Gene Summary

Gene:HRAS; HRas proto-oncogene, GTPase
Summary:This gene belongs to the Ras oncogene family, whose members are related to the transforming genes of mammalian sarcoma retroviruses. The products encoded by these genes function in signal transduction pathways. These proteins can bind GTP and GDP, and they have intrinsic GTPase activity. This protein undergoes a continuous cycle of de- and re-palmitoylation, which regulates its rapid exchange between the plasma membrane and the Golgi apparatus. Mutations in this gene cause Costello syndrome, a disease characterized by increased growth at the prenatal stage, growth deficiency at the postnatal stage, predisposition to tumor formation, mental retardation, skin and musculoskeletal abnormalities, distinctive facial appearance and cardiovascular abnormalities. Defects in this gene are implicated in a variety of cancers, including bladder cancer, follicular thyroid cancer, and oral squamous cell carcinoma. Multiple transcript variants, which encode different isoforms, have been identified for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:VEGA, OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:GTPase HRas
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.

  • Melanoma
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • p53 Protein
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • bcl-X Protein
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Transport Vesicles
  • Eye Cancer
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Chromosome 11
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF
  • Workflow
  • Trisomy
  • Neoplastic Cell Transformation
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Breast Cancer
  • BRAF
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • HRAS
  • Adolescents
  • Sweat Gland Neoplasms
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins p21(ras)
  • DNA Sequence Analysis
  • Thyroid Nodule
  • Childhood Cancer
  • Urethane
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • RAS Genes
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Genetic Predisposition
  • Carcinoma
  • Skin Cancer
  • Telomerase
  • Costello Syndrome
  • Mutation
  • Transfection
  • Thyroidectomy
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Tag cloud generated 09 March, 2017 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (7)

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

Entity Topic PubMed Papers
Skin CancerHRAS and Skin Cancer View Publications87
Breast CancerHRAS and Breast Cancer View Publications69
Thyroid CancerHRAS and Thyroid Cancer View Publications87
Costello SyndromeHRAS germline mutation in Costello Syndrome
Costello Syndrome is a rare congenital disorder with multiple anomalies; characterised by dysmorphic craniofacial features, musculoskeletal abnormalities, neurocognitive delay, and increased risk of cancers including rhabdomyosarcoma, neuroblastoma, childhood onset bladder carcinoma.
View Publications54
MelanomaHRAS and Melanoma View Publications49
Eye CancerHRAS and Uveal Neoplasms View Publications2
-HRAS and Sweat Gland Neoplasms View Publications3

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

Latest Publications: HRAS (cancer-related)

Li Y, Peng Y, Jiang X, et al.
Whole exome sequencing of thymic neuroendocrine tumor with ectopic ACTH syndrome.
Eur J Endocrinol. 2017; 176(2):187-194 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Thymic neuroendocrine tumor is the second-most prevalent cause of ectopic adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) syndrome (EAS), which is a rare disease characterized by ectopic ACTH oversecretion from nonpituitary tumors. However, the genetic abnormalities of thymic neuroendocrine tumors with EAS remain largely unknown. We aim to elucidate the genetic abnormalities and identify the somatic mutations of potential tumor-related genes of thymic neuroendocrine tumors with EAS by whole exome sequencing.
DESIGN AND METHODS: Nine patients with thymic neuroendocrine tumors with EAS who were diagnosed at Shanghai Clinical Center for Endocrine and Metabolic Diseases in Ruijin Hospital between 2002 and 2014 were enrolled. We performed whole exome sequencing on the DNA obtained from thymic neuroendocrine tumors and matched peripheral blood using the Hiseq2000 platform.
RESULTS: We identified a total of 137 somatic mutations (median of 15.2 per tumor; range, 1-24) with 129 single-nucleotide mutations (SNVs). The predominant substitution in these mutations was C:G > T:A transition. Approximately 80% of detected mutations resulted in amino acid changes. However, we failed to discover any recurrent mutations in these nine patients. By functional predictions, HRAS, PAK1 and MEN1, previously reported in neuroendocrine tumors, were identified as candidate tumor-related genes associated with thymic neuroendocrine tumors.
CONCLUSIONS: Using whole exome sequencing, we identified genetic abnormalities in thymic neuroendocrine tumors with EAS. Thereby, this study acts as a further supplement of the genetic features of neuroendocrine tumors. Somatic mutations of three potential tumor-related genes (HRAS, PAK1 and MEN1) might contribute to the tumorigenesis of thymic neuroendocrine tumors with EAS.

Bigagli E, De Filippo C, Castagnini C, et al.
DNA copy number alterations, gene expression changes and disease-free survival in patients with colorectal cancer: a 10 year follow-up.
Cell Oncol (Dordr). 2016; 39(6):545-558 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: DNA copy number alterations (CNAs) and gene expression changes have amply been encountered in colorectal cancers (CRCs), but the extent at which CNAs affect gene expression, as well as their relevance for tumor development, are still poorly defined. Here we aimed at assessing the clinical relevance of these parameters in a 10 year follow-up study.
METHODS: Tumors and normal adjacent colon mucosa, obtained at primary surgery from 21 CRC patients, were subjected to (i) high-resolution array CGH (a-CGH) for the detection of CNAs and (ii) microarray-based transcriptome profiling for the detection of gene expression (GE) changes. Correlations between these genomic and transcriptomic changes and their associations with clinical and histopathological parameters were assessed with the aim to identify molecular signatures associated with disease-free survival of the CRC patients during a 10 year follow-up.
RESULTS: DNA copy number gains were frequently detected in chromosomes 7, 8q, 13, 19, 20q and X, whereas DNA copy number losses were frequently detected in chromosomes 1p, 4, 8p, 15, 17p, 18, 19 and 22q. None of these alterations were observed in all samples. In addition, we found that 2,498 genes were up- and that 1,094 genes were down-regulated in the tumor samples compared to their corresponding normal mucosa (p < 0.01). The expression of 65 genes was found to be significantly associated with prognosis (p < 0.01). Specifically, we found that up-regulation of the IL17RA, IGF2BP2 and ABCC2 genes, and of genes acting in the mTOR and cytokine receptor pathways, were strongly associated with a poor survival. Subsequent integrated analyses revealed that increased expression levels of the MMP9, BMP7, UBE2C, I-CAM, NOTCH3, NOTCH1, PTGES2, HMGB1 and ERBB3 genes were associated with copy number gains, whereas decreased expression levels of the MUC1, E2F2, HRAS and SIRT3 genes were associated with copy number losses. Pathways related to cell cycle progression, eicosanoid metabolism, and TGF-β and apoptosis signaling, were found to be most significantly affected.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that CNAs in CRC tumor tissues are associated with concomitant changes in the expression of cancer-related genes. In other genes epigenetic mechanism may be at work. Up-regulation of the IL17RA, IGF2BP2 and ABCC2 genes, and of genes acting in the mTOR and cytokine receptor pathways, appear to be associated with a poor survival. These alterations may, in addition to Dukes' staging, be employed as new prognostic biomarkers for the prediction of clinical outcome in CRC patients.

