2022 journal article
Exome sequencing of hepatocellular carcinoma in lemurs identifies potential cancer drivers A pilot study
EVOLUTION MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH, 10(1), 221–230.
Hepatocellular carcinoma occurs frequently in prosimians, but the cause of these liver cancers in this group is unknown. Characterizing the genetic changes associated with hepatocellular carcinoma in prosimians may point to possible causes, treatments and methods of prevention, aiding conservation efforts that are particularly crucial to the survival of endangered lemurs. Although genomic studies of cancer in non-human primates have been hampered by a lack of tools, recent studies have demonstrated the efficacy of using human exome capture reagents across primates.In this proof-of-principle study, we applied human exome capture reagents to tumor-normal pairs from five lemurs with hepatocellular carcinoma to characterize the mutational landscape of this disease in lemurs.Several genes implicated in human hepatocellular carcinoma, including ARID1A, TP53 and CTNNB1, were mutated in multiple lemurs, and analysis of cancer driver genes mutated in these samples identified enrichment of genes involved with TP53 degradation and regulation. In addition to these similarities with human hepatocellular carcinoma, we also noted unique features, including six genes that contain mutations in all five lemurs. Interestingly, these genes are infrequently mutated in human hepatocellular carcinoma, suggesting potential differences in the etiology and/or progression of this cancer in lemurs and humans.Collectively, this pilot study suggests that human exome capture reagents are a promising tool for genomic studies of cancer in lemurs and other non-human primates.Hepatocellular carcinoma occurs frequently in prosimians, but the cause of these liver cancers is unknown. In this proof-of-principle study, we applied human DNA sequencing tools to tumor-normal pairs from five lemurs with hepatocellular carcinoma and compared the lemur mutation profiles to those of human hepatocellular carcinomas.