A comparison of the biological effective dose of 50-kV electronic brachytherapy with (192)Ir high-dose-rate brachytherapy for vaginal cuff irradiation
PURPOSE: Advantages for electronic brachytherapy (EBT) of the vaginal cuff include decreased physical dose to the bladder and rectum. Here we compare (192)Ir with EBT using biological effective dose (BED) to account for the different radiobiological effectiveness (RBE) predicted for low-energy x-rays.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Fifteen data sets from five consecutive postoperative endometrial cancer patients treated with EBT were analyzed. Treatment planning was performed using PLATO software. The dose was prescribed as 21Gy in three fractions to a depth of 0.5cm. Physical dose, BED(3), and BED(10) were evaluated for the mucosa, bladder, and rectum. An RBE value of 1.5 was used for BED calculations.
RESULTS: Mucosal physical dose is 28.4% greater with EBT (36.6 vs. 28.5Gy, p<0.05). However, the BED(10) is increased by 79.1% (55.6 vs. 99.6Gy, p<0.05) and the BED(3) by 71.5% (118.8 vs. 203.7Gy, p<0.05). The physical dose (dose to 50% volume of the organ) to the bladder (9.3 vs. 6.6Gy, p<0.05) and rectum (7.2 vs. 4.2Gy, p<0.05) are reduced with EBT. BED(3) to the rectum and bladder are also reduced but to a lesser extent (13 vs. 8.3Gy, p<0.05; 18.9 vs. 14.7Gy, p=0.06, respectively).
CONCLUSIONS: BED takes into account the higher RBE of low-energy photons generated with EBT and provides a more accurate estimate of the biological effect. When using EBT, physical dose may underestimate the biological effect on the vaginal mucosa and overestimate the benefit for the bladder and rectum. Dose adjustment for EBT based on BED should be considered. rights reserved.
Primary mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma of the salivary glands: a multicenter Rare Cancer Network study
PURPOSE: Involvement of salivary glands with mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma is rare. This retrospective study was performed to assess the clinical profile, treatment outcome, and prognostic factors of MALT lymphoma of the salivary glands.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Thirteen member centers of the Rare Cancer Network from 10 countries participated, providing data on 63 patients. The median age was 58 years; 47 patients were female and 16 were male. The parotid glands were involved in 49 cases, submandibular in 15, and minor glands in 3. Multiple glands were involved in 9 patients. Staging was as follows: IE in 34, IIE in 12, IIIE in 2, and IV in 15 patients.
RESULTS: Surgery (S) alone was performed in 9, radiotherapy (RT) alone in 8, and chemotherapy (CT) alone in 4 patients. Forty-one patients received combined modality treatment (S + RT in 23, S + CT in 8, RT + CT in 4, and all three modalities in 6 patients). No active treatment was given in one case. After initial treatment there was no tumor in 57 patients and residual tumor in 5. Tumor progression was observed in 23 (36.5%) (local in 1, other salivary glands in 10, lymph nodes in 11, and elsewhere in 6). Five patients died of disease progression and the other 5 of other causes. The 5-year disease-free survival, disease-specific survival, and overall survival were 54.4%, 93.2%, and 81.7%, respectively. Factors influencing disease-free survival were use of RT, stage, and residual tumor (p < 0.01). Factors influencing disease-specific survival were stage, recurrence, and residual tumor (p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: To our knowledge, this report represents the largest series of MALT lymphomas of the salivary glands published to date. This disease may involve all salivary glands either initially or subsequently in 30% of patients. Recurrences may occur in up to 35% of patients at 5 years; however, survival is not affected. Radiotherapy is the only treatment modality that improves disease-free survival.
IL-1 generated subsequent to radiation-induced tissue injury contributes to the pathogenesis of radiodermatitis
Radiation injury in the skin causes radiodermatitis, a condition in which the skin becomes inflamed and the epidermis can break down. This condition causes significant morbidity and if severe it can be an independent factor that contributes to radiation mortality. Radiodermatitis is seen in some settings of radiotherapy for cancer and is also of concern as a complication post-radiation exposure from accidents or weapons, such as a "dirty bomb". The pathogenesis of this condition is incompletely understood. Here we have developed a murine model of radiodermatitis wherein the skin is selectively injured by irradiation with high-energy electrons. Using this model we showed that the interleukin-1 (IL-1) pathway plays a significant role in the development of radiodermatitis. Mice that lack either IL-1 or the IL-1 receptor developed less inflammation and less severe pathological changes in their skin, especially at later time-points. These findings suggest that IL-1 pathway may be a potential therapeutic target for reducing the severity of radiodermatitis.
