Identification of a primitive intestinal transcription factor network shared between esophageal adenocarcinoma and its precancerous precursor state.
ABSTRACT: Esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) is one of the most frequent causes of cancer death, and yet compared to other common cancers, we know relatively little about the molecular composition of this tumor type. To further our understanding of this cancer, we have used open chromatin profiling to decipher the transcriptional regulatory networks that are operational in EAC. We have uncovered a transcription factor network that is usually found in primitive intestinal cells during embryonic development, centered on HNF4A and GATA6. These transcription factors work together to control the EAC transcriptome. We show that this network is activated in Barrett's esophagus, the putative precursor state to EAC, thereby providing novel molecular evidence in support of stepwise malignant transition. Furthermore, we show that HNF4A alone is sufficient to drive chromatin opening and activation of a Barrett's-like chromatin signature when expressed in normal human epithelial cells. Collectively, these data provide a new way to categorize EAC at a genome scale and implicate HNF4A activation as a potential pivotal event in its malignant transition from healthy cells.
Project description:Gene amplification is a tumor-specific event during malignant transformation. Recent studies have proposed a lineage-dependency (addiction) model of human cancer whereby amplification of certain lineage transcription factors predisposes a survival mechanism in tumor cells. These tumor cells are derived from tissues where the lineage factors play essential developmental and maintenance roles. Here, we show that recurrent amplification at 18q11.2 occurs in 21% of esophageal adenocarcinomas (EAC). Utilization of an integrative genomic strategy reveals a single gene, the embryonic endoderm transcription factor GATA6, as the selected target of the amplification. Overexpression of GATA6 is found in EACs that contain gene amplification. We find that EAC patients whose tumors carry GATA6 amplification have a poorer survival. We show that ectopic expression of GATA6, together with FGFR2 isoform IIIb, increases anchorage-independent growth in immortalized Barrett's esophageal cells. Conversely, siRNA-mediated silencing of GATA6 significantly reduces both cell proliferation and anchorage-independent growth in EAC cells. We further demonstrate that induction of apoptotic/anoikis pathways is triggered upon silencing of GATA6 in EAC cells but not in esophageal squamous cells. We show that activation of p38? signaling and up-regulation of TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand are detected in apoptotic EAC cells upon GATA6 deprivation. We conclude that selective gene amplification of GATA6 during EAC development sustains oncogenic lineage-survival of esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Project description:The Barrett's and Esophageal Adenocarcinoma Consortium (BEACON) recently performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) on esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) and Barrett's esophagus. They identified genome-wide significant association for variants at three genes, namely CRTC1, FOXP1, and BARX1. Furthermore, they replicated an association at the FOXF1 gene that has been previously found in a GWAS on Barrett's esophagus. We aimed at further replicating the association at these and other loci that showed suggestive association with P < 10(-4) in the BEACON sample. In total, we tested 88 SNPs in an independent sample consisting of 1065 EAC cases and 1019 controls of German descent. We could replicate the association at FOXP1, BARX1, and FOXF1 with nominal significance and thereby confirm that genetic variants at these genes confer EAC risk. In addition, we found association of variants near the genes XRCC2 and GATA6 that were strongly (P < 10(-5) ) although not genome-wide significantly associated with the BEACON GWAS. Therefore, both variants and corresponding genes represent promising candidates for future EAC association studies on independent samples.
Project description:There is a critical need to identify molecular markers that can reliably aid in stratifying esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) risk in patients with Barrett's esophagus. MicroRNAs (miRNA/miR) are one such class of biomolecules. In the present cross-sectional study, we characterized miRNA alterations in progressive stages of neoplastic development, i.e., metaplasia-dysplasia-adenocarcinoma, with an aim to identify candidate miRNAs potentially associated with progression. Using next generation sequencing (NGS) as an agnostic discovery platform, followed by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) validation in a total of 20 EACs, we identified 26 miRNAs that are highly and frequently deregulated in EACs (? 4-fold in >50% of cases) when compared to paired normal esophageal squamous (nSQ) tissue. We then assessed the 26 EAC-derived miRNAs in laser microdissected biopsy pairs of Barrett's metaplasia (BM)/nSQ (n = 15), and high-grade dysplasia (HGD)/nSQ (n = 14) by qPCR, to map the timing of deregulation during progression from BM to HGD and to EAC. We found that 23 of the 26 candidate miRNAs were deregulated at the earliest step, BM, and therefore noninformative as molecular markers of progression. Two miRNAs, miR-31 and -31*, however, showed frequent downregulation only in HGD and EAC cases suggesting association with transition from BM to HGD. A third miRNA, miR-375, showed marked downregulation exclusively in EACs and in none of the BM or HGD lesions, suggesting its association with progression to invasive carcinoma. Taken together, we propose miR-31 and -375 as novel candidate microRNAs specifically associated with early- and late-stage malignant progression, respectively, in Barrett's esophagus.
