assays, MYCN bound directly to E-boxes within the SKP2 promoter and induced transcriptional activity which was decreased by the removal of MYCN and E-box mutation. Although SKP2 knockdown inhibited cell growth in both MYCN amplified and non-amplified cells, cell cycle arrest and apoptosis were induced only in non-MYCN amplified neuroblastoma cells. In conclusion these data identify SKP2 as a direct transcriptional target of MYCN and supports SKP2 as a potential therapeutic target in neuroblastoma.

Schulze K, Imbeaud S, Letouzé E, et al.
Exome sequencing of hepatocellular carcinomas identifies new mutational signatures and potential therapeutic targets.
Nat Genet. 2015; 47(5):505-11 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Genomic analyses promise to improve tumor characterization to optimize personalized treatment for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Exome sequencing analysis of 243 liver tumors identified mutational signatures associated with specific risk factors, mainly combined alcohol and tobacco consumption and exposure to aflatoxin B1. We identified 161 putative driver genes associated with 11 recurrently altered pathways. Associations of mutations defined 3 groups of genes related to risk factors and centered on CTNNB1 (alcohol), TP53 (hepatitis B virus, HBV) and AXIN1. Analyses according to tumor stage progression identified TERT promoter mutation as an early event, whereas FGF3, FGF4, FGF19 or CCND1 amplification and TP53 and CDKN2A alterations appeared at more advanced stages in aggressive tumors. In 28% of the tumors, we identified genetic alterations potentially targetable by US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved drugs. In conclusion, we identified risk factor-specific mutational signatures and defined the extensive landscape of altered genes and pathways in HCC, which will be useful to design clinical trials for targeted therapy.

Yasuda K, Torigoe T, Mariya T, et al.
Fibroblasts induce expression of FGF4 in ovarian cancer stem-like cells/cancer-initiating cells and upregulate their tumor initiation capacity.
Lab Invest. 2014; 94(12):1355-69 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer stem-like cells (CSCs)/cancer-initiating cells (CICs) are defined as a small population of cells within cancer that contribute to cancer initiation and progression. Cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) are stromal fibroblasts surrounding tumor cells, and they have important roles in tumor growth and tumor progression. It has been suggested that stromal fibroblasts and CSCs/CICs might mutually cooperate to enhance their growth and tumorigenic capacity. In this study, we investigated the effects of fibroblasts on tumor-initiating capacity and stem-like properties of ovarian CSCs/CICs. CSCs/CICs were isolated from the ovarian carcinoma cell line HTBoA as aldehyde dehydrogenase 1 high (ALDH1(high)) population by the ALDEFLUOR assay. Histological examination of tumor tissues derived from ALDH1(high) cells revealed few fibrous stroma, whereas those derived from fibroblast-mixed ALDH1(high) cells showed abundant fibrous stroma formation. In vivo tumor-initiating capacity and in vitro sphere-forming capacity of ALDH1(high) cells were enhanced in the presence of fibroblasts. Gene expression analysis revealed that fibroblast-mixed ALDH1(high) cells had enhanced expression of fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) as well as stemness-associated genes such as SOX2 and POU5F1. Sphere-forming capacity of ALDH1(high) cells was suppressed by small-interfering RNA (siRNA)-mediated knockdown of FGFR2, the receptor for FGF4 which was expressed preferentially in ALDH1(high) cells. Taken together, the results indicate that interaction of fibroblasts with ovarian CSCs/CICs enhanced tumor-initiating capacity and stem-like properties through autocrine and paracrine FGF4-FGFR2 signaling.