From the lost radium files: misadventures in the absence of training, regulation, and accountability
PURPOSE: Radium was the foundation of brachytherapy in the early decades of the 20th century. Despite being a most precious and perilous substance, it was mislaid with surprising frequency. This essay explores how it was lost, the efforts taken to recover it, and measures instituted to prevent mishandling.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Review of contemporary literature, government publications, archives, and lay press.
RESULTS: Radium is a particularly dangerous substance because of its long half-life, its gaseous daughter (radon), and the high-energy emissions of its decay products. Despite the hazard, it was unregulated for most of the century. Any physician could obtain and administer it, and protocols for safe handling were generally lacking. Change came with appreciation of the danger, regulation, mandated training, and the institution of a culture of accountability. Unfortunately, careless management of medical radionuclides remains a global hazard.
CONCLUSION: Responsible stewardship of radioactive material was not a high priority, for practitioners or the federal government, for much of the 20th century. As a result, large quantities of radium had gone astray, possibly subjecting the general public to continued radiation exposure. Lessons from the radium era remain relevant, as medical radionuclides are still mishandled.
PURPOSE: Primary bone lymphoma (PBL) represents less than 1% of all malignant lymphomas. In this study, we assessed the disease profile, outcome, and prognostic factors in patients with Stages I and II PBL.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Thirteen Rare Cancer Network (RCN) institutions enrolled 116 consecutive patients with PBL treated between 1987 and 2008 in this study. Eighty-seven patients underwent chemoradiotherapy (CXRT) without (78) or with (9) surgery, 15 radiotherapy (RT) without (13) or with (2) surgery, and 14 chemotherapy (CXT) without (9) or with (5) surgery. Median RT dose was 40 Gy (range, 4-60). The median number of CXT cycles was six (range, 2-8). Median follow-up was 41 months (range, 6-242).
RESULTS: The overall response rate at the end of treatment was 91% (complete response [CR] 74%, partial response [PR] 17%). Local recurrence or progression was observed in 12 (10%) patients and systemic recurrence in 17 (15%). The 5-year overall survival (OS), lymphoma-specific survival (LSS), and local control (LC) were 76%, 78%, and 92%, respectively. In univariate analyses (log-rank test), favorable prognostic factors for OS and LSS were International Prognostic Index (IPI) score 40 Gy (p = 0.005). For LC, only CR and Stage I were favorable factors. In multivariate analysis, IPI score, RT dose, CR, and CXT were independently influencing the outcome (OS and LSS). CR was the only predicting factor for LC.
CONCLUSION: This large multicenter retrospective study confirms the good prognosis of early-stage PBL treated with combined CXRT. An adequate dose of RT and complete CXT regime were associated with better outcome.
PURPOSE: To assess Robert Abbe's career and contributions to brachytherapy, in the context of the work of contemporary European and American investigators.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: Examination of his lectures and journal articles, as well as contemporaneous newspaper accounts, textbooks, and archival material.
RESULTS: Although not the first American to apply radium therapeutically, Robert Abbe was among the earliest to acquire and systematically use a clinically significant quantity. He replicated early European experimental and clinical work, and published a large series of cases treated with generally favorable results. Abbe was the first American to emphasize the role of radiobiology in optimizing therapeutic ratio. His eloquence and stature helped legitimize the new therapeutic modality.
CONCLUSIONS: Robert Abbe was probably the nation's most influential early brachytherapist. rights reserved.
Triple negative breast cancer is associated with an increased risk of residual invasive carcinoma after lumpectomy
BACKGROUND: To assess the potential mechanisms that may underlie increased local failure in triple negative (TN) breast cancers, an analysis was performed of the risk of residual carcinoma after lumpectomy with correlation to pathologic factors, including molecular phenotype.
METHODS: A review of pathologic specimens was performed for women with invasive breast cancer treated with lumpectomy followed by reexcision. Data were collected on age; tumor size, grade, and nodal stage; estrogen receptor, progesterone receptor, and human endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (Her2); extensive intraductal component; lymphovascular invasion; margins; and reexcision findings. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression analyses were performed to evaluate for associations between pathologic features of the lumpectomy specimen and reexcision findings. Molecular phenotypes were defined by conventionally used immunohistochemical pattern.
