Gene Summary

Gene:POLE; DNA polymerase epsilon, catalytic subunit
Summary:This gene encodes the catalytic subunit of DNA polymerase epsilon. The enzyme is involved in DNA repair and chromosomal DNA replication. Mutations in this gene have been associated with colorectal cancer 12 and facial dysmorphism, immunodeficiency, livedo, and short stature. [provided by RefSeq, Sep 2013]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:DNA polymerase epsilon catalytic subunit A
Source:NCBIAccessed: 31 August, 2019


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 (1994-2019)
Graph generated 31 August 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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

Tag cloud generated 31 August, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (8)

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: POLE (cancer-related)

Xiong J, Zhao W
What we should know about natural killer/T-cell lymphomas.
Hematol Oncol. 2019; 37 Suppl 1:75-81 [PubMed] Related Publications
Natural-killer/T cell lymphoma (NKTCL) is the most common extranodal lymphoma with highly aggressive clinical outcome. System biology techniques provide novel insights into the pathogenesis, risk stratification, and clinical management in NKTCL. Comparative genomic hybridization analysis reveal most frequent deletion of chromosome 6q21. Whole-exome sequencing studies identify recurrent somatic gene mutations, involving RNA helicases, tumor suppressors, JAK-STAT pathway molecules, and epigenetic modifiers. Genome-wide association study reports strongest association of HLA-DPB1 rs9277378 with lymphomagenesis. Alterations of oncogenic signaling pathways as well as epigenetic dysregulation of microRNA and long non-coding RNAs are also observed in NKTCL. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the major etiology of NKTCL and the pathogenic mechanism remains unclear. Different risk stratification models are proposed based on clinical parameters (IPI, PINK, and PINK-E, etc.) or biomarkers (Ki67, C-reactive protein level, and EBV DNA, etc.). Therapeutic strategies vary according to disease stage, including radiotherapy, asparaginase-based chemotherapy, hematopoietic stem-cell transplantation, targeted therapy (immune checkpoints inhibitors, and histone deacetylation inhibitors, etc.). Future investigations will be emphasized on EBV-related pathogenesis of NKTCL, prognostic and therapeutic biomarkers, as well as multi-center clinical trials, so as to optimize personalized treatment of NKTCL in the era of precision medicine.

Hatakeyama K, Nagashima T, Ohshima K, et al.
Mutational burden and signatures in 4000 Japanese cancers provide insights into tumorigenesis and response to therapy.
Cancer Sci. 2019; 110(8):2620-2628 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tumor mutational burden (TMB) and mutational signatures reflect the process of mutation accumulation in cancer. However, the significance of these emerging characteristics remains unclear. In the present study, we used whole-exome sequencing to analyze the TMB and mutational signature in solid tumors of 4046 Japanese patients. Eight predominant signatures-microsatellite instability, smoking, POLE, APOBEC, UV, mismatch repair, double-strand break repair, and Signature 16-were observed in tumors with TMB higher than 1.0 mutation/Mb, whereas POLE and UV signatures only showed moderate correlation with TMB, suggesting the extensive accumulation of mutations due to defective POLE and UV exposure. The contribution ratio of Signature 16, which is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma in drinkers, was increased in hypopharynx cancer. Tumors with predominant microsatellite instability signature were potential candidates for treatment with immune checkpoint inhibitors such as pembrolizumab and were found in 2.8% of cases. Furthermore, based on microarray analysis, tumors with predominant signatures were classified into 2 subgroups depending on the expression of immune-related genes reflecting differences in the immune context of the tumor microenvironment. Tumor subpopulations differing in the content of infiltrating immune cells might respond differently to immunotherapeutics. An understanding of cancer characteristics based on TMB and mutational signatures could provide new insights into mutation-driven tumorigenesis.

Hamdane N, Jühling F, Crouchet E, et al.
HCV-Induced Epigenetic Changes Associated With Liver Cancer Risk Persist After Sustained Virologic Response.
Gastroenterology. 2019; 156(8):2313-2329.e7 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND & AIMS: Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is an important risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Despite effective antiviral therapies, the risk for HCC is decreased but not eliminated after a sustained virologic response (SVR) to direct-acting antiviral (DAA) agents, and the risk is higher in patients with advanced fibrosis. We investigated HCV-induced epigenetic alterations that might affect risk for HCC after DAA treatment in patients and mice with humanized livers.
METHODS: We performed genome-wide ChIPmentation-based ChIP-Seq and RNA-seq analyses of liver tissues from 6 patients without HCV infection (controls), 18 patients with chronic HCV infection, 8 patients with chronic HCV infection cured by DAA treatment, 13 patients with chronic HCV infection cured by interferon therapy, 4 patients with chronic hepatitis B virus infection, and 7 patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in Europe and Japan. HCV-induced epigenetic modifications were mapped by comparative analyses with modifications associated with other liver disease etiologies. uPA/SCID mice were engrafted with human hepatocytes to create mice with humanized livers and given injections of HCV-infected serum samples from patients; mice were given DAAs to eradicate the virus. Pathways associated with HCC risk were identified by integrative pathway analyses and validated in analyses of paired HCC tissues from 8 patients with an SVR to DAA treatment of HCV infection.
RESULTS: We found chronic HCV infection to induce specific genome-wide changes in H3K27ac, which correlated with changes in expression of mRNAs and proteins. These changes persisted after an SVR to DAAs or interferon-based therapies. Integrative pathway analyses of liver tissues from patients and mice with humanized livers demonstrated that HCV-induced epigenetic alterations were associated with liver cancer risk. Computational analyses associated increased expression of SPHK1 with HCC risk. We validated these findings in an independent cohort of patients with HCV-related cirrhosis (n = 216), a subset of which (n = 21) achieved viral clearance.
CONCLUSIONS: In an analysis of liver tissues from patients with and without an SVR to DAA therapy, we identified epigenetic and gene expression alterations associated with risk for HCC. These alterations might be targeted to prevent liver cancer in patients treated for HCV infection.

