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  • Sveen, Anita; Bruun, Jarle; Eide, Peter W.; Eilertsen, Ina A.; Ramirez, Lorena; Murumägi, Astrid; Arjama, Mariliina; Danielsen, Stine A.; Kryeziu, Kushtrim; Elez, Elena; Tabernero, Josep; Guinney, Justin; Palmer, Hector G.; Nesbakken, Arild; Kallioniemi, Olli; Dienstmann, Rodrigo; Lothe, Ragnhild A. (2018)
    Purpose: Response to standard oncologic treatment is limited in colorectal cancer. The gene expression-based consensus molecular subtypes (CMS) provide a new paradigm for stratified treatment and drug repurposing; however, drug discovery is currently limited by the lack of translation of CMS to preclinical models. Experimental Design: We analyzed CMS in primary colorectal cancers, cell lines, and patient-derived xenografts (PDX). For classification of preclinical models, we developed an optimized classifier enriched for cancer cell-intrinsic gene expression signals, and performed high-throughput in vitro drug screening (n = 459 drugs) to analyze subtype-specific drug sensitivities. Results: The distinct molecular and clinicopathologic characteristics of each CMS group were validated in a single-hospital series of 409 primary colorectal cancers. The new, cancer cell-adapted classifier was found to perform well in primary tumors, and applied to a panel of 148 cell lines and 32 PDXs, these colorectal cancer models were shown to recapitulate the biology of the CMS groups. Drug screening of 33 cell lines demonstrated subtype-dependent response profiles, confirming strong response to EGFR and HER2 inhibitors in the CMS2 epithelial/canonical group, and revealing strong sensitivity to HSP90 inhibitors in cells with the CMS1 microsatellite instability/immune and CMS4 mesenchymal phenotypes. This association was validated in vitro in additional CMS-predicted cell lines. Combination treatment with 5-fluorouracil and luminespib showed potential to alleviate chemoresistance in a CMS4 PDX model, an effect not seen in a chemosensitive CMS2 PDX model. Conclusions: We provide translation of CMS classification to preclinical models and uncover a potential for targeted treatment repurposing in the chemoresistant CMS4 group. (C) 2017 AACR.
  • Ahadova, Aysel; Pfuderer, Pauline Luise; Ahtiainen, Maarit; Ballhausen, Alexej; Bohaumilitzky, Lena; Kösegi, Svenja; Müller, Nico; Tang, Yee Lin; Kosmalla, Kosima; Witt, Johannes; Endris, Volker; Stenzinger, Albrecht; von Knebel Doeberitz, Magnus; Bläker, Hendrik; Renkonen-Sinisalo, Laura; Lepistö, Anna; Böhm, Jan; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Seppälä, Toni T.; Kloor, Matthias (2021)
    Regular colonoscopy even with short intervals does not prevent all colorectal cancers (CRC) in Lynch syndrome (LS). In the present study, we asked whether cancers detected under regular colonoscopy surveillance (incident cancers) are phenotypically different from cancers detected at first colonoscopy (prevalent cancers). We analyzed clinical, histological, immunological and mutational characteristics, including panel sequencing and high-throughput coding microsatellite (cMS) analysis, in 28 incident and 67 prevalent LS CRCs (n total = 95). Incident cancers presented with lower UICC and T stage compared to prevalent cancers (p < 0.0005). The majority of incident cancers (21/28) were detected after previous colonoscopy without any pathological findings. On the molecular level, incident cancers presented with a significantly lower KRAS codon 12/13 (1/23, 4.3% vs. 11/21, 52%; p = 0.0005) and pathogenic TP53 mutation frequency (0/17, 0% vs. 7/21, 33.3%; p = 0.0108,) compared to prevalent cancers; 10/17 (58.8%) incident cancers harbored one or more truncating APC mutations, all showing mutational signatures of mismatch repair (MMR) deficiency. The proportion of MMR deficiency-related mutational events was significantly higher in incident compared to prevalent CRC (p = 0.018). In conclusion, our study identifies a set of features indicative of biological differences between incident and prevalent cancers in LS, which should further be monitored in prospective LS screening studies to guide towards optimized prevention protocols.
