Canine histiocytic malignancies (HM) are rare across the general dog population, but overrepresented in certain breeds, such as Bernese mountain dog and flat-coated retriever. Accurate diagnosis relies on immunohistochemical staining to rule out histologically similar cancers with different prognoses and treatment strategies (e.g., lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma). HM are generally treatment refractory with overall survival of less than 6 months. A lack of understanding regarding the mechanisms of disease development and progression hinders development of novel therapeutics. While the study of human tumors can benefit veterinary medicine, the rarity of the suggested orthologous disease (dendritic cell sarcoma) precludes this. This study aims to improve the understanding of underlying disease mechanisms using genome-wide DNA copy number and gene expression analysis of spontaneous HM across several dog breeds. Extensive DNA copy number disruption was evident, with losses of segments of chromosomes 16 and 31 detected in 93% and 72% of tumors, respectively. Droplet digital PCR (ddPCR) evaluation of these regions in numerous cancer specimens effectively discriminated HM from other common round cell tumors, including lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma, resulting in a novel, rapid diagnostic aid for veterinary medicine. Transcriptional analysis demonstrated disruption of the spindle assembly complex, which is linked to genomic instability and reduced therapeutic impact in humans. A key signature detected was up-regulation of Matrix Metalloproteinase 9 (MMP9), supported by an immunohistochemistry-based assessment of MMP9 protein levels. Since MMP9 has been linked with rapid metastasis and tumor aggression in humans, the data in this study offer a possible mechanism of aggression in HM.
Keywords: Aurora kinase; Chromothripsis; Dendritic cell sarcoma; Histiocytic sarcoma; MMP9.