Elsayed FA, Tops CMJ, Nielsen M, et al.
Low frequency of POLD1 and POLE exonuclease domain variants in patients with multiple colorectal polyps.
Mol Genet Genomic Med. 2019; 7(4):e00603 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Germline mutations affecting the exonuclease domains of POLE and POLD1 predispose to colorectal adenomas and carcinoma. Here, we aimed to screen the exonuclease domains to find the genetic causes of multiple colorectal polyps in unexplained cases.
METHODS: Using a custom next-generation sequencing panel, we sequenced the exonuclease domains of POLE and POLD1 in 332 index patients diagnosed with multiple colorectal polyps without germline alteration in colorectal polyposis predisposing genes.
RESULTS: We identified two variants of unknown significance. One germline POLD1 c.961G>A, p.(Gly321Ser) variant was found in two cases. The first patient was diagnosed with multiple polyps at age 35 and colorectal cancer (CRC) at age 37, with no known family history of CRC. The second patient was diagnosed with CRC at age 44 and cumulatively developed multiple polyps; this patient had two sisters with endometrial cancer who did not carry the variant. Furthermore, we identified a novel POLD1 c.955 T>G, p.(Cys319Gly) variant in a patient diagnosed with multiple colorectal adenomas at age 40. Co-segregation analysis showed that one sister who cumulatively developed multiple adenomas from age 34, and another sister who developed CRC at age 38 did not carry the variant. We did not identify pathogenic variants in POLE and POLD1.
CONCLUSION: This study confirms the low frequency of causal variants in these genes in the predisposition for multiple colorectal polyps, and also establishes that these genes are a rare cause of the disease.

Wang X, Wang J
Primary sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma of the kidney: Report of two additional cases with a clinicopathological and molecular cytogenetic study.
Exp Mol Pathol. 2019; 107:179-183 [PubMed] Related Publications
We present two cases of sclerosing epithelioid fibrosarcoma (SEF) that arose primarily in the kidney. The tumor in both cases was located at the upper pole of the kidney. Clincially, they were suspected as renal cell carcinomas. However, histological examination revealed densely hyalinized epithelioid tumor suggestive of SEF. The diffuse immunohistochemical staining of MUC4 by neoplastic cells and the presence of EWSR1 gene rearrangement by subsequent florescence in site hybridization (FISH) analysis confirmed the histological diagnosis. Molecular cytogenetic study is highly helpful in arriving at a final diagnosis, in particular to a rare tumor type that arises at an unusual site.

Cuevas D, Valls J, Gatius S, et al.
Targeted sequencing with a customized panel to assess histological typing in endometrial carcinoma.
Virchows Arch. 2019; 474(5):585-598 [PubMed] Related Publications
The two most frequent types of endometrial cancer (EC) are endometrioid (EEC) and serous carcinomas (SC). Differential diagnosis between them is not always easy. A subset of endometrial cancers shows misleading microscopical features, which cause problems in differential diagnosis, and may be a good scenario for next-generation sequencing. Previous studies have assessed the usefulness of targeted sequencing with panels of generic cancer-associated genes in EC histological typing. Based on the analysis of TCGA (The Cancer Genome Atlas), EEC and SC have different mutational profiles. In this proof of principle study, we have performed targeted sequencing analysis with a customized panel, based on the TCGA mutational profile of EEC and SC, in a series of 24 tumors (16 EEC and 8 SC). Our panel comprised coding and non-coding sequences of the following genes: ABCC9, ARID1A, ARID5B, ATR, BCOR, CCND1, CDH19, CHD4, COL11A1, CSDE1, CSMD3, CTCF, CTNNB1, EP300, ERBB2, FBXW7, FGFR2, FOXA2, KLLN, KMT2B, KRAS, MAP3K4, MKI67, NRAS, PGAP3, PIK3CA, PIK3R1, PPP2R1A, PRPF18, PTEN, RPL22, SCARNA11, SIN3A, SMARCA4, SPOP, TAF1, TP53, TSPYL2, USP36, and WRAP53. Targeted sequencing validation by Sanger sequencing and immunohistochemistry was performed in a group of genes. POLE mutation status was assessed by Sanger sequencing. The most mutated genes were PTEN (93.7%), ARID1A (68.7%), PIK3CA (50%), and KMT2B (43.7%) for EEC, and TP53 (87.5%), PIK3CA (50%), and PPP2R1A (25%) for SC. Our panel allowed correct classification of all tumors in the two categories (EEC, SC). Coexistence of mutations in PTEN, ARID1A, and KMT2B was diagnostic of EEC. On the other hand, absence of PTEN, ARID1A, and KMT2B mutations in the presence of TP53 mutation was diagnostic of SC. This proof of concept study demonstrates the suitability of targeted sequencing with a customized endometrial cancer gene panel as an additional tool for confirming histological typing.

