SS18L1

Gene Summary

Gene:SS18L1; synovial sarcoma translocation gene on chromosome 18-like 1
Aliases: CREST, LP2261
Location:20q13.3
Summary:This gene encodes a calcium-responsive transactivator which is an essential subunit of a neuron-specific chromatin-remodeling complex. The structure of this gene is similar to that of the SS18 gene. Mutations in this gene are involved in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Alternatively spliced transcript variants have been found for this gene. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2014]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:calcium-responsive transactivator
HPRD
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015

Ontology:

What does this gene/protein do?
Show (7)

Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 20 August 2015 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.

  • Sequence Homology
  • SS18L1
  • Phylogeny
  • Binding Sites
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Chromosome 3
  • RNA Splice Sites
  • Chromosome 20
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mediator Complex Subunit 1
  • Phenotype
  • Knockout Mice
  • Chromosomal Proteins, Non-Histone
  • Proteins
  • synovial sarcoma X breakpoint proteins
  • Gene Targeting
  • Synovial Sarcoma
  • Transcription Factors
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Chickens
  • Alternative Splicing
  • Promoter Regions
  • Gene Expression
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Vertebrates
  • Base Sequence
  • CpG Islands
  • Leg
  • SWI-SNF-B chromatin-remodeling complex
  • Pseudogenes
  • Chromosome X
  • Translocation
  • Contig Mapping
  • MED1
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
Tag cloud generated 20 August, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (1)

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: SS18L1 (cancer-related)

Mariani M, Karki R, Spennato M, et al.
Class III β-tubulin in normal and cancer tissues.
Gene. 2015; 563(2):109-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
Microtubules are polymeric structures composed of tubulin subunits. Each subunit consists of a heterodimer of α- and β-tubulin. At least seven β-tubulin isotypes, or classes, have been identified in human cells, and constitutive isotype expression appears to be tissue specific. Class III β-tubulin (βIII-tubulin) expression is normally confined to testes and tissues derived from neural cristae. However, its expression can be induced in other tissues, both normal and neoplastic, subjected to a toxic microenvironment characterized by hypoxia and poor nutrient supply. In this review, we will summarize the mechanisms underlying βIII-tubulin constitutive and induced expression. We will also illustrate its capacity to serve as a biomarker of neural commitment in normal tissues and as a pure prognostic biomarker in cancer patients.

Asanuma D, Sakabe M, Kamiya M, et al.
Sensitive β-galactosidase-targeting fluorescence probe for visualizing small peritoneal metastatic tumours in vivo.
Nat Commun. 2015; 6:6463 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Fluorescence-guided diagnostics is one of the most promising approaches for facile detection of cancer in situ. Here we focus on β-galactosidase, which is overexpressed in primary ovarian cancers, as a molecular target for visualizing peritoneal metastases from ovarian cancers. As existing fluorescence probes are unsuitable, we have designed membrane-permeable HMRef-βGal, in which the optimized intramolecular spirocyclic function affords >1,400-fold fluorescence enhancement on activation. We confirm that HMRef-βGal sensitively detects intracellular β-galactosidase activity in several ovarian cancer lines. In vivo, this probe visualizes metastases as small as <1 mm in diameter in seven mouse models of disseminated human peritoneal ovarian cancer (SHIN3, SKOV3, OVK18, OVCAR3, OVCAR4, OVCAR5 and OVCAR8). Because of its high brightness, real-time detection of metastases with the naked eye is possible. Endoscopic fluorescence detection of metastases is also demonstrated. The results clearly indicate preclinical potential value of the probe for fluorescence-guided diagnosis of peritoneal metastases from ovarian cancers.

Oshima H, Nakayama M, Han TS, et al.
Suppressing TGFβ signaling in regenerating epithelia in an inflammatory microenvironment is sufficient to cause invasive intestinal cancer.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(4):766-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Genetic alterations in the TGFβ signaling pathway in combination with oncogenic alterations lead to cancer development in the intestines. However, the mechanisms of TGFβ signaling suppression in malignant progression of intestinal tumors have not yet been fully understood. We have examined Apc(Δ716) Tgfbr2(ΔIEC) compound mutant mice that carry mutations in Apc and Tgfbr2 genes in the intestinal epithelial cells. We found inflammatory microenvironment only in the invasive intestinal adenocarcinomas but not in noninvasive benign polyps of the same mice. We thus treated simple Tgfbr2(ΔIEC) mice with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) that causes ulcerative colitis. Importantly, these Tgfbr2(ΔIEC) mice developed invasive colon cancer associated with chronic inflammation. We also found that TGFβ signaling is suppressed in human colitis-associated colon cancer cells. In the mouse invasive tumors, macrophages infiltrated and expressed MT1-MMP, causing MMP2 activation. These results suggest that inflammatory microenvironment contributes to submucosal invasion of TGFβ signaling-repressed epithelial cells through activation of MMP2. We further found that regeneration was impaired in Tgfbr2(ΔIEC) mice for intestinal mucosa damaged by DSS treatment or X-ray irradiation, resulting in the expansion of undifferentiated epithelial cell population. Moreover, organoids of intestinal epithelial cells cultured from irradiated Tgfbr2(ΔIEC) mice formed "long crypts" in Matrigel, suggesting acquisition of an invasive phenotype into the extracellular matrix. These results, taken together, indicate that a simple genetic alteration in the TGFβ signaling pathway in the inflamed and regenerating intestinal mucosa can cause invasive intestinal tumors. Such a mechanism may play a role in the colon carcinogenesis associated with inflammatory bowel disease in humans.

