Telomerase reverse transcriptase mutations in plasma DNA in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma or cirrhosis: Prevalence and risk factors.
ABSTRACT: Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) mutation is the most frequent genetic alteration in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Our aims were to investigate whether TERT mutations can be detected in circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) of patients with HCC and/or cirrhosis and characterize clinical parameters associated with these mutations. We retrieved data on TERT C228T and C250T promoter mutations in 196 HCCs from The Cancer Genome Atlas. We measured these TERT mutations in plasma cfDNA in 218 patients with HCC and 81 patients with cirrhosis without imaging evidence of HCC. The prevalence of TERT mutations in The Cancer Genome Atlas HCC specimens was 44.4%. TERT mutations were detected with similar prevalence (47.7%) in plasma cfDNAs from 218 patients with HCC. TERT mutations, either within the HCC or in cfDNA, were associated with male sex, hepatitis C virus (HCV), alcoholic cirrhosis, family history of cancer, and poor prognosis. The high prevalence of TERT mutations in HCCs in male patients with cirrhosis caused by HCV and/or alcohol was confirmed in an independent set of HCCs (86.6%). Finally, TERT mutations were detected in cfDNA of 7 out of 81 (8.6%) patients with cirrhosis without imaging evidence of HCC, including 5 male patients with cirrhosis due to HCV and/or alcohol. Genes involved in xenobiotic and alcohol metabolism were enriched in HCCs with TERT mutations, and vitamin K2 was identified as an upstream regulator. Conclusion: TERT mutations are detectable in plasma cfDNA. Long-term imaging surveillance of patients with cirrhosis with cfDNA TERT mutations without evidence of HCC is required to assess their potential as early biomarkers of HCC. (Hepatology Communications 2018;2:718-731).
Project description:Recurrent somatic mutations in the promoter region of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) gene and in the exon 3 of CTNNB1 gene have been recognized as common events in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with variable frequencies depending on etiology and geographical region. We have analyzed TERT promoter and CTNNB1 gene mutations in 122 cases of hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C (HCV) related HCCs, in 7 cases of cholangiocarcinoma (CC) and hepatocholangiocarcinoma (HCC-CC) as well as in autologous cirrhotic tissues. Overall, 50.4% and 26% of HCC as well as 14.3% and none of CC and HCC-CC were mutated in TERT promoter and in CTNNB1 exon 3, respectively. TERT and CTNNB1 mutations were found more frequently in HCV related (53.6% and 26.4%, respectively) than HBV related (41.7% and 16.7%, respectively) HCCs and coexisted in 57.6% of CTNNB1 mutated tumors. Mutations in TERT and CTNNB1 were not associated with the functional promoter polymorphism rs2853669. No mutations were detected in the 129 non-HCC cirrhotic tissues. In conclusion, mutations in TERT promoter and in CTNNB1 gene represent specific cancer signatures in the pathogenesis of viral related HCC and could be promising early biomarkers as well as targets for tailored therapies.
Project description:Telomeres are repetitive DNA sequences at linear chromosome termini, protecting chromosomes against end-to-end fusion and damage, providing chromosomal stability. Telomeres shorten with mitotic cellular division, but are maintained in cells with high proliferative capacity by telomerase. Loss-of-function mutations in telomere-maintenance genes are genetic risk factors for cirrhosis development in humans and murine models. Telomerase deficiency provokes accelerated telomere shortening and dysfunction, facilitating genomic instability and oncogenesis. Here we examined whether telomerase mutations and telomere shortening were associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) secondary to cirrhosis. Telomere length of peripheral blood leukocytes was measured by Southern blot and qPCR in 120 patients with HCC associated with cirrhosis and 261 healthy subjects. HCC patients were screened for telomerase gene variants (in TERT and TERC) by Sanger sequencing. Age-adjusted telomere length was comparable between HCC patients and healthy subjects by both Southern blot and qPCR. Four non-synonymous TERT heterozygous variants were identified in four unrelated patients, resulting in a significantly higher mutation carrier frequency (3.3%) in patients as compared to controls (p = 0.02). Three of the four variants (T726M, A1062T, and V1090M) were previously observed in patients with other telomere diseases (severe aplastic anemia, acute myeloid leukemia, and cirrhosis). A novel TERT variant, A243V, was identified in a 65-year-old male with advanced HCC and cirrhosis secondary to chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) and alcohol ingestion, but direct assay measurements in vitro did not detect modulation of telomerase enzymatic activity or processivity. In summary, constitutional variants resulting in amino acid changes in the telomerase reverse transcriptase were found in a small proportion of patients with cirrhosis-associated HCC.
