Comparative molecular characterization of typical and exceptional responders in glioblastoma
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Kristin Wipfler1, Adam S. Cornish1 and Chittibabu Guda1,2,3,4
1Department of Genetics, Cell Biology and Anatomy, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
2Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Core, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
4Fred and Pamela Buffett Cancer Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE 68198, USA
Chittibabu Guda, email: [email protected]
Keywords: glioblastoma; survival analysis; integrative analysis; exceptional responders; TCGA
Received: September 26, 2017 Accepted: April 27, 2018 Published: June 19, 2018
Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and the deadliest type of primary brain tumor, with a median survival time of only 15 months despite aggressive treatment. Although most patients have an extremely poor prognosis, a relatively small number of patients survive far beyond the median survival time. Investigation of these exceptional responders has sparked a great deal of interest and is becoming an important focus in the field of cancer research. To investigate the molecular differences between typical and exceptional responders in GBM, comparative analyses of somatic mutations, copy number, methylation, and gene expression datasets from The Cancer Genome Atlas were performed, and the results of these analyses were integrated via gene ontology and pathway analyses to assess the functional significance of the differential aberrations. Less severe copy number loss of CDKN2A, lower expression of CXCL8, and FLG mutations are all associated with an exceptional response. Typical responders are characterized by upregulation of NF-κB signaling and of pro-inflammatory cytokines, while exceptional responders are characterized by upregulation of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease pathways as well as of genes involved in synaptic transmission. The upregulated pathways and processes in typical responders are consistently associated with more aggressive tumor phenotypes, while those in the exceptional responders suggest a retained ability in tumor cells to undergo cell death in response to treatment. With the upcoming launch of the National Cancer Institute’s Exceptional Responders Initiative, similar studies with much larger sample sizes will likely become possible, hopefully providing even more insight into the molecular differences between typical and exceptional responders.
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