Baci D, Gallazzi M, Cascini C, et al.
Downregulation of Pro-Inflammatory and Pro-Angiogenic Pathways in Prostate Cancer Cells by a Polyphenol-Rich Extract from Olive Mill Wastewater.
Int J Mol Sci. 2019; 20(2) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Dietary phytochemicals are particularly attractive for chemoprevention and are able to modulate several signal transduction pathways linked with cancer. Olive oil, a major component of the Mediterranean diet, is an abundant source of phenolic compounds. Olive oil production is associated with the generation of a waste material, termed 'olive mill wastewater' (OMWW) that have been reported to contain water-soluble polyphenols. Prostate cancer (PCa) is considered as an ideal cancer type for chemopreventive approaches, due to its wide incidence but relatively long latency period and progression time. Here, we investigated activities associated with potential preventive properties of a polyphenol-rich olive mill wastewater extract, OMWW (A009), on three in vitro models of PCa. A009 was able to inhibit PCa cell proliferation, adhesion, migration, and invasion. Molecularly, we found that A009 targeted NF-κB and reduced pro-angiogenic growth factor, VEGF, CXCL8, and CXCL12 production. IL-6/STAT3 axis was also regulated by the extract. A009 shows promising properties, and purified hydroxytyrosol (HyT), the major polyphenol component of A009, was also active but not always as effective as A009. Finally, our results support the idea of repositioning a food waste-derived material for nutraceutical employment, with environmental and industrial cost management benefits.

Curtit E, Vannetzel JM, Darmon JC, et al.
Results of PONDx, a prospective multicenter study of the Oncotype DX
Breast. 2019; 44:39-45 [PubMed] Related Publications
Adjuvant chemotherapy shows clear benefits in HER2-positive and triple-negative breast cancer (BC). Its benefits are less universal in BCs expressing hormone receptors. The 21-gene Oncotype DX

Yi D, Xu L, Luo J, et al.
Germline TP53 and MSH6 mutations implicated in sporadic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC): a preliminary study.
Hum Genomics. 2019; 13(1):4 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Germline BRCA1/2 prevalence is relatively low in sporadic triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). We hypothesized that non-BRCA genes may also have significant germline contribution to Chinese sporadic TNBC, and the somatic mutational landscape of TNBC may vary between ethnic groups. We therefore conducted this study to investigate germline and somatic mutations in 43 cancer susceptibility genes in Chinese sporadic TNBC.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Sixty-six Chinese sporadic TNBC patients were enrolled in this study. Germline and tumor DNA of each patient were subjected to capture-based next-generation sequencing using a 43-gene panel. Standard bioinformatic analysis and variant classification were performed to identify deleterious/likely deleterious germline mutations and somatic mutations. Mutational analysis was conducted to identify significantly mutated genes.
RESULTS: Deleterious/likely deleterious germline mutations were identified in 27 (27/66, 40.9%) patients. Among the 27 patients, 9 (9/66, 13.6%) were TP53 carriers, 5 (5/66, 7.6%) were MSH6 carriers, and 5 (5/66, 7.6%) were BRCA1 carriers. Somatic mutations were identified in 64 (64/66, 97.0%) patients. TP53 somatic mutations occurred in most of the patients (45/66, 68.2%) and with highest mean allele frequency (28.1%), while NF1 and POLE were detected to have the highest mutation counts.
CONCLUSIONS: Our results supported our hypotheses and suggested great potentials of TP53 and MSH6 as novel candidates for TNBC predisposition genes. The high frequency of somatic NF1 and POLE mutations in this study showed possibilities for clinical benefits from androgen-blockade therapies and immunotherapies in Chinese TNBC patients. Our study indicated necessity of multi-gene testing for TNBC prevention and treatment.

Van den Eynde M, Mlecnik B, Bindea G, et al.
The Link between the Multiverse of Immune Microenvironments in Metastases and the Survival of Colorectal Cancer Patients.
Cancer Cell. 2018; 34(6):1012-1026.e3 [PubMed] Related Publications
Treatment of metastatic colorectal cancer is based upon the assumption that metastases are homogeneous within a patient. We quantified immune cell types of 603 whole-slide metastases and primary colorectal tumors from 222 patients. Primary lesions, and synchronous and metachronous metastases, had a heterogeneous immune infiltrate and mutational diversity. Small metastases had frequently a low Immunoscore and T and B cell score, while a high Immunoscore was associated with a lower number of metastases. Anti-epidermal growth factor receptor treatment modified immune gene expression and significantly increased T cell densities in the metastasis core. The predictive accuracy of the Immunoscore from a single biopsy was superior to the one of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1). The immune phenotype of the least-infiltrated metastasis had a stronger association with patient outcome than other metastases.

Li JF, Dai YT, Lilljebjörn H, et al.
Transcriptional landscape of B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia based on an international study of 1,223 cases.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018; 115(50):E11711-E11720 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Most B cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (BCP ALL) can be classified into known major genetic subtypes, while a substantial proportion of BCP ALL remains poorly characterized in relation to its underlying genomic abnormalities. We therefore initiated a large-scale international study to reanalyze and delineate the transcriptome landscape of 1,223 BCP ALL cases using RNA sequencing. Fourteen BCP ALL gene expression subgroups (G1 to G14) were identified. Apart from extending eight previously described subgroups (G1 to G8 associated with

