bims-tumhet Biomed News
on Tumor Heterogeneity
Issue of 2021‒11‒21
two papers selected by
Sergio Marchini
Humanitas Research

  1. Front Mol Biosci. 2021 ;8 719056
      Most ovarian cancers, despite improvement in management of cancer, are still diagnosed at an advanced stage. Early detection plays an essential role in reducing ovarian cancer mortality and, therefore, is critically needed. Liquid biopsies-based approaches hold significant promise for cancer detection. The present study investigates a panel of epigenetic biomarkers for the detection of epithelial ovarian cancer. A qPCR assay has been developed based on the assessment of DNA methylation markers in circulating cell-free DNA as a minimally invasive tool. Herein, the promoter methylation of seven ovarian cancer-specific genes (RASSF1A, DAPK1, SOX1, HOXA9, HIC1, SPARC, and SFRP1) was analyzed quantitatively in 120 tissue samples by MethyLight assay. The best-performing genes were further evaluated for their methylation status in 70 matched serum cell-free DNA of cancerous and non-cancerous samples. Additionally, DNA methylation patterns of these best-performing genes were validated by clonal bisulfite sequencing. The ROC (Receiver-operator characteristic) curves were constructed to evaluate the diagnostic performances of both individual and combined gene panels. The seven candidate genes displayed a methylation frequency of 61.0-88.0% in tissue samples. The promoter methylation frequencies for all the seven candidate genes were significantly higher in cancer samples than in normal matched controls. In tissue samples, the multiplex MethyLight assay for HOXA9, HIC1, and SOX1 were the best performing gene panels in terms of sensitivity and specificity. The three best-performing genes exhibited individual frequencies of 53.0-71.0% in serum CFDNA, and the multiplex assay for these genes were identified to discriminate serum from cancer patients and healthy individuals (area under the curve: HOXA9+HIC1 = 0.95, HIC1+SOX1 = 0.93 and HOXA9+SOX1 = 0.85). The results of MethyLight showed high concordance with clonal bisulfite sequencing results. Individual genes and combined panel exhibited better discriminatory efficiencies to identify ovarian cancer at various stages of disease when analyzed in tissue and serum cell-free DNA. We report a qPCR-based non-invasive epigenetic biomarker assay with high sensitivity and specificity for OC screening. Our findings also reveal the potential utility of methylation-based detection of circulating cell-free tumor DNA in the clinical management of ovarian cancer.
    Keywords:  DNA methylation; cell free DNA; early diagnosis; epigenetic biomarker; epithelial ovarian cancer; liquid biopsy
  2. Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 15. 11(1): 22213
      Rhabdomyosarcomas (RMS) represent a family of aggressive soft tissue sarcomas that present in both children and adults. Pathologic risk stratification for RMS has been based on histologic subtype, with poor outcomes observed in alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma (ARMS) and the adult-type pleomorphic rhabdomyosarcoma (PRMS) compared to embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS). Genomic sequencing studies have expanded the spectrum of RMS, with several new molecularly defined entities, including fusion-driven spindle cell/sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma (SC/SRMS) and MYOD1-mutant SC/SRMS. Comprehensive genomic analysis has previously defined the mutational and copy number spectrum for the more common ERMS and ARMS and revealed corresponding methylation signatures. Comparatively, less is known about epigenetic correlates for the rare SC/SRMS or PRMS histologic subtypes. Herein, we present exome and RNA sequencing, copy number analysis, and methylation profiling of the largest cohort of molecularly characterized RMS samples to date. In addition to ARMS and ERMS, we identify two novel methylation subtypes, one having SC/SRMS histology and defined by MYOD1 p. L122R mutations and the other matching adult-type PRMS. Selected tumors from adolescent patients grouped with the PRMS methylation class, expanding the age range of these rare tumors. Limited follow-up data suggest that pediatric tumors with MYOD1-mutations are associated with an aggressive clinical course.