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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Exploration of the gene fusion landscape of glioblastoma using transcriptome sequencing and copy number data

Nameeta Shah*, Michael Lankerovich, Hwahyung Lee, Jae-Geun Yoon, Brett Schroeder and Greg Foltz

Author Affiliations

The Ben and Catherine Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment, Swedish Neuroscience Institute, Seattle WA, USA

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BMC Genomics 2013, 14:818  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-818

Published: 22 November 2013

Abstract

Background

RNA-seq has spurred important gene fusion discoveries in a number of different cancers, including lung, prostate, breast, brain, thyroid and bladder carcinomas. Gene fusion discovery can potentially lead to the development of novel treatments that target the underlying genetic abnormalities.

Results

In this study, we provide comprehensive view of gene fusion landscape in 185 glioblastoma multiforme patients from two independent cohorts. Fusions occur in approximately 30-50% of GBM patient samples. In the Ivy Center cohort of 24 patients, 33% of samples harbored fusions that were validated by qPCR and Sanger sequencing. We were able to identify high-confidence gene fusions from RNA-seq data in 53% of the samples in a TCGA cohort of 161 patients. We identified 13 cases (8%) with fusions retaining a tyrosine kinase domain in the TCGA cohort and one case in the Ivy Center cohort. Ours is the first study to describe recurrent fusions involving non-coding genes. Genomic locations 7p11 and 12q14-15 harbor majority of the fusions. Fusions on 7p11 are formed in focally amplified EGFR locus whereas 12q14-15 fusions are formed by complex genomic rearrangements. All the fusions detected in this study can be further visualized and analyzed using our website: http://ivygap.swedish.org/fusions webcite.

Conclusions

Our study highlights the prevalence of gene fusions as one of the major genomic abnormalities in GBM. The majority of the fusions are private fusions, and a minority of these recur with low frequency. A small subset of patients with fusions of receptor tyrosine kinases can benefit from existing FDA approved drugs and drugs available in various clinical trials. Due to the low frequency and rarity of clinically relevant fusions, RNA-seq of GBM patient samples will be a vital tool for the identification of patient-specific fusions that can drive personalized therapy.

Keywords:
Gene fusion; Glioblastoma; RNA-seq; EGFR fusions; NTRK1; ROS1; FGFR3-TACC3; PIK3C2B; Non-coding gene fusions