RESULTS: Data were collected on 369 patients with breast cancer. The median age was 57 years, median tumor size was 1.5 cm, 36% had positive margins, 32% had positive lymph nodes, 73.5% had the luminal A subtype, 9.5% had the luminal B subtype, 4.5% were Her2-enriched, and 12.5% were TN. Overall, 32% of patients had invasive cancer in their reexcision specimens, and 51% of those with the TN subtype had residual invasive disease on reexcision compared with 30% to 31% for other subtypes. On univariate analysis, age, tumor size, margin status, lymphovascular invasion, nodal status, and TN subtype were associated with elevated risk of residual invasive cancer. On multivariate analysis using a forward stepwise model, TN subtype maintained significance, with an odds ratio of 3.28 (P = .002).
CONCLUSION: TN subtype has a statistically significant association with an increased risk of residual tumor. This suggests the putative increase in the risk of local failure in TN patients may be related to increased residual tumor burden.
Response-dependent and reduced treatment in lower risk Hodgkin lymphoma in children and adolescents, results of P9426: a report from the Children's Oncology Group
BACKGROUND: Hodgkin lymphoma is highly curable but associated with significant late effects. Reduction of total treatment would be anticipated to reduce late effects. This aim of this study was to demonstrate that a reduction in treatment was possible without compromising survival outcomes.
METHODS: Protocol P9426, a response-dependent and reduced treatment for low risk Hodgkin lymphoma (stages I, IIA, and IIIA(1) ) was designed in 1994 based on a previous pilot project. Patients were enrolled from October 15, 1996 to September 19, 2000. Patients were randomized to receive or not receive dexrazoxane and received two cycles of chemotherapy consisting of doxorubicin, bleomycin, vincristine, and etoposide. After two cycles, patients were evaluated for response. Those in complete response (CR) received 2,550 cGy of involved field radiation therapy (IFRT). Patient with partial response or stable disease, received two more cycles of chemotherapy and IFRT at 2,550 cGy.
RESULTS: There were 294 patients enrolled, with 255 eligible for analysis. The 8-year event free survival (EFS) between the dexrazoxane randomized groups did not differ (EFS 86.8 +/- 3.1% with DRZ, and 85.7 +/- 3.3% without DRZ (P = 0.70). Forty-five percent of patients demonstrated CR after two cycles of chemotherapy. There was no difference in EFS by histology, rapidity of response, or number of cycles of chemotherapy. Six of the eight secondary malignancies in this study have been previously reported.
CONCLUSIONS: Despite reduced therapy and exclusion of most patients with lymphocyte predominant histology, EFS and overall survival are similar to other reported studies. The protocol documents that it is safe and effective to reduce therapy in low-risk Hodgkin lymphoma based on early response to chemotherapy with rapid responding patients having the same outcome as slower-responding patients when given 50% of the chemotherapy.
Prevalence of poor cardiac anatomy in carcinoma of the breast treated with whole-breast radiotherapy: reconciling modern cardiac dosimetry with cardiac mortality data
PURPOSE: : The purpose of the study was to identify patient characteristics that predict for increased cardiac exposure through dosimetric analysis of the anatomy of a cohort of women treated with left-sided tangential breast radiation. Statistical analyses estimations for the appropriate sample sizes required for detection of significant differences in cardiac mortality at 15 years were conducted, assuming a threshold V25 for radiation-induced coronary artery disease (CAD) beyond which women are at risk for radiation-induced coronary artery disease.
METHODS AND MATERIALS: : Detailed heart dosimetry was recorded. Clinical factors (age, history of CAD, diabetes, receipt of cardiotoxic agents, weight/body mass index) and anatomic factors (heart volume, breast volume, cardiac contact distance) were recorded for each patient.
RESULTS: : The average heart V25 was 3.57%. The median percentage of the heart included in the tangential beam was 4.02%. There were no clinical or anatomic factors that predict suboptimal heart anatomy (ie, V25 of >/=6%) on multivariate analysis. The sample size calculations using thresholds for induction of CAD of V25 >/=1%, 6%, and 10% yielded sample sizes of 1314, 9504, and 61,342, respectively; considering node-positive breast cancer mortality and 15% loss to follow-up, these change to 2237, 16,166, and 104,334, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: : Current studies with modern radiotherapy techniques would be underpowered to detect a difference in cardiac mortality where only some women are at risk. The heart, chest wall, and breast have a complex relationship to tangential breast radiation, and their interplay prevented this anatomic metric's success.
