Using droplet digital PCR to analyze MYCN and ALK copy number in plasma from patients with neuroblastoma.
ABSTRACT: The invasive nature of surgical biopsies deters sequential application, and single biopsies often fail to reflect tumor dynamics, intratumor heterogeneity and drug sensitivities likely to change during tumor evolution and treatment. Implementing molecular characterization of cell-free neuroblastoma-derived DNA isolated from blood plasma could improve disease assessment for treatment selection and monitoring of patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. We established droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) protocols for MYCN and ALK copy number status in plasma from neuroblastoma patients. Our ddPCR protocol accurately discriminated between MYCN and ALK amplification, gain and normal diploid status in a large panel of neuroblastoma cell lines, and discrepancies with reported MYCN and ALK status were detected, including a high-level MYCN amplification in NB-1, a MYCN gain in SH-SY5Y, a high-level ALK amplification in IMR-32 and ALK gains in BE(2)-C, Kelly, SH-SY5Y and LAN-6. MYCN and ALK status were also reliably determined from cell-free DNA derived from medium conditioned by the cell lines. MYCN and ALK copy numbers of subcutaneous neuroblastoma xenograft tumors were accurately determined from cell-free DNA in the mouse blood plasma. In a final validation step, we accurately distinguished MYCN and ALK copy numbers of the corresponding primary tumors using retrospectively collected blood plasma samples from 10 neuroblastoma patients. Our data justify the further development of molecular disease characterization using cell-free DNA in blood plasma from patients with neuroblastoma. This expanded molecular diagnostic palette may improve monitoring of disease progression including relapse and metastatic events as well as therapy success or failure in high-risk neuroblastoma patients.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4><i>MYCN</i> amplification (MNA), segmental chromosomal aberrations (SCA) and <i>ALK</i> activating mutations are biomarkers for risk-group stratification and for targeted therapeutics for neuroblastoma, both of which are currently assessed on tissue biopsy. Increase in demand for tumor genetic testing for neuroblastoma diagnosis is posing a challenge to current practice, as the small size of the core needle biopsies obtained are required for multiple molecular tests. We evaluated the utility of detecting these biomarkers in the circulation.<h4>Methods</h4>Various pre-analytical conditions tested to optimize circulating-tumor DNA (ctDNA) copy number changes evaluations. Plasma samples from 10 patients diagnosed with neuroblastoma assessed for SCA and MNA using single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) array approach currently used for neuroblastoma diagnosis, with MNA status assessed independently using digital-droplet PCR (ddPCR). Three patients (one in common with the previous 10) tested for <i>ALK</i> activating mutations p.F1174L and p.F1245I using ddPCR.<h4>Results</h4>Copy number detection is highly affected by physical perturbations of the blood sample (mimicking suboptimal sample shipment), which could be overcome using specialized preservative collection tubes. Pre-analytical DNA repair procedures on ctDNA before SNP chromosome microarray processing improved the lower limit of detection for SCA and MNA, defined as 20% and 10%, respectively. We detected SCA in 10/10 (100%) patients using SNP array, 7 of which also presented MNA. Circulating-free DNA (cfDNA) and matched tumor DNA profiles were generally identical. MNA was detected using ddPCR in 7/7 (100%) of MNA and 0/12 (0%) non-MNA cases. MNA and <i>ALK</i> mutation dynamic change was assessed in longitudinal samples from 4 and 3 patients (one patient with both), respectively, accurately reflected response to treatment in 6/6 (100%) and disease recurrence in 5/6 (83%) of cases. Samples taken prior to targeted treatment with the ALK inhibitor Lorlatinib and 6-8 weeks on treatment showed reduction/increase in <i>ALK</i> variants according to response to treatment.<h4>Conclusions</h4>These results demonstrate the feasibility of ctDNA profiling for molecular risk-stratification, and treatment monitoring in a clinically relevant time frame and the potential to reduce fresh tissue requirements currently embedded in the management of neuroblastoma.
