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Detection of a Recurrent DNAJB1-PRKACA Chimeric Transcript in Fibrolamellar Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Science  28 Feb 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6174, pp. 1010-1014
DOI: 10.1126/science.1249484

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Oncogenic Suspect Exposed

It can be difficult logistically to study the genomics of rare variants of common cancers. Nevertheless, Honeyman et al. (p. 1010) studied fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FL-HCC), a rare and poorly understood liver tumor that affects adolescents and young adults and for which there is no effective treatment. FL-HCCs from 15 patients all expressed a chimeric RNA transcript and protein containing sequences from a molecular chaperone fused in frame with sequences from the catalytic domain of protein kinase A. The chimeric protein retained kinase activity in vitro. Such recurrent gene fusions in cancer may signal a role in pathogenesis and provide an opportunity for therapeutic intervention.

Abstract

Fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma (FL-HCC) is a rare liver tumor affecting adolescents and young adults with no history of primary liver disease or cirrhosis. We identified a chimeric transcript that is expressed in FL-HCC but not in adjacent normal liver and that arises as the result of a ~400-kilobase deletion on chromosome 19. The chimeric RNA is predicted to code for a protein containing the amino-terminal domain of DNAJB1, a homolog of the molecular chaperone DNAJ, fused in frame with PRKACA, the catalytic domain of protein kinase A. Immunoprecipitation and Western blot analyses confirmed that the chimeric protein is expressed in tumor tissue, and a cell culture assay indicated that it retains kinase activity. Evidence supporting the presence of the DNAJB1-PRKACA chimeric transcript in 100% of the FL-HCCs examined (15/15) suggests that this genetic alteration contributes to tumor pathogenesis.

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