Background:Thymomas are one of the most rarely diagnosed malignancies. To better understand its biology and to identify therapeutic targets, we performed next-generation RNA sequencing.Methods:The RNA was sequenced from 13 thymic malignancies and 3 normal thymus glands. Validation of microRNA expression was performed on a separate set of 35 thymic malignancies. For cell-based studies, a thymoma cell line was used.Results:Hierarchical clustering revealed 100% concordance between gene expression clusters and WHO subtype. A substantial differentiator was a large microRNA cluster on chr19q13.42 that was significantly overexpressed in all A and AB tumours and whose expression was virtually absent in the other thymomas and normal tissues. Overexpression of this microRNA cluster activates the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway. Treatment of a thymoma AB cell line with a panel of PI3K/AKT/mTOR inhibitors resulted in marked reduction of cell viability.Conclusions:A large microRNA cluster on chr19q13.42 is a transcriptional hallmark of type A and AB thymomas. Furthermore, this cluster activates the PI3K pathway, suggesting the possible exploration of PI3K inhibitors in patients with these subtypes of tumour. This work has led to the initiation of a phase II clinical trial of PI3K inhibition in relapsed or refractory thymomas (http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT02220855).
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research