David Wong, M.D., Ph.D., is a Clinical Associate Professor of Dermatology and the CEO of Direct Dermatology, Inc. He attended medical school at University of Washington School of Medicine and completed his residency at Stanford University. He also received his PhD in Molecular Genetics at the University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His clinical interests include skin cancer, teledermatology, and care innovation for underserved communities.

Clinical Focus

  • Skin Cancer
  • Teledermatology
  • Dermatology

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Research Fellowship, Dermatology Foundation (2005-2006)
  • Research Career Development Award, Dermatology Foundation (2006-2009)
  • Young Investigator Award, American Academy of Dermatology (2008)
  • K08 Clinical Scientist Development Award, NIH (2009-2010)

Professional Education

  • Internship: Santa Clara Valley Medical Center (2003) CA
  • Board Certification: American Board of Dermatology, Dermatology (2006)
  • Residency: Stanford University Medical Center (2006) CA
  • Medical Education: University of Washington School of Medicine (2002) WA
  • M.D., University of Washington (2002)
  • Ph.D., Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, Molecular and Cellular Biology (2000)
  • B.S., Brown University, Biochemistry (1994)
  • Residency, Stanford University, Dermatology (2006)

Current Research and Scholarly Interests

My research interest is focused on investigating the molecular networks that underlie cancer stem cells and designing therapies that selectively target these cells, thereby eliminating a cancer's potential for regrowth.

Graduate and Fellowship Programs

All Publications

  • Extensive and coordinated transcription of noncoding RNAs within cell-cycle promoters NATURE GENETICS Hung, T., Wang, Y., Lin, M. F., Koegel, A. K., Kotake, Y., Grant, G. D., Horlings, H. M., Shah, N., Umbricht, C., Wang, P., Wang, Y., Kong, B., Langerod, A., Borresen-Dale, A., Kim, S. K., van de Vijver, M., Sukumar, S., Whitfield, M. L., Kellis, M., Xiong, Y., Wong, D. J., Chang, H. Y. 2011; 43 (7): 621-U196


    Transcription of long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) within gene regulatory elements can modulate gene activity in response to external stimuli, but the scope and functions of such activity are not known. Here we use an ultrahigh-density array that tiles the promoters of 56 cell-cycle genes to interrogate 108 samples representing diverse perturbations. We identify 216 transcribed regions that encode putative lncRNAs, many with RT-PCR-validated periodic expression during the cell cycle, show altered expression in human cancers and are regulated in expression by specific oncogenic stimuli, stem cell differentiation or DNA damage. DNA damage induces five lncRNAs from the CDKN1A promoter, and one such lncRNA, named PANDA, is induced in a p53-dependent manner. PANDA interacts with the transcription factor NF-YA to limit expression of pro-apoptotic genes; PANDA depletion markedly sensitized human fibroblasts to apoptosis by doxorubicin. These findings suggest potentially widespread roles for promoter lncRNAs in cell-growth control.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ng.848

    View details for PubMedID 21642992

  • Stemness, cancer and cancer stem cells CELL CYCLE Wong, D. J., Segal, E., Chang, H. Y. 2008; 7 (23): 3622-3624


    The ability of cancers to grow indefinitely has fueled the idea that cancer and stem cells may have common underlying mechanisms. Detailed gene expression maps have now shown the diversity and distinctiveness in gene expression programs associated with stemness in embryonic and adult stem cells. These maps have further revealed a shared transcriptional program in embryonic stem cells (ESC) and cancer stem cells. Surprisingly, forced activation of an ESC-like gene expression program in adult epithelial cells can reprogram them into human cancer stem cells and achieve pathologic self-renewal. The ability to create induced cancer stem cells (iCSC) may provide opportunities to better define the biology of cancer stem cells in order to trace or eliminate them in human patients.

