The stem cell-associated transcription co-factor ZNF521 has been implicated in the control of hematopoietic, osteo-adipogenic and neural progenitor cells. ZNF521 is highly expressed in cerebellum and in particular in the neonatal external granule layer that contains candidate medulloblastoma cells-of-origin, and in the majority of human medulloblastomas. Here we have explored its involvement in the control of human and murine medulloblastoma cells.
The effect of ZNF521 on growth and tumorigenic potential of human medulloblastoma cell lines as well as primary Ptc1−/+ mouse medulloblastoma cells was investigated in a variety of in vitro and in vivo assays, by modulating its expression using lentiviral vectors carrying the ZNF521 cDNA, or shRNAs that silence its expression.
Enforced overexpression of ZNF521 in DAOY medulloblastoma cells significantly increased their proliferation, growth as spheroids and ability to generate clones in single-cell cultures and semisolid media, and enhanced their migratory ability in wound-healing assays. Importantly, ZNF521-expressing cells displayed a greatly enhanced tumorigenic potential in nude mice. All these activities required the ZNF521 N-terminal motif that recruits the nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylase complex, which might therefore represent an appealing therapeutic target. Conversely, silencing of ZNF521 in human UW228 medulloblastoma cells that display high baseline expression decreased their proliferation, clonogenicity, sphere formation and wound-healing ability. Similarly, Zfp521 silencing in mouse Ptc1−/+ medulloblastoma cells drastically reduced their growth and tumorigenic potential.
Our data strongly support the notion that ZNF521, through the recruitment of the NuRD complex, contributes to the clonogenic growth, migration and tumorigenicity of medulloblastoma cells.
ZNF521; gene expression; medulloblastoma; cell growth; tumorigenicity; cancer stem cells
Rhabdoid tumors are highly aggressive malignancies affecting infants and very young children. In many instances these tumors are resistant to conventional type chemotherapy necessitating alternative approaches.
Proliferation assays (MTT), apoptosis (propidium iodide/annexin V) and cell cycle analysis (DAPI), RNA expression microarrays and western blots were used to identify synergism of the HDAC (histone deacetylase) inhibitor SAHA with fenretinide, tamoxifen and doxorubicin in rhabdoidtumor cell lines.
HDAC1 and HDAC2 are overexpressed in primary rhabdoid tumors and rhabdoid tumor cell lines. Targeting HDACs in rhabdoid tumors induces cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. On the other hand HDAC inhibition induces deregulated gene programs (MYCC-, RB program and the stem cell program) in rhabdoid tumors. These programs are in general associated with cell cycle progression. Targeting these activated pro-proliferative genes by combined approaches of HDAC-inhibitors plus fenretinide, which inhibits cyclinD1, exhibit strong synergistic effects on induction of apoptosis. Furthermore, HDAC inhibition sensitizes rhabdoid tumor cell lines to cell death induced by chemotherapy.
Our data demonstrate that HDAC inhibitor treatment in combination with fenretinide or conventional chemotherapy is a promising tool for the treatment of chemoresistant rhabdoid tumors.
The emergence of high-throughput, next-generation sequencing technologies has dramatically altered the way we assess genomes in population genetics and in cancer genomics. Currently, there are four commonly used whole-genome sequencing platforms on the market: Illumina’s HiSeq2000, Life Technologies’ SOLiD 4 and its completely redesigned 5500xl SOLiD, and Complete Genomics’ technology. A number of earlier studies have compared a subset of those sequencing platforms or compared those platforms with Sanger sequencing, which is prohibitively expensive for whole genome studies. Here we present a detailed comparison of the performance of all currently available whole genome sequencing platforms, especially regarding their ability to call SNVs and to evenly cover the genome and specific genomic regions. Unlike earlier studies, we base our comparison on four different samples, allowing us to assess the between-sample variation of the platforms. We find a pronounced GC bias in GC-rich regions for Life Technologies’ platforms, with Complete Genomics performing best here, while we see the least bias in GC-poor regions for HiSeq2000 and 5500xl. HiSeq2000 gives the most uniform coverage and displays the least sample-to-sample variation. In contrast, Complete Genomics exhibits by far the smallest fraction of bases not covered, while the SOLiD platforms reveal remarkable shortcomings, especially in covering CpG islands. When comparing the performance of the four platforms for calling SNPs, HiSeq2000 and Complete Genomics achieve the highest sensitivity, while the SOLiD platforms show the lowest false positive rate. Finally, we find that integrating sequencing data from different platforms offers the potential to combine the strengths of different technologies. In summary, our results detail the strengths and weaknesses of all four whole-genome sequencing platforms. It indicates application areas that call for a specific sequencing platform and disallow other platforms. This helps to identify the proper sequencing platform for whole genome studies with different application scopes.