Oh EJ, Lee S, Bae JS, et al.
TERT Promoter Mutation in an Aggressive Cribriform Morular Variant of Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma.
Endocr Pathol. 2017; 28(1):49-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cribriform-morular variant of papillary thyroid carcinoma (CMV-PTC) is a rare thyroid neoplasm characterized by unique morphologic findings and association with familial adenomatous polyposis. The biologic behavior of this variant has been reported to behave similarly to classic PTC. We report a rare sporadic case of CMV-PTC occurring in a 45-year-old female with multiple lymph nodes and bone metastases, which were detected after total thyroidectomy and radioactive iodine remnant ablation. Molecular analyses of primary thyroid and metastatic tumor tissues revealed a telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutation, but absence of BRAF, KRAS, NRAS, HRAS, and PIK3CA mutations. Over a 4-year follow-up period, structurally identifiable bone metastases were persistent, but serial post-operative serum thyroglobulin levels remained undetectable in the absence of thyroglobulin antibody. The literature was reviewed. This is the first case of aggressive CMV-PTC showing TERT promoter mutation. TERT promoter mutations may help in predicting aggressive clinical behavior in CMV-PTC. Postoperative serum thyroglobulin measurement may have no impact on clinical decision-making in this type of tumor.

Zoheir KM, Abd-Rabou AA, Harisa GI, et al.
IQGAP1 gene silencing induces apoptosis and decreases the invasive capacity of human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Tumour Biol. 2016; 37(10):13927-13939 [PubMed] Related Publications
IQ motif-containing GTPase-activating proteins (IQGAPs) belong to a conserved family, and they are involved in various intracellular processes. IQGAP1 is expressed in all cells, while IQGAP2 and IQGAP3 are mainly expressed in hepatic cells. IQGAP1 has been suggested to be an oncogene, while IQGAP2 is considered a tumor-suppressor gene. However, the relationship between RAS family genes and IQGAP genes remains unclear. We recently demonstrated this interaction in a chemically induced mouse liver cancer. In this study, IQGAP1 expression was partially silenced in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2) cells. We investigated the impact of IQGAP1 silencing on the interactions of IQGAP and RAS with several apoptotic proteins, including caspase-3 (CASP3), BCL2-associated X protein (BAX), and B-cell leukemia/lymphoma 2 (BCL2). Additionally, we investigated the effects of the interactions of these genes on cell viability, proliferation, apoptosis, and invasive capacity. IQGAP1 siRNA-treated HepG2 cells showed lower invasive capacity than the control cells, and this reduction was time- and vector concentration-dependent. In addition, IQGAP1 silencing resulted in significantly lower IQGAP1 level and subsequently higher IQGAP2 and IQGAP3 expression in HepG2 cells than in the control. Flow cytometry analyses indicated that the silencing of IQGAP1 can induce early and late apoptosis in HepG2 cells. Additionally, IQGAP2, IQGAP3, CASP3, and BAX were upregulated whereas IQGAP1 and BCL2 were downregulated in the siRNA-treated cells. Furthermore, we observed that the mRNA levels of HRAS, KRAS, NRAS, and MRAS decreased upon IQGAP1 silencing. These findings indicate that IQGAP1 potentially regulates the expression of IQGAP and RAS gene families and demonstrate its regulatory role in the apoptotic network. Taken together, our findings suggest that IQGAP1 silencing plays crucial roles in the apoptosis of HepG2 cells and lowers their proliferative and invasive capacities.

Wei S, LiVolsi VA, Montone KT, et al.
Detection of Molecular Alterations in Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma Using Next-Generation Sequencing: an Institutional Experience.
Endocr Pathol. 2016; 27(4):359-362 [PubMed] Related Publications
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC) harbors rearranged during transfection (RET) gene and rarely RAS gene mutations. The knowledge of the type of gene mutation in MTC is important to determine the treatment of the patients and the management of their family members. Targeted next-generation sequencing with a panel of 47 genes was performed in a total of 12 cases of sporadic (9/12) and hereditary MTC (3/12). Two of three hereditary MTCs had RET/C634R mutation, while the other one harbored two RET mutations (L790F and S649L). All the sporadic MTC had RET/M918T mutation except one case with HRAS mutation. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) can provide comprehensive analysis of molecular alterations in MTC in a routine clinical setting, which facilitate the management of the patient and the family members.

Pandith AA, Hussain A, Khan MS, et al.
Oncogenic Activation of Fibroblast Growth Factor Receptor-3 and RAS Genes as Non-Overlapping Mutual Exclusive Events in Urinary Bladder Cancer.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2016; 17(6):2787-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Urinary bladder cancer is a common malignancy in the West and ranks as the 7th most common cancer in our region of Kashmir, India. FGFR3 mutations are frequent in superficial urothelial carcinoma (UC) differing from the RAS gene mutational pattern. The aim of this study was to analyze the frequency and association of FGFR3 and RAS gene mutations in UC cases.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Paired tumor and adjacent normal tissue specimens of 65 consecutive UC patients were examined. DNA preparations were evaluated for the occurrence of FGFR3 and RAS gene mutations by PCR-SCCP and DNA sequencing.
RESULTS: Somatic point mutations of FGFR3 were identified in 32.3% (21 of 65). The pattern and distribution were significantly associated with low grade/stage (<0.05). The overall mutations in exon 1 and 2 in all the forms of RAS genes aggregated to 21.5% and showed no association with any clinic-pathological parameters. In total, 53.8% (35 of 65) of the tumors studied had mutations in either a RAS or FGFR3 gene, but these were totally mutually exclusive in and none of the samples showed both the mutational events in mutually exclusive RAS and FGFR3.
CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that RAS and FGFR3 mutations in UC are mutually exclusive and non-overlapping events which reflect activation of oncogenic pathways through different elements.

