School of Mathematics and Statistics - Research Publications

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    R code and downstream analysis objects for the scRNA-seq atlas of normal and tumorigenic human breast tissue
    Chen, Y ; Pal, B ; Lindeman, GJ ; Visvader, JE ; Smyth, GK (NATURE PORTFOLIO, 2022-03-23)
    Breast cancer is a common and highly heterogeneous disease. Understanding cellular diversity in the mammary gland and its surrounding micro-environment across different states can provide insight into cancer development in the human breast. Recently, we published a large-scale single-cell RNA expression atlas of the human breast spanning normal, preneoplastic and tumorigenic states. Single-cell expression profiles of nearly 430,000 cells were obtained from 69 distinct surgical tissue specimens from 55 patients. This article extends the study by providing quality filtering thresholds, downstream processed R data objects, complete cell annotation and R code to reproduce all the analyses. Data quality assessment measures are presented and details are provided for all the bioinformatic analyses that produced results described in the study.
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    In vivo genome-editing screen identifies tumor suppressor genes that cooperate with Trp53 loss during mammary tumorigenesis
    Heitink, L ; Whittle, JR ; Vaillant, F ; Capaldo, BD ; Dekkers, JF ; Dawson, CA ; Milevskiy, MJG ; Surgenor, E ; Tsai, M ; Chen, H-R ; Christie, M ; Chen, Y ; Smyth, GK ; Herold, MJ ; Strasser, A ; Lindeman, GJ ; Visvader, JE (WILEY, 2022-01-26)
    Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease that comprises multiple histological and molecular subtypes. To gain insight into mutations that drive breast tumorigenesis, we describe a pipeline for the identification and validation of tumor suppressor genes. Based on an in vivo genome-wide CRISPR/Cas9 screen in Trp53+/- heterozygous mice, we identified tumor suppressor genes that included the scaffold protein Axin1, the protein kinase A regulatory subunit gene Prkar1a, as well as the proof-of-concept genes Pten, Nf1, and Trp53 itself. Ex vivo editing of primary mammary epithelial organoids was performed to further interrogate the roles of Axin1 and Prkar1a. Increased proliferation and profound changes in mammary organoid morphology were observed for Axin1/Trp53 and Prkar1a/Trp53 double mutants compared to Pten/Trp53 double mutants. Furthermore, direct in vivo genome editing via intraductal injection of lentiviruses engineered to express dual short-guide RNAs revealed that mutagenesis of Trp53 and either Prkar1a, Axin1, or Pten markedly accelerated tumor development compared to Trp53-only mutants. This proof-of-principle study highlights the application of in vivo CRISPR/Cas9 editing for uncovering cooperativity between defects in tumor suppressor genes that elicit mammary tumorigenesis.
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    Single cell transcriptome atlas of mouse mammary epithelial cells across development
    Pal, B ; Chen, Y ; Milevskiy, MJG ; Vaillant, F ; Prokopuk, L ; Dawson, CA ; Capaldo, BD ; Song, X ; Jackling, F ; Timpson, P ; Lindeman, GJ ; Smyth, GK ; Visvader, JE (BMC, 2021-06-29)
    BACKGROUND: Heterogeneity within the mouse mammary epithelium and potential lineage relationships have been recently explored by single-cell RNA profiling. To further understand how cellular diversity changes during mammary ontogeny, we profiled single cells from nine different developmental stages spanning late embryogenesis, early postnatal, prepuberty, adult, mid-pregnancy, late-pregnancy, and post-involution, as well as the transcriptomes of micro-dissected terminal end buds (TEBs) and subtending ducts during puberty. METHODS: The single cell transcriptomes of 132,599 mammary epithelial cells from 9 different developmental stages were determined on the 10x Genomics Chromium platform, and integrative analyses were performed to compare specific time points. RESULTS: The mammary rudiment at E18.5 closely aligned with the basal lineage, while prepubertal epithelial cells exhibited lineage segregation but to a less differentiated state than their adult counterparts. Comparison of micro-dissected TEBs versus ducts showed that luminal cells within TEBs harbored intermediate expression profiles. Ductal basal cells exhibited increased chromatin accessibility of luminal genes compared to their TEB counterparts suggesting that lineage-specific chromatin is established within the subtending ducts during puberty. An integrative analysis of five stages spanning the pregnancy cycle revealed distinct stage-specific profiles and the presence of cycling basal, mixed-lineage, and 'late' alveolar intermediates in pregnancy. Moreover, a number of intermediates were uncovered along the basal-luminal progenitor cell axis, suggesting a continuum of alveolar-restricted progenitor states. CONCLUSIONS: This extended single cell transcriptome atlas of mouse mammary epithelial cells provides the most complete coverage for mammary epithelial cells during morphogenesis to date. Together with chromatin accessibility analysis of TEB structures, it represents a valuable framework for understanding developmental decisions within the mouse mammary gland.
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    Targeting triple-negative breast cancers with the Smac-mimetic birinapant
    Lalaoui, N ; Merino, D ; Giner, G ; Vaillant, F ; Chau, D ; Liu, L ; Kratina, T ; Pal, B ; Whittle, JR ; Etemadi, N ; Berthelet, J ; Grasel, J ; Hall, C ; Ritchie, ME ; Ernst, M ; Smyth, GK ; Vaux, DL ; Visvader, JE ; Lindeman, GJ ; Silke, J (Springer Nature, 2020-04-27)
    Smac mimetics target inhibitor of apoptosis (IAP) proteins, thereby suppressing their function to facilitate tumor cell death. Here we have evaluated the efficacy of the preclinical Smac-mimetic compound A and the clinical lead birinapant on breast cancer cells. Both exhibited potent in vitro activity in triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) cells, including those from patient-derived xenograft (PDX) models. Birinapant was further studied using in vivo PDX models of TNBC and estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) breast cancer. Birinapant exhibited single agent activity in all TNBC PDX models and augmented response to docetaxel, the latter through induction of TNF. Transcriptomic analysis of TCGA datasets revealed that genes encoding mediators of Smac-mimetic-induced cell death were expressed at higher levels in TNBC compared with ER+ breast cancer, resulting in a molecular signature associated with responsiveness to Smac mimetics. In addition, the cell death complex was preferentially formed in TNBCs versus ER+ cells in response to Smac mimetics. Taken together, our findings provide a rationale for prospectively selecting patients whose breast tumors contain a competent death receptor signaling pathway for the further evaluation of birinapant in the clinic.