ERα-associated translocations underlie oncogene amplifications in breast cancer

Focal copy-number amplification is an oncogenic event. Although recent studies have revealed the complex structure1,2,3 and the evolutionary trajectories4 of oncogene amplicons, their origin remains poorly understood. Here we show that focal amplifications in breast cancer frequently derive from a mechanism—which we term translocation–bridge amplification—involving inter-chromosomal translocations that lead to dicentric chromosome bridge formation and breakage. In 780 breast cancer genomes, we observe that focal amplifications are frequently connected to each other by inter-chromosomal translocations at their boundaries. Subsequent analysis indicates the following model: the oncogene neighbourhood is translocated in G1 creating a dicentric chromosome, the dicentric chromosome is replicated, and as dicentric sister chromosomes segregate during mitosis, a chromosome bridge is formed and then broken, with fragments often being circularized in extrachromosomal DNAs. This model explains the amplifications of key oncogenes, including ERBB2 and CCND1. Recurrent amplification boundaries and rearrangement hotspots correlate with oestrogen receptor binding in breast cancer cells. Experimentally, oestrogen treatment induces DNA double-strand breaks in the oestrogen receptor target regions that are repaired by translocations, suggesting a role of oestrogen in generating the initial translocations. A pan-cancer analysis reveals tissue-specific biases in mechanisms initiating focal amplifications, with the breakage–fusion–bridge cycle prevalent in some and the translocation–bridge amplification in others, probably owing to the different timing of DNA break repair. Our results identify a common mode of oncogene amplification and propose oestrogen as its mechanistic origin in breast cancer.

Journal Nature
Authors Jake June-Koo Lee et al
DATE 17 May 2023
Apposition of fibroblasts with metaplastic gastric cells promotes dysplastic transition

Background & Aims:

Elements of field cancerization including atrophic gastritis, metaplasia and dysplasia promote gastric cancer development in association with chronic inflammation. However, it remains unclear how stroma changes during carcinogenesis and how the stroma contributes to progression of gastric preneoplasia. Here we investigated heterogeneity of fibroblasts, one of the most important elements in the stroma, and their roles in neoplastic transformation of metaplasia.


We utilized single cell transcriptomics to evaluate the cellular heterogeneity of mucosal cells from human gastric cancer patients. Tissue sections from the same cohort and tissue microarrays were used to identify the geographical distribution of distinct fibroblast subsets. We further evaluated the role of fibroblasts from pathologic mucosa in dysplastic progression of metaplastic cells using patient-derived metaplastic gastroids and fibroblasts.


We identified four subsets of fibroblasts within stromal cells defined by the differential expression of PDGFRAFBLN2, ACTA2 or PDGFRB. Each subset was distributed distinctively throughout stomach tissues with different proportions at each pathologic stage. The PDGFRα+ subset expanded in metaplasia and cancer compared with normal, maintaining a close proximity with the epithelial compartment. Co-culture of metaplasia- or cancer-derived fibroblasts with gastroids showing the characteristics of spasmolytic polypeptide-expressing metaplasia (SPEM) induced disordered growth, loss of metaplastic markers and increases in markers of dysplasia. Culture of metaplastic gastroids with conditioned media from metaplasia- or cancer-derived fibroblasts also promoted dysplastic transition.


These findings indicate that fibroblast associations with metaplastic epithelial cells can facilitate direct transition of metaplastic SPEM cell lineages into dysplastic lineages.

Team STORMing Cancer
Journal Gastroenterology
Authors Su-Hyung Lee et al
DATE 15 May 2023
Parallel sequencing of extrachromosomal circular DNAs and transcriptomes in single cancer cells

Extrachromosomal DNAs (ecDNAs) are common in cancer, but many questions about their origin, structural dynamics and impact on intratumor heterogeneity are still unresolved. Here we describe single-cell extrachromosomal circular DNA and transcriptome sequencing (scEC&T-seq), a method for parallel sequencing of circular DNAs and full-length mRNA from single cells. By applying scEC&T-seq to cancer cells, we describe intercellular differences in ecDNA content while investigating their structural heterogeneity and transcriptional impact. Oncogene-containing ecDNAs were clonally present in cancer cells and drove intercellular oncogene expression differences. In contrast, other small circular DNAs were exclusive to individual cells, indicating differences in their selection and propagation. Intercellular differences in ecDNA structure pointed to circular recombination as a mechanism of ecDNA evolution. These results demonstrate scEC&T-seq as an approach to systematically characterize both small and large circular DNA in cancer cells, which will facilitate the analysis of these DNA elements in cancer and beyond.

Team eDyNAmiC
Journal Nature Genetics
Authors Rocío Chamorro González et al
DATE 04 May 2023
Cachexia: A systemic consequence of progressive, unresolved disease

Cachexia, a systemic wasting condition, is considered a late consequence of diseases, including cancer, organ failure, or infections, and contributes to significant morbidity and mortality. The induction process and mechanistic progression of cachexia are incompletely understood. Refocusing academic efforts away from advanced cachexia to the etiology of cachexia may enable discoveries of new therapeutic approaches. Here, we review drivers, mechanisms, organismal predispositions, evidence for multi-organ interaction, model systems, clinical research, trials, and care provision from early onset to late cachexia. Evidence is emerging that distinct inflammatory, metabolic, and neuro-modulatory drivers can initiate processes that ultimately converge on advanced cachexia.

Journal Cell
Authors Miriam Ferrer et al
DATE 27 April 2023
A living biobank of patient-derived ductal carcinoma in situ mouse-intraductal xenografts identifies risk factors for invasive…

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is a non-obligate precursor of invasive breast cancer (IBC). Due to a lack of biomarkers able to distinguish high- from low-risk cases, DCIS is treated similar to early IBC even though the minority of untreated cases eventually become invasive. Here, we characterized 115 patient-derived mouse-intraductal (MIND) DCIS models reflecting the full spectrum of DCIS observed in patients. Utilizing the possibility to follow the natural progression of DCIS combined with omics and imaging data, we reveal multiple prognostic factors for high-risk DCIS including high grade, HER2 amplification, expansive 3D growth, and high burden of copy number aberrations. In addition, sequential transplantation of xenografts showed minimal phenotypic and genotypic changes over time, indicating that invasive behavior is an intrinsic phenotype of DCIS and supporting a multiclonal evolution model. Moreover, this study provides a collection of 19 distributable DCIS-MIND models spanning all molecular subtypes.

Journal Cancer Cell
Authors Stefan J. Hutten et al
DATE 27 April 2023