Project description:Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) may reduce the risk of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) in patients with Barrett's esophagus. PPIs are prescribed for virtually all patients with Barrett's esophagus, irrespective of the presence of reflux symptoms, and represent a de facto chemopreventive agent in this population. However, long-term PPI use has been associated with several adverse effects, and the cost-effectiveness of chemoprevention with PPIs has not been evaluated.The purpose of this study was to assess the cost-effectiveness of PPIs for the prevention of EAC in Barrett's esophagus without reflux.We designed a state-transition Markov microsimulation model of a hypothetical cohort of 50-year-old white men with Barrett's esophagus. We modeled chemoprevention with PPIs or no chemoprevention, with endoscopic surveillance for all treatment arms. Outcome measures were life-years, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), incident EAC cases and deaths, costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios.Assuming 50% reduction in EAC, chemoprevention with PPIs was a cost-effective strategy compared to no chemoprevention. In our model, administration of PPIs cost $23,000 per patient and resulted in a gain of 0.32 QALYs for an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of $12,000/QALY. In sensitivity analyses, PPIs would be cost-effective at $50,000/QALY if they reduce EAC risk by at least 19%.Chemoprevention with PPIs in patients with Barrett's esophagus without reflux is cost-effective if PPIs reduce EAC by a minimum of 19%. The identification of subgroups of Barrett's esophagus patients at increased risk for progression would lead to more cost-effective strategies for the prevention of esophageal adenocarcinoma.
Project description:Mesothelin is overexpressed in several malignancies and is purportedly a specific marker of malignant transformation. In this pilot study, we investigated whether tissue and serum mesothelin are potential markers of neoplastic progression in Barrett's esophagus (BE) and in esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC).Mesothelin expression was retrospectively evaluated in normal, BE, and EAC tissue from surgically resected esophageal specimens (n = 125). In addition, soluble mesothelin-related peptide (SMRP) levels were measured in serum.Normal esophageal mucosa did not express mesothelin. BE tissue with high-grade dysplasia specifically expressed mesothelin, whereas BE tissue with low-grade or without dysplasia did not. Fifty-seven (46%) EAC tumors were positive for mesothelin. EAC tumors with BE expressed mesothelin more often than those without BE (58% vs. 35%, P = 0.01). SMRP levels were elevated in 70% of EAC patients (mean = 0.89 nmol/L; range: 0.03-3.77 nmol/L), but not in patients with acid reflux and/or BE.Mesothelin is commonly expressed in BE-associated EAC. On the basis of this pilot study, a prospective study is under way to evaluate tissue and serum mesothelin which are potential markers of neoplastic progression in BE and in EAC (NCT01393483).Current surveillance methods in Barrett's esophagus are invasive and neither cost-effective nor sensitive. This pilot study suggests that serum mesothelin is a marker of neoplastic transformation in BE and may provide a noninvasive method to improve identification of malignant transformation.