Medulloblastoma is an aggressively-growing tumour, arising in the cerebellum or medulla/brain stem. It is the most common malignant brain tumour in children, and displays tremendous biological and clinical heterogeneity1. Despite recent treatment advances, approximately 40% of children experience tumour recurrence, and 30% will die from their disease. Those who survive often have a significantly reduced quality of life.
Four tumour subgroups with distinct clinical, biological and genetic profiles are currently discriminated2,3. WNT tumours, displaying activated wingless pathway signalling, carry a favourable prognosis under current treatment regimens4. SHH tumours show hedgehog pathway activation, and have an intermediate prognosis2. Group 3 & 4 tumours are molecularly less well-characterised, and also present the greatest clinical challenges2,3,5. The full repertoire of genetic events driving this distinction, however, remains unclear.
Here we describe an integrative deep-sequencing analysis of 125 tumour-normal pairs. Tetraploidy was identified as a frequent early event in Group 3 & 4 tumours, and a positive correlation between patient age and mutation rate was observed. Several recurrent mutations were identified, both in known medulloblastoma-related genes (CTNNB1, PTCH1, MLL2, SMARCA4) and in genes not previously linked to this tumour (DDX3X, CTDNEP1, KDM6A, TBR1), often in subgroup-specific patterns. RNA-sequencing confirmed these alterations, and revealed the expression of the first medulloblastoma fusion genes. Chromatin modifiers were frequently altered across all subgroups.
These findings enhance our understanding of the genomic complexity and heterogeneity underlying medulloblastoma, and provide several potential targets for new therapeutics, especially for Group 3 & 4 patients.
Medulloblastoma (MB) is a malignant pediatric brain tumor arising in the cerebellum consisting of four distinct subgroups: WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4, which exhibit different molecular phenotypes. We studied the expression of Dickkopf (DKK) 1–4 family genes, inhibitors of the Wnt signaling cascade, in MB by screening 355 expression profiles derived from four independent datasets. Upregulation of DKK1, DKK2 and DKK4 mRNA was observed in the WNT subgroup, whereas DKK3 was downregulated in 80% MBs across subgroups with respect to the normal cerebellum (p < 0.001). Since copy number aberrations targeting the DKK3 locus (11p15.3) are rare events, we hypothesized that epigenetic factors could play a role in DKK3 regulation. Accordingly, we studied 77 miRNAs predicting to repress DKK3; however, no significant inverse correlation between miRNA/mRNA expression was observed. Moreover, the low methylation levels in the DKK3 promoters (median: 3%, 5% and 5% for promoter 1, 2 and 3, respectively) excluded the downregulation of gene expression by methylation. On the other hand, the treatment of MB cells with Trichostatin A (TSA), a potent inhibitor of histone deacetylases (HDAC), was able to restore both DKK3 mRNA and protein. In conclusion, DKK3 downregulation across all MB subgroups may be due to epigenetic mechanisms, in particular, through chromatin condensation.
