Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Chromosomal translocation


The hallmarks of many haematological malignancies and solid tumours are chromosomal translocations, which may lead to gene fusions. Recently, next-generation sequencing techniques at the transcriptome level (RNA-Seq) have been used to verify known and discover novel transcribed gene fusions. We present FusionFinder, a Perl-based software designed to automate the discovery of candidate gene fusion partners from single-end (SE) or paired-end (PE) RNA-Seq read data. FusionFinder was applied to data from a previously published analysis of the K562 chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) cell line. Using FusionFinder we successfully replicated the findings of this study and detected additional previously unreported fusion genes in their dataset, which were confirmed experimentally. These included two isoforms of a fusion involving the genes BRK1 and VHL, whose co-deletion has previously been associated with the prevalence and severity of renal-cell carcinoma. FusionFinder is made freely available for non-commercial use and can be downloaded from the project website (

Concepts: Genetics, Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Leukemia, Chromosomal translocation, Philadelphia chromosome, Fusion gene


The three-dimensional organization of tightly condensed chromatin within metaphase chromosomes has been one of the most challenging problems in structural biology since the discovery of the nucleosome. This study shows that chromosome images obtained from typical banded karyotypes and from different multicolour cytogenetic analyses can be used to gain information about the internal structure of chromosomes. Chromatin bands and the connection surfaces in sister chromatid exchanges and in cancer translocations are planar and orthogonal to the chromosome axis. Chromosome stretching produces band splitting and even the thinnest bands are orthogonal and well defined, indicating that short stretches of DNA can occupy completely the chromosome cross-section. These observations impose strong physical constraints on models that attempt to explain chromatin folding in chromosomes. The thin-plate model, which consists of many stacked layers of planar chromatin perpendicular to the chromosome axis, is compatible with the observed orientation of bands, with the existence of thin bands, and with band splitting; it is also compatible with the orthogonal orientation and planar geometry of the connection surfaces in chromosome rearrangements. The results obtained provide a consistent interpretation of the chromosome structural properties that are used in clinical cytogenetics for the diagnosis of hereditary diseases and cancers.

Concepts: DNA, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Mitosis, Metaphase, Chromatin, Karyotype


BACKGROUND: It has recently emerged that common epithelial cancers such as breast cancers have fusion genes like those in leukaemias. In a representative breast cancer cell line, ZR-75-30, we searched for fusion genes, by analysing genome rearrangements. RESULTS: We first analysed rearrangements of the ZR-75-30 genome, to around 10kb resolution, by molecular cytogenetic approaches, combining array painting and array CGH. We then compared this map with genomic junctions determined by paired-end sequencing. Most of the breakpoints found by array painting and array CGH were identified in the paired end sequencing—55% of the unamplified breakpoints and 97% of the amplified breakpoints (as these are represented by more sequence reads). From this analysis we identified 9 expressed fusion genes: APPBP2-PHF20L1, BCAS3-HOXB9, COL14A1-SKAP1, TAOK1-PCGF2, TIAM1-NRIP1, TIMM23-ARHGAP32, TRPS1-LASP1, USP32-CCDC49 and ZMYM4-OPRD1. We also determined the genomic junctions of a further three expressed fusion genes that had been described by others, BCAS3-ERBB2, DDX5-DEPDC6/DEPTOR and PLEC1-ENPP2. Of this total of 12 expressed fusion genes, 9 were in the coamplification. Due to the sensitivity of the technologies used, we estimate these 12 fusion genes to be around two-thirds of the true total. Many of the fusions seem likely to be driver mutations. For example, PHF20L1, BCAS3, TAOK1, PCGF2, and TRPS1 are fused in other breast cancers. HOXB9 and PHF20L1 are members of gene families that are fused in other neoplasms. Several of the other genes are relevant to cancer—in addition to ERBB2, SKAP1 is an adaptor for Src, DEPTOR regulates the mTOR pathway and NRIP1 is an estrogen-receptor coregulator. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first structural analysis of a breast cancer genome that combines classical molecular cytogenetic approaches with sequencing. Paired end sequencing was able to detect almost all breakpoints, where there was adequate read depth. It supports the view that gene breakage and gene fusion are important classes of mutation in breast cancer, with a typical breast cancer expressing many fusion genes.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Cancer, Breast cancer, Mutation, Molecular biology, Chromosomal translocation


Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans is a locally aggressive mesenchymal neoplasm. It usually presents as an indurated plaque that protrudes above the surface of the skin. Some patients have clinically persistent plaques that might be atrophic. The atrophic variant of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans may be confused with some common skin diseases with atrophic appearance. We reported a 40-year-old woman who had a 10-year history of an atrophic dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. Molecular analysis showed a fusion between COL1A1 exon 31 to exon 2 of PDGFB. The lesion was totally excised, with negative margins of the resection demonstrated by CD34 immunostaining. To our knowledge, this is the second case of atrophic dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans confirmed by detection of COL1A1-PDGFB fusion gene. This appears to be the first report of a fusion between COL1A1 exon 31 to exon 2 of PDGFB in atrophic dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. Virtual slides The virtual slides for this article can be found here:

Concepts: DNA, Oncology, Anatomical pathology, Chromosomal translocation, Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, PDGFB, CD34, Dermatofibrosarcoma


Chromosomal rearrangements occur constitutionally in the general population and somatically in the majority of cancers. Detection of balanced rearrangements, such as reciprocal translocations and inversions, is troublesome, which is particularly detrimental in oncology where rearrangements play diagnostic and prognostic roles. Here we describe the use of Hi-C as a tool for detection of both balanced and unbalanced chromosomal rearrangements in primary human tumour samples, with the potential to define chromosome breakpoints to bp resolution. In addition, we show copy number profiles can also be obtained from the same data, all at a significantly lower cost than standard sequencing approaches.