Favero F, Joshi T, Marquard AM, et al.
Sequenza: allele-specific copy number and mutation profiles from tumor sequencing data.
Ann Oncol. 2015; 26(1):64-70 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Exome or whole-genome deep sequencing of tumor DNA along with paired normal DNA can potentially provide a detailed picture of the somatic mutations that characterize the tumor. However, analysis of such sequence data can be complicated by the presence of normal cells in the tumor specimen, by intratumor heterogeneity, and by the sheer size of the raw data. In particular, determination of copy number variations from exome sequencing data alone has proven difficult; thus, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays have often been used for this task. Recently, algorithms to estimate absolute, but not allele-specific, copy number profiles from tumor sequencing data have been described.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We developed Sequenza, a software package that uses paired tumor-normal DNA sequencing data to estimate tumor cellularity and ploidy, and to calculate allele-specific copy number profiles and mutation profiles. We applied Sequenza, as well as two previously published algorithms, to exome sequence data from 30 tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We assessed the performance of these algorithms by comparing their results with those generated using matched SNP arrays and processed by the allele-specific copy number analysis of tumors (ASCAT) algorithm.
RESULTS: Comparison between Sequenza/exome and SNP/ASCAT revealed strong correlation in cellularity (Pearson's r = 0.90) and ploidy estimates (r = 0.42, or r = 0.94 after manual inspecting alternative solutions). This performance was noticeably superior to previously published algorithms. In addition, in artificial data simulating normal-tumor admixtures, Sequenza detected the correct ploidy in samples with tumor content as low as 30%.
CONCLUSIONS: The agreement between Sequenza and SNP array-based copy number profiles suggests that exome sequencing alone is sufficient not only for identifying small scale mutations but also for estimating cellularity and inferring DNA copy number aberrations.

Wheler JJ, Parker BA, Lee JJ, et al.
Unique molecular signatures as a hallmark of patients with metastatic breast cancer: implications for current treatment paradigms.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(9):2349-54 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Our analysis of the tumors of 57 women with metastatic breast cancer with next generation sequencing (NGS) demonstrates that each patient's tumor is unique in its molecular fingerprint. We observed 216 somatic aberrations in 70 different genes, including 131 distinct aberrations. The most common gene alterations (in order of decreasing frequency) included: TP53, PIK3CA, CCND1, MYC, HER2 (ERBB2), MCL1, PTEN, FGFR1, GATA3, NF1, PIK3R1, BRCA2, EGFR, IRS2, CDH1, CDKN2A, FGF19, FGF3 and FGF4. Aberrations included mutations (46%), amplifications (45%), deletions (5%), splices (2%), truncations (1%), fusions (0.5%) and rearrangements (0.5%), with multiple distinct variants within the same gene. Many of these aberrations represent druggable targets, either through direct pathway inhibition or through an associated pathway (via 'crosstalk'). The 'molecular individuality' of these tumors suggests that a customized strategy, using an "N-of-One" model of precision medicine, may represent an optimal approach for the treatment of patients with advanced tumors.

Johnsen KB, Gudbergsson JM, Skov MN, et al.
A comprehensive overview of exosomes as drug delivery vehicles - endogenous nanocarriers for targeted cancer therapy.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014; 1846(1):75-87 [PubMed] Related Publications
Exosomes denote a class of secreted nanoparticles defined by size, surface protein and lipid composition, and the ability to carry RNA and proteins. They are important mediators of intercellular communication and regulators of the cellular niche, and their altered characteristics in many diseases, such as cancer, suggest them to be important both for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, prompting the idea of using exosomes as drug delivery vehicles, especially for gene therapy. This review covers the current status of evidence presented in the field of exosome-based drug delivery systems. Components for successful exosome-based drug delivery, such as choice of donor cell, therapeutic cargo, use of targeting peptide, loading method and administration route are highlighted and discussed with a general focus pertaining to the results obtained in models of different cancer types. In addition, completed and on-going clinical trials are described, evaluating exosome-based therapies for the treatment of different cancer types. Due to their endogenous origin, exosome-based drug delivery systems may have advantages in the treatment of cancer, but their design needs further refinement to justify their usage on the clinical scale.

Cao Z, Ding BS, Guo P, et al.
Angiocrine factors deployed by tumor vascular niche induce B cell lymphoma invasiveness and chemoresistance.
Cancer Cell. 2014; 25(3):350-65 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tumor endothelial cells (ECs) promote cancer progression in ways beyond their role as conduits supporting metabolism. However, it is unknown how vascular niche-derived paracrine factors, defined as angiocrine factors, provoke tumor aggressiveness. Here, we show that FGF4 produced by B cell lymphoma cells (LCs) through activating FGFR1 upregulates the Notch ligand Jagged1 (Jag1) on neighboring ECs. In turn, upregulation of Jag1 on ECs reciprocally induces Notch2-Hey1 in LCs. This crosstalk enforces aggressive CD44(+)IGF1R(+)CSF1R(+) LC phenotypes, including extranodal invasion and chemoresistance. Inducible EC-selective deletion of Fgfr1 or Jag1 in the Eμ-Myc lymphoma model or impairing Notch2 signaling in mouse and human LCs diminished lymphoma aggressiveness and prolonged mouse survival. Thus, targeting the angiocrine FGF4-FGFR1/Jag1-Notch2 loop inhibits LC aggressiveness and enhances chemosensitivity.