    View details for PubMedID 19029796

  • Deletional tolerance mediated by extrathymic Aire-expressing cells SCIENCE Gardner, J. M., DeVoss, J. J., Friedman, R. S., Wong, D. J., Tan, Y. X., Zhou, X., Johannes, K. P., Su, M. A., Chang, H. Y., Krummel, M. F., Anderson, M. S. 2008; 321 (5890): 843-847


    The prevention of autoimmunity requires the elimination of self-reactive T cells during their development and maturation. The expression of diverse self-antigens by stromal cells in the thymus is essential to this process and depends, in part, on the activity of the autoimmune regulator (Aire) gene. Here we report the identification of extrathymic Aire-expressing cells (eTACs) resident within the secondary lymphoid organs. These stromally derived eTACs express a diverse array of distinct self-antigens and are capable of interacting with and deleting naïve autoreactive T cells. Using two-photon microscopy, we observed stable antigen-specific interactions between eTACs and autoreactive T cells. We propose that such a secondary network of self-antigen-expressing stromal cells may help reinforce immune tolerance by preventing the maturation of autoreactive T cells that escape thymic negative selection.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1159407

    View details for Web of Science ID 000258261000048

    View details for PubMedID 18687966

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC2532844

  • Module map of stem cell genes guides creation of epithelial cancer stem cells CELL STEM CELL Wong, D. J., Liu, H., Ridky, T. W., Cassarino, D., Segal, E., Chang, H. Y. 2008; 2 (4): 333-344


    Self-renewal is a hallmark of stem cells and cancer, but existence of a shared stemness program remains controversial. Here, we construct a gene module map to systematically relate transcriptional programs in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), adult tissue stem cells, and human cancers. This map reveals two predominant gene modules that distinguish ESCs and adult tissue stem cells. The ESC-like transcriptional program is activated in diverse human epithelial cancers and strongly predicts metastasis and death. c-Myc, but not other oncogenes, is sufficient to reactivate the ESC-like program in normal and cancer cells. In primary human keratinocytes transformed by Ras and I kappa B alpha, c-Myc increases the fraction of tumor-initiating cells by 150-fold, enabling tumor formation and serial propagation with as few as 500 cells. c-Myc-enhanced tumor initiation is cell-autonomous and independent of genomic instability. Thus, activation of an ESC-like transcriptional program in differentiated adult cells may induce pathologic self-renewal characteristic of cancer stem cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.stem.2008.02.009

    View details for PubMedID 18397753

  • Revealing targeted therapy for human cancer by gene module maps CANCER RESEARCH Wong, D. J., Nuyten, D. S., Regev, A., Lin, M., Adler, A. S., Segal, E., van de Vijver, M. J., Chang, H. Y. 2008; 68 (2): 369-378


    A major goal of cancer research is to match specific therapies to molecular targets in cancer. Genome-scale expression profiling has identified new subtypes of cancer based on consistent patterns of variation in gene expression, leading to improved prognostic predictions. However, how these new genetic subtypes of cancers should be treated is unknown. Here, we show that a gene module map can guide the prospective identification of targeted therapies for genetic subtypes of cancer. By visualizing genome-scale gene expression in cancer as combinations of activated and deactivated functional modules, gene module maps can reveal specific functional pathways associated with each subtype that might be susceptible to targeted therapies. We show that in human breast cancers, activation of a poor-prognosis "wound signature" is strongly associated with induction of both a mitochondria gene module and a proteasome gene module. We found that 3-bromopyruvic acid, which inhibits glycolysis, selectively killed breast cells expressing the mitochondria and wound signatures. In addition, inhibition of proteasome activity by bortezomib, a drug approved for human use in multiple myeloma, abrogated wound signature expression and selectively killed breast cells expressing the wound signature. Thus, gene module maps may enable rapid translation of complex genomic signatures in human disease to targeted therapeutic strategies.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-0382

    View details for PubMedID 18199530

  • Learning more from microarrays: Insights from modules and networks JOURNAL OF INVESTIGATIVE DERMATOLOGY Wong, D. J., Chang, H. Y. 2005; 125 (2): 175-182


