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Journal: Cancer discovery


Neuroendocrine tumors comprise a heterogeneous group of malignancies with a broad spectrum of clinical behavior. Poorly differentiated tumors follow an aggressive course with limited treatment options, and new approaches are needed. Oncogenic BRAF V600E (BRAFV600E) substitutions are observed primarily in melanoma, colon cancer, and non-small cell lung cancer, but have been identified in multiple tumor types. Here we describe the first reported recurrent BRAFV600E mutations in advanced high grade colorectal neuroendocrine tumors, and identify BRAF alteration frequency of 9% in 108 cases. Among these BRAF alterations 80% were BRAFV600E. Dramatic response to BRAF-MEK combination occurred in two cases of metastatic high grade rectal neuroendocrine carcinoma refractory to standard therapy. Urinary BRAFV600E circulating tumor DNA monitoring paralleled disease response. Our series represents the largest study of genomic profiling in colorectal neuroendocrine tumors and provides strong evidence that BRAFV600E is an oncogenic driver responsive to BRAF/MEK combination therapy in this molecular subset.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Colorectal cancer, Tumor, Colon


The CD19 antigen, expressed on most B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemias (B-ALL), can be targeted with chimeric antigen receptor-armed T cells (CART-19), but relapses with epitope loss occur in 10% to 20% of pediatric responders. We detected hemizygous deletions spanning the CD19 locus and de novo frameshift and missense mutations in exon 2 of CD19 in some relapse samples. However, we also discovered alternatively spliced CD19 mRNA species, including one lacking exon 2. Pull-down/siRNA experiments identified SRSF3 as a splicing factor involved in exon 2 retention, and its levels were lower in relapsed B-ALL. Using genome editing, we demonstrated that exon 2 skipping bypasses exon 2 mutations in B-ALL cells and allows expression of the N-terminally truncated CD19 variant, which fails to trigger killing by CART-19 but partly rescues defects associated with CD19 loss. Thus, this mechanism of resistance is based on a combination of deleterious mutations and ensuing selection for alternatively spliced RNA isoforms.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, Mutation, Messenger RNA, B cell, Spliceosome, RNA splicing, Alternative splicing


The receptor tyrosine kinase, rearranged during transfection (RET), is an oncogenic driver activated in multiple cancers including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) and papillary thyroid cancer (PTC). No approved therapies have been designed to target RET; treatment has been limited to multi-kinase inhibitors (MKIs) which can have significant off-target toxicities and limited efficacy. BLU-667 is a highly potent and selective RET inhibitor designed to overcome these limitations. In vitro, BLU-667 demonstrated ≥10-fold increased potency over approved MKIs against oncogenic RET variants and resistance mutants. In vivo, BLU-667 potently inhibited growth of NSCLC and thyroid cancer xenografts driven by various RET mutations and fusions without inhibiting vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR-2). In first-in-human testing, BLU-667 significantly inhibited RET signaling and induced durable clinical responses in patients with RET-altered NSCLC and MTC without notable off target toxicity, providing clinical validation for selective RET targeting.

Concepts: Immune system, Cancer, Oncology, Signal transduction, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Tyrosine kinase, RET proto-oncogene


Immune checkpoint inhibitors have shown significant therapeutic responses against tumors containing increased mutation-associated neoantigen load. We have examined the evolving landscape of tumor neoantigens during the emergence of acquired resistance in non-small cell lung cancer patients after initial response to immune checkpoint blockade with anti-PD1 or anti-PD-1/anti-CTLA4 antibodies. Analyses of matched pretreatment and resistant tumors identified genomic changes resulting in loss of 7 to 18 putative mutation-associated neoantigens in resistant clones. Peptides generated from the eliminated neoantigens elicited clonal T cell expansion in autologous T cell cultures, suggesting that they generated functional immune responses. Neoantigen loss occurred through elimination of tumor subclones or through deletion of chromosomal regions containing truncal alterations and were associated with changes in T cell receptor clonality. These analyses provide insights into the dynamics of mutational landscapes during immune checkpoint blockade and have implications for development of immune therapies that target tumor neoantigens.

