Our recent progress includes: (1)Genomic analyses have revealed the enormous heterogeneity in essentially all cancer types. However, the identification of precise subtypes, which are biologically informative and clinically useful, remains a challenge. The application of integrative analysis of multilayered genomic profiles to define the chromosomal regions of genomic copy number alterations with concomitant transcriptional deregulation is posited to provide a promising strategy to identify driver targets. In this study, we performed an integrative analysis of the DNA copy numbers and gene expression profiles of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). By comparing DNA copy numbers between HCC subtypes based on gene expression pattern, we revealed the DNA copy number alteration with concordant gene expression changes at 6p21 to p24 particularly in the HCC subtype of aggressive phenotype without expressing stemness genes. Among the genes at 6p21 to p24, we identified IER3 as a potential driver. The clinical utility of IER3 copy numbers was demonstrated by validating its clinical correlation with independent cohorts. In addition, short hairpin RNA-mediated knock-down experiment revealed the functional relevance of IER3 in liver cancer progression. In conclusion, our results suggest that genomic copy number alterations with transcriptional deregulation at 6p21 to p24 identify an aggressive HCC phenotype and a novel functional biomarker. (2) Multiple activations of individual genes during embryonic liver and HCC development have repeatedly prompted speculations about conserved embryonic signatures driving cancer development. Recently, the emerging discussion on cancer stem cells and the appreciation that generally tumors may develop from progenitor cells of diverse stages of cellular differentiation has shed increasing light on the overlapping genetic signatures between embryonic liver development and HCC. However there is still a lack of systematic studies investigating this area. We therefore performed a comprehensive analysis of differentially regulated genetic signaling pathways in embryonic and liver cancer development and investigated their biological relevance.Genetic signaling pathways were investigated on several publically available genome wide microarray experiments on liver development and HCC. Differentially expressed genes were investigated for pathway enrichment or underrepresentation compared to KEGG annotated pathways by Fisher exact evaluation. The comparative analysis of enrichment and under representation of differentially regulated genes in liver development and HCC demonstrated a significant overlap between multiple pathways. Most strikingly we demonstrated a significant overlap not only in pathways expected to be relevant to both conditions such as cell cycle or apoptosis but also metabolic pathways associated with carbohydrate and lipid metabolism. Furthermore, we demonstrated the clinical significance of these findings as unsupervised clustering of HCC patients on the basis of these metabolic pathways displayed significant differences in survival. These results indicate that liver development and liver cancer share similar alterations in multiple genetic signaling pathways. Several pathways with markedly similar patterns of enrichment or underrepresentation of various regulated genes between liver development and HCC are of prognostic relevance in HCC. In particular, the metabolic pathways were identified as novel prognostically relevant players in HCC development (3)Human hepatocarcinogenes is as a multi-step process starting from dysplastic lesions to early carcinoma (eHCC) that ultimately progresses to HCC (pHCC). The probability of malignant transformation of the pre-neoplastic lesions, which often co-exist with eHCC and pHCC in an individual patient, is not defined. Therefore, definition of the sequential molecular events leading to HCC is urgently needed and represents a major challenge in the clinical management of patients at risk. This study is the first to apply integrative transcriptome sequencing to tumor free-surrounding liver (n=7), low (n=4) and high-grade (n=9) dysplastic lesions, eHCC (n=5) and pHCC (n=3) from 8 HCC patients with hepatitis B infection. We report that the transcriptomes of early lesions including eHCC were surprisingly homogenous despite a progressive increase in immune response and proliferation. Activation of prognostic adverse signaling pathways occurred only late during hepatocarcinogenesis and was centered on TGFbeta, WNT, NOTCH and EMTrelated genes reflecting the molecular diversity of pHCC. We further identify IGFALS as a key genetic determinant which is preferentially down-regulated in pHCC. Our results define new hallmarks in molecular stratification and therapy options for patients at risk for HCC.(4)Mutations in the genes encoding isocitrate dehydrogenase, IDH1 and IDH2, have been reported in gliomas, myeloid leukemias, chondrosarcomas and thyroid cancer. We discovered IDH1 and IDH2 mutations in 34 of 326 (10%) intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas. Tumor with mutations in IDH1 or IDH2 had lower 5-hydroxymethylcytosine and higher 5-methylcytosine levels, as well as increased dimethylation of histone H3 lysine 79 (H3K79). Mutations in IDH1 or IDH2 were associated with longer overall survival (P=0.028) and were independently associated with a longer time to tumor recurrence after intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma resection in multivariate analysis (P=0.021). IDH1 and IDH2 mutations were significantly associated with increased levels of p53 in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinomas, but no mutations in the p53 gene were found, suggesting that mutations in IDH1 and IDH2 may cause a stress that leads to p53 activation. We identified 2309 genes that were significantly hypermethylated in 19 cholangiocarcinomas with mutations in IDH1 or IDH2, compared with cholangiocarcinomas without these mutations. Hypermethylated CpG sites were significantly enriched in CpG shores and upstream of transcription start sites, suggesting a global regulation of transcriptional potential. Half of the hypermethylated genes overlapped with DNA hypermethylation in IDH1-mutant gliobastomas, suggesting the existence of a common set of genes whose expression may be affected by mutations in IDH1 or IDH2 in different types of tumors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Investigator-Initiated Intramural Research Projects (ZIA)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
National Cancer Institute Division of Basic Sciences
Zip Code
Marquardt, Jens U; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2014) SnapShot: Hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Cell 25:550.e1
Staib, Frank; Krupp, Markus; Maass, Thorsten et al. (2014) CellMinerHCC: a microarray-based expression database for hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. Liver Int 34:621-31
Matter, Matthias S; Decaens, Thomas; Andersen, Jesper B et al. (2014) Targeting the mTOR pathway in hepatocellular carcinoma: current state and future trends. J Hepatol 60:855-65
Andersen, Jesper B; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2014) A perspective on molecular therapy in cholangiocarcinoma: present status and future directions. Hepat Oncol 1:143-157
Jia, Jinping; Parikh, Hemang; Xiao, Wenming et al. (2013) An integrated transcriptome and epigenome analysis identifies a novel candidate gene for pancreatic cancer. BMC Med Genomics 6:33
Marquardt, Jens U; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2013) Sall4 in ""stemness""-driven hepatocarcinogenesis. N Engl J Med 368:2316-8
Kwon, So Mee; Kim, Dong-Sik; Won, Nam Hee et al. (2013) Genomic copy number alterations with transcriptional deregulation at 6p identify an aggressive HCC phenotype. Carcinogenesis 34:1543-50
Andersen, Jesper B; Spee, Bart; Blechacz, Boris R et al. (2012) Genomic and genetic characterization of cholangiocarcinoma identifies therapeutic targets for tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Gastroenterology 142:1021-1031.e15
Andersen, Jesper B; Thorgeirsson, Snorri S (2012) Genetic profiling of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 28:266-72
Kim, Soo Mi; Leem, Sun-Hee; Chu, In-Sun et al. (2012) Sixty-five gene-based risk score classifier predicts overall survival in hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology 55:1443-52

Showing the most recent 10 out of 21 publications