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Molyneux S.D.,Ontario Cancer Institute | Waterhouse P.D.,Ontario Cancer Institute | Shelton D.,Digital biology Center | Shao Y.W.,Ontario Cancer Institute | And 14 more authors.
Nature Genetics | Year: 2014

Creating spontaneous yet genetically tractable human tumors from normal cells presents a fundamental challenge. Here we combined retroviral and transposon insertional mutagenesis to enable cancer gene discovery starting with human primary cells. We used lentiviruses to seed gain- and loss-of-function gene disruption elements, which were further deployed by Sleeping Beauty transposons throughout the genome of human bone explant mesenchymal cells. De novo tumors generated rapidly in this context were high-grade myxofibrosarcomas. Tumor insertion sites were enriched in recurrent somatic copy-number aberration regions from multiple cancer types and could be used to pinpoint new driver genes that sustain somatic alterations in patients. We identified HDLBP, which encodes the RNA-binding protein vigilin, as a candidate tumor suppressor deleted at 2q37.3 in greater than one out of ten tumors across multiple tissues of origin. Hybrid viral-transposon systems may accelerate the functional annotation of cancer genomes by enabling insertional mutagenesis screens in higher eukaryotes that are not amenable to germline transgenesis. © 2014 Nature America, Inc. All rights reserved. Source

Beaver J.A.,Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins | Jelovac D.,Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins | Balukrishna S.,Christian Medical College Vellore | Cochran R.L.,Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins | And 25 more authors.
Clinical Cancer Research | Year: 2014

Purpose: Detecting circulating plasma tumor DNA (ptDNA) in patients with early-stage cancer has the potential to change how oncologists recommend systemic therapies for solid tumors after surgery. Droplet digital polymerase chain reaction (ddPCR) is a novel sensitive and specific platform for mutation detection. Experimental Design: In this prospective study, primary breast tumors and matched pre-and postsurgery blood samples were collected from patients with early-stage breast cancer (n=29). Tumors (n=30) were analyzed by Sanger sequencing for common PIK3CA mutations, and DNA from these tumors and matched plasma were then analyzed for PIK3CA mutations using ddPCR. Results: Sequencing of tumors identified seven PIK3CA exon 20 mutations (H1047R) and three exon 9 mutations (E545K). Analysis of tumors by ddPCR confirmed these mutations and identified five additional mutations. Presurgery plasma samples (n=29) were then analyzed for PIK3CA mutations using ddPCR. Of the 15 PIK3CA mutations detected in tumors by ddPCR, 14 of the corresponding mutations were detected in presurgical ptDNA, whereas no mutations were found in plasma from patients with PIK3CA wild-type tumors (sensitivity 93.3%, specificity 100%). Ten patients with mutation-positive ptDNA presurgery had ddPCR analysis of postsurgery plasma, with five patients having detectable ptDNA postsurgery. Conclusions: This prospective study demonstrates accurate mutation detection in tumor tissues using ddPCR, and that ptDNA can be detected in blood before and after surgery in patients with early-stage breast cancer. Future studies can now address whether ptDNA detected after surgery identifies patients at risk for recurrence, which could guide chemotherapy decisions for individual patients. © 2014 American Association for Cancer Research. Source

Findlay S.D.,University of Western Ontario | Findlay S.D.,University of Alberta | Vincent K.M.,University of Western Ontario | Vincent K.M.,University of Alberta | And 2 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2016

