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John H. Chi, Amith Panner, Kristine Cachola, Courtney A. Crane, Joseph Murray, Russell O. Pieper, C. David James, and Andrew T. Parsa

Object

Despite recent advances in cancer immunotherapy, cellular mechanisms controlling expression of tumor-associated antigens are poorly understood. Mutations in cancer cells, such as loss of PTEN, may increase expression of tumor-associated antigens. The authors investigated the relationship between PTEN status and the expression of a glioma-associated antigen, adenosine diphosphate–ribosylation factor 4–like (ARF4L) protein.

Methods

Human glioma cell lines with confirmed PTEN status were examined by Northern blot analysis and quantitative polymerase chain reaction. Western blot analysis was used to measure ARF4L protein levels across multiple cell lines.

Results

The loss of PTEN was shown to lead to increased levels of ARF4L protein but no change in transcript levels. Cell lines with serial mutations, including activation of Ras and Akt pathways, also demonstrated increased levels of ARF4L protein, which decreased after treatment with rapamycin. The ARF4L transcript preferentially localized to the polysomal compartment after PTEN loss in glioma or activation of Akt in human astrocytes.

Conclusions

Expression of ARF4L is controlled by the activated Akt/mTOR pathway, which is a downstream effect of the loss of PTEN function. Mutations leading to oncogenesis may impact the regulation and expression of tumor specific antigens. Screening of mutation status in glioma may be helpful in selecting patients for immunotherapy trials in the future.

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Eduard B. Dinca, Jann N. Sarkaria, Mark A. Schroeder, Brett L. Carlson, Ramona Voicu, Nalin Gupta, Mitchel S. Berger, and C. David James

Object

Bioluminescence imaging (BLI) offers a rapid and accurate means for longitudinal study of tumor cell growth and response to therapy in rodent models. Because this technology has only recently come into use in the field of small animal imaging, applications in this area have been limited. In the current study we have applied BLI to the analysis of clinically relevant issues involving use of the DNA methylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) in a mouse model.

Methods

An invasive glioblastoma multiforme xenograft was modified for BLI via transduction with a luciferase-encoding lentivirus. Supratentorial tumors were established in athymic nude mice that were subsequently assigned randomly to control and TMZ treatment groups, and the extent of intracranial tumor was monitored using BLI.

Results

In an experiment designed to compare the extent of antitumor effect between a single high-dose TMZ treatment and a protracted low-dose TMZ regimen, BLI revealed the protracted regimen as having superior antitumor effect, and this interpretation was consistent with results from a survival comparison between the two TMZ treatment groups. In a second experiment designed to assess the utility of BLI for testing therapies against recurrent glioblastoma multiforme, mice with intracranial tumors were retreated with TMZ at a time when BLI monitoring revealed tumor regrowth following initial TMZ treatment, and retreatment was successful in providing additional survival benefit.

Conclusion

The results of these experiments indicate that BLI monitoring can be used as a surrogate for predicting survival benefit from TMZ treatment, permits early determination of relative survival benefit associated with distinct TMZ therapeutic regimens, and offers a means of investigating secondary/salvage therapy efficacy following tumor regrowth from initial therapy.

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Ian F. Pollack, Ronald L. Hamilton, C. David James, Sydney D. Finkelstein, Judith Burnham, Allan J. Yates, Emiko J. Holmes, Tianni Zhou, Jonathan L. Finlay, and Group for the Children’s Oncology

Object

In reporting on molecular studies involving malignant gliomas in adults, authors have noted that deletions of PTEN and amplification of EGFR are common and may contribute to tumor development, providing a rationale for a number of therapies aimed at these molecular targets. The frequency of comparable abnormalities has not been defined in a sizable pediatric cohort. To address this issue, we examined tumor samples from the Children’s Cancer Group 945 study, a large randomized trial of treatment for childhood malignant gliomas.

Methods

Tissue sections in 62 evaluable cases were examined, and the tumors were isolated by microdissection. Polymerase chain reaction amplification was used to detect PTEN mutations. Deletions of PTEN were also assessed by fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) in 27 cases and loss of heterozygosity analysis in 54; EGFR was assessed using immunohistochemistry to identify areas with maximal EGFR expression, followed by FISH to determine EGFR amplification.

Alteration of the PTEN sequence was detected in just one of 62 tumors, in conjunction with loss of chromosome 10; PTEN deletions without mutation were evident in seven additional tumors. The PTEN alterations were more common in glioblastoma multiforme (seven of 25 tumors) than other tumor subgroups (one of 37 tumors) (p = 0.0056). Although 14 of 38 evaluable tumors had increased EGFR expression compared to normal tissue, only one tumor exhibited amplification of EGFR.

Conclusions

Alterations in PTEN and amplification of EGFR are uncommon in pediatric malignant gliomas, in contrast to adult malignant gliomas. From this one can infer that the pediatric and adult tumors involve distinct molecular causes. The results of this study have important implications for the adaptation of glioma therapies aimed at molecular targets in adults to the treatment of childhood gliomas, and highlight the need for investigations of therapies specifically directed toward childhood tumors.

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Ju He, Jeffrey J. Olson, A. Jonas Ekstrand, Andrei Serbanescu, Jing Yang, Margaret K. Offermann, and C. David James

✓ Previously these authors and others demonstrated frequent homozygous deletions of the chromosome 9p—localized class I interferon (IFN) gene cluster in glioblastoma tumors and cell lines. To investigate the biological effects of class I IFN gene transfer and constitutive expression in glioblastoma cells devoid of this gene cluster, the authors have developed a stable IFN “transfectant” of the cell line U118. The expression of IFNα protein in the U118 transfectant clone is associated with decreased levels of DNA synthesis exhibited by cultures of transfected cells, reduced colony-forming ability in soft agar, and loss of tumorigenicity in athymic nude mice. To address the molecular consequences of constitutive IFNα synthesis, they examined the expression of four genes whose transcription has been shown to be responsive to IFN-mediated signal transduction and could be important to the observed antiproliferative and antitumor effects. Northern blot analysis revealed that changes in the levels of messenger (m)RNA for two of these genes, c-myc and mhc class I, are minor. However, mRNAs for oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS) as well as double-stranded RNA-activated protein kinase (PKR), which are not expressed in parental U118 cells, were constitutively express ed in IFNα transfectants. These results indicate a differential responsiveness among these four genes to constitutive IFNα expression, and suggest that the suppression of U118-transformed phenotypes by IFNα transfection may be mediated by the induction of specific IFN response genes thought to have a negative growth-regulatory function.

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Joseph Petronio, Ju He, Daniel Fults, Carolyn Pedone, C. David James, and James R. Allen

✓ Alterations in P16ink4 or in the gene encoding one of its ligands, cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4), have been reported in human glioma cell lines and primary tumors but not in primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNETs), the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood. In this study the authors have examined DNA from 20 primary PNETs in children and from 20 malignant astrocytomas to assess the frequency of P16ink4 and CDK4 gene alterations associated with each type of tumor. Southern hybridization analysis revealed homozygous P16ink4 deletions in one (5%) of 20 PNETs and in seven (35%) of 20 malignant astrocytomas. The CDK4 gene amplification was evident in two additional astrocytomas, but not in any of the PNETs. In total, nine astrocytomas (45%) exhibited homozygous P16ink4 deletion or CDK4 gene amplification, but only one PNET (5%) demonstrated either gene alteration. These results indicate that the incidence of P16ink4 and CDK4 gene alterations in these two groups of tumors is different and suggest distinct pathogenetic etiologies may be associated with each neoplasm.