The National Cancer Institute (NCI) clinical cooperative groups have been instrumental over the past 50 years in developing clinical trials and evidence-based clinical trial processes for improvements in patient care. The cooperative groups are undergoing a transformation process to launch, conduct, and publish clinical trials more rapidly. Institutional participation in clinical trials can be made more efficient and include the expansion of relationships with international partners. This paper reviews the current processes that are in use in radiation therapy trials and the importance of maintaining effective credentialing strategies to assure the quality of the outcomes of clinical trials. The paper offers strategies to streamline and harmonize credentialing tools and processes moving forward as the NCI undergoes transformative change in the conduct of clinical trials.
Outcome of patients with localized orbital sarcoma who relapsed following treatment on Intergroup Rhabdomyosarcoma Study Group (IRSG) Protocols-III and -IV, 1984-1997: a report from the Children's Oncology Group
BACKGROUND: We wanted to ascertain patterns of recurrence, re-treatment, and outcome among 188 eligible patients treated for localized orbital sarcoma on IRSG Protocols III/IV, 1984-1997.
PROCEDURE: Retrospective chart review.
RESULTS: Twenty-four of 188 patients (12.8%) developed local (n = 22) or distant relapse (n = 2) at 0.057-7.05 years (median, 1.58) after enrollment. Ages at study entry were 0.14-17 years (median, 5 years). Initial tumor operations included biopsy (n = 20) or gross resection with microscopic residual (n = 4). Initial tumor diameters were 0.5-7 cm (median, 3). Pathologic subtypes were embryonal rhabdomyosarcoma (ERMS, n = 19), sarcoma not otherwise specified (n = 2), and alveolar RMS, botryoid ERMS, or undifferentiated sarcoma (n = 1 each). Initial treatment included vincristine/dactinomycin (n = 24) including an alkylator (n = 4) and radiotherapy (RT, n = 21). Twenty patients responded, 14 completely, 6 partially. After recurrence, patients underwent orbital exenteration (n = 10), enucleation (2), tumor excision (3), or biopsy (1); 7 had no operation, and 1 had no data. Post-relapse chemotherapy included combinations of etoposide (n = 14 patients), doxorubicin (14), ifosfamide (12), cyclophosphamide (7), and dacarbazine (n = 1). Six patients received RT, including four previously treated and two not irradiated initially. Two patients died; one at 1.79 years after contralateral brain metastasis followed by local recurrence, and another at 2.49 years after multiple local recurrences. Twenty-two patients (91.7%) survived sarcoma-free for 0.04-17 years (median, 6.9) after relapse, and 18 of 22 (82%) were alive >/=5 years after relapse.
CONCLUSION: Survival following recurrent localized orbital sarcoma appears likely after vigorous re-treatment given with curative intent.
Safety and efficacy of high-dose tamoxifen and sulindac for desmoid tumor in children: results of a Children's Oncology Group (COG) phase II study
BACKGROUND: Desmoid fibromatosis (desmoid tumor, DT) is a soft tissue neoplasm prone to recurrence despite complete surgical resection. Numerous small retrospective reports suggest that non-cytotoxic chemotherapy using tamoxifen and sulindac may be effective for DT. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of tamoxifen and sulindac in a prospective phase II study within the Children's Oncology Group.
PROCEDURES: Eligible patients were (PFS). Patients received tamoxifen and sulindac daily for 12 months or until disease progression or intolerable toxicity occurred. Response was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging.
RESULTS: Fifty-nine eligible patients were enrolled from 2004 to 2009; 78% were 10-18 years old. Twenty-two (38%) were previously untreated; 15 (41%) of the remaining 37 enrolling with recurrent DT had prior systemic chemotherapy and six (16%) had prior radiation. No life-threatening toxicity was reported. Twelve (40%) of 30 females developed ovarian cysts, which were asymptomatic in 11 cases. Ten patients completed therapy without disease progression or discontinuing treatment. Responses included four partial and one complete (5/59, 8%). The estimated 2-year PFS and survival rates were 36% (95% confidence interval: 0.23-0.48) and 96%, respectively. All three deaths were due to progressive DT.