medulloblastoma; Wnt antagonists; DKK family; DKK3 downregulation; histone deacetylase; TSA
Recurrent mutations affecting the histone H3.3 residues Lys27 or indirectly Lys36 are frequent drivers of pediatric high-grade gliomas (over 30 % of HGGs). To identify additional driver mutations in HGGs, we investigated a cohort of 60 pediatric HGGs using whole-exome sequencing (WES) and compared them to 543 exomes from non-cancer control samples. We identified mutations in SETD2, a H3K36 trimethyltransferase, in 15 % of pediatric HGGs, a result that was genome-wide significant (FDR = 0.029). Most SETD2 alterations were truncating mutations. Sequencing the gene in this cohort and another validation cohort (123 gliomas from all ages and grades) showed SETD2 mutations to be specific to high-grade tumors affecting 15 % of pediatric HGGs (11/73) and 8 % of adult HGGs (5/65) while no SETD2 mutations were identified in low-grade diffuse gliomas (0/45). Furthermore, SETD2 mutations were mutually exclusive with H3F3A mutations in HGGs (P = 0.0492) while they partly overlapped with IDH1 mutations (4/14), and SETD2-mutant tumors were found exclusively in the cerebral hemispheres (P = 0.0055). SETD2 is the only H3K36 trimethyltransferase in humans, and SETD2-mutant tumors showed a substantial decrease in H3K36me3 levels (P < 0.001), indicating that the mutations are loss-of-function. These data suggest that loss-of-function SETD2 mutations occur in older children and young adults and are specific to HGG of the cerebral cortex, similar to the H3.3 G34R/V and IDH mutations. Taken together, our results suggest that mutations disrupting the histone code at H3K36, including H3.3 G34R/V, IDH1 and/or SETD2 mutations, are central to the genesis of hemispheric HGGs in older children and young adults.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1095-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
High-grade glioma; H3K36 methylation; SETD2; Epigenetic; Pediatric; Young adult
Genomic rearrangements are thought to occur progressively during tumor development. Recent findings, however, suggest an alternative mechanism, involving massive chromosome rearrangements in a one-step catastrophic event termed chromothripsis. We report the whole-genome sequencing-based analysis of a Sonic-Hedgehog medulloblastoma (SHH-MB) brain tumor from a patient with a germline TP53 mutation (Li-Fraumeni syndrome), uncovering massive, complex chromosome rearrangements. Integrating TP53 status with microarray and deep sequencing-based DNA rearrangement data in additional patients reveals a striking association between TP53 mutation and chromothripsis in SHH-MBs. Analysis of additional tumor entities substantiates a link between TP53 mutation and chromothripsis, and indicates a context-specific role for p53 in catastrophic DNA rearrangements. Among these, we observed a strong association between somatic TP53 mutations and chromothripsis in acute myeloid leukemia. These findings connect p53 status and chromothripsis in specific tumor types, providing a genetic basis for understanding particularly aggressive subtypes of cancer.
Embryonal tumor with multilayered rosettes (ETMR, previously known as ETANTR) is a highly aggressive embryonal CNS tumor, which almost exclusively affects infants and is associated with a dismal prognosis. Accurate diagnosis is of critical clinical importance because of its poor response to current treatment protocols and its distinct biology. Amplification of the miRNA cluster at 19q13.42 has been identified previously as a genetic hallmark for ETMR, but an immunohistochemistry-based assay for clinical routine diagnostics [such as INI-1 for atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumor (AT/RT)] is still lacking. In this study, we screened for an ETMR-specific marker using a gene-expression profiling dataset of more than 1,400 brain tumors and identified LIN28A as a highly specific marker for ETMR. The encoded protein binds small RNA and has been implicated in stem cell pluripotency, metabolism and tumorigenesis. Using an LIN28A specific antibody, we carried out immunohistochemical analysis of LIN28A in more than 800 childhood brain-tumor samples and confirmed its high specificity for ETMR. Strong LIN28A immunoexpression was found in all 37 ETMR samples tested, whereas focal reactivity was only present in a small (6/50) proportion of AT/RT samples. All other pediatric brain tumors were completely LIN28A-negative. In summary, we established LIN28A immunohistochemistry as a highly sensitive and specific, rapid, inexpensive diagnostic tool for routine pathological verification of ETMR.
ETMR; Pediatric brain tumor; LIN28A; Diagnostic marker
Medulloblastoma encompasses a group of aggressively growing cancers that arise either in the cerebellum or brain stem. They present primarily in children, with 80–85 % of medulloblastomas being diagnosed in patients of 16 years and younger. In adults, medulloblastomas are rare and account for less than 1 % of intracranial malignancies. Due to the low incidence of medulloblastoma in adults, the biology and genetics of adult medulloblastomas have long been poorly understood. Many centers therefore still treat adults either by radiotherapy only or by using glioblastoma protocols (both often noncurative), or with standard pediatric medulloblastoma regimes (often associated with dose-limiting toxicity).Current clinical staging systems discriminate between standard-risk or high-risk patients based on clinical and histological parameters. However, clinico-pathological features often fail to accurately predict treatment response. In children, molecularly defined risk assessment has become important to improve survival of high-risk patients and to decrease treatment-related toxicity and long-term sequelae in standard-risk patients. However, several recent studies have shown that adult and pediatric medulloblastomas are genetically distinct and may require different algorithms for molecular risk stratification. Moreover, four subtypes of medulloblastoma have been identified that appear at different frequencies in children and adults and that have a different prognostic impact depending on age. Molecular markers such as chromosome 10q and chromosome 17 statuses can be used for molecular risk stratification of adult medulloblastoma, but only in a subgroup-specific context. Here we present an overview of the current knowledge of the genomics of adult medulloblastoma and how these tumors differ from their pediatric counterparts.