Zhang X, Zhang Y
Bladder Cancer and Genetic Mutations.
Cell Biochem Biophys. 2015; 73(1):65-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The most common type of urinary bladder cancer is called as transitional cell carcinoma. The major risk factors for bladder cancer are environmental, tobacco smoking, exposure to toxic industrial chemicals and gases, bladder inflammation due to microbial and parasitic infections, as well as some adverse side-effects of medications. The genetic mutations in some chromosomal genes, such as FGFR3, RB1, HRAS, TP53, TSC1, and others, occur which form tumors in the urinary bladder. These genes play an important role in the regulation of cell division which prevents cells from dividing too quickly. The changes in the genes of human chromosome 9 are usually responsible for tumor in bladder cancer, but the genetic mutation of chromosome 22 can also result in bladder cancer. The identification of p53 gene mutation has been studied at NIH, Washington, DC, USA, in urine samples of bladder cancer patients. The invasive bladder cancers were determined for the presence of gene mutations on p53 suppressor gene. The 18 different bladder tumors were evaluated, and 11 (61 %) had genetic mutations of p53 gene. The bladder cancer studies have suggested that 70 % of bladder cancers involve a specific mutation in a particular gene, namely telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene. The TERT gene is involved in DNA protection, cellular aging processes, and cancer. The Urothelial carcinomas of the bladder have been described in Atlas of genetics and cytogenetics in oncology and hematology. HRAS is a proto-oncogene and has potential to cause cancer in several organs including the bladder. The TSC1 c. 1907 1908 del (E636fs) mutation in bladder cancer suggests that the location of the mutation is Exon 15 with frequency of TSC1 mutation of 11.7 %. The recent findings of BAP1 mutations have shown that it contributes to BRCA pathway alterations in bladder cancer. The discoveries of more gene mutations and new biomarkers and polymerase chain reaction bioassays for gene mutations in bladder cancer need further research.

Heilmann AM, Subbiah V, Wang K, et al.
Comprehensive Genomic Profiling of Clinically Advanced Medullary Thyroid Carcinoma.
Oncology. 2016; 90(6):339-46 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 21/05/2017 Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine the genomic alterations of cancer-related genes in advanced medullary thyroid carcinoma during the course of clinical care.
METHODS: Hybrid-capture-based comprehensive genomic profiling was performed on 34 consecutive medullary thyroid carcinoma cases to identify all four classes of genomic alterations, and outcome for an index patient was collected.
RESULTS: RET was mutated in 88% (30/34) of cases, with RET M918T being responsible for 70% (21/30) of the RET alterations. The other RET alterations were RET E632_L633del, C634R, C620R, C618G/R/S, V804M, and RET amplification. Two of the four RET wild-type patients harbored mutations in KRAS or HRAS (1/34 each). The next most frequent genomic alterations were amplifications of CCND1, FGF3, and FGF19 and alterations in CDKN2A (3/34 each). One case with a RET M918T mutation developed acquired resistance to progressively dose-escalated vandetanib. When the mTOR inhibitor everolimus was added to continued vandetanib treatment, the patient achieved a second 25% reduction of tumor volume (RECIST 1.1) for 8 months.
CONCLUSIONS: Comprehensive genomic profiling identified the full breadth of RET alterations in metastatic medullary thyroid carcinoma and possible cooperating oncogenic driver alterations. This approach may refine the use of targeted therapy for these patients.

Poorhosseini SM, Hashemi M, Alipour Olyaei N, et al.
New Gene Profiling in Determination of Breast Cancer Recurrence and Prognosis in Iranian Women.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2016; 17 Spec No.:155-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Breast cancer (BC) is the second most common cancer in the world and by far the most frequent cancer among women, with an estimated 1.67 million new cancer cases diagnosed in 2012 (25% of all cancers). Polygene expression analysis is used to predict the prognosis and determine the most appropriate treatment regimen. The objective of this study was to examine the gene expression profiles of SIRT3, HRAS, LSP1, SCUBE2 and AP2A2 in Iranian women with BC.A total of 136 patients including healthy controls were categorized into three groups based on the relapse of the disease. Expression of desired genes in formalin-fixed, paraffin embedded tissues collected from all groups of participants was analyzed via the RT PCR method. RNA extraction and cDNA synthesis were performed then real-time quantitative PCR was carried out. Gene expression analysis revealed that the expression of SIRT3 was equal among patient and control groups. LSP1 was down regulated in all patient groups relative to controls but reduced expression in the metastatic group relative to the non-metastatic one was not significant. HRAS was significantly overexpressed in total and metastatic tumor samples versus normal but not in non-metastatic cases. SCUBE2 expression showed significant over-expression in both overall tumor samples and the non-metastatic group as compared to normal tissues. Gene expression level of AP2A2 in all groups was not detectable. Our data are compatible with a tumor suppressor role of LSP1 related to potential prognostic factor for tumor recurrence and outcome. This study for the first time assayed the prognostic value and changes in the expression of SIRT3, LSP1, HRAS, SCUBE2 and AP2A2 genes in women with breast cancer in the Iranian population and findings confirmed potential biomarker and prognostic capability of these genes. Such expression profiling data can critically improve prognosis and treatment decisions in cancer patients.