CONCLUSIONS: Tamoxifen and sulindac caused few serious side effects in children with DT, although ovarian cysts were common. However, the combination showed relatively little activity as measured by response and PFS rates.
Semiquantitative mIBG scoring as a prognostic indicator in patients with stage 4 neuroblastoma: a report from the Children's oncology group
Radiolabeled metaiodobenzylguanidine (mIBG) is a highly sensitive and specific marker for detecting neuroblastoma. A semiquantitative mIBG score (Curie score [CS]) was assessed for utility as a prognostic indicator for a cohort of patients with high-risk metastatic disease.
METHODS: mIBG scans from 280 patients with mIBG-avid, stage 4 neuroblastoma enrolled on the Children's Oncology Group (COG) protocol A3973 were evaluated at diagnosis (n = 280), after induction chemotherapy (n = 237), and after an autologous stem cell transplantation (n = 178). Individual mIBG scans were evaluated at 10 different anatomic regions, with the scoring of each site (0-3) based on the extent of disease at that anatomic region.
RESULTS: There was no correlation between CS at diagnosis and subsequent treatment outcome. Patients with a CS > 2 after induction therapy had a significantly worse event-free survival (EFS) than those with scores 2 identified a cohort of patients at greater risk for an event, independent of other known neuroblastoma factors, including age, MYCN status, ploidy, mitosis-karyorrhexis index, and histologic grade. For MYCN-amplified tumors, the presence (CS > 0) versus absence (CS = 0) of residual mIBG avidity after induction was associated with a significantly worse outcome (3-y EFS: 11.8% +/- 7.8% vs. 49.6% +/- 7.7%, respectively; P = 0.003). After transplantation, patients with a CS > 0 had an EFS inferior to that of patients with a CS of 0 (3-y EFS: 28.9% +/- 6.8% vs. 49.3% +/- 4.9%, respectively [n = 133]; P = 0.009).
CONCLUSION: Curie scoring carries prognostic significance in the management of patients with high-risk neuroblastoma. In particular, patients with CSs > 2 after induction have extremely poor outcomes and should be considered for alternative therapeutic strategies.
Heart rate variability remains reduced and sympathetic tone elevated after temporal lobe epilepsy surgery
PURPOSE: There is evidence of autonomic dysregulation in temporal lobe epilepsy. The structures removed during temporal lobectomy are important centers of central cardiovascular control; therefore surgery may conceivably alter the cardiovascular autonomic function. The effects of temporal lobectomy on autonomic cardiac control are controversial. We investigated the effects of temporal lobectomy on heart rate variability (HRV) in the early and late postoperative periods.
METHODS: We used 1-h ECG recordings to assess heart rate variability by spectral analysis in 24 consecutive patients who underwent temporal lobectomy due to intractable temporal lobe epilepsy. ECG recordings were performed before and twice (early and late) after surgery. The results were compared with age and sex matched controls.
RESULTS: When compared with controls, all the time and frequency domain indices (SDRR, RMSSD, TP, LF and HF) were significantly lower in the patient group before surgery. Findings were similar in the early and late post-operative periods except that the LF/HF ratio increased in the patient group after the late post-operative period. Within the patient group, compared to pre-operative results, normalized HF was increased in the early post-operative period; however in the late post-operative period, LF/HF ratio was increased.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings show that in patients with intractable temporal lobe epilepsy, HRV is decreased globally in both sympathetic and parasympathetic domains. While the total HRV remains reduced throughout the postoperative periods, the LF/HF ratio, i.e., sympathovagal balance is altered, in favor of parasympathetic side early after surgery, but towards the sympathetic side after the first postoperative month. rights reserved.
