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Caveolin-1: a potential biomarker of aggressive triple-negative breast cancer in African American women

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In the U.S., breast cancer (BC) incidences among African American (AA) and CA (CA) women are similar, yet AA women have a significantly higher mortality rate. In addition, AA women

In the U.S., breast cancer (BC) incidences among African American (AA) and CA (CA) women are similar, yet AA women have a significantly higher mortality rate. In addition, AA women often present with tumors at a younger age, with a higher tumor grade/stage and are more likely to be diagnosed with the highly aggressive triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) subtype. Even within the TNBC subtype, AA women have a worse clinical outcome compared to CA. Although multiple socio-economic and lifestyle factors may contribute to these observed health disparities, it is essential that the underlying biological differences between CA and AA TNBC are identified. In this study, gene expression profiling was performed on archived FFPE samples, obtained from CA and AA women diagnosed with early stage TNBC. Initial analysis revealed a pattern of differential expression in the AA cohort compared to CA. Further molecular characterization results showed that the AA cohort segregated into 3-TNBC molecular subtypes; Basal-like (BL2), Immunomodulatory (IM) and Mesenchymal (M). Gene expression analyses resulted in 190 differentially expressed genes between the AA and CA cohorts. Pathway enrichment analysis demonstrated that differentially expressed genes were over-represented in cytoskeletal remodeling, cell adhesion, tight junctions, and immune response in the AA TNBC -cohort. Furthermore, genes in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway were over-expressed. These results were validated using RT-qPCR on an independent cohort of FFPE samples from AA and CA women with early stage TNBC, and identified Caveolin-1 (CAV1) as being significantly expressed in the AA-TNBC cohort. Furthermore, CAV1 was shown to be highly expressed in a cell line panel of TNBC, in particular, those of the mesenchymal and basal-like molecular subtype. Finally, silencing of CAV1 expression by siRNA resulted in a significant decrease in proliferation in each of the TNBC cell lines. These observations suggest that CAV1 expression may contribute to the more aggressive phenotype observed in AA women diagnosed with TNBC.

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  • 2015

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Cancer autoantibody biomarker discovery and validation using nucleic acid programmable protein array

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Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the

Currently in the US, many patients with cancer do not benefit from the population-based screening, due to challenges associated with the existing cancer screening scheme. Blood-based diagnostic assays have the potential to detect diseases in a non-invasive way. Proteins released from small early tumors may only be present intermittently and get diluted to tiny concentrations in the blood, making them difficult to use as biomarkers. However, they can induce autoantibody (AAb) responses, which can amplify the signal and persist in the blood even if the antigen is gone. Circulating autoantibodies is a promising class of molecules that have potential to serve as early detection biomarkers for cancers. This Ph.D thesis aims to screen for autoantibody biomarkers for the early detection of two deadly cancer, basal-like breast cancer and lung adenocarcinoma. First, a method was developed to display proteins in both native and denatured conformation on protein array. This method adopted a novel protein tag technology, called HaloTag, to covalently immobilize proteins on glass slide surface. The covalent attachment allowed these proteins to endure harsh treatment without getting dissociated from slide surface, which enabled the profiling of antibody responses against both conformational and linear epitopes. Next, a plasma screening protocol was optimized to significantly increase signal to noise ratio of protein array based AAb detection. Following this, the AAb responses in basal-like breast cancer were explored using nucleic acid programmable protein arrays (NAPPA) containing 10,000 full-length human proteins in 45 cases and 45 controls. After verification in a large sample set (145 basal-like breast cancer cases / 145 controls / 70 non-basal breast cancer) by ELISA, a 13-AAb classifier was developed to differentiate patients from controls with a sensitivity of 33% at 98% specificity. Similar approach was also applied to the lung cancer study to identify AAbs that distinguished lung cancer patients from computed-tomography positive benign pulmonary nodules (137 lung cancer cases, 127 smoker controls, 170 benign controls). In this study, two panels of AAbs were discovered that showed promising sensitivity and specificity. Six out of eight AAb targets were also found to have elevated mRNA level in lung adenocarcinoma patients using TCGA data. These projects as a whole provide novel insights on the association between AAbs and cancer, as well as general B cell antigenicity against self-proteins.

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  • 2015

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Proteins and their glycosylations as diagnostic biomarkers of Valley Fever

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Valley Fever (VF), is a potentially lethal fungal pneumonia caused by Coccidioides spp., which is estimated to cause ~15-30% of all community-acquired pneumonias in the highly endemic Greater Phoenix and

Valley Fever (VF), is a potentially lethal fungal pneumonia caused by Coccidioides spp., which is estimated to cause ~15-30% of all community-acquired pneumonias in the highly endemic Greater Phoenix and Tucson areas of Arizona. However, an accurate antigen-based diagnostic is still lacking. In order to identify protein and glycan antigen biomarkers of infection, I used a combination of genomics, proteomics and glycomics analyses to provide evidence of genus-specific proteins and glycosylations. The next goal was to determine if Coccidioides-specific glycans were present in biological samples from VF patients. Urine collected from 77 humans and 63 dogs were enriched for glycans and evaluated by mass spectrometry for Coccidioides-specific glycans and evaluated against a panel of normal donor urines, urines from patients infected with other fungi, and fungal cultures from closely related pneumonia-causing fungi. A combination of 6 glycan biomarkers was 100% sensitive and 100% specific in the diagnosis of human VF subjects, while only 3 glycan biomarkers were needed for 100% sensitivity and 100 specificity in the diagnosis of dog VF subject. Additionally, a blinded trial of 23 human urine samples was correctly able to classify urine samples with 93.3% sensitivity and 100% specificity. The results of this research provides evidence that Coccidioides genus-specific glycosylations have potential as antigens in diagnostic assays.

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Date Created
  • 2019