Harms PW, Hovelson DH, Cani AK, et al.
Porocarcinomas harbor recurrent HRAS-activating mutations and tumor suppressor inactivating mutations.
Hum Pathol. 2016; 51:25-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Porocarcinomas are a rare eccrine carcinoma with significant metastatic potential. Oncogenic drivers of porocarcinomas have been underexplored, with PIK3CA-activating mutation reported in 1 case. We analyzed 5 porocarcinomas by next-generation sequencing using the DNA component of the Oncomine Comprehensive Assay, which provides data on copy number changes and mutational events in 126 cancer-relevant genes through multiplex polymerase chain reaction. We detected an average of 3.3 high-confidence nonsynonymous mutations per tumor (range, 1-6), including a spectrum of oncogenic activation and tumor suppressor inactivation events. Tumor suppressor mutations included TP53 (4/5, 80%), RB1 (3/5, 60%), ATM (2/5, 40%), ARID1A (1/5, 20%), and CDKN2A (1/5, 20%). In 4 (80%) of 5 tumors, at least 1 potential oncogenic driver was identified. Activating HRAS mutations were detected in 2 (40%) of 5, including G13D and Q61L hotspot mutations. Mutations of EGFR were identified in 2 (40%) of 5; these mutations have been previously reported in cancer but did not affect classic activation hotspot sites. EGFR and HRAS mutations were mutually exclusive. HRAS mutations were detected by targeted sequencing in a minority of benign eccrine poromas (2/17; 11.7%), suggesting that HRAS activation may rarely be an early event in sweat gland neoplasia. Together, our data suggest roles for HRAS and EGFR as drivers in a subset of poroma and porocarcinoma. TP53 and RB1 inactivation events are also likely to contribute to tumorigenesis. These findings suggest that porocarcinomas display diversity with respect to oncogenic drivers, which may have implications for targeted therapy in metastatic or unresectable cases.

Nakano T, Yamamoto H, Nakashima T, et al.
Molecular subclassification determined by human papillomavirus and epidermal growth factor receptor status is associated with the prognosis of oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.
Hum Pathol. 2016; 50:51-61 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human papillomavirus (HPV) infection is an indicator of good response to chemoradiotherapy in oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OPSCC), and epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) is a molecular-therapeutic target in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. Here we investigated the prevalence and prognostic significance of HPV infection and EGFR alteration in OPSCC. We analyzed the presence of high-risk HPV using in situ hybridization, protein expressions of p16 and EGFR using immunohistochemistry, and the EGFR gene copy number gain using chromogenic in situ hybridization (CISH) in 105 cases of OPSCC. The biopsy specimens before chemoradiotherapy were used for these analyses. HPV infection and p16 protein overexpression were detected in 53.3% and 52.4% of the OPSCCs, and each factor was associated with better overall survival (P = .0026 and P = .0026) and nonkeratinizing histology (P = .0002 and P = .0004), respectively. EGFR gene copy number gain (high polysomy or amplification) was detected in 12.4% of the OPSCCs and was correlated with EGFR protein overexpression (P = .0667) and worse overall survival (P < .0001). HPV infection and EGFR gene copy number gain (EGFR CISH positive) were mutually exclusive. The HPV-negative/EGFR CISH-positive OPSCCs had significantly worse overall survival than did the HPV-positive/EGFR CISH-negative OPSCCs and HPV-negative/EGFR CISH-negative OPSCCs (P < .0001 and P < .0001, respectively). The EGFR CISH-negative OPSCCs had favorable prognosis irrespective of HPV infection. Our results suggest that EGFR gene copy number gain-positive tumors represent an HPV-negative, aggressive subgroup of OPSCCs. The molecular subclassification of OPSCCs based on HPV infection and EGFR status may serve as important information for appropriate therapeutic strategy.

Hobbs GA, Der CJ, Rossman KL
RAS isoforms and mutations in cancer at a glance.
J Cell Sci. 2016; 129(7):1287-92 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
RAS proteins (KRAS4A, KRAS4B, NRAS and HRAS) function as GDP-GTP-regulated binary on-off switches, which regulate cytoplasmic signaling networks that control diverse normal cellular processes. Gain-of-function missense mutations in RAS genes are found in ∼25% of human cancers, prompting interest in identifying anti-RAS therapeutic strategies for cancer treatment. However, despite more than three decades of intense effort, no anti-RAS therapies have reached clinical application. Contributing to this failure has been an underestimation of the complexities of RAS. First, there is now appreciation that the four human RAS proteins are not functionally identical. Second, with >130 different missense mutations found in cancer, there is an emerging view that there are mutation-specific consequences on RAS structure, biochemistry and biology, and mutation-selective therapeutic strategies are needed. In this Cell Science at a Glance article and accompanying poster, we provide a snapshot of the differences between RAS isoforms and mutations, as well as the current status of anti-RAS drug-discovery efforts.

Bonilla X, Parmentier L, King B, et al.
Genomic analysis identifies new drivers and progression pathways in skin basal cell carcinoma.
Nat Genet. 2016; 48(4):398-406 [PubMed] Related Publications
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) of the skin is the most common malignant neoplasm in humans. BCC is primarily driven by the Sonic Hedgehog (Hh) pathway. However, its phenotypic variation remains unexplained. Our genetic profiling of 293 BCCs found the highest mutation rate in cancer (65 mutations/Mb). Eighty-five percent of the BCCs harbored mutations in Hh pathway genes (PTCH1, 73% or SMO, 20% (P = 6.6 × 10(-8)) and SUFU, 8%) and in TP53 (61%). However, 85% of the BCCs also harbored additional driver mutations in other cancer-related genes. We observed recurrent mutations in MYCN (30%), PPP6C (15%), STK19 (10%), LATS1 (8%), ERBB2 (4%), PIK3CA (2%), and NRAS, KRAS or HRAS (2%), and loss-of-function and deleterious missense mutations were present in PTPN14 (23%), RB1 (8%) and FBXW7 (5%). Consistent with the mutational profiles, N-Myc and Hippo-YAP pathway target genes were upregulated. Functional analysis of the mutations in MYCN, PTPN14 and LATS1 suggested their potential relevance in BCC tumorigenesis.