Concepts: Immune system, DNA, Protein, Cancer, Oncology, Lung cancer, Non-small cell lung carcinoma, Cell signaling


The PI3Kδ inhibitor idelalisib was effective in heavily pretreated patients with mantle cell lymphoma.

Concepts: Mantle cell lymphoma, Mantle zone


Mutation tracking in ctDNA predicts metastatic relapse and defines somatic mutations in MRD.

Concepts: Cancer, Ionizing radiation, Breast cancer, Metastasis, Mutation, Chemotherapy, Pleural effusion, Mutagen


Biofilms enhance production of N(1),N(12)-diacetylspermine and other polyamines in colon tumors.

Concepts: Cancer, Colorectal cancer, Hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer


Identifying molecular residual disease (MRD) after treatment of localized lung cancer could facilitate early intervention and personalization of adjuvant therapies. Here we apply Cancer Personalized Profiling by Deep Sequencing (CAPP-Seq) circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) analysis to 255 samples from 40 patients treated with curative intent for stage I-III lung cancer and 54 healthy adults. In 94% of evaluable patients experiencing recurrence, ctDNA was detectable in the first post-treatment blood sample, indicating reliable identification of MRD. Post-treatment ctDNA detection preceded radiographic progression in 72% of patients by a median of 5.2 months and 53% of patients harbored ctDNA mutation profiles associated with favorable responses to tyrosine kinase inhibitors or immune checkpoint blockade. Collectively, these results indicate that ctDNA MRD in lung cancer patients can be accurately detected using CAPP-Seq and may allow personalized adjuvant treatment while disease burden is lowest.

Concepts: DNA, Epidemiology, Cancer, Oncology, Molecular biology, Lung cancer, Cancer staging, Identification


Gastroesophageal adenocarcinoma (GEA) is a lethal disease where targeted therapies, even when guided by genomic biomarkers, have had limited efficacy. A potential reason for the failure of such therapies is that genomic profiling results could commonly differ between the primary and metastatic tumor. To evaluate genomic heterogeneity, we sequenced paired primary GEA and synchronous metastatic lesions across multiple cohorts, finding extensive differences in genomic alterations, including discrepancies in potentially clinically relevant alterations. Multi-region sequencing showed significant discrepancy within the primary tumor and between the primary tumor and disseminated disease, with oncogene amplification profiles commonly discordant. In addition, pilot analysis of cfDNA sequencing demonstrated the feasibility of detecting genomic amplifications not detected in primary tumor sampling. Lastly, we profiled paired primary, metastatic tumors and cfDNA from patients enrolled in the PANGEA trial of targeted therapies in GEA, and found that genomic biomarkers were recurrently discrepant between the primary tumor and untreated metastases. Divergent primary and metastatic tissue profiling led to treatment reassignment in 32% (9/28) of patients. In discordant primary and metastatic lesions, we found 87.5% concordance for targetable alterations in metastatic tissue and cfDNA, suggesting the potential for cfDNA profiling to enhance selection of therapy.

Concepts: Cancer, Metastasis, Oncology, Lung cancer, Extracellular matrix, Ovarian cancer, Disseminated disease


“Liquid biopsy” approaches analyzing cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from the blood of cancer patients are increasingly utilized in clinical practice. However, it is not yet known whether cfDNA sequencing from large cancer patient cohorts can detect genomic alterations at frequencies similar to those observed by direct tumor sequencing, and whether this approach can generate novel insights. Here, we report next-generation sequencing data from cfDNA of 1,397 colorectal cancer (CRC) patients. Overall, frequencies of genomic alterations detected in cfDNA were comparable to those observed in three independent tissue-based CRC sequencing compendia. Our analysis also identified a novel cluster of extracellular domain (ECD) mutations in EGFR, mediating resistance by blocking binding of anti-EGFR antibodies. Patients with EGFR ECD mutations displayed striking tumor heterogeneity, with 91% harboring multiple distinct resistance alterations (range 1-13, median 4). These results suggest that cfDNA profiling can effectively define the genomic landscape of cancer and yield important biologic insights.

Concepts: Immune system, Genetics, Cancer, Mutation, Oncology, Colorectal cancer, Ulcerative colitis, Mutagen