Project description:Chronic infections with hepatitis B (HBV) and hepatitis C viruses (HCV) are the leading cause of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. Both viruses encode multifunctional regulatory proteins activating several oncogenic pathways, which induce accumulation of multiple genetic alterations in the infected hepatocytes. Gene mutations in HBV- and HCV-induced HCCs frequently impair the TP53, Wnt/b-catenin, RAS/RAF/MAPK kinase and AKT/mTOR pathways, which represent important anti-cancer targets. In this review, we highlight the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of primary liver cancer, with particular emphasis on the host genetic variations identified by high-throughput technologies. In addition, we discuss the importance of genetic alterations, such as mutations in the telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter, for the diagnosis, prognosis, and tumor stratification for development of more effective treatment approaches.
Project description:The role of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the pathogenesis of HCV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. To understand the transition from benign to malignant, we studied the gene expression patterns in liver tissues at different stages, including normal, cirrhosis, and different HCC stages. We studied 108 liver tissue samples obtained from 88 distinct patients (41 HCV-cirrhotic tissues, 17 HCV-cirrhotic tissues from patients with HCC, and 47 HCV-HCC tissues). Differentially expressed genes (DEG) were studied by use of high-density oligonucleotide arrays. Among probe sets identified as differentially expressed via the F test, all pairwise comparisons were performed. Cirrhotic tissues with and without concomitant HCC were further evaluated, and a classifier was used to predict whether the tissue type was associated with HCC. Differential expression profiles were analyzed using Interaction Networks and Functional Analysis. Characteristic gene signatures were identified when normal tissue was compared with cirrhosis, cirrhosis with early HCC, and normal with HCC. Pathway analysis classified the cellular and biological functions of the DEG as related to cellular growth and proliferation, cell death and inflammatory disease in cirrhosis; cell death, cell cycle, DNA replication, and immune response in early HCCs; and cell death, cell growth and proliferation, cell cycle, and DNA repair in advanced HCCs. Characteristic gene signatures were identified at different stages of HCV-HCC progression. A set of genes were identified to predict whether the cirrhotic tissue was associated with HCC.
Project description:A mass spectrometric analysis platform has been developed to determine whether glycosylation patterns of alpha-1 acid glycoprotein (AGP) could be used as a marker for early detection of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in different etiologies, i.e. non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), alcoholic liver disease (ALC), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). MALDI-MS profiling of N-glycans of AGP purified from 20 μL of patient serum in HCC (n = 72) and liver cirrhosis (n = 58) showed that a unique trifucosylated tetra-antennary glycan (m/z 3490.76) was predominantly identified in HCCs but was absent in healthy subjects and the majority of cirrhosis patients. Receiver operation characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that the trifucosylated N-glycan of AGP (triFc_AGP) could differentiate HCC from cirrhosis with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.707, 0.726 and 0.751 for NASH, ALC and HCV, respectively. When combining triFc_AGP with INR and AFP, the panel had the greatest benefit in detection of NASH-related HCCs, with a significantly improved AUC of 0.882 for all NASH HCCs and 0.818 for early NASH HCCs compared to AFP alone (0.761 and 0.641, respectively). Moreover, triFc_AGP could serve as a potential marker for monitoring AFP-negative HCC patients.
Project description:We have developed herein a quantitative mass spectrometry-based approach to analyze the etiology-related alterations in fucosylation degree of serum haptoglobin in patients with liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The three most common etiologies, including infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV), infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and heavy alcohol consumption (ALC), were investigated. Only 10 ?L of serum was used in this assay in which haptoglobin was immunoprecipitated using a monoclonal antibody. The N-glycans of haptoglobin were released with PNGase F, desialylated, and permethylated prior to MALDI-QIT-TOF MS analysis. In total, N-glycan profiles derived from 104 individual patient samples were quantified (14 healthy controls, 40 cirrhosis, and 50 HCCs). A unique pattern of bifucosylated tetra-antennary glycan, with both core and antennary fucosylation, was identified in HCC patients. Quantitative analysis indicated that the increased fucosylation degree was highly associated with HBV- and ALC-related HCC patients compared to that of the corresponding cirrhosis patients. Notably, the bifucosylation degree was distinctly increased in HCC patients versus that in cirrhosis of all etiologies. The elevated bifucosylation degree of haptoglobin can discriminate early stage HCC patients from cirrhosis in each etiologic category, which may be used to provide a potential marker for early detection and to predict HCC in patients with cirrhosis.