van Marcke C, Collard A, Vikkula M, Duhoux FP
Prevalence of pathogenic variants and variants of unknown significance in patients at high risk of breast cancer: A systematic review and meta-analysis of gene-panel data.
Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2018; 132:138-144 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Gene-panels are used to assess predisposition to breast cancer by simultaneous testing of multiple susceptibility genes. This approach increases the identification of variants of unknown significance (VUS) that cannot be used in clinical decision-making. We performed a systematic review of published studies to calculate the prevalence of VUS and pathogenic variants (PV) in routinely tested breast cancer susceptibility genes in patients at high risk of breast cancer.
METHODS: We comprehensively searched the literature using Medline through May 23, 2017 for studies conducting gene-panel testing on germline DNA of women with familial breast cancer and reporting on both PVs and VUSs. A meta-analysis of the collected data was carried out to obtain pooled VUS and PV prevalence estimates per gene using a generalized linear mixed model with logit link for binomial distribution.
RESULTS: Of 602 publications, 4 were eligible and included 1870 patients. The panels encompassed 4-27 considered genes. Overall, the estimated probability per gene of a PV and VUS was 55% (95% confidence interval (CI) 26%-81%) and 91% (95% CI 78%-97%), respectively (p =  0.0066). The estimated probability per patient of a PV and VUS was 8% (95% CI 1%-34%) and 23% (95% CI 7%-52%), respectively (p =  0.0052). The ratio of VUS to PV was highest in the mismatch repair genes MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, PMS2 (18.7), CDH1 (13.4) and ATM (9.5). Amongst the 1468 patients tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2, only these two genes had a VUS to PV ratio of less than one (0.2 and 0.6, respectively).
CONCLUSION: With the current panels, the probability of detecting a VUS is significantly higher than the probability of detecting a PV. Better classification of VUSs is therefore critical and requires gene-specific VUS-assessment in every future study of gene-panel testing in patients at high risk of breast cancer.

Ashley CW, Da Cruz Paula A, Kumar R, et al.
Analysis of mutational signatures in primary and metastatic endometrial cancer reveals distinct patterns of DNA repair defects and shifts during tumor progression.
Gynecol Oncol. 2019; 152(1):11-19 [PubMed] Related Publications
OBJECTIVE: Mutational signatures provide insights into the biological processes shaping tumor genomes and may inform patient therapy. We sought to define the mutational signatures of i) endometrioid and serous endometrial carcinomas (ECs), stratified into the four molecular subtypes, ii) uterine carcinosarcomas, and iii) matched primary and metastatic ECs.
METHODS: Whole-exome sequencing MC3 data from primary endometrioid and serous carcinomas (n = 232) and uterine carcinosarcomas (n = 57) from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA), and matched primary and metastatic ECs (n = 61, 26 patients) were reanalyzed, subjected to mutational signature analysis using deconstructSigs, and correlated with clinicopathologic and genomic data.
RESULTS: POLE (ultramutated) and MSI (hypermutated) molecular subtypes displayed dominant mutational signatures associated with POLE mutations (15/17 cases) and microsatellite instability (55/65 cases), respectively. Most endometrioid and serous carcinomas of copy-number low (endometrioid) and copy-number high (serous-like) molecular subtypes, and carcinosarcomas displayed a dominant aging-associated signature 1. Only 15% (9/60) of copy-number high (serous-like) ECs had a dominant signature 3 (homologous recombination DNA repair deficiency (HRD)-related), a prevalence significantly lower than that found in high-grade serous ovarian carcinomas (54%, p < 0.001) or basal-like breast cancers (46%, p < 0.001). Shifts from aging- or POLE- to MSI-related mutational processes were observed in the progression from primary to metastatic ECs in a subset of cases.
CONCLUSIONS: The mutational processes underpinning ECs vary even among tumors of the same TCGA molecular subtype and in the progression from primary to metastatic ECs. Only a minority of copy-number high (serous-like) ECs display genomics features of HRD and would likely benefit from HRD-directed therapies.

Nordor AV, Bellet D, Siwo GH
Cancer-malaria: hidden connections.
Open Biol. 2018; 8(10) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cancer and malaria exemplify two maladies historically assigned to separated research spaces. Cancer, on the one hand, ranks among the top priorities in the research agenda of developed countries. Its rise is mostly explained by the ageing of these populations and linked to environment and lifestyle. Malaria, on the other hand, represents a major health burden for developing countries in the Southern Hemisphere. These two diseases also belong to separate fields of medicine: non-communicable diseases for cancer and communicable diseases for malaria.

Vande Perre P, Siegfried A, Corsini C, et al.
Germline mutation p.N363K in POLE is associated with an increased risk of colorectal cancer and giant cell glioblastoma.
Fam Cancer. 2019; 18(2):173-178 [PubMed] Related Publications
Germline mutations of the POLE gene are responsible for polymerase proofreading-associated polyposis syndrome (PPAP). These mutations were hypothesised to predispose to extra-gastrointestinal tumours (ovary, endometrium, brain), but this association has not been confirmed so far. We report a family with an autosomal dominant inheritance of PPAP due to a c.1089C>A; p.Asn363Lys mutation in the proofreading exonuclease domain of POLE. Ten patients presenting a history of colorectal tumours and three patients with polyposis are indexed in this family. Three carriers (including siblings and a distant cousin at 30, 45 and 52 respectively) and another member (at 37 not tested) presented glioblastoma. This is the second family reported to carry this mutation. Among the four glioblastomas in the family that we report, both show similar pathology: giant cell glioblastoma. These cases suggest that the c.1089C>A germline POLE mutation may confer an increased risk of brain cancer [incidence 17.4% (4/23) in mutation carriers combining the two families]. More observations are needed to support this hypothesis. It seems that not all mutations of POLE are equally associated with extra-gastrointestinal tumours. Although carriers of a mutation responsible for PPAP should benefit from screening for colorectal and uterine cancer, due to the rapid evolution of glioblastoma the value of neurological follow-up and brain imaging screening remains questionable. Nevertheless, considering the limitations of standard therapy for glioblastoma, mutation status could be useful for targeting therapy. The biological mechanism linking POLE mutation to glioblastoma remains to be determined.

