The dynamics of gene expression changes in a mouse model of oral tumorigenesis may help refine prevention and treatment strategies in patients with oral cancer
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8321
A better understanding of the dynamics of molecular changes occurring during the early stages of oral tumorigenesis may help refine prevention and treatment strategies. We generated genome-wide expression profiles of microdissected normal mucosa, hyperplasia, dysplasia and tumors derived from the 4-NQO mouse model of oral tumorigenesis. Genes differentially expressed between tumor and normal mucosa defined the "tumor gene set" (TGS), including 4 non-overlapping gene subsets that characterize the dynamics of gene expression changes through different stages of disease progression. The majority of gene expression changes occurred early or progressively. The relevance of these mouse gene sets to human disease was tested in multiple datasets including the TCGA and the Genomics of Drug Sensitivity in Cancer project. The TGS was able to discriminate oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) from normal oral mucosa in 3 independent datasets. The OSCC samples enriched in the mouse TGS displayed high frequency of CASP8 mutations, 11q13.3 amplifications and low frequency of PIK3CA mutations. Early changes observed in the 4-NQO model were associated with a trend toward a shorter oral cancer-free survival in patients with oral preneoplasia that was not seen in multivariate analysis. Progressive changes observed in the 4-NQO model were associated with an increased sensitivity to 4 different MEK inhibitors in a panel of 51 squamous cell carcinoma cell lines of the areodigestive tract. In conclusion, the dynamics of molecular changes in the 4-NQO model reveal that MEK inhibition may be relevant to prevention and treatment of a specific molecularly-defined subgroup of OSCC.