Ribeiro IP, Marques F, Caramelo F, et al.
Genetic imbalances detected by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification in a cohort of patients with oral squamous cell carcinoma-the first step towards clinical personalized medicine.
Tumour Biol. 2014; 35(5):4687-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oral tumors are a growing health problem worldwide; thus, it is mandatory to establish genetic markers in order to improve diagnosis and early detection of tumors, control relapses and, ultimately, delineate individualized therapies. This study was the first to evaluate and discuss the clinical applicability of a multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) probe panel directed to head and neck cancer. Thirty primary oral squamous cell tumors were analyzed using the P428 MLPA probe panel. We detected genetic imbalances in 26 patients and observed a consistent pattern of distribution of genetic alterations in terms of losses and gains for some chromosomes, particularly for chromosomes 3, 8, and 11. Regarding the latter, some specific genes were highlighted due to frequent losses of genetic material--RARB, FHIT, CSMD1, GATA4, and MTUS1--and others due to gains--MCCC1, MYC, WISP1, PTK2, CCND1, FGF4, FADD, and CTTN. We also verified that the gains of MYC and WISP1 genes seem to suggest higher propensity of tumors localized in the floor of the mouth. This study proved the value of this MLPA probe panel for a first-tier analysis of oral tumors. The probemix was developed to include target regions that have been already shown to be of diagnostic/prognostic relevance for oral tumors. Furthermore, this study emphasized several of those specific genetic targets, suggesting its importance to oral tumor development, to predict patients' outcomes, and also to guide the development of novel molecular therapies.

Sugimoto K, Yoshida S, Mashio Y, et al.
Role of FGF10 on tumorigenesis by MS-K.
Genes Cells. 2014; 19(2):112-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
Murine MS-K and NFSA cell lines formed tumor after inoculation into mouse and both cell lines expressed high level of vascular endothelial growth factor-A (vegf-A) and produced same level of VEGF-A. However, poor blood vessel formation, and necrosis was significantly observed in NFSA-tumor, contrary to well-developed blood vessel formation in MS-K tumor. The microarray analysis showed high expression of fibroblast growth factor-10 (fgf-10) in MS-K than NFSA. In this report, the role of fgf-10 on tumor growth was studied. MS-K enhanced more proliferation of endothelial cells by direct co-culture than NFSA, and rFGF10 supported the proliferation of HUVEC in combination with VEGF-A. fgf-10-knocked down MS-K, MS-K (fgf-10-KD), proliferated slower in vitro and the tumorigenicity of them was also slower than control. The blood vessel formation in these MS-K (fgf-10-KD) clones was reduced compared with the MS-K (normal). qPCR analysis showed the suppression of vegf-A, vegf-C and fgfr-1-expression in the MS-K (fgf-10-KD) clones. Taken together, these results indicated that FGF10, which was produced from tumor cells, was essential for the proliferation of tumor cell itself and also supports proliferation of endothelial cells. Thus, FGF10 plays an important role for tumor growth by both paracrine and autocrine manner.