The rapid adoption of gene editing tools such as CRISPRs and TALENs for research and eventually therapeutics necessitates assays that can rapidly detect and quantitate the desired alterations. Currently, the most commonly used assay employs "mismatch nucleases" T7E1 or "Surveyor" that recognize and cleave heteroduplexed DNA amplicons containing mismatched base-pairs. However, this assay is prone to false positives due to cancer-associated mutations and/or SNPs and requires large amounts of starting material. Here we describe a powerful alternative wherein droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) can be used to decipher homozygous from heterozygous mutations with superior levels of both precision and sensitivity. We use this assay to detect knockout inducing alterations to stem cell associated proteins, NODAL and SFRP1, generated using either TALENs or an "all-in-one" CRISPR/Cas plasmid that we have modified for one-step cloning and blue/white screening of transformants. Moreover, we highlight how ddPCR can be used to assess the efficiency of varying TALEN-based strategies. Collectively, this work highlights how ddPCR-based screening can be paired with CRISPR and TALEN technologies to enable sensitive, specific, and streamlined approaches to gene editing and validation. © 2016 Findlay et al.This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Source

Taylor S.C.,Bio Rad Laboratories Inc. | Carbonneau J.,Laval University | Shelton D.N.,Digital biology Center | Boivin G.,Laval University
Journal of Virological Methods | Year: 2015

The recent introduction of Droplet Digital PCR (ddPCR) has provided researchers with a tool that permits direct quantification of nucleic acids from a wide range of samples with increased precision and sensitivity versus RT-qPCR. The sample interdependence of RT-qPCR stemming from the measurement of Cq and δCq values is eliminated with ddPCR which provides an independent measure of the absolute nucleic acid concentration for each sample without standard curves thereby reducing inter-well and inter-plate variability. Well-characterized RNA purified from H275-wild type (WT) and H275Y-point mutated (MUT) neuraminidase of influenza A (H1N1) pandemic 2009 virus was used to demonstrate a ddPCR optimization workflow to assure robust data for downstream analysis. The ddPCR reaction mix was also tested with RT-qPCR and gave excellent reaction efficiency (between 90% and 100%) with the optimized MUT/WT duplexed assay thus enabling the direct comparison of the two platforms from the same reaction mix and thermal cycling protocol. ddPCR gave a marked improvement in sensitivity (>30-fold) for mutation abundance using a mixture of purified MUT and WT RNA and increased precision (>10 fold, p<0.05 for both inter- and intra-assay variability) versus RT-qPCR from patient samples to accurately identify residual mutant viral population during recovery. © 2015 The Authors. Source

Chang G.A.,New York University | Chang G.A.,NYU Langone Medical Center | Tadepalli J.S.,New York University | Tadepalli J.S.,NYU Langone Medical Center | And 18 more authors.
Molecular Oncology | Year: 2016

Melanoma lacks a clinically useful blood-based biomarker of disease activity to help guide patient management. To determine whether measurements of circulating, cell-free, tumor-associated BRAFmutant and NRASmutant DNA (ctDNA) have a higher sensitivity than LDH to detect metastatic disease prior to treatment initiation and upon disease progression we studied patients with unresectable stage IIIC/IV metastatic melanoma receiving treatment with BRAF inhibitor therapy or immune checkpoint blockade and at least 3 plasma samples obtained during their treatment course. Levels of BRAFmutant and NRASmutant ctDNA were determined using droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) assays. Among patients with samples available prior to treatment initiation ctDNA and LDH levels were elevated in 12/15 (80%) and 6/20 (30%) (p = 0.006) patients respectively. In patients with RECIST scores <5 cm prior to treatment initiation, ctDNA levels were elevated in 5/7 (71%) patients compared to LDH which was elevated in 1/13 (8%) patients (p = 0.007). Among all disease progression events the modified bootstrapped sensitivities for ctDNA and LDH were 82% and 40% respectively, with a median difference in sensitivity of 42% (95% confidence interval, 27%-58%; P < 0.001). In addition, ctDNA levels were elevated in 13/16 (81%) instances of non-RECIST disease progression, including 10/12 (83%) instances of new brain metastases. In comparison LDH was elevated 8/16 (50%) instances of non-RECIST disease progression, including 6/12 (50%) instances of new brain metastases. Overall, ctDNA had a higher sensitivity than LDH to detect disease progression, including non-RECIST progression events. ctDNA has the potential to be a useful biomarker for monitoring melanoma disease activity. © 2015 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Source

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