    Global gene expression patterns can provide comprehensive molecular portraits of biologic diversity and complex disease states, but understanding the physiologic meaning and genetic basis of the myriad gene expression changes have been a challenge. Several new analytic strategies have now been developed to improve the interpretation of microarray data. Because genes work together in groups to carry out specific functions, defining the unit of analysis by coherent changes in biologically meaningful sets of genes, termed modules, improves our understanding of the biological processes underlying the gene expression changes. The gene module approach has been used in exploratory discovery of defective oxidative phosphorylation in diabetes mellitus and also has allowed definitive hypothesis testing on a genomic scale for the relationship between wound healing and cancer and for the oncogenic mechanism of cyclin D. To understand the genetic basis of global gene expression patterns, computational modeling of regulatory networks can highlight key regulators of the gene expression changes, and many of these predictions can now be experimentally validated using global chromatin-immunoprecipitation analysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/j.0022-202X.2005.23827.x

    View details for PubMedID 16098025

  • A Molecular Signature for Purified Definitive Endoderm Guides Differentiation and Isolation of Endoderm from Mouse and Human Embryonic Stem Cells STEM CELLS AND DEVELOPMENT Wang, P., McKnight, K. D., Wong, D. J., Rodriguez, R. T., Sugiyama, T., Gu, X., Ghodasara, A., Qu, K., Chang, H. Y., Kim, S. K. 2012; 21 (12): 2273-2287


    Embryonic definitive endoderm (DE) generates the epithelial compartment of vital organs such as liver, pancreas, and intestine. However, purification of DE in mammals has not been achieved, limiting the molecular "definition" of endoderm, and hindering our understanding of DE development and attempts to produce endoderm from sources such as embryonic stem (ES) cells. Here, we describe purification of mouse DE using fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) and mice harboring a transgene encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) inserted into the Sox17 locus, which is expressed in the embryonic endoderm. Comparison of patterns of signaling pathway activation in native mouse DE and endoderm-like cells generated from ES cells produced novel culture modifications that generated Sox17-eGFP⁺ progeny whose gene expression resembled DE more closely than achieved with standard methods. These studies also produced new FACS methods for purifying DE from nontransgenic mice and mouse ES cell cultures. Parallel studies of a new human SOX17-eGFP ES cell line allowed analysis of endoderm differentiation in vitro, leading to culture modifications that enhanced expression of an endoderm-like signature. This work should accelerate our understanding of mechanisms regulating DE development in mice and humans, and guide further use of ES cells for tissue replacement.

    View details for DOI 10.1089/scd.2011.0416

    View details for PubMedID 22236333

  • Interferon and Biologic Signatures in Dermatomyositis Skin: Specificity and Heterogeneity across Diseases PLOS ONE Wong, D., Kea, B., Pesich, R., Higgs, B. W., Zhu, W., Brown, P., Yao, Y., Fiorentino, D. 2012; 7 (1)


    Dermatomyositis (DM) is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the skin, muscle, and lung. The pathogenesis of skin inflammation in DM is not well understood.We analyzed genome-wide expression data in DM skin and compared them to those from healthy controls. We observed a robust upregulation of interferon (IFN)-inducible genes in DM skin, as well as several other gene modules pertaining to inflammation, complement activation, and epidermal activation and differentiation. The interferon (IFN)-inducible genes within the DM signature were present not only in DM and lupus, but also cutaneous herpes simplex-2 infection and to a lesser degree, psoriasis. This IFN signature was absent or weakly present in atopic dermatitis, allergic contact dermatitis, acne vulgaris, systemic sclerosis, and localized scleroderma/morphea. We observed that the IFN signature in DM skin appears to be more closely related to type I than type II IFN based on in vitro IFN stimulation expression signatures. However, quantitation of IFN mRNAs in DM skin shows that the majority of known type I IFNs, as well as IFN g, are overexpressed in DM skin. In addition, both IFN-beta and IFN-gamma (but not other type I IFN) transcript levels were highly correlated with the degree of the in vivo IFN transcriptional response in DM skin.As in the blood and muscle, DM skin is characterized by an overwhelming presence of an IFN signature, although it is difficult to conclusively define this response as type I or type II. Understanding the significance of the IFN signature in this wide array of inflammatory diseases will be furthered by identification of the nature of the cells that both produce and respond to IFN, as well as which IFN subtype is biologically active in each diseased tissue.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0029161