  • Mäki-Nevala, Satu; Valo, Satu; Ristimaki, Ari; Sarhadi, Virinder; Knuutila, Sakari; Nyström, Minna; Renkonen-Sinisalo, Laura; Lepistö, Anna; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Peltomäki, Päivi (2019)
    Background: DNA mismatch repair (MMR) defects are a major factor in colorectal tumorigenesis in Lynch syndrome (LS) and 15% of sporadic cases. Some adenomas from carriers of inherited MMR gene mutations have intact MMR protein expression implying other mechanisms accelerating tumorigenesis. We determined roles of DNA methylation changes and somatic mutations in cancer-associated genes as tumorigenic events in LS-associated colorectal adenomas with intact MMR. Methods: We investigated 122 archival colorectal specimens of normal mucosae, adenomas and carcinomas from 57 LS patients. MMR-deficient (MMR-D, n 49) and MMR-proficient (MMR-P, n 18) adenomas were of particular interest and were interrogated by methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification and Ion Torrent sequencing. Findings: Promoter methylation of CpG island methylator phenotype (CIMP)-associated marker genes and selected colorectal cancer (CRC)-associated tumor suppressor genes (TSGs) increased and LINE-1 methylation decreased from normal mucosa to MMR-P adenomas to MMR-D adenomas. Methylation differences were statistically significant when either adenoma group was compared with normal mucosa, but not between MMR-P and MMR-D adenomas. Significantly increased methylation was found in multiple CIMP marker genes (1612, NEUROGI,CRABP1, and CDKN2A) and TSGs (SERPI and SFRP2) in MMR-P adenomas already. Furthermore, certain CRC-associated somatic mutations, such as KRAS, were prevalent in MMR-P adenomas. Interpretation: We conclude that DNA methylation changes and somatic mutations of cancer-associated genes might serve as an alternative pathway accelerating LS-associated tumorigenesis in the presence of proficient MMR. Fund: Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, Academy of Finland, Cancer Foundation Finland, Sigrid juselius Foundation, and HiL1FE. (C) 2019 Published by Elsevier B.V.
  • Porkka, Noora; Lahtinen, Laura; Ahtiainen, Maarit; Böhm, Jan P.; Kuopio, Teijo; Eldfors, Samuli; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Seppälä, Toni T.; Peltomäki, Päivi (2019)
    Colorectal carcinomas that are mismatch repair (MMR)-deficient in the absence of MLH1 promoter methylation or germline mutations represent Lynch-like syndrome (LLS). Double somatic events inactivating MMR genes are involved in the etiology of LLS tumors. Our purpose was to define the clinical and broader molecular hallmarks of LLS tumors and the population incidence of LLS, which remain poorly characterized. We investigated 762 consecutive colorectal carcinomas operated in Central Finland in 2000-2010. LLS cases were identified by a stepwise protocol based on MMR protein expression, MLH1 methylation and MMR gene mutation status. LLS tumors were profiled for CpG Island Methylator Phenotype (CIMP) and somatic mutations in 578 cancer-relevant genes. Among 107 MMR-deficient tumors, 81 (76%) were attributable to MLH1 promoter methylation and 9 (8%) to germline mutations (Lynch syndrome, LS), leaving 14 LLS cases (13%) (3 remained unclassified). LLS carcinomas were diagnosed at a mean age of 65 years (vs. 44 years in LS, p <0.001), had a proximal to distal ratio of 1:1, and all were BRAF V600E-negative. Two somatic events in MMR genes were identifiable in 11 tumors (79%). As novel findings, the tumors contained an average of 31 nonsynonymous somatic mutations/Mb and 13/14 were CIMP-positive. In conclusion, we establish the epidemiological, clinical and molecular characteristics of LLS in a population-based study design. Significantly more frequent CIMP-positivity and lower rates of somatic mutations make a distinction to LS. The absence of BRAF V600E mutation separates LLS colorectal carcinomas from MLH1-methylated colorectal carcinomas with CIMP-positive phenotype.