Project description:Neuroblastoma derived from primitive sympathetic neural precursors is a common type of solid tumor in infants. MYCN proto?oncogene bHLH transcription factor (MYCN) amplification and 1p36 deletion are important factors associated with the poor prognosis of neuroblastoma. Expression levels of MYCN and c?MYB proto?oncogene transcription factor (c?myb) decline during the differentiation of neuroblastoma cells; E2F transcription factor 1 (E2F1) activates the MYCN promoter. However, the underlying mechanism of MYCN overexpression and amplification requires further investigation. In the present study, potential c?Myb target genes, and the effect of c?myb RNA interference (RNAi) on MYCN expression and amplification were investigated in MYCN?amplified neuroblastoma cell lines. The mRNA expression levels and MYCN gene copy number in five neuroblastoma cell lines were determined by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. In addition, variations in potential target gene expression and MYCN gene copy number between pre? and post?c?myb RNAi treatment groups in MYCN?amplified Kelly, IMR32, SIMA and MHH?NB?11 cell lines, normalized to those of non?MYCN?amplified SH?SY5Y, were examined. To determine the associations between gene expression levels and chromosomal aberrations, MYCN amplification and 1p36 alterations in interphases/metaphases were analyzed using fluorescence in situ hybridization. Statistical analyses revealed correlations between 1p36 alterations and the expression of c?myb, MYB proto?oncogene like 2 (B?myb) and cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor 1A (p21). Additionally, the results of the present study also demonstrated that c?myb may be associated with E2F1 and L3MBTL1 histone methyl?lysine binding protein (L3MBTL1) expression, and that E2F1 may contribute to MYCN, B?myb, p21 and chromatin licensing and DNA replication factor 1 (hCdt1) expression, but to the repression of geminin (GMNN). On c?myb RNAi treatment, L3MBTL1 expression was silenced, while GMNN was upregulated, indicating G2/M arrest. In addition, MYCN gene copy number increased following treatment with c?myb RNAi. Notably, the present study also reported a 43.545% sequence identity between upstream of MYCN and Drosophila melanogaster amplification control element 3, suggesting that expression and/or amplification mechanisms of developmentally?regulated genes may be evolutionarily conserved. In conclusion, c?myb may be associated with regulating MYCN expression and amplification. c?myb, B?myb and p21 may also serve a role against chromosome 1p aberrations. Together, it was concluded that MYCN gene is amplified during S phase, potentially via a replication?based mechanism.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is an embryonic tumor arising from immature sympathetic nervous system cells. Recurrent genomic alterations include MYCN and ALK amplification as well as recurrent patterns of gains and losses of whole or large partial chromosome segments. A recent whole genome sequencing effort yielded no frequently recurring mutations in genes other than those affecting ALK. However, the study further stresses the importance of DNA copy number alterations in this disease, in particular for genes implicated in neuritogenesis. Here we provide additional evidence for the importance of focal DNA copy number gains and losses, which are predominantly observed in MYCN amplified tumors. A focal 5 kb gain encompassing the MYCN regulated miR-17~92 cluster as sole gene was detected in a neuroblastoma cell line and further analyses of the array CGH data set demonstrated enrichment for other MYCN target genes in focal gains and amplifications. Next we applied an integrated genomics analysis to prioritize MYCN down regulated genes mediated by MYCN driven miRNAs within regions of focal heterozygous or homozygous deletion. We identified RGS5, a negative regulator of G-protein signaling implicated in vascular normalization, invasion and metastasis, targeted by a focal homozygous deletion, as a new MYCN target gene, down regulated through MYCN activated miRNAs. In addition, we expand the miR-17~92 regulatory network controlling TGFß signaling in neuroblastoma with the ring finger protein 11 encoding gene RNF11, which was previously shown to be targeted by the miR-17~92 member miR-19b. Taken together, our data indicate that focal DNA copy number imbalances in neuroblastoma (1) target genes that are implicated in MYCN signaling, possibly selected to reinforce MYCN oncogene addiction and (2) serve as a resource for identifying new molecular targets for treatment.
