4 September 2008
Human cancer cells typically harbor multiple chromosomal aberrations, nucleotide substitutions and epigenetic modifications that drive malignant transformation. The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) pilot project aims to assess the value of large-scale multidimensional analysis of these molecular characteristics in human cancer and to provide the data rapidly to the research community. Here, we report the interim integrative analysis of DNA copy number, gene expression and DNA methylation aberrations in 206 glioblastomas (GBM), the most common type of adult brain cancer, and nucleotide sequence aberrations in 91 of the 206 GBMs. This analysis provides new insights into the roles of ERBB2, NF1 and TP53, uncovers frequent mutations of the PI3 kinase regulatory subunit gene PIK3R1, and provides a network view of the pathways altered in the development of GBM. Furthermore, integration of mutation, DNA methylation and clinical treatment data reveals a link between MGMT promoter methylation and a hypermutator phenotype consequent to mismatch repair deficiency in treated glioblastomas, an observation with potential clinical implications. Together, these findings establish the feasibility and power of TCGA, demonstrating that it can rapidly expand knowledge of the molecular basis of cancer.