Shen YY, Lu YC, Shen DP, et al.
Fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 Gly388Arg polymorphism in Chinese gastric cancer patients.
World J Gastroenterol. 2013; 19(28):4568-75 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
AIM: To investigate the contribution of the fibroblast growth factor receptor 4 (FGFR4) Gly388Arg polymorphism as a genetic risk factor for gastric cancer (GC) and to investigate any associations between this polymorphism and clinicopathological parameters and survival.
METHODS: Tumors and matched adjacent non-cancer tissues were collected from 304 GC patients, and 5 mL of venous blood was collected from 62 GC patients and 392 age- and sex-matched healthy controls without cancer history from the same ethnic population. DNA was extracted, and direct sequencing analyses were performed to genotype the FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism in all the samples. Differences in the genotype frequencies of the FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism between GC patients and healthy controls were estimated using the χ(2) test. Binary logistic regression was used for all analysis variables to estimate risk as the ORs with 95%CIs. The relationships between the FGFR4 genotype and clinicopathological parameters were tested with the χ(2) test. The Kaplan-Meier product-limit method, the log-rank test, and the Cox regression model were applied to evaluate the effect of the FGFR4 genotype on the overall survival of patients with GC.
RESULTS: In the present GC cohort, 118 patients (38.8%) were homozygous for the Gly388 allele, 124 patients (40.8%) were heterozygous, and 62 patients (20.4%) were homozygous for the Arg388 allele. The frequencies of the Gly/Gly, Gly/Arg, and Arg/Arg genotypes in the healthy controls were 33.6%, 48.0%, and 18.4%, respectively. The distributions of genotypes (χ(2) = 3.589, P = 0.166) and alleles (χ(2) = 0.342, P = 0.559) of the FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism were not different between the GC patients and the healthy controls. Although we observed no correlation between the FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism and clinicopathological parameters or survival in the total cohort of GC patients, the presence of the Arg388 allele was associated with shorter survival time in patients with GC if the tumor was small (log rank χ(2) = 5.449, P = 0.020), well differentiated (log rank χ(2) = 12.798, P = 0.000), T1 or T2 stage (log rank χ(2) = 4.745, P = 0.029), without lymph node involvement (log rank χ(2) = 6.647, P= 0.010), and at an early clinical stage (log rank χ(2) = 4.615, P = 0.032).
CONCLUSION: Our results suggest that the FGFR4 Gly388Arg polymorphism is not a risk factor for GC cancer initiation but that it is a useful prognostic marker for GC patients when the tumor is relatively small, well differentiated, or at an early clinical stage.

Jardim DL, Conley A, Subbiah V
Comprehensive characterization of malignant phyllodes tumor by whole genomic and proteomic analysis: biological implications for targeted therapy opportunities.
Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2013; 8:112 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Phyllodes tumors are uncommon breast tumors that account for less than 0.5% of all breast malignancies. After metastases develop, the prognosis is poor, with very few patients living more than 1 year. The biology of this unusual cancer is not understood and, consequently, no potential targets for treatments are currently available. There has been an exponential increase in the number of commercially available tumor profiling services. Herein, we report a case of metastatic malignant phyllodes tumor for which a comprehensive molecular analysis was performed by using Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA)-certified labs, providing new insights into the potential opportunities for molecularly targeted therapies for this extremely rare disease.
METHODS: Next-generation sequencing was performed by using the FoundationOne™ platform (Foundation Medicine, Cambridge, MA). Whole-genome array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) was performed by using the DNAarray™ (CombiMatrix Diagnostics, Irvine, CA). Immunohistochemical and morphoproteomics analysis were performed at Consultative proteomics®, The University of Texas, UT Health Medical School, Houston,TX (Robert E Brown Lab); Clarient Diagnostics, Aliso Viejo, CA; and Caris Life Sciences Target one, Irving, TX, USA.
RESULTS: Next-generation sequencing showed 3 aberrant genes: activating mutation Q61L on NRAS; inactivating mutations Q504* and K740* on RB1; and TP53 loss. Whole-genome array-based comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) revealed amplifications of chromosome (chr.) 1 (CKS1B gene), chr. 8 (MYC gene), and chr. 9 (CDKN2A gene) Deletions of chr. 17 (TP53), chr. 10 (GATA3), chr. 11 (FGF4 and CCND1 genes), and chr.22 (PDGFβ). Immunohistochemical analysis for relevant markers showed a positive staining for transducing-like enhancer of split (TLE) 3; secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC) was expressed at 2-3+ in the cytoplasm of the tumors cells, whereas mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) was expressed up to 2+ in the nuclei of the tumor cells.
CONCLUSIONS: We describe for the first time an NRAS mutation with concomitant activation of PI3K/Akt/mTOR in phyllodes tumor. We also found markers for sensitivity to taxane-based therapies, especially albumin-bound paclitaxel. Exploring the biology of rare malignancies by CLIA certified labs may be reasonable strategy for the development of targeted treatments.