  • Hanninen, Ulrika A.; Wirta, Erkki-Ville; Katainen, Riku; Tanskanen, Tomas; Hamberg, Jiri; Taipale, Minna; Böhm, Jan; Renkonen-Sinisalo, Laura; Lepistö, Anna; Forsström, Linda M.; Pitkänen, Esa; Palin, Kimmo; Seppälä, Toni T.; Mäkinen, Netta; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Aaltonen, Lauri A. (2019)
    BACKGROUND: Approximately 4% of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients have at least two simultaneous cancers in the colon. Due to the shared environment, these synchronous CRCs (SCRCs) provide a unique setting to study colorectal carcinogenesis. Understanding whether these tumours are genetically similar or distinct is essential when designing therapeutic approaches. METHODS: We performed exome sequencing of 47 primary cancers and corresponding normal samples from 23 patients. Additionally, we carried out a comprehensive mutational signature analysis to assess whether tumours had undergone similar mutational processes and the first immune cell score analysis (IS) of SCRC to analyse the interplay between immune cell invasion and mutation profile in both lesions of an individual. RESULTS: The tumour pairs shared only few mutations, favouring different mutations in known CRC genes and signalling pathways and displayed variation in their signature content. Two tumour pairs had discordant mismatch repair statuses. In majority of the pairs, IS varied between primaries. Differences were not explained by any clinicopathological variable or mutation burden. CONCLUSIONS: The study shows major diversity within SCRCs. Rather than rely on data from one tumour, our study highlights the need to evaluate both tumours of a synchronous pair for optimised targeted therapy.
  • Hänninen, Ulrika A.; Katainen, Riku; Tanskanen, Tomas; Plaketti, Roosa-Maria; Laine, Riku; Hamberg, Jiri; Ristimäki, Ari; Pukkala, Eero; Taipale, Minna; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Forsström, Linda M.; Pitkänen, Esa; Palin, Kimmo; Välimäki, Niko; Mäkinen, Netta; Aaltonen, Lauri A. (2018)
    Small bowel adenocarcinoma (SBA) is an aggressive disease with limited treatment options. Despite previous studies, its molecular genetic background has remained somewhat elusive. To comprehensively characterize the mutational landscape of this tumor type, and to identify possible targets of treatment, we conducted the first large exome sequencing study on a population-based set of SBA samples from all three small bowel segments. Archival tissue from 106 primary tumors with appropriate clinical information were available for exome sequencing from a patient series consisting of a majority of confirmed SBA cases diagnosed in Finland between the years 2003-2011. Paired-end exome sequencing was performed using Illumina HiSeq 4000, and OncodriveFML was used to identify driver genes from the exome data. We also defined frequently affected cancer signalling pathways and performed the first extensive allelic imbalance (Al) analysis in SBA. Exome data analysis revealed significantly mutated genes previously linked to SBA (TP53, KRAS, APC, SMAD4, and BRAF), recently reported potential driver genes (SOX9, ATM, and ARID2), as well as novel candidate driver genes, such as ACVR2A, ACVR1B, BRCA2, and SMARCA4. We also identified clear mutation hotspot patterns in ERBB2 and BRAF. No BRAF V600E mutations were observed. Additionally, we present a comprehensive mutation signature analysis of SBA, highlighting established signatures 1A, 6, and 17, as well as U2 which is a previously unvalidated signature. Finally, comparison of the three small bowel segments revealed differences in tumor characteristics. This comprehensive work unveils the mutational landscape and most frequently affected genes and pathways in SBA, providing potential therapeutic targets, and novel and more thorough insights into the genetic background of this tumor type.
  • Olkinuora, Alisa P.; Peltomäki, Päivi T.; Aaltonen, Lauri A.; Rajamäki, Kristiina (2021)
    Hereditary colorectal cancer (CRC) syndromes attributable to high penetrance mutations represent 9-26% of young-onset CRC cases. The clinical significance of many of these mutations is understood well enough to be used in diagnostics and as an aid in patient care. However, despite the advances made in the field, a significant proportion of familial and early-onset cases remains molecularly uncharacterized and extensive work is still needed to fully understand the genetic nature of CRC susceptibility. With the emergence of next-generation sequencing and associated methods, several predisposition loci have been unraveled, but validation is incomplete. Individuals with cancer-predisposing mutations are currently enrolled in life-long surveillance, but with the development of new treatments, such as cancer vaccinations, this might change in the not so distant future for at least some individuals. For individuals without a known cause for their disease susceptibility, prevention and therapy options are less precise. Herein, we review the progress achieved in the last three decades with a focus on how CRC predisposition genes were discovered. Furthermore, we discuss the clinical implications of these discoveries and anticipate what to expect in the next decade.