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301123400030

    View details for PubMedID 22235269

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3250414

  • Invasive three-dimensional organotypic neoplasia from multiple normal human epithelia NATURE MEDICINE Ridky, T. W., Chow, J. M., Wong, D. J., Khavari, P. A. 2010; 16 (12): 1450-U137


    Refined cancer models are required if researchers are to assess the burgeoning number of potential targets for cancer therapeutics in a clinically relevant context that allows a fast turnaround. Here we use tumor-associated genetic pathways to transform primary human epithelial cells from the epidermis, oropharynx, esophagus and cervix into genetically defined tumors in a human three-dimensional (3D) tissue environment that incorporates cell-populated stroma and intact basement membrane. These engineered organotypic tissues recapitulated natural features of tumor progression, including epithelial invasion through basement membrane, a complex process that is necessary for biological malignancy in 90% of human cancers. Invasion was rapid and was potentiated by stromal cells. Oncogenic signals in 3D tissue, but not 2D culture, resembled gene expression profiles from spontaneous human cancers. We screened 3D organotypic neoplasia with well-characterized signaling pathway inhibitors to distill a clinically faithful cancer gene signature. Multitissue 3D human tissue cancer models may provide an efficient and relevant complement to current approaches to characterizing cancer progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nm.2265

    View details for PubMedID 21102459

  • Long non-coding RNA HOTAIR reprograms chromatin state to promote cancer metastasis NATURE Gupta, R. A., Shah, N., Wang, K. C., Kim, J., Horlings, H. M., Wong, D. J., Tsai, M., Hung, T., Argani, P., Rinn, J. L., Wang, Y., Brzoska, P., Kong, B., Li, R., West, R. B., van de Vijver, M. J., Sukumar, S., Chang, H. Y. 2010; 464 (7291): 1071-U148


    Large intervening non-coding RNAs (lincRNAs) are pervasively transcribed in the genome yet their potential involvement in human disease is not well understood. Recent studies of dosage compensation, imprinting, and homeotic gene expression suggest that individual lincRNAs can function as the interface between DNA and specific chromatin remodelling activities. Here we show that lincRNAs in the HOX loci become systematically dysregulated during breast cancer progression. The lincRNA termed HOTAIR is increased in expression in primary breast tumours and metastases, and HOTAIR expression level in primary tumours is a powerful predictor of eventual metastasis and death. Enforced expression of HOTAIR in epithelial cancer cells induced genome-wide re-targeting of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) to an occupancy pattern more resembling embryonic fibroblasts, leading to altered histone H3 lysine 27 methylation, gene expression, and increased cancer invasiveness and metastasis in a manner dependent on PRC2. Conversely, loss of HOTAIR can inhibit cancer invasiveness, particularly in cells that possess excessive PRC2 activity. These findings indicate that lincRNAs have active roles in modulating the cancer epigenome and may be important targets for cancer diagnosis and therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature08975

    View details for Web of Science ID 000276635000045

    View details for PubMedID 20393566

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC3049919

  • Identification, molecular characterization, clinical prognosis, and therapeutic targeting of human bladder tumor-initiating cells PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Chan, K. S., Espinosa, I., Chao, M., Wong, D., Ailles, L., Diehn, M., Gill, H., Presti, J., Chang, H. Y., van de Rijn, M., Shortliffe, L., Weissman, I. L. 2009; 106 (33): 14016-14021