Mort RL, Jackson IJ, Patton EE
The melanocyte lineage in development and disease.
Development. 2015; 142(4):620-32 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Melanocyte development provides an excellent model for studying more complex developmental processes. Melanocytes have an apparently simple aetiology, differentiating from the neural crest and migrating through the developing embryo to specific locations within the skin and hair follicles, and to other sites in the body. The study of pigmentation mutations in the mouse provided the initial key to identifying the genes and proteins involved in melanocyte development. In addition, work on chicken has provided important embryological and molecular insights, whereas studies in zebrafish have allowed live imaging as well as genetic and transgenic approaches. This cross-species approach is powerful and, as we review here, has resulted in a detailed understanding of melanocyte development and differentiation, melanocyte stem cells and the role of the melanocyte lineage in diseases such as melanoma.

Lu F, Kishida S, Mu P, et al.
NeuroD1 promotes neuroblastoma cell growth by inducing the expression of ALK.
Cancer Sci. 2015; 106(4):390-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
Neuroblastoma is derived from the sympathetic neuronal lineage of neural crest cells, and is the most frequently observed of the extracranial pediatric solid tumors. The neuronal differentiation factor, NeuroD1, has previously been shown to promote cell motility in neuroblastoma by suppressing the expression of Slit2. Here we report that NeuroD1 is also involved in the proliferation of neuroblastoma cells, including human cell lines and primary tumorspheres cultured from the tumor tissues of model mice. Interestingly, the growth inhibition of neuroblastoma cells induced by knockdown of NeuroD1 was accompanied by a reduction of ALK expression. ALK is known to be one of the important predisposition genes for neuroblastoma. The phenotype resulting from knockdown of NeuroD1 was suppressed by forced expression of ALK and, therefore, NeuroD1 appears to act mainly through ALK to promote the proliferation of neuroblastoma cells. Furthermore, we showed that NeuroD1 directly bound to the promoter region of ALK gene. In addition, the particular E-box in the promoter was responsible for NeuroD1-mediated ALK expression. These results indicate that ALK should be a direct target gene of NeuroD1. Finally, the expressions of NeuroD1 and ALK in the early tumor lesions of neuroblastoma model mice coincided in vivo. We conclude that the novel mechanism would regulate the expression of ALK in neuroblastoma and that NeuroD1 should be significantly involved in neuroblastoma tumorigenesis.

Svoboda LK, Harris A, Bailey NJ, et al.
Overexpression of HOX genes is prevalent in Ewing sarcoma and is associated with altered epigenetic regulation of developmental transcription programs.
Epigenetics. 2014; 9(12):1613-25 [PubMed] Related Publications
The polycomb proteins BMI-1 and EZH2 are highly overexpressed by Ewing sarcoma (ES), a tumor of stem cell origin that is driven by EWS-ETS fusion oncogenes, most commonly EWS-FLI1. In the current study we analyzed expression of transcription programs that are controlled by polycomb proteins during embryonic development to determine if they are abnormal in ES. Our results show that polycomb target gene expression in ES deviates from normal tissues and stem cells and that, as expected, most targets are relatively repressed. However, we also discovered a paradoxical up regulation of numerous polycomb targets and these were highly enriched for homeobox (HOX) genes. Comparison of HOX profiles between malignant and non-malignant tissues revealed a distinctive HOX profile in ES, which was characterized by overexpression of posterior HOXD genes. In addition, ectopic expression of EWS-FLI1 during stem cell differentiation led to aberrant up regulation of posterior HOXD genes. Mechanistically, this up regulation was associated with altered epigenetic regulation. Specifically, ES and EWS-FLI1+ stem cells displayed a relative loss of polycomb-dependent H3K27me3 and gain of trithorax-dependent H3K4me3 at the promoters of posterior HOXD genes and also at the HOXD11.12 polycomb response element. In addition, a striking correlation was evident between HOXD13 and other genes whose regulation is coordinately regulated during embryonic development by distal enhancer elements. Together, these studies demonstrate that epigenetic regulation of polycomb target genes, in particular HOXD genes, is altered in ES and that these changes are mediated downstream of EWS-FLI1.

Naito A, Yamamoto H, Kagawa Y, et al.
RFPL4A increases the G1 population and decreases sensitivity to chemotherapy in human colorectal cancer cells.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(10):6326-37 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/03/2016 Related Publications
Cell cycle-arrested cancer cells are resistant to conventional chemotherapy that acts on the mitotic phases of the cell cycle, although the molecular mechanisms involved in halting cell cycle progression remain unclear. Here, we demonstrated that RFPL4A, an uncharacterized ubiquitin ligase, induced G1 retention and thus conferred decreased sensitivity to chemotherapy in the human colorectal cancer cell line, HCT116. Long term time lapse observations in HCT116 cells bearing a "fluorescence ubiquitin-based cell cycle indicator" identified a characteristic population that is viable but remains in the G1 phase for an extended period of time (up to 56 h). Microarray analyses showed that expression of RFPL4A was significantly up-regulated in these G1-arrested cells, not only in HCT116 cells but also in other cancer cell lines, and overexpression of RFPL4A increased the G1 population and decreased sensitivity to chemotherapy. However, knockdown of RFPL4A expression caused the cells to resume mitosis and induced their susceptibility to anti-cancer drugs in vitro and in vivo. These results indicate that RFPL4A is a novel factor that increases the G1 population and decreases sensitivity to chemotherapy and thus may be a promising therapeutic target for refractory tumor conditions.

Kotini M, Mayor R
Connexins in migration during development and cancer.
Dev Biol. 2015; 401(1):143-51 [PubMed] Related Publications
Connexins, the gap junction proteins, through their multitude of actions are implicated in a variety of cell processes during animal development and cancer. They allow direct or paracrine/autocrine cell communication through their channel and hemi-channel functions. They enable adhesion and interact with a plethora of signalling molecules. Here, we review the common themes in developmental and pathological processes and we focus in their involvement in cell migration in four different systems: neurons, astrocytes, neural crest and cancer.