Ward DG, Baxter L, Gordon NS, et al.
Multiplex PCR and Next Generation Sequencing for the Non-Invasive Detection of Bladder Cancer.
PLoS One. 2016; 11(2):e0149756 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Highly sensitive and specific urine-based tests to detect either primary or recurrent bladder cancer have proved elusive to date. Our ever increasing knowledge of the genomic aberrations in bladder cancer should enable the development of such tests based on urinary DNA.
METHODS: DNA was extracted from urine cell pellets and PCR used to amplify the regions of the TERT promoter and coding regions of FGFR3, PIK3CA, TP53, HRAS, KDM6A and RXRA which are frequently mutated in bladder cancer. The PCR products were barcoded, pooled and paired-end 2 x 250 bp sequencing performed on an Illumina MiSeq. Urinary DNA was analysed from 20 non-cancer controls, 120 primary bladder cancer patients (41 pTa, 40 pT1, 39 pT2+) and 91 bladder cancer patients post-TURBT (89 cancer-free).
RESULTS: Despite the small quantities of DNA extracted from some urine cell pellets, 96% of the samples yielded mean read depths >500. Analysing only previously reported point mutations, TERT mutations were found in 55% of patients with bladder cancer (independent of stage), FGFR3 mutations in 30% of patients with bladder cancer, PIK3CA in 14% and TP53 mutations in 12% of patients with bladder cancer. Overall, these previously reported bladder cancer mutations were detected in 86 out of 122 bladder cancer patients (70% sensitivity) and in only 3 out of 109 patients with no detectable bladder cancer (97% specificity).
CONCLUSION: This simple, cost-effective approach could be used for the non-invasive surveillance of patients with non-muscle-invasive bladder cancers harbouring these mutations. The method has a low DNA input requirement and can detect low levels of mutant DNA in a large excess of normal DNA. These genes represent a minimal biomarker panel to which extra markers could be added to develop a highly sensitive diagnostic test for bladder cancer.

Zhang F, Cheong JK
The renewed battle against RAS-mutant cancers.
Cell Mol Life Sci. 2016; 73(9):1845-58 [PubMed] Related Publications
The RAS genes encode for members of a large superfamily of guanosine-5'-triphosphate (GTP)-binding proteins that control diverse intracellular signaling pathways to promote cell proliferation. Somatic mutations in the RAS oncogenes are the most common activating lesions found in human cancers. These mutations invariably result in the gain-of-function of RAS by impairing GTP hydrolysis and are frequently associated with poor responses to standard cancer therapies. In this review, we summarize key findings of past and present landmark studies that have deepened our understanding of the RAS biology in the context of oncogenesis. We also discuss how emerging areas of research could further bolster a renewed global effort to target the largely undruggable oncogenic RAS and/or its activated downstream effector signaling cascades to achieve better treatment outcomes for RAS-mutant cancer patients.

Melloni GE, de Pretis S, Riva L, et al.
LowMACA: exploiting protein family analysis for the identification of rare driver mutations in cancer.
BMC Bioinformatics. 2016; 17:80 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The increasing availability of resequencing data has led to a better understanding of the most important genes in cancer development. Nevertheless, the mutational landscape of many tumor types is heterogeneous and encompasses a long tail of potential driver genes that are systematically excluded by currently available methods due to the low frequency of their mutations. We developed LowMACA (Low frequency Mutations Analysis via Consensus Alignment), a method that combines the mutations of various proteins sharing the same functional domains to identify conserved residues that harbor clustered mutations in multiple sequence alignments. LowMACA is designed to visualize and statistically assess potential driver genes through the identification of their mutational hotspots.
RESULTS: We analyzed the Ras superfamily exploiting the known driver mutations of the trio K-N-HRAS, identifying new putative driver mutations and genes belonging to less known members of the Rho, Rab and Rheb subfamilies. Furthermore, we applied the same concept to a list of known and candidate driver genes, and observed that low confidence genes show similar patterns of mutation compared to high confidence genes of the same protein family.
CONCLUSIONS: LowMACA is a software for the identification of gain-of-function mutations in putative oncogenic families, increasing the amount of information on functional domains and their possible role in cancer. In this context LowMACA emphasizes the role of genes mutated at low frequency otherwise undetectable by classical single gene analysis. LowMACA is an R package available at It is also available as a GUI standalone downloadable at:

Cogoi S, Xodo LE
G4 DNA in ras genes and its potential in cancer therapy.
Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016; 1859(4):663-74 [PubMed] Related Publications
It is now well established that in the human genome the canonical double helix coexists with folded G-quadruplex structures that are known to have important biological functions. In this review we summarize the current knowledge on quadruplex formation in the promoters of the ras genes that are mutated in about 30% of all human cancers. We describe the nuclear proteins that recognize these unusual DNA structures and discuss their function in transcription. We also examine the formation of G-quadruplexes in the 5'-untranslated region of the ras transcripts and conclude this review by reporting strategies that use either ras G-quadruplexes or proteins recognizing the ras G-quadruplexes as targets of anticancer small molecules.

Chung SI, Moon H, Ju HL, et al.
Comparison of liver oncogenic potential among human RAS isoforms.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(6):7354-66 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Mutation in one of three RAS genes (i.e., HRAS, KRAS, and NRAS) leading to constitutive activation of RAS signaling pathways is considered a key oncogenic event in human carcinogenesis. Whether activated RAS isoforms possess different oncogenic potentials remains an unresolved question. Here, we compared oncogenic properties among RAS isoforms using liver-specific transgenesis in mice. Hydrodynamic transfection was performed using transposons expressing short hairpin RNA downregulating p53 and an activated RAS isoform, and livers were harvested at 23 days after gene delivery. No differences were found in the hepatocarcinogenic potential among RAS isoforms, as determined by both gross examination of livers and liver weight per body weight ratio (LW/BW) of mice expressing HRASQ61L, KRAS4BG12V and NRASQ61K. However, the tumorigenic potential differed significantly between KRAS splicing variants. The LW/BW ratio in KRAS4AG12V mice was significantly lower than in KRAS4BG12V mice (p < 0.001), and KRAS4AG12V mice lived significantly longer than KRRAS4BG12V mice (p < 0.0001). Notably, tumors from KRAS4AG12V mice displayed higher expression of the p16INK4A tumor suppressor when compared with KRAS4BG12V tumors. Forced overexpression of p16INK4A significantly reduced tumor growth in KRAS4BG12V mice, suggesting that upregulation of p16INK4A by KRAS4AG12V presumably delays tumor development driven by the latter oncogene.