Concepts: Gene, Genetics, Cancer, Oncology, Tumor, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Aneuploidy


With recent rapid advances in genomic technologies, precise delineation of structural chromosome rearrangements at the nucleotide level is becoming increasingly feasible. In this era of “next-generation cytogenetics” (i.e., an integration of traditional cytogenetic techniques and next-generation sequencing), a consensus nomenclature is essential for accurate communication and data sharing. Currently, nomenclature for describing the sequencing data of these aberrations is lacking. Herein, we present a system called Next-Gen Cytogenetic Nomenclature, which is concordant with the International System for Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature (2013). This system starts with the alignment of rearrangement sequences by BLAT or BLAST (alignment tools) and arrives at a concise and detailed description of chromosomal changes. To facilitate usage and implementation of this nomenclature, we are developing a program designated BLA(S)T Output Sequence Tool of Nomenclature (BOSToN), a demonstrative version of which is accessible online. A standardized characterization of structural chromosomal rearrangements is essential both for research analyses and for application in the clinical setting.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Chromosome, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Sequence, Aneuploidy, Metaphase


Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a dermal and subcutaneous tumor of intermediate malignancy. The most remarkable cytogenetic feature of DFSP is the chromosomal translocation t(17;22)(q22;q13), causing a fusion of the platelet-derived growth factor beta chain (PDGFB) gene at 22q13, and the collagen type 1 alpha 1 (COL1A1) at 17q22. The aim of the study was to analyze the molecular characteristic of DFSP in conjunction with histopathological and clinical features. We performed fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) and multiplex reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) to detect chromosomal translocations and fusion gene transcripts in 16 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded DFSP samples. In addition, the amplification of PDGFB was also evaluated in the 16 DFSP samples by real-time PCR. FISH analysis revealed that all the 16 samples exhibited COL1A1-PDGFB gene fusion. Eleven out of 11 informative cases (100%) showed fusion transcripts by multiplex RT-PCR analysis. Various exons of the COL1A1 gene were fused with the PDGFB gene. Among them, exon 25 was found to be more frequently involved. Real-time PCR showed that the PDGFB copy number increase in the DFSP samples was higher than in normal skin tissues (p=0.007). Values of FISH fusion signals and PDGFB DNA analysis were variable between samples, but suggested that increased values might be associated with parameters of tumor progression. Our results confirm that analysis of the COL1A1-PDGFB status by FISH and RT-PCR is a useful tool in the confirmation of a DFSP diagnosis. In addition, the analysis of PDGFB copy number status may become a useful diagnostic marker since the gene is a potential target for treatment of DFSP patients.

Concepts: DNA, Genetics, Molecular biology, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Philadelphia chromosome, Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, PDGFB


Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP) is a rare cutaneous tumor. COL1A1-PDGFB gene fusion is frequent in DFSP, rendering tumor cell proliferation and survival dependent on PDGFRB signaling. This trial investigated imatinib as neo-adjuvant treatment of DFSP including long-term follow-up.

Concepts: Oncology, Chromosomal translocation, Imatinib, Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, Dermatofibrosarcoma


Uniparental disomy (UPD) is an uncommon chromosome condition, but UPD involving chromosome 21 is rarely reported. We reported here a case who had first trimester screening test for Down syndrome, chorionic villus sampling for fetal karyotyping, quantitative fluorescence polymerase chain reaction (QF-PCR), as well as non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) by maternal plasma sequencing. There were discordant results between fetal karyotyping and NIPT due to UPD 21combined with confined placental mosaicism of trisomy 21. This demonstrated that it is possible to detect placental mosaicism by NIPT, but further studies are required to confirm its sensitivity. Therefore, all positive NIPT results must be confirmed by conventional invasive test and karyotyping. QF-PCR has the additional benefit in diagnosing UPD. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Concepts: Pregnancy, Cytogenetics, Chromosomal translocation, Down syndrome, Klinefelter's syndrome, Aneuploidy, Trisomy, Karyotype


OPINION STATEMENT: Mantle Cell Lymphoma, characterized by the t(11;14)(q13; q32) chromosomal translocation and cyclin D1 expression, remains one of the most challenging lymphoma subtypes to treat. Therapy can be divided into treatment modalities for younger, stem cell transplant (SCT)-eligible patients vs older, SCT-ineligible patients. For clinically fit patients younger than 60-65¬†years of age we recommend cytarabine-containing induction and conditioning regimens such as Rituximab ®-CHOP alternating with R-DHAP followed by autologous SCT consolidation. Elderly patients benefit from R-bendamustine or R-CHOP with maintenance rituximab following induction therapy, especially after R-CHOP. While standard chemoimmunotherapy provides high overall response rates, the responses are not durable and sequential therapies are thus necessary. MCL is proving to be sensitive to novel therapies that may in the near future become useful adjuncts to standard regimens. For example, bortezomib, lenalidomide, and temsirolimus each have single-agent efficacy in relapsed and refractory disease. Several targeted agents are emerging that likewise may transform management of MCL. The B-cell receptor pathway appears to be critical in the pathogenesis of MCL, and novel agents such as ibrutinib and idelalisib that target this signaling pathway are highly active in relapsed and refractory MCL. Similarly, cell cycle inhibitors targeting cyclin dependent kinases as well as HDAC inhibitors have shown promise in early studies.

Concepts: Protein, Cancer, Chromosome, Cell cycle, Cyclin-dependent kinase, Cyclin, Chromosomal translocation, Mantle cell lymphoma