Flynn A, Benn D, Clifton-Bligh R, et al.
The genomic landscape of phaeochromocytoma.
J Pathol. 2015; 236(1):78-89 [PubMed] Related Publications
Phaeochromocytomas (PCCs) and paragangliomas (PGLs) are rare neural crest-derived tumours originating from adrenal chromaffin cells or extra-adrenal sympathetic and parasympathetic tissues. More than a third of PCC/PGL cases are associated with heritable syndromes involving 13 or more known genes. These genes have been broadly partitioned into two groups based on pseudo-hypoxic and receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signalling pathways. Many of these genes can also become somatically mutated, although up to one third of sporadic cases have no known genetic driver. Furthermore, little is known of the genes that co-operate with known driver genes to initiate and drive tumourigenesis. To explore the genomic landscape of PCC/PGL, we applied exome sequencing, high-density SNP-array analysis, and RNA sequencing to 36 PCCs and four functional PGL tumours. All tumours displayed low mutation frequency, in contrast to frequent large segmental copy-number alterations, aneuploidy, and evidence for chromothripsis in one case. Multi-region sampling of one benign familial PCC tumour provided evidence for the timing of mutations during tumourigenesis and ongoing clonal evolution. Thirty-one of 40 (77.5%) cases could be explained by germline or somatic mutations or structural alterations affecting known PCC/PGL genes. Deleterious somatic mutations were also identified in known tumour-suppressor genes associated with genome maintenance and epigenetic modulation. A multitude of other genes were also found mutated that are likely important for normal neuroendocrine cell function. We revisited the gene-expression subtyping of PCC/PGL by integrating published microarray data with our RNA-seq data, enabling the identification of six robust gene-expression subtypes. The majority of cases in our cohort with no identifiable driver mutation were classified into a gene-expression subtype bearing similarity to MAX mutant PCC/PGL. Our data suggest there are yet unknown PCC/PGL cancer genes that can phenocopy MAX mutant PCC/PGL tumours. This study provides new insight into the molecular diversity and genetic origins of PCC/PGL tumours.

Parfitt J, Harris M, Wright JM, Kalamchi S
Tumor suppressor gene mutation in a patient with a history of hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor syndrome and healed generalized osteitis fibrosa cystica: a case report and genetic pathophysiology review.
J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2015; 73(1):194.e1-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Hyperparathyroidism-jaw tumor (HPT-JT) was first observed by Jackson in 1958 in a family who exhibited hyperparathyroidism and recurrent pancreatitis. The author noticed the presence of jaw tumors in the affected family and reported them as fibrous dysplasia. However, it was not until 1990 that a familial variety of hyperparathyroidism with fibro-osseous jaw tumors was recognized as HPT-JT syndrome and reported as a clinically and genetically distinct syndrome. Hyperparathyroidism generally arises from glandular hyperplasia or parathyroid adenomas, with only about 1% of cases resulting from parathyroid carcinoma. However, parathyroid carcinoma develops in about 15% of HPT-JT patients. The true incidence of HPT-JT is unknown, although the prevalence of about 100 published cases suggests its rarity. Twenty percent of HPT-JT cases have renal hamartomas or tumors, and female patients with HPT-JT have been reported to have carcinoma of the uterus. This syndrome appears to arise from a variety of mutations that deactivate the tumor suppressor gene CDC73 (also known as HRPT2) and its production of the tumor suppressor protein parafibromin. Functional parafibromin has 531 amino acids, and mutations result in a short nonfunctional protein. CDC73 disorders exhibit dominant germline gene behavior, with varying degrees of penetration. In most cases an affected person has 1 parent with the condition, which raises the need for family investigation and genetic counseling. We report a case of HPT-JT syndrome in a male patient who presented to the local community hospital 6 years previously with a history of back pain. Investigations showed elevated serum parathyroid hormone and calcium levels, and a technetium 99m sestamibi parathyroid scan showed increased activity at the site of the lower left gland that proved to be a substernal parathyroid carcinoma. The patient's parathyroid hormone level dropped from 126 to 97 pg/mL at 5 minutes and was 65 pg/mL at 10 minutes after excision of the gland, and the calcium chemistry findings returned to normal. Parathyroid histologic analysis showed substantial cytologic atypia with nuclear pleomorphism and prominent nucleoli, but infrequent mitoses. Although the capsule was described as showing foci of vascular invasion by the carcinoma, there has been no evidence of recurrence. Six years later, the patient presented with bilateral mandibular cemento-ossifying fibromas, but no evidence of hyperparathyroidism. The larger left tumor was excised and immediately reconstructed with an autogenous iliac crest bone graft, and the right lesion was enucleated. There has been no recurrence in 12 months. This case illustrates that the hyperparathyroidism and the fibro-osseous tumors are independent features of the persistent germline tumor suppressor gene (CDC73) mutation. The syndromic fibro-osseous tumors are odontogenic cemento-ossifying fibromas, which only occur in the jaws.