Katoh M
Therapeutics targeting angiogenesis: genetics and epigenetics, extracellular miRNAs and signaling networks (Review).
Int J Mol Med. 2013; 32(4):763-7 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Angiogenesis is a process of neovascular formation from pre-existing blood vessels, which consists of sequential steps for vascular destabilization, angiogenic sprouting, lumen formation and vascular stabilization. Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF), angiopoietin, Notch, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), Hedgehog and WNT signaling cascades orchestrate angiogenesis through the direct or indirect regulation of quiescence, migration and the proliferation of endothelial cells. Small-molecule compounds and human/humanized monoclonal antibodies interrupting VEGF signaling have been developed as anti-angiogenic therapeutics for cancer and neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Gene or protein therapy delivering VEGF, FGF2 or FGF4, as well as cell therapy using endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) or induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been developed as pro-angiogenic therapeutics for ischemic heart disease and peripheral vascular disease. Anti-angiogenic therapy for cancer and neovascular AMD is more successful than pro-angiogenic therapy for cardiovascular diseases, as VEGF-signal interruption is technically feasible compared with vascular re-construction. Common and rare genetic variants are detected using array-based technology and personal genome sequencing, respectively. Drug and dosage should be determined based on personal genotypes of VEGF and other genes involved in angiogenesis. As epigenetic alterations give rise to human diseases, polymer-based hydrogel film may be utilized for the delivery of drugs targeting epigenetic processes and angiogenesis as treatment modalities for cardiovascular diseases. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) in exosomes and microvesicles are applied as functional biomarkers for diagnostics and prognostics, while synthetic miRNAs in polymer-based nanoparticles are applicable for therapeutics. A more profound understanding of the spatio-temporal interactions of regulatory signaling cascades and advances in personal genotyping and miRNA profiling are required for the optimization of targeted therapy.

Hillbertz NS, Hirsch JM, Jalouli J, et al.
Viral and molecular aspects of oral cancer.
Anticancer Res. 2012; 32(10):4201-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) is the most common epithelial malignancy in the oral cavity. SCCs and their variants constitute over 90% of oral malignancies, and the disease is associated with poor prognosis. OSCC is a complex malignancy where environmental factors, virus infections, and genetic alterations most likely interact, and thus give rise to the malignant condition. Herein, we review the available literature regarding high-risk factors such as alcohol and tobacco usage; discuss the roles of human papillomaviruses (HPV), the Epstein-Barr virus, and the human herpes simplex virus (HSV); and evaluate several candidate genes associated with the condition: p53, p16(INK4) and p21(WAF1/CIPI), survivin, B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2), keratins, Fibroblast growth factor 3 (FGF3), FGF4, FGF19, Oral cancer overexpressed gene 1 (ORAOV1), and Cyclin D1 (CCND1).

Arao T, Ueshima K, Matsumoto K, et al.
FGF3/FGF4 amplification and multiple lung metastases in responders to sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma.
Hepatology. 2013; 57(4):1407-15 [PubMed] Related Publications
UNLABELLED: The response rate to sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is relatively low (0.7%-3%), however, rapid and drastic tumor regression is occasionally observed. The molecular backgrounds and clinico-pathological features of these responders remain largely unclear. We analyzed the clinical and molecular backgrounds of 13 responders to sorafenib with significant tumor shrinkage in a retrospective study. A comparative genomic hybridization analysis using one frozen HCC sample from a responder demonstrated that the 11q13 region, a rare amplicon in HCC including the loci for FGF3 and FGF4, was highly amplified. A real-time polymerase chain reaction-based copy number assay revealed that FGF3/FGF4 amplification was observed in three of the 10 HCC samples from responders in which DNA was evaluable, whereas amplification was not observed in 38 patients with stable or progressive disease (P = 0.006). Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis confirmed FGF3 amplification. In addition, the clinico-pathological features showed that multiple lung metastases (5/13, P = 0.006) and a poorly differentiated histological type (5/13, P = 0.13) were frequently observed in responders. A growth inhibitory assay showed that only one FGF3/FGF4-amplified and three FGFR2-amplified cancer cell lines exhibited hypersensitivity to sorafenib in vitro. Finally, an in vivo study revealed that treatment with a low dose of sorafenib was partially effective for stably and exogenously expressed FGF4 tumors, while being less effective in tumors expressing EGFP or FGF3.
CONCLUSION: FGF3/FGF4 amplification was observed in around 2% of HCCs. Although the sample size was relatively small, FGF3/FGF4 amplification, a poorly differentiated histological type, and multiple lung metastases were frequently observed in responders to sorafenib. Our findings may provide a novel insight into the molecular background of HCC and sorafenib responders, warranting further prospective biomarker studies.