    Major clinical issues in bladder cancer include the identification of prediction markers and novel therapeutic targets for invasive bladder cancer. In the current study, we describe the isolation and characterization of a tumor-initiating cell (T-IC) subpopulation in primary human bladder cancer, based on the expression of markers similar to that of normal bladder basal cells (Lineage-CD44(+)CK5(+)CK20(-)). The bladder T-IC subpopulation was defined functionally by its enriched ability to induce xenograft tumors in vivo that recapitulated the heterogeneity of the original tumor. Further, molecular analysis of more than 300 bladder cancer specimens revealed heterogeneity among activated oncogenic pathways in T-IC (e.g., 80% Gli1, 45% Stat3, 10% Bmi-1, and 5% beta-catenin). Despite this molecular heterogeneity, we identified a unique bladder T-IC gene signature by gene chip analysis. This T-IC gene signature, which effectively distinguishes muscle-invasive bladder cancer with worse clinical prognosis from non-muscle-invasive (superficial) cancer, has significant clinical value. It also can predict the progression of a subset of recurring non-muscle-invasive cancers. Finally, we found that CD47, a protein that provides an inhibitory signal for macrophage phagocytosis, is highly expressed in bladder T-ICs compared with the rest of the tumor. Blockade of CD47 by a mAb resulted in macrophage engulfment of bladder cancer cells in vitro. In summary, we have identified a T-IC subpopulation with potential prognostic and therapeutic value for invasive bladder cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.0906549106

    View details for PubMedID 19666525

  • CSN5 isopeptidase activity links COP9 signalosome activation to breast cancer progression CANCER RESEARCH Adler, A. S., Littlepage, L. E., Lin, M., Kawahara, T. L., Wong, D. J., Werb, Z., Chang, H. Y. 2008; 68 (2): 506-515


    CSN5 has been implicated as a candidate oncogene in human breast cancers by genetic linkage with activation of the poor-prognosis, wound response gene expression signature. CSN5 is a subunit of the eight-protein COP9 signalosome, a signaling complex with multiple biochemical activities; the mechanism of CSN5 action in cancer development remains poorly understood. Here, we show that CSN5 isopeptidase activity is essential for breast epithelial transformation and progression. Amplification of CSN5 is required for transformation of primary human breast epithelial cells by defined oncogenes. The transforming effects of CSN5 require CSN subunits for assembly of the full COP9 signalosome and the isopeptidase activity of CSN5, which potentiates the transcriptional activity of MYC. Transgenic inhibition of CSN5 isopeptidase activity blocks breast cancer progression evoked by MYC and RAS in vivo. These results highlight CSN5 isopeptidase activity in breast cancer progression, suggesting it as a therapeutic target in aggressive human breast cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-07-3060

    View details for PubMedID 18199546

  • p16(INK4a) lesions are common, early abnormalities that undergo clonal expansion in Barrett's metaplastic epithelium CANCER RESEARCH Wong, D. J., Paulson, T. G., Prevo, L. J., Galipeau, P. C., Longton, G., Blount, P. L., Reid, B. J. 2001; 61 (22): 8284-8289


    Barrett's esophagus (BE) is the only known precursor to esophageal adenocarcinoma, a cancer of which the incidence has been increasing at an alarming rate in Western countries. p16(INK4a) lesions occur frequently in esophageal adenocarcinomas but their role in neoplastic progression is not well understood. We detected 9p21 loss of heterozygosity, p16 CpG island methylation, and p16 mutations in biopsies from 57%, 61%, and 15%, respectively, of 107 patients with BE. In contrast, no mutations were found in p14(ARF) or p15, and methylation was found in only 4% and 13%, respectively. >85% of Barrett's segments had clones with one (p16+/-) or two (p16-/-) p16 lesions. Both p16+/- and p16-/- clones underwent extensive expansion involving up to 17 cm of esophageal mucosa. The prevalence of established biomarkers in BE, such as 17p (p53) loss of heterozygosity, aneuploidy, and/or increased 4N (tetraploid) populations, increased from 0% to 20% to 44% in patients whose biopsies were p16+/+, p16+/-, and p16-/-, respectively (P < 0.001). Barrett's segment lengths also increased with change in p16 status with a median of 1.5, 6.0, and 8.0 cm for patients with p16+/+, p16+/-, and p16-/- biopsies, respectively (P < 0.001). We conclude that most Barrett's metaplasia contains genetic and/or epigenetic p16 lesions and has the ability to undergo clonal expansion, creating a field in which other abnormalities can arise that can lead to esophageal adenocarcinoma.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000172317500036