  • Bruun, Jarle; Sveen, Anita; Barros, Rita; Eide, Peter W.; Eilertsen, Ina; Kolberg, Matthias; Pellinen, Teijo; David, Leonor; Svindland, Aud; Kallioniemi, Olli; Guren, Marianne G.; Nesbakken, Arild; Almeida, Raquel; Lothe, Ragnhild A. (2018)
    We aimed to refine the value of CDX2 as an independent prognostic and predictive biomarker in colorectal cancer (CRC) according to disease stage and chemotherapy sensitivity in preclinical models. CDX2 expression was evaluated in 1045 stage I-IV primary CRCs by gene expression (n = 403) or immunohistochemistry (n = 642) and in relation to 5-year relapse-free survival (RFS), overall survival (OS), and chemotherapy. Pharmacogenomic associations between CDX2 expression and 69 chemotherapeutics were assessed by drug screening of 35 CRC cell lines. CDX2 expression was lost in 11.6% of cases and showed independent poor prognostic value in multivariable models. For individual stages, CDX2 was prognostic only in stage IV, independent of chemotherapy. Among stage I-III patients not treated in an adjuvant setting, CDX2 loss was associated with a particularly poor survival in the BRAF-mutated subgroup, but prognostic value was independent of microsatellite instability status and the consensus molecular subtypes. In stage III, the 5-year RFS rate was higher among patients with loss of CDX2 who received adjuvant chemotherapy than among patients who did not. The CDX2-negative cell lines were significantly more sensitive to chemotherapeutics than CDX2-positive cells, and the multidrug resistance genes MDR1 and CFTR were significantly downregulated both in CDX2-negative cells and in patient tumors. Loss of CDX2 in CRC is an adverse prognostic biomarker only in stage IV disease and appears to be associated with benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy in stage III. Early-stage patients not qualifying for chemotherapy might be reconsidered for such treatment if their tumor has loss of CDX2 and mutated BRAF.
  • Cajuso, Tatiana; Sulo, Paivi; Tanskanen, Tomas; Katainen, Riku; Taira, Aurora; Hanninen, Ulrika A.; Kondelin, Johanna; Forsstrom, Linda; Valimaki, Niko; Aavikko, Mervi; Kaasinen, Eevi; Ristimaki, Ari; Koskensalo, Selja; Lepisto, Anna; Renkonen-Sinisalo, Laura; Seppala, Toni; Kuopio, Teijo; Bohm, Jan; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Kilpivaara, Outi; Pitkanen, Esa; Palin, Kimmo; Aaltonen, Lauri A. (2019)
    Genomic instability pathways in colorectal cancer (CRC) have been extensively studied, but the role of retrotransposition in colorectal carcinogenesis remains poorly understood. Although retrotransposons are usually repressed, they become active in several human cancers, in particular those of the gastrointestinal tract. Here we characterize retro-transposon insertions in 202 colorectal tumor whole genomes and investigate their associations with molecular and clinical characteristics. We find highly variable retrotransposon activity among tumors and identify recurrent insertions in 15 known cancer genes. In approximately 1% of the cases we identify insertions in APC, likely to be tumor-initiating events. Insertions are positively associated with the CpG island methylator phenotype and the genomic fraction of allelic imbalance. Clinically, high number of insertions is independently associated with poor disease-specific survival.
  • Ålgars, Annika; Kemppinen, Lotta; Fair-Mäkelä, Ruth; Mustonen, Harri; Haglund, Caj; Jalkanen, Sirpa (2021)
    Simple Summary Tumor-associated macrophages can either promote or prevent cancer growth depending on factors such as macrophage polarization status, tumor type, and disease stage. Macrophages and vessels interact with each other, and the number of lymphatic vessels also affects cancer survival. CLEVER-1 is a protein expressed both on immunosuppressive M2 macrophages and lymphatic vessels. The aim of this study was to validate our previous results regarding the prognostic role of CLEVER-1(+) macrophages, CD68(+) macrophages, and CLEVER-1(+) lymphatic vessels in stage I-IV colorectal cancer. The results indicate that the prognostic role of tumor-associated macrophages and lymphatic vessels changes during disease progression. The findings resemble our earlier results, but are not completely equal, which may be due to the different types of tumor samples used in the two studies (whole section vs. tissue microarray). Macrophages, which are key players in the tumor microenvironment and affect the prognosis of many cancers, interact with lymphatic vessels in tumor tissue. However, the prognostic role of tumor-associated macrophages (TAM) and lymphatic vessels in human colorectal cancer (CRC) remains controversial. We investigated the prognostic role of CD68(+) and CLEVER-1(+) (common lymphatic endothelial and vascular endothelial receptor 1) TAMs in addition to CLEVER-1(+) lymphatic vessels in 498 stage I-IV CRC patients. The molecular markers were detected by immunohistochemical (IHC) analysis. The results showed that, in early stage I CRC and in young patients (age below median,