Keshel SH, Soleimani M, Tavirani MR, et al.
Evaluation of unrestricted somatic stem cells as a feeder layer to support undifferentiated embryonic stem cells.
Mol Reprod Dev. 2012; 79(10):709-18 [PubMed] Related Publications
The use of unrestricted somatic stem cells (USSCs) holds great promise for future clinical applications. Conventionally, mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs) or other animal-based feeder layers are used to support embryonic stem cell (ESC) growth; the use of such feeder cells increases the risk of retroviral and other pathogenic infection in clinical trials. Implementation of a human-based feeder layer, such as hUSSCs that are isolated from human sources, lowers such risks. Isolated cord blood USSCs derived from various donors were used as a novel, supportive feeder layer for growth of C4mES cells (Royan C4 ESCs). Complete cellular characterization using immunocytochemical and flow cytometric methods were performed on murine ESCs (mESCs) and hUSSCs. mESCs cultured on hUSSCs showed similar cellular morphology and presented the same cell markers of undifferentiated mESC as would have been observed in mESCs grown on MEFs. Our data revealed these cells had negative expression of Stat3, Sox2, and Fgf4 genes while showing positive expression for Pou5f1, Nanog, Rex1, Brachyury, Lif, Lifr, Tert, B2m, and Bmp4 genes. Moreover, mESCs cultured on hUSSCs exhibited proven differentiation potential to germ cell layers showing normal karyotype. The major advantage of hUSSCs is their ability to be continuously cultured for at least 50 passages. We have also found that hUSSCs have the potential to provide ESC support from the early moments of isolation. Further study of hUSSC as a novel human feeder layer may lead to their incorporation into clinical methods, making them a vital part of the application of human ESCs in clinical cell therapy.

Ziebart T, Draenert FG, Galetzka D, et al.
The original family revisited after 37 years: odontoma-dysphagia syndrome is most likely caused by a microduplication of chromosome 11q13.3, including the FGF3 and FGF4 genes.
Clin Oral Investig. 2013; 17(1):123-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVES: Fibroblast growth factors consist of receptor tyrosine kinase binding proteins involved in growth, differentiation, and regeneration of a variety of tissues of the head and neck. Their role in the development of teeth has been documented, and their presence in human odontogenic cysts and tumors has previously been investigated. Odontoma–dysphagia syndrome (OMIM 164330) is a very rare disorder characterized by clustering of teeth as compound odontoma, dysplasia and aplasia of teeth, slight craniofacial abnormalities, and dysphagia. We have followed the clinical course of the disease in a family over more than 30 years and have identified a genetic abnormality segregating with the disorder.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: We evaluated clinical data from nine different family members and obtained venous blood probes for genetic studies from three family members (two affected and one unaffected).
RESULTS: The present family with five patients in two generations has remained one out of only two known cases with this very rare syndrome. All those affected showed teeth dysplasia, oligodontia, and dysplasia and odontoma of the upper and lower jaw. Additional signs included dysphagia and strictures of the oesophagus. Comorbidity in one patient included aortic stenosis and coronary artery disease, requiring coronary bypasses and aortic valve replacement. Genome-wide SNP array analyses in three family members (two affected and one unaffected) revealed a microduplication of chromosome 11q13.3 spanning 355 kilobases (kb) and including two genes in full length, fibroblast growth factors 3 (FGF3) and 4 (FGF4).
CONCLUSION: The microduplication identified in this family represents the most likely cause of the odontoma–dysphagia syndrome and implies that the syndrome is caused by a gain of function of the FGF3 and FGF4 genes.
CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Mutations of FGF receptor genes can cause craniofacial syndromes such as odontoma–dysphagia syndrome. Following this train of thought, an evaluation of FGF gene family in sporadic odontoma could be worthwhile.

