MAX Mutations in Endometrial Cancer: Clinicopathologic Associations and Recurrent MAX p.His28Arg Functional Characterization.

Walker CJ, Rush CM, Dama P, O'Hern MJ, Cosgrove CM, Gillespie JL, Zingarelli RA, Smith B, Stein ME, Mutch DG, Shakya R, Chang CW, Selvendiran K, Song JW, Cohn DE, Goodfellow PJ
J Natl Cancer Inst 110 517-526 05/01/2018

Abstract

Background: Genomic studies have revealed that multiple genes are mutated at varying frequency in endometrial cancer (EC); however, the relevance of many of these mutations is poorly understood. An EC-specific recurrent mutation in the MAX transcription factor p.His28Arg was recently discovered. We sought to assess the functional consequences of this hotspot mutation and determine its association with cancer-relevant phenotypes.

Methods: MAX was sequenced in 509 endometrioid ECs, and associations between mutation status and clinicopathologic features were assessed. EC cell lines stably expressing MAXH28R were established and used for functional experiments. DNA binding was examined using electrophoretic mobility shift assays and chromatin immunoprecipitation. Transcriptional profiling was performed with microarrays. Murine flank (six to 11 mice per group) and intraperitoneal tumor models were used for in vivo studies. Vascularity of xenografts was assessed by MECA-32 immunohistochemistry. The paracrine pro-angiogenic nature of MAXH28R-expressing EC cells was tested using microfluidic HUVEC sprouting assays and VEGFA enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. All statistical tests were two-sided.

Results: Twenty-two of 509 tumors harbored mutations in MAX, including 12 tumors with the p.His28Arg mutation. Patients with a MAX mutation had statistically significantly reduced recurrence-free survival (hazard ratio = 4.00, 95% confidence interval = 1.15 to 13.91, P = .03). MAXH28R increased affinity for canonical E-box sequences, and MAXH28R-expressing EC cells dramatically altered transcriptional profiles. MAXH28R-derived xenografts statistically significantly increased vascular area compared with MAXWT and empty vector tumors (P = .003 and P = .008, respectively). MAXH28R-expressing EC cells secreted nearly double the levels of VEGFA compared with MAXWT cells (P = .03, .005, and .005 at 24, 48, and 72 hours, respectively), and conditioned media from MAXH28R cells increased sprouting when applied to HUVECs.

Conclusion: These data highlight the importance of MAX mutations in EC and point to increased vascularity as one mechanism contributing to clinical aggressiveness of EC.

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