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Mechanisms of APOBEC3 mutagenesis in human cancer cells

The APOBEC3 family of cytosine deaminases has been implicated in some of the most prevalent mutational signatures in cancer1,2,3. However, a causal link between endogenous APOBEC3 enzymes and mutational signatures in human cancer genomes has not been established, leaving the mechanisms of APOBEC3 mutagenesis poorly understood. Here, to investigate the mechanisms of APOBEC3 mutagenesis, we deleted implicated genes from human cancer cell lines that naturally generate APOBEC3-associated mutational signatures over time4. Analysis of non-clustered and clustered signatures across whole-genome sequences from 251 breast, bladder and lymphoma cancer cell line clones revealed that APOBEC3A deletion diminished APOBEC3-associated mutational signatures. Deletion of both APOBEC3A and APOBEC3B further decreased APOBEC3 mutation burdens, without eliminating them. Deletion of APOBEC3B increased APOBEC3A protein levels, activity and APOBEC3A-mediated mutagenesis in some cell lines. The uracil glycosylase UNG was required for APOBEC3-mediated transversions, whereas the loss of the translesion polymerase REV1 decreased overall mutation burdens. Together, these data represent direct evidence that endogenous APOBEC3 deaminases generate prevalent mutational signatures in human cancer cells. Our results identify APOBEC3A as the main driver of these mutations, indicate that APOBEC3B can restrain APOBEC3A-dependent mutagenesis while contributing its own smaller mutation burdens and dissect mechanisms that translate APOBEC3 activities into distinct mutational signatures.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Mia Petljak et al
DATE 20 July 2022
Human Colon Cancer–Derived Clostridioides difficile Strains Drive Colonic Tumorigenesis in Mice

Defining the complex role of the microbiome in colorectal cancer and the discovery of novel, protumorigenic microbes are areas of active investigation. In the present study, culturing and reassociation experiments revealed that toxigenic strains of Clostridioides difficile drove the tumorigenic phenotype of a subset of colorectal cancer patient–derived mucosal slurries in germ-free ApcMin/+ mice. Tumorigenesis was dependent on the C. difficile toxin TcdB and was associated with induction of Wnt signaling, reactive oxygen species, and protumorigenic mucosal immune responses marked by the infiltration of activated myeloid cells and IL17-producing lymphoid and innate lymphoid cell subsets. These findings suggest that chronic colonization with toxigenic C. difficile is a potential driver of colorectal cancer in patients.

Team OPTIMISTICC
Journal Cancer Discovery
Authors Julia Drewes et al
DATE 12 July 2022
Comprehensive multiplexed immune profiling of the ductal carcinoma in situ immune microenvironment regarding subsequent…

Ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) is treated to prevent subsequent ipsilateral invasive breast cancer (iIBC). However, many DCIS lesions will never become invasive. To prevent overtreatment, we need to distinguish harmless from potentially hazardous DCIS. We investigated whether the immune microenvironment (IME) in DCIS correlates with transition to iIBC.

Team PRECISION
Journal British Journal of Cancer
Authors Mathilde Almekinders et al
DATE 29 June 2022
Western-style Diet, pks Island-Carrying Escherichia coli, and Colorectal Cancer: Analyses from Two Large Prospective Cohort…

Evidence supports a carcinogenic role of Escherichia coli carrying the polyketide synthase (pks) island that encodes enzymes for colibactin biosynthesis. We hypothesized that the association of western-style diet (rich in red and processed meat) with colorectal cancer incidence might be stronger for tumors containing higher amounts of pksE. coli.

Team OPTIMISTICC
Journal Gastroenterology
Authors Kota Arima et al
DATE 24 June 2022
Signatures of copy number alterations in human cancer

Gains and losses of DNA are prevalent in cancer and emerge as a consequence of inter-related processes of replication stress, mitotic errors, spindle multipolarity and breakage–fusion–bridge cycles, among others, which may lead to chromosomal instability and aneuploidy. These copy number alterations contribute to cancer initiation, progression and therapeutic resistance. Here we present a conceptual framework to examine the patterns of copy number alterations in human cancer that is widely applicable to diverse data types, including whole-genome sequencing, whole-exome sequencing, reduced representation bisulfite sequencing, single-cell DNA sequencing and SNP6 microarray data. Deploying this framework to 9,873 cancers representing 33 human cancer types from The Cancer Genome Atlasrevealed a set of 21 copy number signatures that explain the copy number patterns of 97% of samples. Seventeen copy number signatures were attributed to biological phenomena of whole-genome doubling, aneuploidy, loss of heterozygosity, homologous recombination deficiency, chromothripsis and haploidization. The aetiologies of four copy number signatures remain unexplained. Some cancer types harbour amplicon signatures associated with extrachromosomal DNA, disease-specific survival and proto-oncogene gains such as MDM2. In contrast to base-scale mutational signatures, no copy number signature was associated with many known exogenous cancer risk factors. Our results synthesize the global landscape of copy number alterations in human cancer by revealing a diversity of mutational processes that give rise to these alterations.

Team Mutographs
Journal Nature
Authors Christopher D. Steele et al
DATE 15 June 2022