Morandi F, Corrias MV, Pistoia V
Evaluation of bone marrow as a metastatic site of human neuroblastoma.
Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015; 1335:23-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Arising from neural crest cells, neuroblastoma (NB) is the most common extracranial pediatric solid tumor. The clinical presentation of NB is heterogeneous, ranging from patients with asymptomatic tumor masses, who require minimal treatment, to patients with metastatic disease who are treated with multimodal therapies. Clinical outcome is also variable, with overall survival ranging from 98% to 100% in infants with stage 1 NB, to less than 30% in patients with stage 4 MYCN-amplified NB. More than 50% of patients show metastasis at diagnosis, with the involvement of different vascularized tissues, including the bone marrow (BM). In this paper, we focus on BM infiltration by NB cells, which is considered an adverse prognostic factor. In particular, we discuss the role of different biological factors that may favor the dissemination of NB cells in the BM, such as chromosomic abnormalities, gene amplification, transcription factors, cell-surface receptors, products of oncogenes, and, more importantly, cytokines and chemokines. In addition, we analyze different techniques to evaluate BM infiltration by malignant cells (i.e., flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry, and quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction). Finally, we review recent data regarding phenotypic and genetic characterization of BM-infiltrating malignant cells and characterization of the BM microenvironment in NB patients compared to healthy subjects.

Shimizu T, Sugihara E, Yamaguchi-Iwai S, et al.
IGF2 preserves osteosarcoma cell survival by creating an autophagic state of dormancy that protects cells against chemotherapeutic stress.
Cancer Res. 2014; 74(22):6531-41 [PubMed] Related Publications
Osteosarcoma is a malignant bone tumor in children and adolescents characterized by intrinsic therapeutic resistance. The IGF2 is expressed at elevated levels in osteosarcoma after treatment with chemotherapy, prompting an examination of its functional contributions to resistance. We found that continuous exposure to IGF2 or insulin in the absence of serum created a dormant growth state in osteosarcoma cells that conferred resistance to various chemotherapeutic drugs in vitro. Mechanistic investigations revealed that this dormant state correlated with downregulation of downstream signaling by the IGF1 receptor, heightened cell survival, enhanced autophagy, and the presence of extracellular glutamine. Notably, inhibiting autophagy or depleting glutamine was sufficient to increase chemotherapeutic sensitivity in osteosarcoma xenografts in mice. Clinically, we confirmed that IGF expression levels were elevated in human osteosarcoma specimens from patients who received chemotherapy. Together, our results suggest that activation of IGF or insulin signaling preserves the survival of osteosarcoma cells under chemotherapeutic stress, providing a drug-resistant population that may engender minimal residual disease. Attenuating this survival mechanism may help overcome therapeutic resistance in osteosarcoma.

Kawamura YI, Adachi Y, Curiel DT, et al.
Therapeutic adenoviral gene transfer of a glycosyltransferase for prevention of peritoneal dissemination and metastasis of gastric cancer.
Cancer Gene Ther. 2014; 21(10):427-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
Increased expression of sialyl Lewis(x/a) carbohydrates, ligands for E-selectin, correlates with clinically advanced stages and metastasis of gastric and colon cancers. In contrast, Sd(a) carbohydrate is abundantly detected in the normal gastrointestinal mucosa but dramatically reduced or lost in cancer tissues. A glycosyltransferase, β1,4N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferase 2 (B4GALNT2) that catalyzes Sd(a) carbohydrate synthesis, is silenced in cancer. In the present study, we aimed at reducing the expression of sialyl Lewis(x/a) of cancer cells in vivo by forced expression of B4GALNT2 and Sd(a), thereby preventing dissemination/metastasis, especially metastasis triggered by surgical maneuvers. We used a fiber-modified adenovirus (Ad) vector that contained a chimeric construct with a serotype 5 shaft and a serotype 3 knob. Using this Ad5/3 vector, we successfully introduced the B4GALNT2 gene into a human gastric cancer cell line KATO III in vitro and confirmed replacement of sialyl Lewis(x) to Sd(a) with a decrease in E-selectin-dependent adhesion. Administration of Ad5/3-B4GALNT2 vectors into the peritoneal cavity of mice after inoculation of KATO III cells with laparotomy significantly reduced the incidence of metastasis. Our results indicate that the transfer of a single gene encoding B4GALNT2 modified carbohydrate chains of cancer cells in vivo and decreased tumor dissemination and metastasis.

Satow R, Hirano T, Batori R, et al.
Phospholipase Cδ1 induces E-cadherin expression and suppresses malignancy in colorectal cancer cells.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014; 111(37):13505-10 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 06/03/2016 Related Publications
Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common causes of cancer-related deaths worldwide, and Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) mutations in CRC predict the ineffectiveness of EGF receptor-targeted therapy. Previous transcriptional microarray analysis suggests the association between phospholipase Cδ1 (PLCδ1) expression and KRAS mutation status in CRC. However, both the roles and the regulatory mechanisms of PLCδ1 in CRC are not known. Here, we found that the expression of PLCδ1, one of the most basal PLCs, is down-regulated in CRC specimens compared with normal colon epithelium by immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, we examined the roles of PLCδ1 in CRC cell lines that harbor an activating KRAS mutation. Ectopic expression of PLCδ1 in CRC cells induced the expression of E-cadherin, whereas knockdown of PLCδ1 repressed the expression of E-cadherin. Moreover, the overexpression of PLCδ1 suppressed the expression of several mesenchymal genes and reduced cell motility, invasiveness, and in vivo tumorigenicity of SW620 CRC cells. We also showed that PLCδ1 expression is repressed by the KRAS/mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase (MEK) pathway. Furthermore, PLCδ1 suppressed the phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2 through E-cadherin induction in CRC cells, suggesting the presence of a negative regulatory loop between KRAS/MEK/ERK signaling and PLCδ1. These data indicate that PLCδ1 has tumor-suppressive functions in CRC through E-cadherin induction and KRAS/MEK/ERK signal attenuation.