Flynn A, Dwight T, Harris J, et al.
Pheo-Type: A Diagnostic Gene-expression Assay for the Classification of Pheochromocytoma and Paraganglioma.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016; 101(3):1034-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: Pheochromocytomas and paragangliomas (PPGLs) are heritable neoplasms that can be classified into gene-expression subtypes corresponding to their underlying specific genetic drivers.
OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to develop a diagnostic and research tool (Pheo-type) capable of classifying PPGL tumors into gene-expression subtypes that could be used to guide and interpret genetic testing, determine surveillance programs, and aid in elucidation of PPGL biology.
DESIGN: A compendium of published microarray data representing 205 PPGL tumors was used for the selection of subtype-specific genes that were then translated to the Nanostring gene-expression platform. A support vector machine was trained on the microarray dataset and then tested on an independent Nanostring dataset representing 38 familial and sporadic cases of PPGL of known genotype (RET, NF1, TMEM127, MAX, HRAS, VHL, and SDHx). Different classifier models involving between three and six subtypes were compared for their discrimination potential.
RESULTS: A gene set of 46 genes and six endogenous controls was selected representing six known PPGL subtypes; RTK1-3 (RET, NF1, TMEM127, and HRAS), MAX-like, VHL, and SDHx. Of 38 test cases, 34 (90%) were correctly predicted to six subtypes based on the known genotype to gene-expression subtype association. Removal of the RTK2 subtype from training, characterized by an admixture of tumor and normal adrenal cortex, improved the classification accuracy (35/38). Consolidation of RTK and pseudohypoxic PPGL subtypes to four- and then three-class architectures improved the classification accuracy for clinical application.
CONCLUSIONS: The Pheo-type gene-expression assay is a reliable method for predicting PPGL genotype using routine diagnostic tumor samples.

Yang JL, Pan XY, Zhao WX, et al.
The antitumor efficacy of a novel adenovirus-mediated anti-p21Ras single chain fragment variable antibody on human cancers in vitro and in vivo.
Int J Oncol. 2016; 48(3):1218-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
Activated ras genes are found in a large number of human tumors, and therefore are one of important targets for cancer therapy. This study investigated the antitumor effects of a novel single chain fragment variable antibody (scFv) against ras protein, p21Ras. The anti-p21Ras scFv gene was constructed by phage display library from hybridoma KGHR1, and then subcloned into replication-defective adenovirus vector to obtain recombinant adenovirus KGHV100. Human tumor cell lines with high expression of p21Ras SW480, MDA-MB‑231, OVCAR-3, BEL-7402, as well as tumor cell line with low expression of p21Ras, SKOV3, were employed to investigate antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo. Fluorescence microscopy demonstrated that KGHV100 was able to express intracellularly anti-p21Ras scFv antibody in cultured tumor cells and in transplantation tumor cells. MTT, Transwell, colony formation, and flow cytometry analysis showed that KGHV100 led to significant growth arrest in tumor cells with high p21Ras expression, and induced G0/G1 cell cycle arrest in the studied tumor cell lines. In vivo, KGHV100 significantly inhibited tumor growth following intratumoral injection, and the survival rates of the mice were higher than the control group. These results indicate that the adenovirus-mediated intracellular expression of the novel anti-p21Ras scFv exerted strong antitumoral effects, and may be a potential method for therapy of cancers with p21Ras overexpression.

Stenman A, Welander J, Gustavsson I, et al.
HRAS mutation prevalence and associated expression patterns in pheochromocytoma.
Genes Chromosomes Cancer. 2016; 55(5):452-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Pheochromocytomas (PCC) and abdominal paragangliomas (PGL) display a highly diverse genetic background and recent gene expression profiling studies have shown that PCC and PGL (together PPGL) alter either kinase signaling pathways or the pseudo-hypoxia response pathway dependent of the genetic composition. Recurrent mutations in the Harvey rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (HRAS) have recently been verified in sporadic PPGLs. In order to further establish the HRAS mutation frequency and to characterize the associated expression profiles of HRAS mutated tumors, 156 PPGLs for exon 2 and 3 hotspot mutations in the HRAS gene was screened, and compared with microarray-based gene expression profiles for 93 of the cases. The activating HRAS mutations G13R, Q61R, and Q61K were found in 10/142 PCC (7.0%) and a Q61L mutation was revealed in 1/14 PGL (7.1%). All HRAS mutated cases included in the mRNA expression profiling grouped in Cluster 2, and 21 transcripts were identified as altered when comparing the mutated tumors with 91 HRAS wild-type PPGL. Somatic HRAS mutations were not revealed in cases with known PPGL susceptibility gene mutations and all HRAS mutated cases were benign. The HRAS mutation prevalence of all PPGL published up to date is 5.2% (49/950), and 8.8% (48/548) among cases without a known PPGL susceptibility gene mutation. The findings support a role of HRAS mutations as a somatic driver event in benign PPGL without other known susceptibility gene mutations. HRAS mutated PPGL cluster together with NF1- and RET-mutated tumors associated with activation of kinase-signaling pathways.

Chan MP, Andea AA, Harms PW, et al.
Genomic copy number analysis of a spectrum of blue nevi identifies recurrent aberrations of entire chromosomal arms in melanoma ex blue nevus.
Mod Pathol. 2016; 29(3):227-39 [PubMed] Related Publications
Blue nevi may display significant atypia or undergo malignant transformation. Morphologic diagnosis of this spectrum of lesions is notoriously difficult, and molecular tools are increasingly used to improve diagnostic accuracy. We studied copy number aberrations in a cohort of cellular blue nevi, atypical cellular blue nevi, and melanomas ex blue nevi using Affymetrix's OncoScan platform. Cases with sufficient DNA were analyzed for GNAQ, GNA11, and HRAS mutations. Copy number aberrations were detected in 0 of 5 (0%) cellular blue nevi, 3 of 12 (25%) atypical cellular blue nevi, and 6 of 9 (67%) melanomas ex blue nevi. None of the atypical cellular blue nevi displayed more than one aberration, whereas complex aberrations involving four or more regions were seen exclusively in melanomas ex blue nevi. Gains and losses of entire chromosomal arms were identified in four of five melanomas ex blue nevi with copy number aberrations. In particular, gains of 1q, 4p, 6p, and 8q, and losses of 1p and 4q were each found in at least two melanomas. Whole chromosome aberrations were also common, and represented the sole finding in one atypical cellular blue nevus. When seen in melanomas, however, whole chromosome aberrations were invariably accompanied by partial aberrations of other chromosomes. Three melanomas ex blue nevi harbored aberrations, which were absent or negligible in their precursor components, suggesting progression in tumor biology. Gene mutations involving GNAQ and GNA11 were each detected in two of eight melanomas ex blue nevi. In conclusion, copy number aberrations are more common and often complex in melanomas ex blue nevi compared with cellular and atypical cellular blue nevi. Identification of recurrent gains and losses of entire chromosomal arms in melanomas ex blue nevi suggests that development of new probes targeting these regions may improve detection and risk stratification of these lesions.