Project description:To provide better insight into the genetic signatures of neuroblastomas, we analyzed 500 neuroblastomas (included specimens from JNBSG) using targeted-deep sequencing for 10 neuroblastoma-related genes and SNP arrays analysis. ALK expression was evaluated using immunohistochemical analysis in 259 samples. Based on genetic alterations, the following 6 subgroups were identified: groups A (ALK abnormalities), B (other gene mutations), C (MYCN amplification), D (11q loss of heterozygosity [LOH]), E (at least 1 copy number variants), and F (no genetic changes). Groups A to D showed advanced disease and poor prognosis, whereas groups E and F showed excellent prognosis. Intriguingly, in group A, MYCN amplification was not a significant prognostic marker, while high ALK expression was a relevant indicator for prognosis (P = 0.033). Notably, the co-existence of MYCN amplification and 1p LOH, and the co-deletion of 3p and 11q were significant predictors of relapse (P = 0.043 and P = 0.040). Additionally, 6q/8p LOH and 17q gain were promising indicators of survival in patients older than 5 years, and 1p, 4p, and 11q LOH potentially contributed to outcome prediction in the intermediate-risk group. Our genetic overview clarifies the clinical impact of genetic signatures and aids in the better understanding of genetic basis of neuroblastoma.
Project description:Detection of amplification of the MYCN gene is essential for determining optimal treatment and estimating prognosis of patients with neuroblastoma (NB). DNA FISH with neuroblastoma tissues or patient-derived bone marrow cells is the standard clinical practice for the detection of MYCN amplification. As tumor cells may often be unavailable, we developed a method to detect MYCN amplification in the plasma of patients with neuroblastoma. Taking single-copy NAGK DNA as reference, we used real-time quantitative PCR (qPCR) to determine the MYCN/NAGK ratio in the plasma of 115 patients diagnosed with NB. An increased MYCN/NAGK ratio in the plasma was consistent with MYCN amplification as assessed by DNA FISH. The AUC for a MYCN/NAGK ratio equal to 6.965 was 0.943, with 86% sensitivity and 100% specificity. Beyond the threshold of 6.965, the MYCN/NAGK ratio correlated with a heavier tumor burden. Event-free and overall survival of two years were significantly shortened in stage 4 patients with a MYCN/NAGK ratio higher than 6.965. Plasma MYCN/NAGK ratios increased in patients with progressive disease and relapse. Thus, we conclude that the determination of the plasma MYCN/NAGK ratio by qPCR is a noninvasive and reproducible method to measure MYCN amplification in patients with NB.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is the most common cancer in infants younger than 12 months of age, occurring with an incidence of 1 in 100,000 children. The clinical outcome of neuroblastoma ranges from spontaneous regression to treatment-resistant progression and/or metastasis, and accounts for 8-10% of childhood cancer deaths. Segmental chromosomal aberrations, as well as <i>MYCN</i> and <i>ALK</i> amplification, are among factors contributing to an unfavorable genomic profile and high-risk disease classification. Here, we describe a 5-year-old male who presented with a large right renal neuroblastoma tumor having lung and liver metastases. Fluorescence in situ hybridization analysis indicated the presence of >20 copies of the 5' region of the <i>ALK</i> gene in 26% of cells examined. Subsequent copy number assessment did not confirm <i>ALK</i> amplification, but revealed a gain of exons 2-5 of <i>ALK</i>, consistent with increased copy number for the 5' region of the <i>ALK</i> gene. Subsequent array analysis showed the presence of other unfavorable prognostic genomic features, including segmental gain of the 17q region and amplification of the long arm of chromosome 12 harboring <i>CDK4</i> and <i>MDM2,</i> both reported to be poor prognostic indicators in patients with atypical clinical features in neuroblastoma. Taken together, this report illustrates the importance of careful interpretation of aberrant FISH findings and subsequent use of orthogonal methods to clarify the presence of genomic alterations to successfully determine potential treatment targets.