Project description:Telomerase activation via induction of the catalytic component telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) plays essential roles in malignant transformation. TERT promoter-activating mutations were recently identified as a novel mechanism to activate telomerase in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and many other malignancies. In addition, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the TERT rs2736098 and rs2736100 are significantly associated with cancer susceptibility. It is currently unclear whether different germline TERT variants modify TERT promoter mutations. Here we analyzed the TERT promoter status and genotyped the TERT SNPs at rs2736098 and rs2736100 in patients with HCC. Thirty percent of HCCs harbored TERT promoter mutations and there was a significant difference in rs2736098 and rs2736100 genotypes between wt and mutant TERT promoter-bearing HCC tumors (P = 0.007 and 0.018, respectively). For rs2736100, the cancer risk genotype CC was significantly associated with a reduced incidence of TERT promoter mutations compared to AA + AC variants [Odds ratio (OR): 0.181, 95% Confidence interval (CI): 0.0543-0.601, P = 0.004]. The rs2736098_CT genotype was significantly associated with the TERT promoter mutation-positive tumors compared to the TT genotype (OR: 5.391, 95% CI: 1.234-23.553, P = 0.025). These differences in genotype distribution did not differ between patients with a wt TERT promoter and controls. The presence of TERT promoter mutations was not associated with clinico-pathological variables. Taken together, the germline TERT genetic background may significantly affect the onset of TERT promoter mutations in HCCs, which provides a better understanding of HCC-related TERT promoter mutations and telomerase regulation in cancer.
Project description:Reactivation of telomerase is a critical step in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Here we identified the frequency of mutations in telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter was 34% in non-clear cell HCC (NCCHCC, n = 259) and 26.3% in clear cell HCC (CCHCC, n = 57). The mutations were independently associated with poor recurrence-free survival of HCCs. Interestingly immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated a higher positive rate of TERT cytoplasmic localization (95%) than nuclear localization (64%) in HCCs. In NCCHCCs, the mutations correlated with higher TERT nuclear expression and increased telomere-dependent telomerase activity. Higher cytoplasmic expression was found in adjacent tissues compared to tumor tissues, and was associated with tumor well-differentiation and lower level of ?-fetoprotein. NCCHCCs with low nuclear as well as high cytoplasmic expression correlated with better prognosis. In CCHCCs, elevated TERT cytoplasmic expression was observed in CCHCCs harboring mutations. Higher TERT cytoplasmic expression was found in tumor tissues compared to adjacent tissues, and was associated with multiple numbers of tumors and poor prognosis of CCHCCs. In conclusion, mutations in TERT promoter disclose the significance of both nuclear and cytoplasmic TERT in HCC. Cytoplasmic TERT should also be considered when determining prognosis and treatment of HCCs.
Project description:The most common causes of chronic liver disease are excess alcohol intake, viral hepatitis and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, with the clinical spectrum ranging in severity from hepatic inflammation to cirrhosis, liver failure or hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The genome of HCC exhibits diverse mutational signatures, resulting in recurrent mutations across more than 30 cancer genes<sup>1-7</sup>. Stem cells from normal livers have a low mutational burden and limited diversity of signatures<sup>8</sup>, which suggests that the complexity of HCC arises during the progression to chronic liver disease and subsequent malignant transformation. Here, by sequencing whole genomes of 482 microdissections of 100-500 hepatocytes from 5 normal and 9 cirrhotic livers, we show that cirrhotic liver has a higher mutational burden than normal liver. Although rare in normal hepatocytes, structural variants, including chromothripsis, were prominent in cirrhosis. Driver mutations, such as point mutations and structural variants, affected 1-5% of clones. Clonal expansions of millimetres in diameter occurred in cirrhosis, with clones sequestered by the bands of fibrosis that surround regenerative nodules. Some mutational signatures were universal and equally active in both non-malignant hepatocytes and HCCs; some were substantially more active in HCCs than chronic liver disease; and others-arising from exogenous exposures-were present in a subset of patients. The activity of exogenous signatures between adjacent cirrhotic nodules varied by up to tenfold within each patient, as a result of clone-specific and microenvironmental forces. Synchronous HCCs exhibited the same mutational signatures as background cirrhotic liver, but with higher burden. Somatic mutations chronicle the exposures, toxicity, regeneration and clonal structure of liver tissue as it progresses from health to disease.