Ji H, Lee JH, Wang Y, et al.
EGFR phosphorylates FAM129B to promote Ras activation.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016; 113(3):644-9 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Ras GTPase-activating proteins (GAPs) are important regulators for Ras activation, which is instrumental in tumor development. However, the mechanism underlying this regulation remains elusive. We demonstrate here that activated EGFR phosphorylates the Y593 residue of the protein known as family with sequence similarity 129, member B (FAM129B), which is overexpressed in many types of human cancer. FAM129B phosphorylation increased the interaction between FAM129B and Ras, resulting in reduced binding of p120-RasGAP to Ras. FAM129B phosphorylation promoted Ras activation, increasing ERK1/2- and PKM2-dependent β-catenin transactivation and leading to the enhanced glycolytic gene expression and the Warburg effect; promoting tumor cell proliferation and invasion; and supporting brain tumorigenesis. Our studies unearthed a novel and important mechanism underlying EGFR-mediated Ras activation in tumor development.

Nascimento FP, Cardoso MG, Lindsey SC, et al.
Analysis of somatic mutations in BRAF, CDKN2A/p16 and PI3KCA in patients with medullary thyroid carcinoma.
Mol Med Rep. 2016; 13(2):1653-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), a neuroendocrine tumor originating from thyroid parafollicular cells, has been demonstrated to be associated with mutations in RET, HRAS, KRAS and NRAS. However, the role of other genes involved in the oncogenesis of neural crest tumors remains to be fully investigated in MTC. The current study aimed to investigate the presence of somatic mutations in BRAF, CDKN2A and PI3KCA in MTC, and to investigate the correlation with disease progression. DNA was isolated from paraffin‑embedded tumors and blood samples from patients with MTC, and the hotspot somatic mutations were sequenced. A total of 2 novel HRAS mutations, p.Asp33Asn and p.His94Tyr, and polymorphisms within the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of CDKN2A (rs11515 and rs3088440) were identified, however, no mutations were observed in other genes. It was suggested that somatic point mutations in BRAF, CDKN2A and PI3KCA do not participate in the oncogenesis of MTC. Further studies are required in order to clarify the contribution of the polymorphisms identified in the 3'UTR of CDKN2A in MTC.

Chai L, Li J, Lv Z
An integrated analysis of cancer genes in thyroid cancer.
Oncol Rep. 2016; 35(2):962-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer driver genes are commonly mutationally disrupted in cancer, which confers a growth advantage to tumor cells. Recent studies preferentially search for recurrently mutated driver genes across multiple tumor samples, leading to the neglect of low-frequency mutated cancer genes. The present study was conducted to identify cancer‑driving genes in thyroid cancer with two distinct tools, OncodriveFM and Dendrix, which aim to detect neglected driver genes with low mutation frequency. A total of 23,620 somatic mutations generated by whole‑exome sequencing of 446 tumor/normal pairs of thyroid cancer were obtained from TCGA. Variant classification was conducted with Ensembl Variant Effect Predictor (VEP). OncodriveFM and Dendrix were applied to detect driver genes and pathways with statistical evidence. In addition, we analyzed DNA‑methylation status, copy number variation, expression levels and fusion genes among these driver candidates. In total, non‑synonymous mutations accounted for over 55% (13,091/23,620) of the total variants; 53 and 3 driver genes were determined by OncodriveFM and Dendrix, respectively, including 6 recurrently mutated driver genes, such as BRAF, NRAS, HRAS, EIF1AX, KRAS and 47 new genes. A total of 75 pathways with high function impact bias were identified by OncodriveFM. Two genes, FHOD3 and SRP72, were hypomethylated, overexpressed and involved in major deletions in thyroid cancer. Moreover, we identified 91 pairs of fusion genes, 89 of which were new fusion pairs in thyroid cancer. In conclusion, we successfully identified a list of new cancer genes, pathways and fusion genes, providing better insight into the tumorigenesis of thyroid cancer.

Kiessling MK, Rogler G
Targeting the RAS pathway by mitogen-activated protein kinase inhibitors.
Swiss Med Wkly. 2015; 145:w14207 [PubMed] Related Publications
Targeting of oncogenic driver mutations with small-molecule inhibitors resulted in powerful treatment options for cancer patients in recent years. The RAS (rat sarcoma) pathway is among the most frequently mutated pathways in human cancer. Whereas targeting mutant Kirsten RAS (KRAS) remains difficult, mutant B rapidly accelerated fibrosarcoma (BRAF) kinase is an established drug target in cancer. Now data show that neuroblastoma RAS (NRAS) and even Harvey RAS (HRAS) mutations could be predictive markers for treatment with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MEK) inhibitors. This review discusses recent preclinical and clinical studies of MEK inhibitors in BRAF and RAS mutant cancer.