Virzì A, Roca Suarez AA, Baumert TF, Lupberger J
Oncogenic Signaling Induced by HCV Infection.
Viruses. 2018; 10(10) [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The liver is frequently exposed to toxins, metabolites, and oxidative stress, which can challenge organ function and genomic stability. Liver regeneration is therefore a highly regulated process involving several sequential signaling events. It is thus not surprising that individual oncogenic mutations in hepatocytes do not necessarily lead to cancer and that the genetic profiles of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) are highly heterogeneous. Long-term infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) creates an oncogenic environment by a combination of viral protein expression, persistent liver inflammation, oxidative stress, and chronically deregulated signaling events that cumulate as a tipping point for genetic stability. Although novel direct-acting antivirals (DAA)-based treatments efficiently eradicate HCV, the associated HCC risk cannot be fully eliminated by viral cure in patients with advanced liver disease. This suggests that HCV may persistently deregulate signaling pathways beyond viral cure and thereby continue to perturb cancer-relevant gene function. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about oncogenic signaling pathways derailed by chronic HCV infection. This will not only help to understand the mechanisms of hepatocarcinogenesis but will also highlight potential chemopreventive strategies to help patients with a high-risk profile of developing HCC.

Lin J, Cao Y, Yu L, Lin L
Non-α-fetoprotein-producing adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma: A case report and literature review.
Medicine (Baltimore). 2018; 97(39):e12336 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
RATIONALE: Adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma typically secretes alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). Here, we report a case of non-AFP-producing adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was conducted to identify gene mutations.
PATIENT CONCERNS: A 64-year-old man presented with mild back pain and unexplained weight loss for 3 months.
DIAGNOSES: Contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) showed a mass (9.9 × 9.7 × 9.1 mm) above the upper pole of the left kidney. The left renal artery and vein were compressed. The tumor was positive for CK8/18, CK19, CK7, hepatocyte marker (Hepatocyte), and Hep Par 1, but negative for AFP. Plasma AFP was 2.75 ng/mL (normal range: 0-7 ng/mL). NGS revealed mutations of the following genes: ATM, CDKN2A, EGFR, STK11, TP53, BIM, and MLH1. A diagnosis of adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma was established.
INTERVENTIONS: The treatment included 4 cycles of the mFOLFOX6 regimen (oxaliplatin, leucovorin, and fluorouracil), transcatheter arterial chemoembolization, and apatinib.
OUTCOMES: The patient died 9 months after the diagnosis.
LESSONS: This case highlights the importance of thorough clinical, radiological, and immunohistochemical investigation for suspected adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. Metastasis from other primary tumors should be ruled out. Furthermore, AFP is not necessarily elevated in adrenal hepatoid adenocarcinoma. NGS could be helpful in establishing the diagnosis and selecting treatments.

Xicola RM, Manojlovic Z, Augustus GJ, et al.
Lack of APC somatic mutation is associated with early-onset colorectal cancer in African Americans.
Carcinogenesis. 2018; 39(11):1331-1341 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
African Americans (AAs) have higher incidence and mortality rates of colorectal cancer (CRC) compared with other US populations. They present with more right-sided, microsatellite stable disease and are diagnosed at earlier ages compared with non-Hispanic Whites (NHWs). To gain insight into these trends, we conducted exome sequencing (n = 45), copy number (n = 33) and methylation analysis (n = 11) of microsatellite stable AA CRCs. Results were compared with data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA). Two of the 45 tumors contained POLE mutations. In the remaining 43 tumors, only 27 (63%) contained loss-of-function mutations in APC compared with 80% of TCGA NHW CRCs. APC-mutation-negative CRCs were associated with an earlier onset of CRC (P = 0.01). They were also associated with lower overall mutation burden, fewer copy number variants and a DNA methylation signature that was distinct from the CpG island methylator phenotype characterized in microsatellite unstable disease. Three of the APC-mutation-negative CRCs had loss-of-function mutations in BCL9L. Mutations in driver genes identified by TCGA exome analysis were less frequent in AA CRC cases than TCGA NHWs. Genes that regulate the WNT signaling pathway, including SOX9, GATA6, TET1, GLIS1 and FAT1, were differentially hypermethylated in APC-mutation-negative CRCs, suggesting a novel mechanism for cancer development in these tumors. In summary, we have identified a subtype of CRC that is associated with younger age of diagnosis, lack of APC mutation, microsatellite and chromosome stability, lower mutation burden and distinctive methylation changes.

Goryca K, Kulecka M, Paziewska A, et al.
Exome scale map of genetic alterations promoting metastasis in colorectal cancer.
BMC Genet. 2018; 19(1):85 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Approximately 90% of colorectal cancer (CRC) deaths are caused by tumors ability to migrate into the adjacent tissues and metastase into distant organs. More than 40 genes have been causally linked to the development of CRC but no mutations have been associated with metastasis yet. To identify molecular basis of CRC metastasis we performed whole-exome and genome-scale transcriptome sequencing of 7 liver metastases along with their matched primary tumours and normal tissue. Multiple, spatially separated fragments of primary tumours were analyzed in each case. Uniformly malignant tissue specimen were selected with macrodissection, for three samples followed with laser microdissection.
RESULTS: > 100 sequencing coverage allowed for detection of genetic alterations in subpopulation of tumour cells. Mutations in KRAS, APC, POLE, and PTPRT, previously associated with CRC development, were detected in most patients. Several new associations were identified, including PLXND1, CELSR3, BAHD1 and PNPLA6.
CONCLUSIONS: We confirm the essential role of inflammation in CRC progression but question the mechanism of matrix metalloproteinases activation described in other work. Comprehensive sequencing data made it possible to associate genome-scale mutation distribution with gene expression patterns. To our knowledge, this is the first work to report such link in CRC metastasis context.

