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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32708. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032708. Epub 2012 Feb 28.

Frequent heterogeneous missense mutations of GGAP2 in prostate cancer: implications for tumor biology, clonality and mutation analysis.

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  • 1Department of Pathology and Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas, United States of America.


Prostate cancer is the most common visceral malignancy in Western men and a major cause of cancer deaths. Increased activation of the AKT and NFkB pathways have been identified as critical steps in prostate cancer initiation and progression. GGAP2 (GTP-binding and GTPase activating protein 2) is a multidomain protein that contains an N-terminal Ras homology domain (GTPase), followed by a PH domain, a C-terminal GAP domain and an ankyrin repeat domain. GGAP2 can directly activate signaling via both the AKT and NFkB pathways and acts as a node of crosstalk between these pathways. Increased GGAP2 expression is present in three quarters of prostate cancers. Mutations of GGAP2 have been reported in cell lines from other malignancies. We therefore analyzed 84 prostate cancer tissues and 43 benign prostate tissues for somatic mutations in GGAP2 by direct sequencing of individual clones derived from the GAP and GTPase domains of normal and tumor tissue. Overall, half of cancers contained mutant GAP domain clones and in 20% of cancers, 30% or more of clones were mutant in the GAP domain. Surprisingly, the mutations were heterogeneous and nonclonal, with multiple different mutations being present in many tumors. Similar findings were observed in the analysis of the GTPase domain. Mutant GGAP2 proteins had significantly higher transcriptional activity using AP-1 responsive reporter constructs when compared to wild-type protein. Furthermore, the presence of these mutations was associated with aggressive clinical behavior. The presence of high frequency nonclonal mutations of a single gene is novel and represents a new mode of genetic alteration that can promote tumor progression. Analysis of mutations in cancer has been used to predict outcome and guide therapeutic target identification but such analysis has focused on clonal mutations. Our studies indicate that in some cases high frequency nonclonal mutations may need to be assessed as well.

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