Variant Ciz1 is a circulating biomarker for early-stage lung cancer.

There is an unmet need for circulating biomarkers that can detect early-stage lung cancer. Here we show that a variant form of the nuclear matrix-associated DNA replication factor Ciz1 is present in 34/35 lung tumors but not in adjacent tissue, giving rise to stable protein quantifiable by Western blot in less than a microliter of plasma from lung cancer patients. In two independent sets, with 170 and 160 samples, respectively, variant Ciz1 correctly identified patients who had stage 1 lung cancer with clinically useful accuracy. For set 1, mean variant Ciz1 level in individuals without diagnosed tumors established a threshold that correctly classified 98% of small cell lung cancers (SCLC) and non-SCLC patients [receiver operator characteristic area under the curve (AUC) 0.958]. Within set 2, comparison of patients with stage 1 non-SCLC with asymptomatic age-matched smokers or individuals with benign lung nodules correctly classified 95% of patients (AUCs 0.913 and 0.905), with overall specificity of 76% and 71%, respectively. Moreover, using the mean of controls in set 1, we achieved 95% sensitivity among patients with stage 1 non-SCLC patients in set 2 with 74% specificity, demonstrating the robustness of the classification. RNAi-mediated selective depletion of variant Ciz1 is sufficient to restrain the growth of tumor cells that express it, identifying variant Ciz1 as a functionally relevant driver of cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. The data show that variant Ciz1 is a strong candidate for a cancer-specific single marker capable of identifying early-stage lung cancer within at-risk groups without resort to invasive procedures.

Ainscough JF, Blackhall FH, Coverley D, Higgins G, Pass HI, Rom WN, Roper KM, Watson IJ


Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 2012, 109 (45)

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