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Article

Combined Methylome and Transcriptome Analyses Reveals Potential Therapeutic Targets for EGFR Wild Type Lung Cancers with Low PD-L1 Expression

by 1,2,†, 3,†, 4 and 3,*
1
Institute of Translational Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310029, China
2
Center for Disease Prevention Research and Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
3
The Pq Laboratory of Micro/Nano BiomeDx, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Binghamton University—SUNY, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA
4
Department of Medicine, Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Cancers 2020, 12(9), 2496; https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092496
Received: 1 August 2020 / Revised: 22 August 2020 / Accepted: 1 September 2020 / Published: 3 September 2020
Low expression of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) wild-type non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLCs) are refractory, and only few therapeutic options exist. This study aims to clarify the molecular basis of this special subtype of NSCLC and identify potential therapeutic targets. We performed integrating data from multiple sources including transcriptome, methylome, and clinical outcome to uncover the effect of epigenetic changes acting this special subtype lung cancer. We elucidated both aberrant methylation and associated aberrant gene expression and the emerging methylation-transcription patterns were classified as HypoUp, HypoDown, HyperUp, or HyperDown. We found that the aberrant methylation-transcription patterns significantly affect the overall survival time of the patients. We used protein–drug interaction data and molecular docking analysis to identify potential therapeutic candidates. This study uncovered the distinct methylation-transcription characteristics of this special subtype lung cancer, and provided an adaptable way to identify potential therapeutic targets.
Immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) targeting PD-1/PD-L1 have demonstrated remarkable treatment efficacy in advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). However, low expression of programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) wild-type NSCLCs are refractory, and only few therapeutic options exist. Currently, combination therapy with ICIs is frequently used in order to enhance the treatment response rates. Yet, this regimen is still associated with poor treatment outcome. Therefore, identification of potential therapeutic targets for this subgroup of NSCLC is strongly desired. Here, we report the distinct methylation signatures of this special subgroup. Moreover, several druggable targets and relevant drugs for targeted therapy were incidentally identified. We found hypermethylated differentially methylated regions (DMRs) in three regions (TSS200, TSS1500, and gene body) are significantly higher than hypomethylated ones. Downregulated methylated genes were found to be involved in negative regulation of immune response and T cell-mediated immunity. Moreover, expression of four methylated genes (PLCXD3 (Phosphatidylinositol-Specific Phospholipase C, X Domain Containing 3), BAIAP2L2 (BAR/IMD Domain Containing Adaptor Protein 2 Like 2), NPR3 (Natriuretic Peptide Receptor 3), SNX10 (Sorting Nexin 10)) can influence patients’ prognosis. Subsequently, based on DrugBank data, NetworkAnalyst 3.0 was used for protein–drug interaction analysis of up-regulated differentially methylated genes. Protein products of nine genes were identified as potential druggable targets, of which the tumorigenic potential of XDH (Xanthine Dehydrogenase), ATIC (5-Aminoimidazole-4-Carboxamide Ribonucleotide Formyltransferase/IMP Cyclohydrolase), CA9 (Carbonic Anhydrase 9), SLC7A11 (Solute Carrier Family 7 Member 11), and GAPDH (Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase) have been demonstrated in previous studies. Next, molecular docking and molecular dynamics simulation were performed to verify the structural basis of the therapeutic targets. It is noteworthy that the identified pemetrexed targeting ATIC has been recently approved for first-line use in combination with anti-PD1 inhibitors against lung cancer, irrespective of PD-L1 expression. In future work, a pivotal clinical study will be initiated to further validate our findings. View Full-Text
Keywords: DNA methylation; EGFR mutation-negative; low PD-L1 expression; immune checkpoint inhibitors; combination strategies DNA methylation; EGFR mutation-negative; low PD-L1 expression; immune checkpoint inhibitors; combination strategies
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MDPI and ACS Style

Hu, W.; Wang, G.; Yarmus, L.B.; Wan, Y. Combined Methylome and Transcriptome Analyses Reveals Potential Therapeutic Targets for EGFR Wild Type Lung Cancers with Low PD-L1 Expression. Cancers 2020, 12, 2496. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092496

AMA Style

Hu W, Wang G, Yarmus LB, Wan Y. Combined Methylome and Transcriptome Analyses Reveals Potential Therapeutic Targets for EGFR Wild Type Lung Cancers with Low PD-L1 Expression. Cancers. 2020; 12(9):2496. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092496

Chicago/Turabian Style

Hu, Weilei, Guosheng Wang, Lonny B. Yarmus, and Yuan Wan. 2020. "Combined Methylome and Transcriptome Analyses Reveals Potential Therapeutic Targets for EGFR Wild Type Lung Cancers with Low PD-L1 Expression" Cancers 12, no. 9: 2496. https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers12092496

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