Project description:Chromosome 1p LOH was seen in one-third of cases. LOH events on chromosomes 11q and 1p were generally accompanied by copy number loss. The one exception was on chromosome 11p, where LOH in all 4 cases was accompanied by normal copy number or diploidy, implying uniparental disomy. Amplification of MYCN was also noted, and also, amplification of a second gene, ALK, in a single case. Experiment Overall Design: We analyzed paired blood and primary tumor samples from 22 children with high-risk neuroblastoma for loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and DNA copy number change.
Project description:Amplification of the MYCN oncogene in childhood neuroblastoma is often accompanied by mutational activation of ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase), suggesting their pathogenic cooperation. We generated a transgenic zebrafish model of neuroblastoma in which MYCN-induced tumors arise from a subpopulation of neuroblasts that migrate into the adrenal medulla analog following organogenesis. Coexpression of activated ALK with MYCN in this model triples the disease penetrance and markedly accelerates tumor onset. MYCN overexpression induces adrenal sympathetic neuroblast hyperplasia, blocks chromaffin cell differentiation, and ultimately triggers a developmentally-timed apoptotic response in the hyperplastic sympathoadrenal cells. Coexpression of activated ALK with MYCN provides prosurvival signals that block this apoptotic response and allow continued expansion and oncogenic transformation of hyperplastic neuroblasts, thus promoting progression to neuroblastoma.
Project description:Since the original descriptions of gain-of function mutations in anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK), interest in the role of this receptor tyrosine kinase in neuroblastoma development and as a potential therapeutic target has escalated. As a group, the activating point mutations in full-length ALK, found in approximately 8% of all neuroblastoma tumors, are distributed evenly across different clinical stages. However, the most frequent somatic mutation, F1174L, is associated with amplification of the MYCN oncogene. This combination of features appears to confer a worse prognosis than MYCN amplification alone, suggesting a cooperative effect on neuroblastoma formation by these two proteins. Indeed, F1174L has shown more potent transforming activity in vivo than the second most common activating mutation, R1275Q, and is responsible for innate and acquired resistance to crizotinib, a clinically relevant ALK inhibitor that will soon be commercially available. These advances cast ALK as a bona fide oncoprotein in neuroblastoma and emphasize the need to understand ALK-mediated signaling in this tumor. This review addresses many of the current issues surrounding the role of ALK in normal development and neuroblastoma pathogenesis, and discusses the prospects for clinically effective targeted treatments based on ALK inhibition.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Increased tissue stiffness is a common feature of malignant solid tumors, often associated with metastasis and poor patient outcomes. Vitronectin, as an extracellular matrix anchorage glycoprotein related to a stiff matrix, is present in a particularly increased quantity and specific distribution in high-risk neuroblastoma. Furthermore, as cells can sense and transform the proprieties of the extracellular matrix into chemical signals through mechanotransduction, genotypic changes related to stiffness are possible. METHODS:We applied high density SNPa and NGS techniques to in vivo and in vitro models (orthotropic xenograft vitronectin knock-out mice and 3D bioprinted hydrogels with different stiffness) using two representative neuroblastoma cell lines (the MYCN-amplified SK-N-BE(2) and the ALK-mutated SH-SY5Y), to discern how tumor genomics patterns and clonal heterogeneity of the two cell lines are affected. RESULTS:We describe a remarkable subclonal selection of genomic aberrations in SK-N-BE(2) cells grown in knock-out vitronectin xenograft mice that also emerged when cultured for long times in stiff hydrogels. In particular, we detected an enlarged subclonal cell population with chromosome 9 aberrations in both models. Similar abnormalities were found in human high-risk neuroblastoma with MYCN amplification. The genomics of the SH-SY5Y cell line remained stable when cultured in both models. CONCLUSIONS:Focus on heterogeneous intratumor segmental chromosome aberrations and mutations, as a mirror image of tumor microenvironment, is a vital area of future research.