    View details for PubMedID 11719461

  • Progressive region-specific de novo methylation of the p16 CpG island in primary human mammary epithelial cell strains during escape from M-0 growth arrest MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Wong, D. J., Foster, S. A., Galloway, D. A., Reid, B. J. 1999; 19 (8): 5642-5651


    CpG island methylation plays an important role in normal cellular processes, such as genomic imprinting and X-chromosome inactivation, as well as in abnormal processes, such as neoplasia. However, the dynamics of de novo CpG island methylation, during which a CpG island is converted from an unmethylated, active state to a densely methylated, inactive state, are largely unknown. It is unclear whether the development of de novo CpG island methylation is a progressive process, in which a subset of CpG sites are initially methylated with a subsequent increase in methylation density, or a single event, in which the initial methylation event encompasses the entire CpG island. The tumor suppressor gene p16/CDKN2a/INK4a (p16) is inactivated by CpG island methylation during neoplastic progression in a variety of human cancers. We investigated the development of methylation in the p16 CpG island in primary human mammary epithelial cell strains during escape from mortality stage 0 (M(0)) growth arrest. The methylation status of 47 CpG sites in the p16 CpG island on individual DNA molecules was determined by sequencing PCR clones of bisulfite-treated genomic DNA. The p16 CpG island was initially methylated at a subset of sites in three discrete regions in association with p16 transcriptional repression and escape from M(0) growth arrest. With continued passage, methylation gradually increased in density and methylation expanded to sites in adjacent regions. Thus, de novo methylation in the p16 CpG island is a progressive process that is neither site specific nor completely random but instead is region specific. Our results suggest that early detection of methylation in the CpG island of the p16 gene will require methylation analysis of the three regions and that the identification of region-specific methylation patterns in other genes may be essential for an accurate assessment of methylation-mediated transcriptional silencing.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000081513800039

    View details for PubMedID 10409753

  • Evolution of neoplastic cell lineages in Barrett oesophagus NATURE GENETICS Barrett, M. T., Sanchez, C. A., Prevo, L. J., Wong, D. J., Galipeau, P. C., Paulson, T. G., Rabinovitch, P. S., Reid, B. J. 1999; 22 (1): 106-109


    It has been hypothesized that neoplastic progression develops as a consequence of an acquired genetic instability and the subsequent evolution of clonal populations with accumulated genetic errors. Accordingly, human cancers and some premalignant lesions contain multiple genetic abnormalities not present in the normal tissues from which the neoplasms arose. Barrett oesophagus (BE) is a premalignant condition which predisposes to oesophageal adenocarcinoma (EA) that can be biopsied prospectively over time because endoscopic surveillance is recommended for early detection of cancer. In addition, oesophagectomy specimens frequently contain the premalignant epithelium from which the cancer arose. Neoplastic progression in BE is associated with alterations in TP53 (also known as p53) and CDKN2A (also known as p16) and non-random losses of heterozygosity (LOH). Aneuploid or increased 4N populations occur in more than 90-95% of EAs, arise in premalignant epithelium and predict progression. We have previously shown in small numbers of patients that disruption of TP53 and CDKN2A typically occurs before aneuploidy and cancer. Here, we determine the evolutionary relationships of non-random LOH, TP53 and CDKN2A mutations, CDKN2A CpG-island methylation and ploidy during neoplastic progression. Diploid cell progenitors with somatic genetic or epigenetic abnormalities in TP53 and CDKN2A were capable of clonal expansion, spreading to large regions of oesophageal mucosa. The subsequent evolution of neoplastic progeny frequently involved bifurcations and LOH at 5q, 13q and 18q that occurred in no obligate order relative to each other, DNA-content aneuploidy or cancer. Our results indicate that clonal evolution is more complex than predicted by linear models.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000080096300034

