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Yong Lin, Xiaofei Jiang, Ye Shen, Min Li, Huili Ma, Mingzhao Xing and Yuan Lu

Genetic alterations in the PIK3CA gene of the phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K)/AKT pathway have been found in many human tumors, but they have not been explored in pituitary tumors. We undertook the present study to explore mutations and amplifications of the PIK3CA gene in pituitary tumors. DNA sequencing and real-time quantitative PCR were used to examine mutations and amplifications respectively, on genomic DNA samples isolated from 353 cases of pituitary tumors, and immunohistostaining was used to assess PIK3CA expression. About 8 out of 91 (9%) invasive pituitary tumors versus 0 out of 262 (0%) noninvasive tumors were found to harbor somatic mutations in exons 9 and 20 of the PIK3CA gene (P<0.001), and the mutation was associated with increased disease recurrence. Genomic PIK3CA amplifications (defined as ≥4 copies) were observed in both invasive and noninvasive tumors, with a prevalence of around 20–40% in various types of pituitary tumors. PIK3CA protein overexpression was observed in cases with high PIK3CA copy number. RAS mutations were also examined and found in 6 out of the 91 (7%) invasive tumors. PIK3CA amplifications were mutually exclusive with PIK3CA or RAS mutations (P<0.001). This study demonstrated for the first time relatively common PIK3CA mutations and amplifications as well as RAS mutations and their tendency of mutual exclusivity in pituitary tumors. The data provide strong genetic evidence supporting a role of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway in the tumorigenesis of pituitary tumors, particularly the invasive types.

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Yong Lu, Didier J L Mekoo, Kedong Ouyang, Xiangbing Hu, Yanhua Liu, Ming Lin, Liang Jin, Rongyue Cao, Taiming Li, Yankai Zhang, Hao Fan and Jingjing Liu

Previous studies demonstrated that the elevated expression and receptor binding of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) in various types of cancer suggest that GRP might be a putative target for immunotherapy in neoplastic diseases. DNA vaccine for hormone/growth factor immune deprivation represents a feasible and attractive approach for cancer treatment; nevertheless, there is still a need to increase the potency of the DNA vaccine. Here, based on six copies of the B cell epitope GRP18–27 in a linear alignment as an immunogen, we designed several anti-GRP DNA vaccines containing different combinations of immunoadjuvants, such as HSP65, tetanus toxoid830–844 (T), pan HLA-DR-binding epitope (PADRE) (P), and mycobacterial HSP70407–426 (M), on a backbone of pCR3.1 plasmid vector with eight 5′-GACGTT-3′ CpG motifs and the VEGF183 signal peptide (VS). The effects of these immunoadjuvants in enhancing GRP-specific humoral immune response were then evaluated by comparing the respective immunogenicity and antitumor effects. Immunization of mice with pCR3.1-VS-HSP65-TP-GRP6-M2 elicited much higher levels of specific anti-GRP antibodies and more effectively inhibited the growth of a GRP-dependent tumor RM-1 in vivo. Interestingly, plasmids encoding for 2HSP70407–426, but not the one with 1 or 3HSP70407–426 showed stronger immune stimulatory potential as well as impressive antitumor activity, suggesting that 2HSP70407–426 is an efficient molecular adjuvant for developing self-epitope vaccines. The highly immunogenic, potent anti-tumorigenic and antiangiogenesis activities of the anti-GRP DNA vaccine offered a novel immunotherapeutic approach in the treatment of GRP-dependent tumors and their complications.

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Xiao-Hua Jiang, Jie-Li Lu, Bin Cui, Yong-Ju Zhao, Wei-qing Wang, Jian-Min Liu, Wen-Qiang Fang, Ya-Nan Cao, Yan Ge, Chang-xian Zhang, Huguette Casse, Xiao-Ying Li and Guang Ning

Multiple endocrine neoplasia type 1 (MEN1) is an inherited tumour syndrome characterized by the development of tumours of the parathyroid, anterior pituitary and pancreatic islets, etc. Heterozygous germ line mutations of MEN1 gene are responsible for the onset of MEN1. We investigated the probands and 31 family members from eight unrelated Chinese families associated with MEN1 and identified four novel mutations, namely 373_374ins18, 822delT, 259delT and 1092delC, as well as three previously reported mutations, such as 357_360delCTGT, 427_428delTA and R108X (CGA>TGA) of MEN1 gene. Furthermore, we detected a loss of heterozygosity (LOH) at chromosome 11q in the removed tumours, including gastrinoma, insulinoma and parathyroid adenoma from two probands of MEN1 families. RT-PCR and direct sequencing showed that mutant MEN1 transcripts remained in the MEN1-associated endocrine tumours, whereas normal menin proteins could not be detected in those tumours by either immunohistochemistry or immunoblotting. In conclusion, MEN1 heterozygous mutations are associated with LOH and menin absence, which are present in MEN1-associated endocrine tumours.