Does quality of radiation therapy predict outcomes of multicenter cooperative group trials? A literature review
Central review of radiation therapy (RT) delivery within multicenter clinical trials was initiated in the early 1970s in the United States. Early quality assurance publications often focused on metrics related to process, logistics, and timing. Our objective was to review the available evidence supporting correlation of RT quality with clinical outcomes within cooperative group trials. A MEDLINE search was performed to identify multicenter studies that described central subjective assessment of RT protocol compliance (quality). Data abstracted included method of central review, definition of deviations, and clinical outcomes. Seventeen multicenter studies (1980-2012) were identified, plus one Patterns of Care Study. Disease sites were hematologic, head and neck, lung, breast, and pancreas. Between 0 and 97% of treatment plans received an overall grade of acceptable. In 7 trials, failure rates were significantly higher after inadequate versus adequate RT. Five of 9 and 2 of 5 trials reported significantly worse overall and progression-free survival after poor-quality RT, respectively. One reported a significant correlation, and 2 reported nonsignificant trends toward increased toxicity with noncompliant RT. Although more data are required, protocol-compliant RT may decrease failure rates and increase overall survival and likely contributes to the ability of collected data to answer the central trial question.
The recurrent nature of the 3 most common vestibulopathies suggests a recurrent cause. Histopathology in temporal bones from patients with these syndromes - vestibular neuronitis (VN, n = 7), Meniere's disease (MD, n = 8) and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV, n = 5) - shows focal degeneration of vestibular nerve axons and degenerated nearby facial nerve meatal ganglion cells. Transmission electron microscopic confirmation of intracytoplasmic viral particles in surgically excised vestibular nerves from patients with VN and MD support a viral etiology in these vestibulopathies. Antiviral treatment of these syndromes in a series of 211 patients with a 3- to 8-year follow-up resulted in complete control of vertigo in VN (88%), MD (90%) and BPPV (60%).
OBJECT: The goal of this study was to evaluate outcomes in patients with >/= 10 CNS metastases treated with Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery (GK-SRS).
METHODS: Patients with >/= 10 brain metastases treated using GK-SRS during the period between 2004 and 2010 were identified. Overall survival and local and regional control as well as necrosis rates were determined. The influence of age, sex, histological type, extracranial metastases, whole-brain radiation therapy, and number of brain metastases was analyzed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Univariate (log-rank) analyses were performed, with a p value of < 0.05 considered significant.
RESULTS: Fifty-three patients with >/= 10 brain metastases were treated between 2004 and 2010. All had a Karnofsky Performance Status score of >/= 70. Seventy-two percent had either non-small cell lung cancer (38%) or breast cancer (34%); melanoma, small cell lung cancer, renal cell carcinoma, and testicular, colon, and ovarian cancer contributed the remaining 28%. On average, 10.9 lesions were treated in a single session. Sixty-four percent of patients received prior whole-brain radiation therapy. The median survival was 6.5 months. One-year overall survival was 42% versus 14% when comparing breast cancer and other histological types, respectively (p = 0.074). Age, extracranial metastases, number of brain metastases, and previous CNS radiation therapy were not significant prognostic factors. Although the median time to local failure was not reached, the median time to regional failure was 3 months. Female sex was associated with longer time to regional failure (p = 0.004), as was breast cancer histological type (p = 0.089). No patient experienced symptomatic necrosis.
CONCLUSIONS: Patients with >/= 10 brain metastases who received prior CNS radiation can safely undergo repeat treatment with GK-SRS. With median survival exceeding 6 months, aggressive local treatment remains an option; however, rapid CNS failure is to be expected. Although numbers are limited, patients with breast cancer represent one group of individuals who would benefit most, with prolonged survival and extended time to CNS recurrence.
Discusses some of the challenges libraries are facing and how the Lamar Soutter Library at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is addressing them with an innovative library fellows program.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease is a fatal neurodegenerative disease. ALS is typically adult onset and is characterized by rapidly progressive loss of both upper and lower motor neurons that leads to death usually within 3-5 years. About 90% of all the cases are sporadic with no family history while the remaining 10% are familial cases with mutations in several genes including SOD1, FUS/TLS, TDP43 and C9ORF72.
FUS/TLS (Fused in Sarcoma/Translocated in Liposarcoma or FUS) is an RNA/DNA binding protein that is involved in multiple cellular functions including DNA damage repair, transcription, mRNA splicing, RNA transport and stress response. More than 40 mutations have now been identified in FUS that account for about 5% of all the familial cases of ALS. However, the exact mechanism by which FUS causes ALS is unknown. While significant progress has been made in understanding the disease mechanism and identifying therapeutic strategies, several questions still remain largely unknown. The work presented here aims at understanding the normal functions of FUS as well as the pathogenic mechanisms by which it leads to disease.