Westerman BA, Braat AK, Taub N, et al.
A genome-wide RNAi screen in mouse embryonic stem cells identifies Mp1 as a key mediator of differentiation.
J Exp Med. 2011; 208(13):2675-89 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Despite intense investigation of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that regulate pluripotency, the process of initial fate commitment of embryonic stem (ES) cells is still poorly understood. We used a genome-wide short hairpin RNA screen in mouse ES cells to identify genes that are essential for initiation of differentiation. Knockdown of the scaffolding protein Mek binding protein 1 (Mp1, also known as Lamtor3 or Map2k1ip1) stimulated self-renewal of ES cells, blocked differentiation, and promoted proliferation. Fibroblast growth factor 4 (FGF4) signaling is required for initial fate commitment of ES cells. Knockdown of Mp1 inhibited FGF4-induced differentiation but did not alter FGF4-driven proliferation. This uncoupling of differentiation and proliferation was also observed when oncogenic Ras isoforms were overexpressed in ES cells. Knockdown of Mp1 redirected FGF4 signaling from differentiation toward pluripotency and up-regulated the pluripotency-related genes Esrrb, Rex1, Tcl1, and Sox2. We also found that human germ cell tumors (GCTs) express low amounts of Mp1 in the invasive embryonic carcinoma and seminoma histologies and higher amounts of Mp1 in the noninvasive carcinoma in situ precursor and differentiated components. Knockdown of Mp1 in invasive GCT cells resulted in resistance to differentiation, thereby showing a functional role for Mp1 both in normal differentiation of ES cells and in germ cell cancer.

Jordan NV, Johnson GL, Abell AN
Tracking the intermediate stages of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in epithelial stem cells and cancer.
Cell Cycle. 2011; 10(17):2865-73 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an essential developmental program that becomes reactivated in adult tissues to promote the progression of cancer. EMT has been largely studied by examining the beginning epithelial state or the ending mesenchymal state without studying the intermediate stages. Recent studies using trophoblast stem (TS) cells paused in EMT have defined the molecular and epigenetic mechanisms responsible for modulating the intermediate "metastable" stages of EMT. Targeted inactivation of MAP3K4, knockdown of CBP, or overexpression of SNAI1 in TS cells induced similar metastable phenotypes. These TS cells exhibited epigenetic changes in the histone acetylation landscape that cause loss of epithelial maintenance while preserving self-renewal and multipotency. A similar phenotype was found in claudin-low breast cancer cells with properties of EMT and stemness. This intersection between EMT and stemness in TS cells and claudin-low metastatic breast cancer demonstrates the usefulness of developmental EMT systems to understand EMT in cancer.

Fan L, Wang Z, Liu J, et al.
A survey of green plant tRNA 3'-end processing enzyme tRNase Zs, homologs of the candidate prostate cancer susceptibility protein ELAC2.
BMC Evol Biol. 2011; 11:219 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: tRNase Z removes the 3'-trailer sequences from precursor tRNAs, which is an essential step preceding the addition of the CCA sequence. tRNase Z exists in the short (tRNase ZS) and long (tRNase ZL) forms. Based on the sequence characteristics, they can be divided into two major types: bacterial-type tRNase ZS and eukaryotic-type tRNase ZL, and one minor type, Thermotoga maritima (TM)-type tRNase ZS. The number of tRNase Zs is highly variable, with the largest number being identified experimentally in the flowering plant Arabidopsis thaliana. It is unknown whether multiple tRNase Zs found in A. thaliana is common to the plant kingdom. Also unknown is the extent of sequence and structural conservation among tRNase Zs from the plant kingdom.
RESULTS: We report the identification and analysis of candidate tRNase Zs in 27 fully sequenced genomes of green plants, the great majority of which are flowering plants. It appears that green plants contain multiple distinct tRNase Zs predicted to reside in different subcellular compartments. Furthermore, while the bacterial-type tRNase ZSs are present only in basal land plants and green algae, the TM-type tRNase ZSs are widespread in green plants. The protein sequences of the TM-type tRNase ZSs identified in green plants are similar to those of the bacterial-type tRNase ZSs but have distinct features, including the TM-type flexible arm, the variant catalytic HEAT and HST motifs, and a lack of the PxKxRN motif involved in CCA anti-determination (inhibition of tRNase Z activity by CCA), which prevents tRNase Z cleavage of mature tRNAs. Examination of flowering plant chloroplast tRNA genes reveals that many of these genes encode partial CCA sequences. Based on our results and previous studies, we predict that the plant TM-type tRNase ZSs may not recognize the CCA sequence as an anti-determinant.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings substantially expand the current repertoire of the TM-type tRNase ZSs and hint at the possibility that these proteins may have been selected for their ability to process chloroplast pre-tRNAs with whole or partial CCA sequences. Our results also support the coevolution of tRNase Zs and tRNA 3'-trailer sequences in plants.

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