McDaniel AS, Hovelson DH, Cani AK, et al.
Genomic Profiling of Penile Squamous Cell Carcinoma Reveals New Opportunities for Targeted Therapy.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(24):5219-27 [PubMed] Related Publications
Penile squamous cell carcinoma (PeSCCA) is a rare malignancy for which there are limited treatment options due to a poor understanding of the molecular alterations underlying disease development and progression. Therefore, we performed comprehensive, targeted next-generation sequencing to identify relevant somatic genomic alterations in a retrospective cohort of 60 fixed tumor samples from 43 PeSCCA cases (including 14 matched primary/metastasis pairs). We identified a median of two relevant somatic mutations and one high-level copy-number alteration per sample (range, 0-5 and 0-6, respectively). Expression of HPV and p16 was detectable in 12% and 28% of patients, respectively. Furthermore, advanced clinical stage, lack of p16 expression, and MYC and CCND1 amplifications were significantly associated with shorter time to progression or PeSCCA-specific survival. Notably, four cases harbored EGFR amplifications and one demonstrated CDK4 amplification, genes for which approved and investigational targeted therapies are available. Importantly, although paired primary tumors and lymph node metastases were largely homogeneous for relevant somatic mutations, we identified heterogeneous EGFR amplification in primary tumor/lymph node metastases in 4 of 14 cases, despite uniform EGFR protein overexpression. Likewise, activating HRAS mutations occurred in 8 of 43 cases. Taken together, we provide the first comprehensive molecular PeSCCA analysis, which offers new insight into potential precision medicine approaches for this disease, including strategies targeting EGFR.

Goh G, Walradt T, Markarov V, et al.
Mutational landscape of MCPyV-positive and MCPyV-negative Merkel cell carcinomas with implications for immunotherapy.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(3):3403-15 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/04/2017 Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is a rare but highly aggressive cutaneous neuroendocrine carcinoma, associated with the Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV) in 80% of cases. To define the genetic basis of MCCs, we performed exome sequencing of 49 MCCs. We show that MCPyV-negative MCCs have a high mutation burden (median of 1121 somatic single nucleotide variants (SSNVs) per-exome with frequent mutations in RB1 and TP53 and additional damaging mutations in genes in the chromatin modification (ASXL1, MLL2, and MLL3), JNK (MAP3K1 and TRAF7), and DNA-damage pathways (ATM, MSH2, and BRCA1). In contrast, MCPyV-positive MCCs harbor few SSNVs (median of 12.5 SSNVs/tumor) with none in the genes listed above. In both subgroups, there are rare cancer-promoting mutations predicted to activate the PI3K pathway (HRAS, KRAS, PIK3CA, PTEN, and TSC1) and to inactivate the Notch pathway (Notch1 and Notch2). TP53 mutations appear to be clinically relevant in virus-negative MCCs as 37% of these tumors harbor potentially targetable gain-of-function mutations in TP53 at p.R248 and p.P278. Moreover, TP53 mutational status predicts death in early stage MCC (5-year survival in TP53 mutant vs wild-type stage I and II MCCs is 20% vs. 92%, respectively; P = 0.0036). Lastly, we identified the tumor neoantigens in MCPyV-negative and MCPyV-positive MCCs. We found that virus-negative MCCs harbor more tumor neoantigens than melanomas or non-small cell lung cancers (median of 173, 65, and 111 neoantigens/sample, respectively), two cancers for which immune checkpoint blockade can produce durable clinical responses. Collectively, these data support the use of immunotherapies for virus-negative MCCs.

Wilzén A, Rehammar A, Muth A, et al.
Malignant pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas harbor mutations in transport and cell adhesion genes.
Int J Cancer. 2016; 138(9):2201-11 [PubMed] Related Publications
One out of ten patients with pheochromocytoma (PCC) and paraganglioma (PGL) develop malignant disease. Today there are no reliable pathological methods to predict malignancy at the time of diagnosis. Tumors harboring mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase subunit B (SDHB) gene often metastasize but the sequential genetic events resulting in malignant progression are not fully understood. The aim of this study was to identify somatic mutations that contribute to the malignant transformation of PCC/PGL. We performed pair-wise (tumor-normal) whole-exome sequencing to analyze the somatic mutational landscape in five malignant and four benign primary PCC/sympathetic PGL (sPGL), including two biological replicates from each specimen. In total, 225 unique somatic mutations were identified in 215 genes, with an average mutation rate of 0.54 mutations/megabase. Malignant tumors had a significantly higher number of mutations compared to benign tumors (p < 0.001). Three novel genes were identified as recurrently mutated; MYCN, MYO5B and VCL, and mutations in these genes were exclusively found in malignant sPGL tumors. Mutations in the MYO5B gene could be verified in two publicly available data sets. A gene ontology analysis of mutated genes showed enrichment of cellular functions related to cytoskeletal protein binding, myosin complex and motor activity, many of which had functions in Rab and Rac/Rho GTPase pathways. In conclusion, we have identified recurrent mutations in genes related to intracellular transport and cell adhesion, and we have confirmed MYO5B to be recurrently mutated in PCC/PGL cases with malignant potential. Our study suggests that deregulated Rab and Rac/Rho pathways may be important in PCC/PGL tumorigenesis.

Wong SQ, Waldeck K, Vergara IA, et al.
UV-Associated Mutations Underlie the Etiology of MCV-Negative Merkel Cell Carcinomas.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(24):5228-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an uncommon, but highly malignant, cutaneous tumor. Merkel cell polyoma virus (MCV) has been implicated in a majority of MCC tumors; however, viral-negative tumors have been reported to be more prevalent in some geographic regions subject to high sun exposure. While the impact of MCV and viral T-antigens on MCC development has been extensively investigated, little is known about the etiology of viral-negative tumors. We performed targeted capture and massively parallel DNA sequencing of 619 cancer genes to compare the gene mutations and copy number alterations in MCV-positive (n = 13) and -negative (n = 21) MCC tumors and cell lines. We found that MCV-positive tumors displayed very low mutation rates, but MCV-negative tumors exhibited a high mutation burden associated with a UV-induced DNA damage signature. All viral-negative tumors harbored mutations in RB1, TP53, and a high frequency of mutations in NOTCH1 and FAT1. Additional mutated or amplified cancer genes of potential clinical importance included PI3K (PIK3CA, AKT1, PIK3CG) and MAPK (HRAS, NF1) pathway members and the receptor tyrosine kinase FGFR2. Furthermore, looking ahead to potential therapeutic strategies encompassing immune checkpoint inhibitors such as anti-PD-L1, we also assessed the status of T-cell-infiltrating lymphocytes (TIL) and PD-L1 in MCC tumors. A subset of viral-negative tumors exhibited high TILs and PD-L1 expression, corresponding with the higher mutation load within these cancers. Taken together, this study provides new insights into the underlying biology of viral-negative MCC and paves the road for further investigation into new treatment opportunities.

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