Several studies showed the association of mutant-FUS with structures made up of RNA and proteins, called stress granules that form under various stress conditions. However, little is known about the role of endogenous FUS under stress conditions. I have shown that under hyperosmolar conditions, the predominantly nuclear FUS translocates into the cytoplasm and incorporates into stress granules. The response is specific to hyperosmolar stress because FUS remains nuclear under other stress conditions tested, such as oxidative stress, ER stress and heat shock. The response of FUS is rapid, and cells with reduced FUS levels are susceptible to the hyperosmolar stress, indicating a pro-survival role for FUS. In addition to investigating the functions of endogenous wild-type (WT) FUS, the work presented also focuses on identifying the pathogenic mechanism(s) of FUS variants. Using various biochemical techniques, I have shown that ALS-causing FUS variants are misfolded compared to the WT protein. Furthermore, in a squid axoplasm based vesicle motility assay, the FUS variants inhibit fast axonal transport (FAT) in a p38 MAPK dependent manner, indicating a role for the kinase in mutant-FUS mediated disease pathogenesis. Analysis of human ALS patient samples indicates higher levels of total and phospho p38, supporting the notion that aberrant regulation of p38 MAPK is involved in ALS.
The results presented in this dissertation 1) support a novel prosurvival role for FUS under hyperosmolar stress conditions and, 2) demonstrate that protein misfolding and aberrant kinase activation contribute to ALS pathogenesis by FUS variants.
An Integrated Structural Mechanism for Relief of Autoinhibition and Membrane Targeting in Cytohesin Family Guanine Nucleotide Exchange Factors: A Dissertation
Guanine nucleotide exchange factors (GEFs) regulate and organize diverse cellular processes through their role in converting GTPases from the inactive GDP bound state to the active GTP bound state. An increasing number of GEFs undergo autoregulatory mechanisms through complex intramolecular interactions. Relief of autoinhibition involves specific phosphorylation or binding to lipid and/or effector proteins at sites distal from the catalytic domain, and is often coupled to membrane recruitment. In Cytohesin Arf GEFs, the catalytic Sec7 domain is autoinhibited by a linker region and C-terminal helix flanking a Pleckstrin Homology (PH) domain. Upon binding of the PH domain to low abundance phosphoinositides, the GTPase Arf6-GTP can both relieve autoinhibition and recruit Cytohesins to the plasma membrane. This thesis focuses on determining the molecular mechanism underlying both these functions.
The structural mechanisms by which Arf6-GTP binding relieves autoinhibition were studied using biochemical and crystallographic studies. The crystal structure of the Grp1 PH domain in complex with Arf6 revealed that Arf6-GTP binding relieves autoinhibition through competitive sequestration of the inhibitory elements into grooves formed at the periphery of the interface. Importantly, the interaction orients all known membrane targeting components to a common surface. Detailed biochemical studies showed a common mode of binding among Cytohesin family members in which phosphoinositide head group binding primes the interaction with Arf6, and membrane recruitment of both stimulatory and substrate Arf enhances the effect.
To assess changes in the Sec7 domain conformation upon activation, Size Exclusion Chromatography in line with Small Angle X-Ray Scattering (SEC-SAXS) was performed. The unique nature of this data led to the development of a novel data analysis and processing strategy. A graphically based, python-extensible software package was created for data normalization, buffer correction, Guinier Analysis, and constant background subtraction. As an unbiased substitute for traditional buffer subtraction, a method to reconstruct the protein scattering through singular value decomposition (SVD) and linear combination of the basis vectors was developed. These methods produced exceptional data quality and allowed versatility for application to other data collection techniques or systems, especially those lacking confident buffer matching or low signal.
SEC-SAXS confirmed the overall structure of autoinhibited Grp1 in solution and showed only slight overall changes upon activation by deletion of the autoinhibitory Cterminal helix. Fusion of Arf6 with Grp1 produced a consistently elongated shape in the active state that was incompatible with the autoinhibited or theoretical active positions of the Sec7 domain. Monte Carlo and rigid body modeling using known structural domains revealed a requirement for Sec7-PH linker flexibility in addition to Sec7 domain mobility. These data support an integrated structural model whereby phosphoinositides and Arf-GTP support nucleotide exchange at membranes through allosteric activation, membrane recruitment, and large-scale rearrangement of the Sec7 domain. Overall, these findings offer insight into Cytohesin function that can be applied to assess relief of autoinhibition in the context of other GEFs and GTPases.