Abramowicz A, Gos M
Neurofibromin in neurofibromatosis type 1 - mutations in NF1gene as a cause of disease.
Dev Period Med. 2014 Jul-Sep; 18(3):297-306 [PubMed] Related Publications
Neurofibromatosis type I (NF1) is a disease associated with the presence of benign neurofibromas and malignant tumours of the central and peripheral nervous system, that are accompanied by characteristic changes in the skin, such as café-au-lait spots or axillary freckling. In 50% of NF1 patients, the clinical symptoms become apparent below 1st year and in 97%, before the age of 8 years. The disease is mainly caused by the presence of mutation in the NF1 gene that encodes neurofibromin - a protein involved in the regulation of several cellular signaling pathways responsible for cell proliferation and differentiation. Neurofibromin is necessary for embryonic development and involved mainly in the differentiation of neural crest derived cells, mesenchymal cells, neural cells, melanocytes and bone cells. Type I neurofibromatosis is inherited in autosomal dominant manner, nevertheless about 50% of detected mutations are de novo ones. The mutations have full penetrance, although they also have significant pleiotropic effect. Over 1485 different mutations have been identified in the NF1 gene so far, most of which lead to a synthesis of truncated, non-functional protein. It is estimated that the point mutations are responsible for approximately 90% of cases of NF1. The remaining 5-7% of NF1 cases are associated with the presence of a single exon or whole NF1 gene deletion (17q11.2 microdeletion syndrome). The article discusses the role of neurofibromin in cell signaling with the special attention to RAS/MAPK pathway regulation as well as in organism development. Also the basic methods of molecular analysis of NF1 gene are presented in the context of their application in the diagnosis and clinical differentiation of the disease.

Kovar H
Blocking the road, stopping the engine or killing the driver? Advances in targeting EWS/FLI-1 fusion in Ewing sarcoma as novel therapy.
Expert Opin Ther Targets. 2014; 18(11):1315-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Ewing sarcoma (ES) represents the paradigm of an aberrant E-twenty-six (ETS) oncogene-driven cancer. It is characterized by specific rearrangements of one of five alternative ETS family member genes with EWSR1. There is experimental evidence that the resulting fusion proteins act as aberrant transcription factors driving ES pathogenesis. The transcriptional gene regulatory network driven by EWS-ETS proteins provides the oncogenic engine to the tumor. Therefore, EWS-ETS and their downstream machinery are considered ideal tumor-specific therapeutic targets.
AREAS COVERED: This review critically discusses the literature on the development of EWS-ETS-directed ES targeting strategies considering current knowledge of EWS-ETS biology and cellular context. It focuses on determinants of EWS-FLI1 function with an emphasis on interactions with chromatin structure. We speculate about the relevance of poorly investigated aspects in ES research such as chromatin remodeling and DNA damage repair for the development of targeted therapies.
EXPERT OPINION: This review questions the specificity of signature-based screening approaches to the identification of EWS-FLI1-targeted compounds. It challenges the view that targeting the downstream gene regulatory network carries potential for therapeutic breakthroughs because of resistance-inducing network rewiring. Instead, we propose to combine targeting of the fusion protein with epigenetic therapy as a future treatment strategy in ES.

Williams P, Wegner E, Ziegler DS
Outcomes in multifocal neuroblastoma as part of the neurocristopathy syndrome.
Pediatrics. 2014; 134(2):e611-6 [PubMed] Related Publications
The neurocristopathy syndrome occurs because of a germline mutation of the paired-like homeobox 2b (PHOX2B) gene at 4p12, a neurogenesis regulator gene. The result is abnormal neural crest cell development resulting in congenital central hypoventilation syndrome, Hirschsprung disease, and neuroblastoma (NB), which is often multifocal and disseminated in its presentation. Previously, such widespread disease was regarded as highly aggressive and treated either with palliative intent or, conversely, with very intense, high-dose chemotherapy. We now present a patient who had neurocristopathy syndrome who had multifocal NB associated with an underlying germline PHOX2B mutation. He was treated conservatively with surgery and low-dose chemotherapy. After treatment he had extensive residual disease that has continued to mature despite no further treatment. A literature review identified 26 similar patients presenting with multifocal NB as part of the neurocristopathy syndrome. In all cases the NB behaved in an indolent manner with no deaths from tumor reported when patients received appropriate treatment. These provocative findings suggest for the first time that children who have neurocristopathy-associated NB should be treated conservatively, despite the aggressive appearance of their disease.

Weiss MB, Abel EV, Dadpey N, Aplin AE
FOXD3 modulates migration through direct transcriptional repression of TWIST1 in melanoma.
Mol Cancer Res. 2014; 12(9):1314-23 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: The neural crest is a multipotent, highly migratory cell population that gives rise to diverse cell types, including melanocytes. Factors regulating the development of the neural crest and emigration of its cells are likely to influence melanoma metastasis. The transcription factor FOXD3 plays an essential role in premigratory neural crest development and has been implicated in melanoma cell dormancy and response to therapeutics. FOXD3 is downregulated during the migration of the melanocyte lineage from the neural crest, and our previous work supports a role for FOXD3 in suppressing melanoma cell migration and invasion. Alternatively, TWIST1 is known to have promigratory and proinvasive roles in a number of cancers, including melanoma. Using ChIP-seq analysis, TWIST1 was identified as a potential transcriptional target of FOXD3. Mechanistically, FOXD3 directly binds to regions of the TWIST1 gene locus, leading to transcriptional repression of TWIST1 in human mutant BRAF melanoma cells. In addition, depletion of endogenous FOXD3 promotes upregulation of TWIST1 transcripts and protein. Finally, FOXD3 expression leads to a significant decrease in cell migration that can be efficiently reversed by the overexpression of TWIST1. These findings uncover the novel interplay between FOXD3 and TWIST1, which is likely to be important in the melanoma metastatic cascade.
IMPLICATIONS: FOXD3 and TWIST1 define distinct subgroups of cells within a heterogeneous tumor.