Dienstmann R, Salazar R, Tabernero J
Molecular Subtypes and the Evolution of Treatment Decisions in Metastatic Colorectal Cancer.
Am Soc Clin Oncol Educ Book. 2018; 38:231-238 [PubMed] Related Publications
Colorectal cancer (CRC) has clinically relevant molecular heterogeneity at multiple levels: genomics, epigenomics, transcriptomics, and microenvironment features. Genomic events acquired during carcinogenesis remain drivers of cancer progression in the metastatic setting. For example, KRAS and NRAS mutations define a population refractory to epidermal growth factor receptor monoclonal antibodies, BRAF

Guenther M, Veninga V, Kumbrink J, et al.
POLE gene hotspot mutations in advanced pancreatic cancer.
J Cancer Res Clin Oncol. 2018; 144(11):2161-2166 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is a devastating disease, lacking relevant prognostic and predictive biomarkers. DNA polymerase epsilon (POLE) has important functions in the maintenance of genetic stability during DNA replication and has previously been associated with favorable prognosis in endometrial and colorectal cancer. However, its relevance in advanced pancreatic cancer (aPDAC) has not been examined to date.
METHODS: Using pyrosequencing on tumoral DNA extracted from 60 samples from the AIO-PK0104 study as well as 55 samples from completed translational trials, we examined POLE hotspot mutations in exon 9 (P286R) and exon 13 (V411R/L/M) in the POLE gene exonuclease domain. DNA extracted from 37 endometrial carcinomas were tested as positive controls. Publically available sequencing databases were searched for POLE mutations in PDAC samples.
RESULTS: Fifty-three patients (pts) were men, 62 pts were women, median age was 61.2 years. Median overall survival (OS) was 7.4 months and median progression free survival (PFS) was 4.0 months. In four of the 37 endometrial carcinomas POLE mutations were detected in exon 9 (10.8%) and none in exon 13. In none of the overall 115 aPDAC tumors POLE gene hotspot mutations could be detected.
CONCLUSION: Mutations in the hotspot regions of exon 9 and 13 of the POLE gene are very rare events in advanced pancreatic cancer. Thus, it is unlikely that POLE gene mutations contribute to genetic instability in the vast majority of aPDAC. POLE mutation does not serve as a relevant biomarker and should not be tested on a regular basis in PDAC.

Liu X, Liu X, Wang X, et al.
A novel case of endometrial dedifferentiated adenocarcinoma associated with MLH1 promotor hypermethylation and microsatellite instability.
Pathol Res Pract. 2018; 214(11):1904-1908 [PubMed] Related Publications
Endometrial dedifferentiated carcinoma is a rare, malignant tumor whose molecular alterations have not been clarified yet. We report a novel case of a 61-year old woman who presented with irregular vaginal bleeding after menopause and a 3 cm uterus mass. Histology revealed endometrial dedifferentiated adenocarcinoma, a rare subtype comprised of undifferentiated adenocarcinoma. The patient still survived 1 year after surgery without chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Immunohistochemistry revealed loss of MLH1/PMS2 expression and retained MSH2/MSH6 expression. Consistently, microsatellite instability was detected indicative of high microsatellite instability (MSI-H). No BRAF V600E, KRAS and POLE mutations were identified. Remarkably, the promoter regions of mutL homolog 1(MLH1) were methylated. Furthermore, several tumor cells were PD-L1 positive in this case with a concentration at the infiltrating tumor edge indicating MSI-H in endometrial dedifferentiated adenocarcinoma is a potential predictive factor for response to immunotherapy targeting the PD-1 or its ligand PD-L1.

Soussi T, Kroemer G
MDM2-TP53 Crossregulation: An Underestimated Target to Promote Loss of TP53 Function and Cell Survival.
Trends Cancer. 2018; 4(9):602-605 [PubMed] Related Publications
Half of human cancers bear inactivating mutations of the tumor suppressor gene TP53, but the other half do not. In a recent issue of Cancer Cell, Dhar et al. and Zhu et al. reported that, in liver cancer and medulloblastoma, MDM2 is constitutively activated, causing a loss of TP53 function that does not require TP53 mutation. On theoretical grounds, such cancer would be amenable to treatment with MDM2 inhibitors.

Kucherlapati M
Examining transcriptional changes to DNA replication and repair factors over uveal melanoma subtypes.
BMC Cancer. 2018; 18(1):818 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Uncontrolled replication is a process common to all cancers facilitated by the summation of changes accumulated as tumors progress. The aim of this study was to examine small groups of genes with known biology in replication and repair at the transcriptional and genomic levels, correlating alterations with survival in uveal melanoma tumor progression. Selected components of Pre-Replication, Pre-Initiation, and Replisome Complexes, DNA Damage Response and Mismatch Repair have been observed.
METHODS: Two groups have been generated for selected genes above and below the average alteration level and compared for expression and survival across The Cancer Genome Atlas uveal melanoma subtypes. Significant differences in expression between subtypes monosomic or disomic for chromosome 3 have been identified by Fisher's exact test. Kaplan Meier survival distribution based on disease specific survival has been compared by Log-rank test.
RESULTS: Genes with significant alteration include MCM2, MCM4, MCM5, CDC45, MCM10, CIZ1, PCNA, FEN1, LIG1, POLD1, POLE, HUS1, CHECK1, ATRIP, MLH3, and MSH6. Exon 4 skipping in CIZ1 previously identified as a cancer variant, and reportedly used as an early serum biomarker in lung cancer was found. Mismatch Repair protein MLH3 was found to have splicing variations with deletions to both Exon 5 and Exon 7 simultaneously. PCNA, FEN1, and LIG1 had increased relative expression levels not due to mutation or to copy number variation.
CONCLUSION: The current study proposes changes in relative and differential expression to replication and repair genes that support the concept their products are causally involved in uveal melanoma. Specific avenues for early biomarker identification and therapeutic approach are suggested.