    View details for PubMedID 10319873

  • p16(INK4a) expression is frequently decreased and associated with 9p21 loss of heterozygosity in sporadic melanoma JOURNAL OF CUTANEOUS PATHOLOGY FUNK, J. O., Schiller, P. I., Barrett, M. T., Wong, D. J., Kind, P., SANDER, C. A. 1998; 25 (6): 291-296


    The product of the p16/INK4a/CDKN2/MTS1 tumor-suppressor gene acts as a negative cell cycle regulator by inhibiting G1 cyclin-dependent kinases that phosphorylate the retinoblastoma protein. p16 is inactivated in a wide range of human malignancies, including familial melanoma. However, its expression and function in sporadic melanoma has not been extensively investigated. We studied p16 expression in 62 archival melanomas and 30 archival nevi and lentigines by immunohistochemistry. Eighteen of 26 (69%) superficial spreading melanomas, 17 of 28 (61%) nodular melanomas, all of three lentigo maligna melanomas, and all of five melanoma metastases were found to harbor less than 10% p16-positive tumor cells. In contrast, only six of 24 (25%) nevi had less than 10% positive cells. No correlation between tumor thickness and loss of p16 expression was found. Using DNA from micro-dissected tumor and matched normal tissues, five of seven (71%) p16-negative melanoma cases had 9p21 loss of heterozygosity (LOH), and one of these 9p21 LOH cases had promoter region hypermethylation of the remaining p16 allele. These data demonstrate that partial or complete loss of p16 expression is prevalent in sporadic melanoma and is frequently associated with 9p21 LOH.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000074683500002

    View details for PubMedID 9694617

  • Inactivation of p16 in human mammary epithelial cells by CpG island methylation MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY Foster, S. A., Wong, D. J., Barrett, M. T., Galloway, D. A. 1998; 18 (4): 1793-1801


    Proliferation of human mammary epithelial cells (HMEC) is limited to a few passages in culture due to an arrest in G1 termed selection or mortality stage 0, M0. A small number of cells spontaneously escape M0, continue to proliferate in culture, and then enter a second mortality stage, M1, at which they senesce. Evidence that M0 involves the Rb pathway comes from the observation that expression of human papillomavirus type 16 E7 alleviates the M0 proliferation block, and we further show that the Rb-binding region of E7 is required to allow cells to bypass M0. In contrast, E6 does not prevent HMEC from entering M0 but, rather, is involved in M1 bypass. Here we show that inactivation of the D-type cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor p16INK4A is associated with escape from the M0 proliferation block. Early-passage HMEC express readily detectable amounts of p16 protein, whereas normal or E6-expressing HMEC that escaped M0 expressed markedly reduced amounts of p16 mRNA and protein. This initial reduction of p16 expression was associated with limited methylation of the p16 promoter region CpG island. At later passages, a further reduction in p16 expression occurred, accompanied by increased CpG island methylation. In contrast, reduction of p16 expression did not occur in E7-expressing HMEC that bypassed M0, due to inactivation of Rb. These observations in the E6-expressing HMEC correlate well with the finding that CpG island methylation is a mechanism of p16 inactivation in the development of human tumors, including breast cancer.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000072613700004

    View details for PubMedID 9528751

  • Members of the olfactory receptor gene family are contained in large blocks of DNA duplicated polymorphically near the ends of human chromosomes HUMAN MOLECULAR GENETICS Trask, B. J., Friedman, C., Martin-Gallardo, A., Rowen, L., Akinbami, C., Blankenship, J., Collins, C., Giorgi, D., Iadonato, S., Johnson, F., Kuo, W. L., Massa, H., Morrish, T., Naylor, S., Nguyen, O. T., Rouquier, S., Smith, T., Wong, D. J., Youngblom, J., van den Engh, G. 1998; 7 (1): 13-26