  • Ahadova, Aysel; Seppälä, Toni T.; Engel, Christoph; Gallon, Richard; Burn, John; Holinski-Feder, Elke; Steinke-Lange, Verena; Moeslein, Gabriela; Nielsen, Maartje; ten Broeke, Sanne W.; Laghi, Luigi; Dominguez-Valentin, Mev; Capella, Gabriel; Macrae, Finlay; Scott, Rodney; Hueneburg, Robert; Nattermann, Jacob; Hoffmeister, Michael; Brenner, Hermann; Blaeker, Hendrik; Doeberitz, Magnus von Knebel; Sampson, Julian R.; Vasen, Hans; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Moller, Pal; Kloor, Matthias (2021)
    Individuals with Lynch syndrome (LS), one of the most common inherited cancer syndromes, are at increased risk of developing malignancies, in particular colorectal cancer (CRC). Regular colonoscopy with polypectomy is recommended to reduce CRC risk in LS individuals. However, recent independent studies demonstrated that a substantial proportion of LS individuals develop CRC despite regular colonoscopy. The reasons for this surprising observation confirmed by large prospective studies are a matter of debate. In this review, we collect existing evidence from clinical, epidemiological and molecular studies and interpret them with regard to the origins and progression of LS-associated CRC. Alongside with hypotheses addressing colonoscopy quality and pace of progression from adenoma to cancer, we discuss the role of alternative precursors and of immune system in LS-associated CRC. We also identify gaps in current knowledge and make suggestions for future studies aiming at improved CRC prevention for LS individuals.
  • Abdel-Rahman, Wael M.; Lotsari-Salomaa, Johanna E.; Kaur, Sippy; Niskakoski (o.s. Tieva), Anni; Knuutila, Sakari; Järvinen, Heikki; Mecklin, Jukka-Pekka; Peltomaki, Paivi (2016)
    All colorectal cancer cell lines except RKO displayed active beta-catenin/TCF regulated transcription. This feature of RKO was noted in familial colon cancers; hence our aim was to dissect its carcinogenic mechanism. MFISH and CGH revealed distinct instability of chromosome structure in RKO. Gene expression microarray of RKO versus 7 colon cancer lines (with active Wnt signaling) and 3 normal specimens revealed 611 differentially expressed genes. The majority of the tested gene loci were susceptible to LOH in primary tumors with various beta-catenin localizations as a surrogate marker for beta-catenin activation. The immunohistochemistry of selected genes (IFI16, RGS4, MCTP1, DGKI, OBCAM/OPCML, and GLIPR1) confirmed that they were differentially expressed in clinical specimens. Since epigenetic mechanisms can contribute to expression changes, selected target genes were evaluated for promoter methylation in patient specimens from sporadic and hereditary colorectal cancers. CMTM3, DGKI, and OPCML were frequently hypermethylated in both groups, whereas KLK10, EPCAM, and DLC1 displayed subgroup specificity. The overall fraction of hypermethylated genes was higher in tumors withmembranous beta-catenin. We identified novel genes in colorectal carcinogenesis that might be useful in personalized tumor profiling. Tumors with inactive Wnt signaling are a heterogeneous group displaying interaction of chromosomal instability, Wnt signaling, and epigenetics.
  • Peltomäki, Päivi (2016)
    Four main DNA mismatch repair (MMR) genes have been identified, MLH1, MSH2, MSH6, and PMS2, which when mutated cause susceptibility to Lynch syndrome (LS). LS is one of the most prevalent hereditary cancer syndromes in man and accounts for 1-3 % of unselected colorectal carcinomas and some 15 % of those with microsatellite instability and/or absent MMR protein. The International Society for Gastrointestinal Hereditary Tumours (InSiGHT) maintains a database for LS-associated mutations since 1996. The database was recently reorganized to efficiently gather published and unpublished data and to classify the variants according to a five-tiered scheme linked to clinical recommendations. This review provides an update of germline mutations causing susceptibility to LS based on information available in the InSiGHT database and the latest literature. MMR gene mutation profiles, correlations between genotype and phenotype, and possible mechanisms leading to the characteristic spectrum of tumors in LS are discussed in light of the different functions of MMR proteins, many of which directly serve cancer avoidance.