Whole exome sequencing of an asbestos-induced wild-type murine model of malignant mesothelioma

Sophie Sneddon, Ann-Marie Patch, Ian M Dick, Stephen Kazakoff, John V Pearson, Nicola Waddell, Richard J N Allcock, Robert A Holt, Bruce W S Robinson, Jenette Creaney
BMC Cancer 2017 June 2, 17 (1): 396

BACKGROUND: Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive cancer of the pleural and peritoneal cavities caused by exposure to asbestos. Asbestos-induced mesotheliomas in wild-type mice have been used extensively as a preclinical model because they are phenotypically identical to their human counterpart. However, it is not known if the genetic lesions in these mice tumours are similar to in the human disease, a prerequisite for any new preclinical studies that target genetic abnormalities.

METHODS: We performed whole exome sequencing of fifteen asbestos-induced murine MM tumour cell lines from BALB/c, CBA and C57BL/6 mouse strains and compared the somatic mutations and copy number variations with those recurrently reported in human MM. We then catalogued and characterised the mutational landscape of the wild-type murine MM tumours. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to interrogate the expression of key MM genes of interest in the mRNA.

RESULTS: Consistent with human MM tumours, we identified homozygous loss of the tumour suppressor Cdkn2a in 14/15 tumours. One tumour retained the first exon of both of the p16INK4a and p19ARF isoforms though this tumour also contained genetic amplification of Myc resulting in increased expression of the c-Myc proto-oncogene in the mRNA. There were no chromosomal losses in either the Bap1 or Nf2 regions. One tumour harbored homozygous loss of Trp53 in the DNA. Mutation rates were similar in tumours generated in the CBA and C57BL/6 strains when compared to human MM. Interestingly, all BALB/c tumour lines displayed high mutational loads, consistent with the known mutator phenotype of the host strain. The Wnt, MAPK and Jak-STAT signaling pathways were found to be the most commonly affected biological pathways. Mutations and copy number deletions also occurred in the Hedgehog and Hippo pathways.

CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that in the wild-type murine model asbestos causes mesotheliomas in a similar way to in human MM. This further supports the notion that the murine model of MM represents a genuine homologue of the human disease, something uncommon in cancer, and is thus a valuable tool to provide insight into MM tumour development and to aide the search for novel therapeutic strategies.

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