ON THE PROGRESSION OF BARRETT’S OESOPHAGUS TO BARRETT’S ADENOCARCINOMA
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Barrett’s oesophagus(BO) is the major precursor of oesophageal adenocarcinoma (OA) and we do not understand the dynamics of the evolution of BO in order to identify patients at high risk of cancer. Studies have proposed that BO is a monoclonal lesion, however recent work has shown that there are multiple independent clones present. Project 1: Determines the evolution of polyclonal dysplasia through sequencing and mapping clones onto tissue sections. I show that several cases are polyclonal but in each case only one clone progresses to cancer, suggesting oesophageal cancers are monoclonal outgrows from polyclonal Barrett’s dysplasia. Project 2: Aims to understand the clonal relationship between cells in glands displaying basal crypt dysplasia-like atypia (BCDA), as it is unclear whether those cells in the upper part of the gland arise from the same stem cell that generates the gland bases. Glands displaying BCDA show a common mutation between the dysplastic base and non-dysplastic surface suggesting a common cell of origin. Project 3: 50% of patients who undergo oesophagectomy for OA develop post-oesophagectomy Barrett’s (neo- BO) within 3-5 years possibly due to a field effect, wherein pre-neoplastic cells remain post-resection in histologically normal areas of epithelium predisposing the patient to cancer recurrence. Here I show that no genetic link between the neo-BO and the cancer is present. Immunohistochemical analysis shows that neo- Barrett’s glands are gastric in nature. Project 4: The stem cell dynamics and clonal expansion rates of BO are unknown. Here I employed diversity analysis of methylation patterns of CpG islands in the promoter regions of non-expressed genes as a molecular clock. My data suggests that 3-4 stem cells are found in each Barrett’s gland. Methylation patterns within a gland were less diverse compared to adjacent and distant glands, suggesting BO is characterized by long periods of stasis followed by bursts of clonal expansions.
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