Le KS, Amé-Thomas P, Tarte K, et al.
CXCR5 and ICOS expression identifies a CD8 T-cell subset with T
Blood Adv. 2018; 2(15):1889-1900 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
A better characterization of T-cell subsets in the microenvironment of classical Hodgkin lymphoma (cHL) would help to develop immunotherapies. Using multicolor flow cytometry, we identified in 6 of 43 cHL tissue samples a previously unrecognized subset of CD8 T cells coexpressing CXCR5 and inducible T-cell costimulator (ICOS) molecules (CD8

Liang X, Vacher S, Boulai A, et al.
Targeted next-generation sequencing identifies clinically relevant somatic mutations in a large cohort of inflammatory breast cancer.
Breast Cancer Res. 2018; 20(1):88 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is the most aggressive form of primary breast cancer. Using a custom-made breast cancer gene sequencing panel, we investigated somatic mutations in IBC to better understand the genomic differences compared with non-IBC and to consider new targeted therapy in IBC patients.
METHODS: Targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) of 91 candidate breast cancer-associated genes was performed on 156 fresh-frozen breast tumor tissues from IBC patients. Mutational profiles from 197 primary breast tumors from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) were used as non-IBC controls for comparison analysis. The mutational landscape of IBC was correlated with clinicopathological data and outcomes.
RESULTS: After genotype calling and algorithmic annotations, we identified 392 deleterious variants in IBC and 320 variants in non-IBC cohorts, respectively. IBC tumors harbored more mutations than non-IBC (2.5 per sample vs. 1.6 per sample, p < 0.0001). Eighteen mutated genes were significantly different between the two cohorts, namely TP53, CDH1, NOTCH2, MYH9, BRCA2, ERBB4, POLE, FGFR3, ROS1, NOTCH4, LAMA2, EGFR, BRCA1, TP53BP1, ESR1, THBS1, CASP8, and NOTCH1. In IBC, the most frequently mutated genes were TP53 (43.0%), PIK3CA (29.5%), MYH9 (8.3%), NOTCH2 (8.3%), BRCA2 (7.7%), ERBB4 (7.1%), FGFR3 (6.4%), POLE (6.4%), LAMA2 (5.8%), ARID1A (5.1%), NOTCH4 (5.1%), and ROS1 (5.1%). After grouping 91 genes on 10 signaling pathways, we found that the DNA repair pathway for the triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subgroup, the RTK/RAS/MAPK and cell cycle pathways for the HR
CONCLUSIONS: Breast cancer-specific targeted NGS uncovered a high frequency of deleterious somatic mutations in IBC, some of which may be relevant for clinical management.

Rosner G, Gluck N, Carmi S, et al.
POLD1 and POLE Gene Mutations in Jewish Cohorts of Early-Onset Colorectal Cancer and of Multiple Colorectal Adenomas.
Dis Colon Rectum. 2018; 61(9):1073-1079 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Germline mutations in the DNA polymerase genes POLD1 and POLE confer high risk for multiple colorectal adenomas and colorectal cancer. However, prevalence and the clinical phenotype of mutation carriers are still not fully characterized.
OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of germline mutations and to describe the genotype-phenotype correlation in POLD1 and POLE genes in Jewish subjects with multiple colorectal adenomas and/or early-onset mismatch repair proficient colorectal cancers.
DESIGN: This study is a comparison of genetic and clinical data from affected and control groups.
SETTINGS: The study was conducted at a high-volume tertiary referral center.
PATIENTS: The study cohort included 132 subjects: 68 with multiple colorectal adenomas and 64 with early-onset mismatch repair proficient colorectal cancers. The control group included 5685 individuals having no colorectal cancer or colorectal adenomas.
MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Study and control subjects were tested for POLD1 and POLE mutations and a clinical correlation was assessed.
RESULTS: Eleven of the 132 study subjects (8.3%) carried either a POLD1 or a POLE mutation: 7 of 68 (10.3%) subjects with multiple colorectal adenomas and 4 of 64 (6.2%) subjects with early-onset mismatch repair proficient colorectal cancer. Three mutations were detected, showing statistical significance in frequency between study and control groups (p < 0.001). Eight of the 11 mutation carriers were Ashkenazi Jews carrying the same POLD1 mutation (V759I), implicating it as a possible low-to-moderate risk founder mutation. Phenotype of mutation carriers was notable for age under 50 at diagnosis, a propensity toward left-sided colorectal cancer, and extracolonic tumors (64%, 100%, and 27% of cases).
LIMITATIONS: The study cohort was limited by its relatively small size.
CONCLUSIONS: Germline mutations in POLD1 and POLE were found to be relatively frequent in our Jewish cohorts. Further studies are needed to clarify the importance of POLD1 and POLE mutations and to define the most suitable surveillance program for Jewish and other POLD1 and POLE mutation carriers. See Video Abstract at http://links.lww.com/DCR/A658.

