RAC1 genomic aberrations as predictive biomarkers for Head and Neck Squamous Cell Carcinoma (HNSCC)
Refereed conference paper presented and published in conference proceedings


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AbstractRAC1 is a small GTPase with known oncogenicity. Mutations of RAC1 are highly relevant to melanoma. Yet, little is known about RAC1 aberrations in other human cancers, including HNSCC. Pan-cancer analysis of 32 cancer types from the TCGA reveals that RAC1 mutations only affect 12/32 cancer types and HNSCC is the 2nd most frequently affected (2.64%; 14/510 cases), after melanoma (4.59%, 22/479 cases). 28/34 cancer types harbor RAC1 copy number alterations, including HNSCC (2.08% cases, all are amplifications). Among all 14 HNSCC-associated RAC1 mutations found in the TCGA cohort, RAC1 p.A159V mutation (residing in the highly conserved G5 Box of RAC1) appears to be particularly prevalent in HNSCC (6/14 cases), suggesting a likely mutant-specific role in HNSCC. HNSCC patients with somatic RAC1 aberrations [gene amplification/copy number gain/hotspot mutations (p.P29, p.K116 and p.A159)] have poorer overall survival (OS)(P=4.555e-5; median survival of 30.91 months vs 68.43 months) and disease-free survival (DFS) (P=5.49e-5; 27.89 months vs unreached median) vs. RAC1-unaltered HNSCC patients. RAC1-mutated tumors are also associated with a higher rate of TP53 mutation (P=2.07e-6), and a lower rate of HPV infection (P=7.397e-6; 7.7% vs. 87.2%; Fisher’s Exact test). Further, RAC1-altered patients are of more advanced T clinical staging (T3/4 vs T1/2; P=0.0312) and with more gross/microscopic extension (P=0.0111; 59/119 vs 54/201). These evidences strongly suggest that HNSCC with RAC1 aberrations are more aggressive and may serve as a prognostic biomarker for HNSCC. To further elucidate the biological function of RAC1 mutations in HNSCC, we analyzed the mutational profile of RAC1-mutated HNSCC tumors which showed enriched mutations of 3 tumor suppressor genes: FAT1, FAT4 and CSMD3 (P=0.0001, P=0.0038 and P=0.0467 respectively). Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) of RAC1-mutated HNSCC also demonstrates significant dysregulation of immune-related gene sets (vs. RAC1-WT tumors) including increased interleukin-6 (IL-6) production (P<0.0001), a pro-tumorigenic inflammatory cytokine known to be involved in HNSCC tumorigenesis and progression. A previous study showed that overexpression of RAC1 activating mutation (p.V12) could upregulate IL-6 production in a cervical cancer model, HeLa, which is supportive of a RAC1/IL-6 axis in HNSCC. This is further supported by our RNAseq finding that RAC1-mutated HNSCC tumors do have significant upregulation of MYD88 (P=0.0436), a gene that has been shown to induce IL-6 secretion in HNSCC cells. Subsequent Tumor Immune Estimation Resource (TIMER) analysis shows that RAC1-mutated HNSCC primary tumors have higher infiltrating neutrophil levels than RAC1-WT tumors (P=0.019). Our findings may uncover a novel tumorigenic mechanism by RAC1 mutations in HNSCC, first linking IL-6 dysregulation to an oncogene mutation in HNSCC.
All Author(s) ListHoi Lam NGAN, Yuchen LIU, Peony Hiu Yan POON, Vivian Wai Yan LUI
Name of ConferenceAnnual Meeting of the American-Association-for-Cancer-Research (AACR)
Start Date of Conference29/03/2019
End Date of Conference03/04/2019
Place of ConferenceAtlanta
Country/Region of ConferenceUnited States of America
Proceedings TitleCancer Research
Year2019
Month3
Day29
Volume Number79
Issue NumberSuppl 13
ISSN0008-5472
eISSN1538-7445
LanguagesEnglish-United States

Last updated on 2020-28-03 at 02:15