Project description:Cancer genome sequencing studies have identified numerous driver genes, but the relative timing of mutations in carcinogenesis remains unclear. The gradual progression from premalignant Barrett's esophagus to esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) provides an ideal model to study the ordering of somatic mutations. We identified recurrently mutated genes and assessed clonal structure using whole-genome sequencing and amplicon resequencing of 112 EACs. We next screened a cohort of 109 biopsies from 2 key transition points in the development of malignancy: benign metaplastic never-dysplastic Barrett's esophagus (NDBE; n=66) and high-grade dysplasia (HGD; n=43). Unexpectedly, the majority of recurrently mutated genes in EAC were also mutated in NDBE. Only TP53 and SMAD4 mutations occurred in a stage-specific manner, confined to HGD and EAC, respectively. Finally, we applied this knowledge to identify high-risk Barrett's esophagus in a new non-endoscopic test. In conclusion, mutations in EAC driver genes generally occur exceptionally early in disease development with profound implications for diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Bile acid reflux in the esophagus plays an important role in the carcinogenesis of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC). The G-protein coupled bile acid receptor (TGR5) has been associated with the development of gastrointestinal cancer. However, little is known regarding the role of TGR5 in esophageal carcinoma and precancerous lesions. We analyzed genomic DNA from 116 EACs for copy number aberrations via Affymetrix SNP6.0 microarrays. The TGR5 gene locus was amplified in 12.7% (14/116) of the EACs. The TGR5 protein expression was also assessed using immunohistochemistry from tissue microarrays, including Barrett's esophagus (BE), low-(LGD) and high-grade dysplasia (HGD), columnar cell metaplasia (CM), squamous epithelium (SE), EAC and squamous cell carcinoma. The TGR5 protein was highly expressed in 71% of EAC (75/106), 100% of HGD (11/11), 72% of LGD (13/18), 66% of BE (23/35), 84% of CM (52/62), and 36% of SE (30/83). The patients with high expression of TGR5 exhibited significantly worse overall survival compared to the patients with nonhigh expression. TGR5 high expression was significantly increased in the males compared to the females in all cases with an odds ratio of 1.9 times. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) was significantly correlated with TGR5 expression. Our findings indicated that TGR5 may play an important role in the development and prognosis of EAC through a bile acid ligand. Gender differences in TGR5 and VDR expression may explain why males have a higher incidence of EAC compared to females.
Project description:PURPOSE:Endoscopic surveillance of Barrett's esophagus is problematic because dysplasia/early-stage neoplasia is frequently invisible and likely to be missed because of sampling bias. Molecular abnormalities may be more diffuse than dysplasia. The aim was therefore to test whether DNA methylation, especially on imprinted and X-chromosome genes, is able to detect dysplasia/early-stage neoplasia. EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN:27K methylation arrays were used to find genes best able to differentiate between 22 Barrett's esophagus and 24 esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) samples. These were validated using pyrosequencing on a retrospective cohort (60 Barrett's esophagus, 36 dysplastic, and 90 EAC) and then in a prospective multicenter study (98 Barrett's esophagus patients, including 28 dysplastic and 9 early EAC) designed to utilize biomarkers to stratify patients according to their prevalent dysplasia/EAC status. RESULTS:Genes (23%) on the array, including 7% of X-linked and 69% of imprinted genes, have shown statistically significant changes in methylation in EAC versus Barrett's esophagus (Wilcoxon P < 0.05). 6/7 selected candidate genes were successfully internally (Pearson's P < 0.01) and externally validated (ANOVA P < 0.001). Four genes (SLC22A18, PIGR, GJA12, and RIN2) showed the greatest area under curve (0.988) to distinguish between Barrett's esophagus and dysplasia/EAC in the retrospective cohort. This methylation panel was able to stratify patients from the prospective cohort into three risk groups based on the number of genes methylated (low risk: <2 genes, intermediate: 2, and high: >2). CONCLUSION:Widespread DNA methylation changes were observed in Barrett's carcinogenesis including ?70% of known imprinted genes. A four-gene methylation panel stratified patients with Barrett's esophagus into three risk groups with potential clinical utility.
Project description:Incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) has increased sharply in Western Europe and United States over the past three decades. Nearly all cases of EAC in the west are thought to be associated with Barrett's esophagus (BE) at the time of diagnosis. Regions in the Henan province of China have one of world's highest incidences of esophageal cancer, yet recent temporal trends in the relative rates of EAC with respect to esophageal squamous-cell carcinoma (ESCC), as well as its association with Barrett's esophagus (BE), have not been reported. In this report, we present large-scale longitudinal clinical and histological data on 5401 esophageal cancers (EC) patients diagnosed during the recent 10-year period (2002-2011) at Henan Cancer Hospital, China. All 217 esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) patients from these 5401 EC patients were examined to better understand the relationship between Barrett's esophagus (BE) and EAC. We found that EAC was relatively rare and accounted for approximately 5% of all esophageal cancers each year during 2002-2011. There is no evidence of significant temporal trends in the rate of EAC relative to ESCC. Only 10 out of 217 (4.6%) EAC cases were detected to have any evidence of Barrett's esophagus. This result raises the possibility of a different etiological basis for EAC in China motivating more detailed epidemiological, clinical and molecular characterization of EAC in China in order to better understand the neoplastic development of EAC.