De Keyzer L, De Leenheer EM, Claes K, Janssens S
A vestibular schwannoma in a patient with Birt-Hogg-Dube syndrome.
Genet Couns. 2014; 25(2):203-8 [PubMed] Related Publications
Birt-Hogg Dubé syndrome is an autosomal dominant disease with variable clinical expression. It is characterized by cutaneous manifestations, renal tumors and lung cysts. Other tumors, such as adrenal tumors and tumors originating from the neural crest cells such as meningioma and neurothekeoma have also been described. This syndrome is caused by germline mutations in the folliculin (FLCN) gene located on chromosome 17p. We report, for the first time, a patient with BHDS and a history of a vestibular schwannoma in adolescence. The diagnosis of BHDS was confirmed, by identifying a nonsense mutation in exon 10 of the FLCN gene. A vestibular schwannoma also originates from neural crest cells, just as other neural tumors, previously encountered in patients with BHDS. The reported mutations cause a truncation of the protein, folliculin. The exact role of folliculin is still undetermined. Two different theories suggest the effect of tumorigenesis. One is that folliculin plays an important role in the AMPK-mTOR pathway which leads to proliferation of cells when activated. The other is that the folliculin acts as a possible tumor suppressor gene, since there is a high frequency of second hits in the FLCN-gene. In order to confirm a possible relation of BHDS and neural crest tumors, further research is necessary in the tumorigenesis of the folliculin gene.

Wakimoto T, Egami Y, Nakashima Y, et al.
Calyculin biogenesis from a pyrophosphate protoxin produced by a sponge symbiont.
Nat Chem Biol. 2014; 10(8):648-55 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Japanese marine sponge Discodermia calyx contains a major cytotoxic compound, calyculin A, which exhibits selective inhibition of protein phosphatases 1 and 2A. It has long been used as a chemical tool to evaluate intracellular signal transduction regulated by reversible protein phosphorylation. We describe the identification of the biosynthetic gene cluster of calyculin A by a metagenome mining approach. Single-cell analysis revealed that the gene cluster originates in the symbiont bacterium 'Candidatus Entotheonella' sp. A phosphotransferase encoded in the gene cluster deactivated calyculin A to produce a newly discovered diphosphate, which was actually the biosynthetic end product. The diphosphate had been previously overlooked because of the enzymatic dephosphorylation that occurred in response to sponge tissue disruption. Our work presents what is to our knowledge the first evidence for the biosynthetic process of calyculin A along with a notable phosphorylation-dephosphorylation mechanism to regulate toxicity, suggesting activated chemical defense in the most primitive of all multicellular animals.

Kaneda A, Matsusaka K, Sakai E, Funata S
DNA methylation accumulation and its predetermination of future cancer phenotypes.
J Biochem. 2014; 156(2):63-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aberant DNA methylation is a common epigenomic alteration in carcinogenesis. Comprehensive analyses of DNA methylation have stratified gastrointestinal cancer into several subgroups according to specific DNA methylation accumulation. In gastric cancer, Helicobacter pylori infection is a cause of methylation accumulation in apparently normal mucosa. Epstein-Barr virus infection is another methylation inducer that causes more genome-wide methylation, resulting in the formation of unique epigenotype with extensive methylation. In colorectal carcinogenesis, accumulation of high levels of methylation in combination with BRAF mutation is characteristic of the serrated pathway, but not of the adenoma-carcinoma sequence through conventional adenoma. In a de novo pathway, laterally spreading tumours generate intermediate- and low-methylation epigenotypes, accompanied by different genetic features and different macroscopic morphologies. These methylation epigenotypes, with specific genomic aberrations, are mostly completed by the adenoma stage, and additional molecular aberration, such as TP53 mutation, is suggested to lead to cancer development with the corresponding epigenotype. Accumulation of DNA methylation and formation of the epigenotype is suggested to occur during the early stages of carcinogenesis and predetermines the future cancer type.

Montavon G, Jauquier N, Coulon A, et al.
Wild-type ALK and activating ALK-R1275Q and ALK-F1174L mutations upregulate Myc and initiate tumor formation in murine neural crest progenitor cells.
Oncotarget. 2014; 5(12):4452-66 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene is overexpressed, mutated or amplified in most neuroblastoma (NB), a pediatric neural crest-derived embryonal tumor. The two most frequent mutations, ALK-F1174L and ALK-R1275Q, contribute to NB tumorigenesis in mouse models, and cooperate with MYCN in the oncogenic process. However, the precise role of activating ALK mutations or ALK-wt overexpression in NB tumor initiation needs further clarification. Human ALK-wt, ALK-F1174L, or ALK-R1275Q were stably expressed in murine neural crest progenitor cells (NCPC), MONC-1 or JoMa1, immortalized with v-Myc or Tamoxifen-inducible Myc-ERT, respectively. While orthotopic implantations of MONC- 1 parental cells in nude mice generated various tumor types, such as NB, osteo/ chondrosarcoma, and undifferentiated tumors, due to v-Myc oncogenic activity, MONC-1-ALK-F1174L cells only produced undifferentiated tumors. Furthermore, our data represent the first demonstration of ALK-wt transforming capacity, as ALK-wt expression in JoMa1 cells, likewise ALK-F1174L, or ALK-R1275Q, in absence of exogenous Myc-ERT activity, was sufficient to induce the formation of aggressive and undifferentiated neural crest cell-derived tumors, but not to drive NB development. Interestingly, JoMa1-ALK tumors and their derived cell lines upregulated Myc endogenous expression, resulting from ALK activation, and both ALK and Myc activities were necessary to confer tumorigenic properties on tumor-derived JoMa1 cells in vitro.