    We have identified three new members of the olfactory receptor (OR) gene family within a large segment of DNA that is duplicated with high similarity near many human telomeres. This segment is present at 3q, 15q, and 19p in each of 45 unrelated humans sampled from various populations. Additional copies are present polymorphically at 11 other subtelomeric locations. The frequency with which the block is present at some locations varies among populations. While humans carry seven to 11 copies of the OR-containing block, it is located in chimpanzee and gorilla predominantly at a single site, which is not orthologous to any of the locations in the human genome. The observation that sequences flanking the OR-containing segment are duplicated on larger and different sets of chromosomes than the OR block itself demonstrates that the segment is part of a much larger, complex patchwork of subtelomeric duplications. The population analyses and structural results suggest the types of processes that have shaped these regions during evolution. From its sequence, one of the OR genes in this duplicated block appears to be potentially functional. Our findings raise the possibility that functional diversity in the OR family is generated in part through duplications and inter-chromosomal rearrangements of the DNA near human telomeres.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000071656200002

    View details for PubMedID 9384599

  • P16(INK4 alpha) promoter is hypermethylated at a high frequency in esophageal adenocarcinomas CANCER RESEARCH Wong, D. J., Barrett, M. T., Stoger, R., Emond, M. J., Reid, B. J. 1997; 57 (13): 2619-2622


    Loss of heterozygosity (LOH) of 9p21, which contains the p16INK4a tumor suppressor gene locus, is one of the most frequent genetic abnormalities in human neoplasia, including esophageal adenocarcinomas. Only a minority of Barrett's adenocarcinomas with 9p21 LOH have a somatic mutation in the remaining p16 allele, and none have been found to have homozygous deletions. To determine whether p16 promoter hypermethylation may be an alternative mechanism for p16 inactivation in esophageal adenocarcinomas, we examined the methylation status of the p16 promoter in flow-sorted aneuploid cell populations from 21 patients with premalignant Barrett's epithelium or esophageal adenocarcinoma. Using bisulfite modification, primer-extension preamplification, and methylation-specific PCR, we demonstrate that the methylation assay can be performed on 2 ng of DNA (approximately 275 cells). Eight of 21 patients (38%) had p16 promoter hypermethylation and 9p21 LOH, including 3 patients who had only premalignant Barrett's epithelium. Our data suggest that promoter hypermethylation with LOH is a common mechanism for inactivation of p16 in the pathogenesis of esophageal adenocarcinomas.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1997XG57500020

    View details for PubMedID 9205067



    Little is known about genes that govern the development of the definitive endoderm in mammals; this germ layer gives rise to the intestinal epithelium and various other cell types, such as hepatocytes, derived from the gut. The discovery that the rat hepatocyte transcription factor HNF3 is similar to the Drosophila forkhead gene, which plays a critical role in gut development in the fly, led us to isolate genes containing the HNF3/forkhead (HFH) domain that are expressed in mouse endoderm development. We recovered mouse HNF3 beta from an embryo cDNA library and found that the gene is first expressed in the anterior portion of the primitive streak at the onset of gastrulation, in a region where definitive endoderm first arises. Its expression persists in axial structures derived from the mouse equivalent of Hensen's node, namely definitive endoderm and notochord, and in the ventral region of the developing neural tube. Expression of the highly related gene, HNF3 alpha, appears to initiate later than HNF3 beta and is first seen in midline endoderm cells. Expression subsequently appears in notochord, ventral neural tube, and gut endoderm in patterns similar to HNF3 beta. Microscale DNA binding assays show that HNF3 proteins are detectable in the midgut at 9.5 days p.c. At later stages HNF3 mRNAs and protein are expressed strongly in endoderm-derived tissues such as the liver. HNF3 is also the only known hepatocyte-enriched transcription factor present in a highly de-differentiated liver cell line that retains the capacity to redifferentiate to the hepatic phenotype. Taken together, these studies suggest that HNF3 alpha and HNF3 beta are involved in both the initiation and maintenance of the endodermal lineage. We also discovered a novel HFH-containing gene, HFH-E5.1, that is expressed transiently in posterior ectoderm and mesoderm at the primitive streak stage, and later predominantly in the neural tube. HFH-E5.1 is highly similar in structure and expression profile to the Drosophila HFH gene FD4, suggesting that HFH family members have different, evolutionarily conserved roles in development.

    View details for Web of Science ID A1993MM50900027

    View details for PubMedID 8306889