Application of Genomic and Expression Arrays for Identification of new Cancer Genes
Abstract: Copy number variation (CNV) comprises a recently discovered kind of variation involving deletion and duplication of DNA segments of variable size, ranging from a few hundred basepairs to several million. By altering gene dosage levels or disrupting proximal or distant regulatory elements CNVs create human diversity. They represent also an important factor in human evolution and play a role in many disorders including cancer. Array-based comparative genomic hybridization as well as expression arrays are powerful and suitable methods for determination of copy number variations or gene expression changes in the human genome. In paper I we established a 32K clone-based genomic array, covering 99% of the current assembly of the human genome with high resolution and applied it in the profiling of 71 healthy individuals from three ethnic groups. Novel and previously reported CNVs, involving ~3.5% of the genome, were identified. Interestingly, 87% of the detected CNV regions overlapped with known genes indicating that they probably have phenotypic consequences. In papers II through IV we applied this platform to different tumor types, namely two collections of brain tumors, glioblastoma (paper II) and medulloblastoma (paper III), and a set of bladder carcinoma (paper IV) to identify chromosomal alterations at the level of DNA copy number that could be related to tumor initiation/progression. Tumors of the central nervous system represent a heterogeneous group of both benign and malignant neoplasms that affect both children and adults. Glioblastoma and medulloblastoma are two malignant forms. Glioblastoma often affects adults while the embryonal tumor medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor among children. The detailed profiling of 78 glioblastomas, allowed us to identify a complex pattern of aberrations including frequent and high copy number amplicons (detected in 79% of samples) as well as a number of homozygously deleted loci. These regions encompassed not only previously reported oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes but also numerous novel genes. In paper III, a subset of 26 medulloblastomas was analyzed using the same genomic array. We observed that alterations involving chromosome 17, especially isochromosome 17q, were the most common genomic aberrations in this tumor type, but copy number alterations involving other chromosomes: 1, 7 and 8 were also frequent. Focal amplifications, on chromosome 1 and 3, not previously described, were also detected. These loci may encompass novel genes involved in medulloblastoma development. In paper IV we examined for the presence of DNA copy number alterations and their effect on gene expression in a subset of 21 well-characterized Ta bladder carcinomas, selected for the presence or absence of recurrences. We identified a number of novel genes as well as a significant association between amplifications and high-grade and recurrent tumors which might be clinically useful.The results derived from these studies increase our understanding of the genetic alterations leading to the development of these tumor forms and point out candidate genes that may be used in future as targets for new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE WHOLE DISSERTATION. (in PDF format)