Mehrotra A, Mehta G, Aras S, et al.
SWI/SNF chromatin remodeling enzymes in melanocyte differentiation and melanoma.
Crit Rev Eukaryot Gene Expr. 2014; 24(2):151-61 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
Epidermal melanocytes are pigment-producing cells derived from the neural crest that protects skin from the damaging effects of solar radiation. Malignant melanoma, a highly aggressive cancer, arises from melanocytes. SWI/SNF enzymes are multiprotein complexes that remodel chromatin structure and have extensive roles in cellular differentiation. Components of the complex have been found to be mutated or lost in several human cancers. This review focuses on studies that implicate SWI/SNF enzymes in melanocyte differentiation and in melanoma.

Saga I, Shibao S, Okubo J, et al.
Integrated analysis identifies different metabolic signatures for tumor-initiating cells in a murine glioblastoma model.
Neuro Oncol. 2014; 16(8):1048-56 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The metabolic preference of malignant glioma for glycolysis as an energy source is a potential therapeutic target. As a result of the cellular heterogeneity of these tumors, however, the relation between glycolytic preference, tumor formation, and tumor cell clonogenicity has remained unknown. To address this issue, we analyzed the metabolic profiles of isogenic glioma-initiating cells (GICs) in a mouse model.
METHODS: GICs were established by overexpression of H-Ras(V12) in Ink4a/Arf-null neural stem cells. Subpopulations of these cells were obtained by single-cell cloning, and clones differing in extracellular acidification potential were assessed for metabolic characteristics. Tumors formed after intracranial implantation of these clones in mice were examined for pathological features of glioma and expression of glycolytic enzymes.
RESULTS: Malignant transformation of neural stem cells resulted in a shift in metabolism characterized by an increase in lactic acid production. However, isogenic clonal populations of GICs manifested pronounced differences in glucose and oxygen consumption, lactate production, and nucleoside levels. These differences were paralleled by differential expression of glycolytic enzymes such as hexokinase 2 and pyruvate kinase M2, with this differential expression also being evident in tumors formed by these clones in vivo.
CONCLUSIONS: The metabolic characteristics of glioma cells appear early during malignant transformation and persist until the late stages of tumor formation. Even isogenic clones may be heterogeneous in terms of metabolic features, however, suggesting that a more detailed understanding of the metabolic profile of glioma is imperative for effective therapeutic targeting.

Bailey CM, Kulesa PM
Dynamic interactions between cancer cells and the embryonic microenvironment regulate cell invasion and reveal EphB6 as a metastasis suppressor.
Mol Cancer Res. 2014; 12(9):1303-13 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
UNLABELLED: Metastatic dissemination drives the high mortality associated with melanoma. However, difficulties in visualizing in vivo cell dynamics during metastatic invasion have limited our understanding of these cell behaviors. Recent evidence has revealed that melanoma cells exploit portions of their ancestral embryonic neural crest emigration program to facilitate invasion. What remains to be determined is how embryonic microenvironmental signals influence invasive melanoma cell behavior, and whether these signals are relevant to human disease. To address these questions, we interrogated the role of the neural crest microenvironment in dictating the spatiotemporal pattern of melanoma cell invasion in the chick embryo using 2-photon time-lapse microscopy. Results reveal that both permissive and inhibitory neural crest microenvironmental signals regulate the timing and direction of melanoma invasion to coincide with the neural crest migration pattern. These cues include bidirectional signaling mediated through the ephrin family of receptor tyrosine kinases. We demonstrate that EphB6 reexpression forces metastatic melanoma cells to deviate from the canonical migration pattern observed in the chick embryo transplant model. Furthermore, EphB6-expressing melanoma cells display significantly reduced metastatic potential in a chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) metastasis assay. These data on melanoma invasion in the embryonic neural crest and CAM microenvironments identify EphB6 as a metastasis suppressor in melanoma, likely acting at the stage of intravasation.
IMPLICATIONS: This article links cellular metastasis to behaviors observed in the ancestrally related embryonic neural crest and demonstrates the powerful influence of the embryonic microenvironment in regulating cell migratory behavior.

Abel HJ, Al-Kateb H, Cottrell CE, et al.
Detection of gene rearrangements in targeted clinical next-generation sequencing.
J Mol Diagn. 2014; 16(4):405-17 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
The identification of recurrent gene rearrangements in the clinical laboratory is the cornerstone for risk stratification and treatment decisions in many malignant tumors. Studies have reported that targeted next-generation sequencing assays have the potential to identify such rearrangements; however, their utility in the clinical laboratory is unknown. We examine the sensitivity and specificity of ALK and KMT2A (MLL) rearrangement detection by next-generation sequencing in the clinical laboratory. We analyzed a series of seven ALK rearranged cancers, six KMT2A rearranged leukemias, and 77 ALK/KMT2A rearrangement-negative cancers, previously tested by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH). Rearrangement detection was tested using publicly available software tools, including Breakdancer, ClusterFAST, CREST, and Hydra. Using Breakdancer and ClusterFAST, we detected ALK rearrangements in seven of seven FISH-positive cases and KMT2A rearrangements in six of six FISH-positive cases. Among the 77 ALK/KMT2A FISH-negative cases, no false-positive identifications were made by Breakdancer or ClusterFAST. Further, we identified one ALK rearranged case with a noncanonical intron 16 breakpoint, which is likely to affect its response to targeted inhibitors. We report that clinically relevant chromosomal rearrangements can be detected from targeted gene panel-based next-generation sequencing with sensitivity and specificity equivalent to that of FISH while providing finer-scale information and increased efficiency for molecular oncology testing.