Krol I, Castro-Giner F, Maurer M, et al.
Detection of circulating tumour cell clusters in human glioblastoma.
Br J Cancer. 2018; 119(4):487-491 [PubMed] Related Publications
Human glioblastoma (GBM) is a highly aggressive, invasive and hypervascularised malignant brain cancer. Individual circulating tumour cells (CTCs) are sporadically found in GBM patients, yet it is unclear whether multicellular CTC clusters are generated in this disease and whether they can bypass the physical hurdle of the blood-brain barrier.  Here, we assessed CTC presence and composition at multiple time points in 13 patients with progressing GBM during an open-label phase 1/2a study with the microtubule inhibitor BAL101553. We observe CTC clusters ranging from 2 to 23 cells and present at multiple sampling time points in a GBM patient with pleomorphism and extensive necrosis, throughout disease progression. Exome sequencing of GBM CTC clusters highlights variants in 58 cancer-associated genes including ATM, PMS2, POLE, APC, XPO1, TFRC, JAK2, ERBB4 and ALK. Together, our findings represent the first evidence of the presence of CTC clusters in GBM.

Kommoss FK, Karnezis AN, Kommoss F, et al.
L1CAM further stratifies endometrial carcinoma patients with no specific molecular risk profile.
Br J Cancer. 2018; 119(4):480-486 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The newly developed Proactive Molecular Risk Classifier for Endometrial Cancer (ProMisE) has consistently been shown to be prognostically significant in endometrial carcinomas (EC). Recently, we and others have demonstrated L1 cell-adhesion molecule (L1CAM) to be a significant indicator of high-risk disease in EC. In the current study, it was our aim to determine the prognostic significance of aberrant L1CAM expression in ProMisE subgroups in a large, single centre, population-based EC cohort.
METHODS: ProMisE (POLE; MMR-D; p53 wt/NSMP; p53 abn) classification results from a cohort of 452 EC were available for analysis. L1CAM expression was studied by immunohistochemistry on whole slides. Correlations between clinicopathological data and survival were calculated.
RESULTS: Expression of L1CAM was most frequent in p53 abnormal tumours (80%). L1CAM status was predictive of worse outcome among tumours with no specific molecular profile (p53 wt/NSMP) (p < 0.0001). Among p53 wt/NSMP EC, L1CAM remained a significant prognosticator for disease-specific survival after multivariate analysis (p = 0.035).
CONCLUSION: L1CAM status was able to significantly stratify risk among tumours of the large p53 wt/NSMP ProMisE subgroup of EC. Furthermore, our study confirms a highly significant correlation between mutation-type p53 immunostaining and abnormal L1CAM expression in EC.

Domingo E, Camps C, Kaisaki PJ, et al.
Mutation burden and other molecular markers of prognosis in colorectal cancer treated with curative intent: results from the QUASAR 2 clinical trial and an Australian community-based series.
Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2018; 3(9):635-643 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 13/12/2019 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Molecular indicators of colorectal cancer prognosis have been assessed in several studies, but most analyses have been restricted to a handful of markers. We aimed to identify prognostic biomarkers for colorectal cancer by sequencing panels of multiple driver genes.
METHODS: In stage II or III colorectal cancers from the QUASAR 2 open-label randomised phase 3 clinical trial and an Australian community-based series, we used targeted next-generation sequencing of 82 and 113 genes, respectively, including the main colorectal cancer drivers. We investigated molecular pathways of tumorigenesis, and analysed individual driver gene mutations, combinations of mutations, or global measures such as microsatellite instability (MSI) and mutation burden (total number of non-synonymous mutations and coding indels) for associations with relapse-free survival in univariable and multivariable models, principally Cox proportional hazards models.
FINDINGS: In QUASAR 2 (511 tumours), TP53, KRAS, BRAF, and GNAS mutations were independently associated with shorter relapse-free survival (p<0·035 in all cases), and total somatic mutation burden with longer survival (hazard ratio [HR] 0·81 [95% CI 0·68-0·96]; p=0·014). MSI was not independently associated with survival (HR 1·12 [95% CI 0·57-2·19]; p=0·75). We successfully validated these associations in the Australian sample set (296 tumours). In a combined analysis of both the QUASAR 2 and the Australian sample sets, mutation burden was also associated with longer survival (HR 0·84 [95% CI 0·74-0·94]; p=0·004) after exclusion of MSI-positive and POLE mutant tumours. In an extended analysis of 1732 QUASAR 2 and Australian colorectal cancers for which KRAS, BRAF, and MSI status were available, KRAS and BRAF mutations were specifically associated with poor prognosis in MSI-negative cancers. MSI-positive cancers with KRAS or BRAF mutations had better prognosis than MSI-negative cancers that were wild-type for KRAS or BRAF. Mutations in the genes NF1 and NRAS from the MAPK pathway co-occurred, and mutations in the DNA damage-response genes TP53 and ATM were mutually exclusive. We compared a prognostic model based on the gold standard of clinicopathological variables and MSI with our new model incorporating clinicopathological variables, mutation burden, and driver mutations in KRAS, BRAF, and TP53. In both QUASAR 2 and the Australian cohort, our new model was significantly better (p=0·00004 and p=0·0057, respectively, based on a likelihood ratio test).
INTERPRETATION: Multigene panels identified two previously unreported prognostic associations in colorectal cancer involving TP53 mutation and total mutation burden, and confirmed associations with KRAS and BRAF. Even a modest-sized gene panel can provide important information for use in clinical practice and outperform MSI-based prognostic models.
FUNDING: UK Technology Strategy Board, National Institute for Health Research Oxford Biomedical Research Centre, Cancer Australia Project, Cancer Council Victoria, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Victorian Government.

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