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Characterization of small cell carcinoma of the ovary, hypercalcemic type (SCCOHT)

Description

Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary Hypercalcemic Type (SCCOHT) is a rare and highly aggressive ovarian cancer that affects children and young women at a mean age of 24 years. Most SCCOHT patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage and

Small Cell Carcinoma of the Ovary Hypercalcemic Type (SCCOHT) is a rare and highly aggressive ovarian cancer that affects children and young women at a mean age of 24 years. Most SCCOHT patients are diagnosed at an advanced stage and do not respond to chemotherapy. As a result, more than 75% of patients succumb to their disease within 1-2 years. To provide insights into the biological, diagnostic, and therapeutic vulnerabilities of this deadly cancer, a comprehensive characterization of 22 SCCOHT cases and 2 SCCOHT cell lines using microarray and next-generation sequencing technologies was performed. Following histological examination, tumor DNA and RNA were extracted and used for array comparative genomic hybridization and gene expression microarray analyses. In agreement with previous reports, SCCOHT presented consistently diploid profiles with few copy number aberrations. Gene expression analysis showed SCCOHT tumors have a unique gene expression profile unlike that of most common epithelial ovarian carcinomas. Dysregulated cell cycle control, DNA repair, DNA damage-response, nucleosome assembly, neurogenesis and nervous system development were all characteristic of SCCOHT tumors. Sequencing of DNA from SCCOHT patients and cell lines revealed germline and somatic inactivating mutations in the SWI/SNF chromatin-remodeling gene SMARCA4 in 79% (19/24) of SCCOHT patients in addition to SMARCA4 protein loss in 84% (16/19) of SCCOHT tumors, but in only 0.4% (2/485) of other primary ovarian tumors. Ongoing studies are now focusing on identifying treatments for SCCOHT based on therapeutic vulnerabilities conferred by ubiquitous inactivating mutations in SMARCA4 in addition to gene and protein expression data. Our characterization of the molecular landscape of SCCOHT and the breakthrough identification of inactivating SMARCA4 mutations in almost all cases of SCCOHT offers the first significant insight into the molecular pathogenesis of this disease. The loss of SMARCA4 protein is a highly sensitive and specific marker of the disease, highlighting its potential role as a diagnostic marker, and offers the opportunity for genetic testing of family members at risk. Outstanding questions remain about the role of SMARCA4 loss in the biology, histogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of SCCOHT.

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Date Created
2014

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Comparative genomics and novel bioinformatics methodology applied to the green anole reveal unique sex chromosome evolution

Description

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage

In species with highly heteromorphic sex chromosomes, the degradation of one of the sex chromosomes can result in unequal gene expression between the sexes (e.g., between XX females and XY males) and between the sex chromosomes and the autosomes. Dosage compensation is a process whereby genes on the sex chromosomes achieve equal gene expression which prevents deleterious side effects from having too much or too little expression of genes on sex chromsomes. The green anole is part of a group of species that recently underwent an adaptive radiation. The green anole has XX/XY sex determination, but the content of the X chromosome and its evolution have not been described. Given its status as a model species, better understanding the green anole genome could reveal insights into other species. Genomic analyses are crucial for a comprehensive picture of sex chromosome differentiation and dosage compensation, in addition to understanding speciation.

In order to address this, multiple comparative genomics and bioinformatics analyses were conducted to elucidate patterns of evolution in the green anole and across multiple anole species. Comparative genomics analyses were used to infer additional X-linked loci in the green anole, RNAseq data from male and female samples were anayzed to quantify patterns of sex-biased gene expression across the genome, and the extent of dosage compensation on the anole X chromosome was characterized, providing evidence that the sex chromosomes in the green anole are dosage compensated.

In addition, X-linked genes have a lower ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitution rates than the autosomes when compared to other Anolis species, and pairwise rates of evolution in genes across the anole genome were analyzed. To conduct this analysis a new pipeline was created for filtering alignments and performing batch calculations for whole genome coding sequences. This pipeline has been made publicly available.

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Date Created
2016

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Using Molecular, Cellular and Bioengineering Approaches Towards Understanding Muscle Stem Cell Biology

Description

Satellite cells are adult muscle stem cells that activate, proliferate, and differentiate into myofibers upon muscle damage. Satellite cells can be cultured and manipulated in vitro, and thus represent an accessible model for studying skeletal muscle biology, and a potential

Satellite cells are adult muscle stem cells that activate, proliferate, and differentiate into myofibers upon muscle damage. Satellite cells can be cultured and manipulated in vitro, and thus represent an accessible model for studying skeletal muscle biology, and a potential source of autologous stem cells for regenerative medicine. This work summarizes efforts to further understanding of satellite cell biology, using novel model organisms, bioengineering, and molecular and cellular approaches. Lizards are evolutionarily the closest vertebrates to humans that regenerate entire appendages. An analysis of lizard myoprogenitor cell transcriptome determined they were most transcriptionally similar to mammalian satellite cells. Further examination showed that among genes with the highest level of expression in lizard satellite cells were an increased number of regulators of chondrogenesis. In micromass culture, lizard satellite cells formed nodules that expressed chondrogenic regulatory genes, thus demonstrating increased musculoskeletal plasticity. However, to exploit satellite cells for therapeutics, development of an ex vivo culture is necessary. This work investigates whether substrates composed of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins, as either coatings or hydrogels, can support expansion of this population whilst maintaining their myogenic potency. Stiffer substrates are necessary for in vitro proliferation and differentiation of satellite cells, while the ECM composition was not significantly important. Additionally, satellite cells on hydrogels entered a quiescent state that could be reversed when the cells were subsequently cultured on Matrigel. Proliferation and gene expression data further indicated that C2C12 cells are not a good proxy for satellite cells. To further understand how different signaling pathways control satellite cell behavior, an investigation of the Notch inhibitor protein Numb was carried out. Numb deficient satellite cells fail to activate, proliferate and participate in muscle repair. Examination of Numb isoform expression in satellite cells and embryonic tissues revealed that while developing limb bud, neural tube, and heart express the long and short isoforms of NUMB, satellite cells predominantly express the short isoforms. A preliminary immunoprecipitation- proteomics experiment suggested that the roles of NUMB in satellite cells are related to cell cycle modulation, cytoskeleton dynamics, and regulation of transcription factors necessary for satellite cell function.

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Date Created
2020