Redmer T, Welte Y, Behrens D, et al.
The nerve growth factor receptor CD271 is crucial to maintain tumorigenicity and stem-like properties of melanoma cells.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(5):e92596 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/09/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Large-scale genomic analyses of patient cohorts have revealed extensive heterogeneity between individual tumors, contributing to treatment failure and drug resistance. In malignant melanoma, heterogeneity is thought to arise as a consequence of the differentiation of melanoma-initiating cells that are defined by cell-surface markers like CD271 or CD133.
RESULTS: Here we confirmed that the nerve growth factor receptor (CD271) is a crucial determinant of tumorigenicity, stem-like properties, heterogeneity and plasticity in melanoma cells. Stable shRNA mediated knock-down of CD271 in patient-derived melanoma cells abrogated their tumor-initiating and colony-forming capacity. A genome-wide expression profiling and gene-set enrichment analysis revealed novel connections of CD271 with melanoma-associated genes like CD133 and points to a neural crest stem cell (NCSC) signature lost upon CD271 knock-down. In a meta-analysis we have determined a shared set of 271 differentially regulated genes, linking CD271 to SOX10, a marker that specifies the neural crest. To dissect the connection of CD271 and CD133 we have analyzed 10 patient-derived melanoma-cell strains for cell-surface expression of both markers compared to established cell lines MeWo and A375. We found CD271+ cells in the majority of cell strains analyzed as well as in a set of 16 different patient-derived melanoma metastases. Strikingly, only 2/12 cell strains harbored a CD133+ sub-set that in addition comprised a fraction of cells of a CD271+/CD133+ phenotype. Those cells were found in the label-retaining fraction and in vitro deduced from CD271+ but not CD271 knock-down cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our present study provides a deeper insight into the regulation of melanoma cell properties and points CD271 out as a regulator of several melanoma-associated genes. Further, our data strongly suggest that CD271 is a crucial determinant of stem-like properties of melanoma cells like colony-formation and tumorigenicity.

Rana HQ, Rainville IR, Vaidya A
Genetic testing in the clinical care of patients with pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma.
Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2014; 21(3):166-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Paraganglioma and pheochromocytoma (PGL/PCC) are tumours of neural crest origin that can present along a clinical spectrum ranging from apparently sporadic, isolated tumours to a more complex phenotype of one or multiple tumours in the context of other clinical features and family history suggestive of a defined hereditary syndrome. Genetic testing for hereditary PGL/PCC can help to confirm a genetic diagnosis for sporadic and syndromic cases. Informative genetic testing serves to clarify future risks for the patient and family members.
RECENT FINDINGS: Genetic discovery in the last decade has identified new PGL/PCC susceptibility loci. We summarize a contemporary approach adopted in our programme for genetic evaluation, testing and prospective management involving biochemical monitoring and imaging for hereditary PGL/PCC. A clinical vignette is presented to illustrate our practice.
SUMMARY: Current estimates that up to 40% of PGL/PCC are associated with germline mutations have implications for genetic testing recommendations. Prospective management of patients with defined hereditary susceptibility is based on established guidelines for well characterized syndromes. Management of tumour risk for rare syndromes, newly defined genetic associations and undefined genetic susceptibility in the setting of significant family history presents a challenge. Sustained discovery of new PGL/PCC genes underscores the need for a practice of continued genetic evaluation for patients with uninformative results. All patients with PGL/PCC should undergo genetic testing to identify potential hereditary tumour susceptibility.

Shuch B, Ricketts CJ, Metwalli AR, et al.
The genetic basis of pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma: implications for management.
Urology. 2014; 83(6):1225-32 [PubMed] Related Publications
Chromaffin cells are catecholamine-producing cells derived from neural crest tissue. Chromaffin tumors are rare tumors arising from these cells and are divided into pheochromocytoma arising from adrenal tissue and paraganglioma arising from extra-adrenal ganglia. Previously, ∼10% were believed to be hereditary, but advances in genome sequencing have shown that roughly 35% of apparently sporadic tumors have a hereditary component. In this review, we describe both classic and newly discovered hereditary chromaffin tumors syndromes and provide recommendations for genetic testing. In many cases, the genes associated with these conditions are linked to common kidney cancer pathways familiar to urologic oncologists.

Lau ST, Hansford LM, Chan WK, et al.
Prokineticin signaling is required for the maintenance of a de novo population of c-KIT⁺ cells to sustain neuroblastoma progression.
Oncogene. 2015; 34(8):1019-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
High cellular heterogeneity within neuroblastomas (NBs) may account for the non-uniform response to treatment. c-KIT(+) cells are frequently detected in NB, but how they influence NB behavior still remains elusive. Here, we used NB tumor-initiating cells to reconstitute NB development and demonstrated that c-KIT(+) cells are de novo generated and dynamically maintained within the tumors to sustain tumor progression. c-KIT(+) NB cells express higher levels of neural crest and stem cell markers (SLUG, SOX2 and NANOG) and are endowed with high clonogenic capacity, differentiation plasticity and are refractory to drugs. With serial transplantation assays, we found that c-KIT expression is not required for tumor formation, but c-KIT(+) cells are more aggressive and can induce tumors ninefold more efficiently than c-KIT(-/low) cells. Intriguingly, c-KIT(+) cells exhibited a long-term in vivo self-renewal capacity to sustain the formation of secondary and tertiary tumors in mice. In addition, we showed that Prokineticin signaling and mitogen-activated protein kinase pathways are crucial for the maintenance of c-KIT(+) cells in tumor to promote NB progression. Our results highlight the importance of this de novo population of NB cells in sustainable growth of NB and reveal specific signaling pathways that may provide targets leading to more effective NB therapies.

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