An Integrative Analysis of Transcriptome and Epigenome Features of ASCL1–Positive Lung Adenocarcinomas

Naoya Miyashita, Masafumi Horie, Hiroshi I. Suzuki, Masahito Yoshihara, Dijana Djureinovic, Johan Persson, Hans Brunnström, Cecilia Lindskog, Hedvig Elfving, Patrick Micke, Akira Saito, Takahide Nagase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (SciVal)


Introduction: A subgroup of lung adenocarcinoma shows neuroendocrine differentiation and expression of achaete-scute family bHLH transcription factor 1 (ASCL1), common to high-grade neuroendocrine tumors, small-cell lung cancer and large cell neuroendocrine carcinoma. Methods: The aim of this study was to characterize clinical and molecular features of ASCL1-positive lung adenocarcinoma by using recent transcriptome profiling in multiple patient cohorts and genome-wide epigenetic profiling including data from The Cancer Genome Atlas. Results: The ASCL1-positive subtype of lung adenocarcinoma developed preferentially in current or former smokers and usually did not harbor EGFR mutations. In transcriptome profiling, this subtype overlapped with the recently proposed proximal-proliferative molecular subtype. Gene expression profiling of ASCL1-positive cases suggested generally poor immune cell infiltration and none of the tumors were positive for programmed cell death ligand 1 protein expression. Genome-wide methylation analysis showed global DNA hypomethylation in ASCL1-positive cases. ASCL1 was associated with super-enhancers in ASCL1-positive lung adenocarcinoma cells, and ASCL1 silencing suppressed other super-enhancer-associated genes, suggesting that ASCL1 acts as a master transcriptional regulator. This was further reinforced by the essential roles of ASCL1 in cell proliferation, survival, and cell cycle control. Conclusions: These results suggest that ASCL1 defines a subgroup of lung adenocarcinoma with distinct molecular features by driving super-enhancer-mediated transcriptional programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1676-1691
JournalJournal of Thoracic Oncology
Issue number11
Early online date2018 Aug 16
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Nov

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Cancer and Oncology


  • Adenocarcinoma
  • ASCL1
  • Lung cancer
  • Neuroendocrine


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