Medulloblastoma; Adults; Molecular stratification
Pediatric glioblastomas (GBM) including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are devastating brain tumors with no effective therapy. Here, we investigated clinical and biological impacts of histone H3.3 mutations. Forty-two DIPGs were tested for H3.3 mutations. Wild-type versus mutated (K27M-H3.3) subgroups were compared for HIST1H3B, IDH, ATRX and TP53 mutations, copy number alterations and clinical outcome. K27M-H3.3 occurred in 71 %, TP53 mutations in 77 % and ATRX mutations in 9 % of DIPGs. ATRX mutations were more frequent in older children (p < 0.0001). No G34V/R-H3.3, IDH1/2 or H3.1 mutations were identified. K27M-H3.3 DIPGs showed specific copy number changes, including all gains/amplifications of PDGFRA and MYC/PVT1 loci. Notably, all long-term survivors were H3.3 wild type and this group of patients had better overall survival. K27M-H3.3 mutation defines clinically and biologically distinct subgroups and is prevalent in DIPG, which will impact future therapeutic trial design. K27M- and G34V-H3.3 have location-based incidence (brainstem/cortex) and potentially play distinct roles in pediatric GBM pathogenesis. K27M-H3.3 is universally associated with short survival in DIPG, while patients wild-type for H3.3 show improved survival. Based on prognostic and therapeutic implications, our findings argue for H3.3-mutation testing at diagnosis, which should be rapidly integrated into the clinical decision-making algorithm, particularly in atypical DIPG.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0998-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
DIPG; H3.3; ATRX; TP53; Survival; Targeted therapy
The surface marker PROM1 is considered one of the most important markers of tumor-initiating cells, and its expression is believed to be an adverse prognostic factor in gliomas and in other malignancies. To date, to our knowledge, no specific studies of its expression in medulloblastoma series have been performed. The aims of our study were to evaluate the expression profile of the PROM1 gene in medulloblastoma and to assess its possible role as a prognostic factor. The PROM1 gene expression was evaluated by quantitative– polymerase chain reaction on 45 medulloblastoma samples by using specific dye-labeled probe systems. A significantly higher expression of PROM1 was found both in patients with poorer prognosis (P= .007) and in those with metastasis (P= .03). Kaplan–Meier analysis showed that both overall survival (OS) and progression-free survival (PFS) were shorter in patients with higher PROM1 mRNA levels than in patients with lower expression, even when the desmoplastic cases were excluded (P= .0004 and P= .002, for OS and PFS for all cases, respectively; P= .002 and P= .008 for OS and PFS for nondesmoplastic cases, respectively). Cox regression model demonstrated that PROM1 expression is an independent prognostic factor (hazard ratio, 4.56; P= .008). The result was validated on an independent cohort of 42 cases by microarray-based analysis (P= .019). This work suggests that high mRNA levels of PROM1 are associated with poor outcome in pediatric medulloblastoma. Furthermore, high PROM1 expression levels seem to increase the likelihood of metastases. Such results need to be confirmed in larger prospective series to possibly incorporate PROM1 gene expression into risk classification systems to be used in the clinical setting.
cancer stem cells; medulloblastoma; PROM1; q-PCR
Medulloblastomas are heterogeneous tumors that collectively represent the most common malignant brain tumor in children. To understand the molecular characteristics underlying their heterogeneity and to identify whether such characteristics represent risk factors for patients with this disease, we performed an integrated genomic analysis of a large series of primary tumors.
Patients and Methods
We profiled the mRNA transcriptome of 194 medulloblastomas and performed high-density single nucleotide polymorphism array and miRNA analysis on 115 and 98 of these, respectively. Non-negative matrix factorization–based clustering of mRNA expression data was used to identify molecular subgroups of medulloblastoma; DNA copy number, miRNA profiles, and clinical outcomes were analyzed for each. We additionally validated our findings in three previously published independent medulloblastoma data sets.
Identified are six molecular subgroups of medulloblastoma, each with a unique combination of numerical and structural chromosomal aberrations that globally influence mRNA and miRNA expression. We reveal the relative contribution of each subgroup to clinical outcome as a whole and show that a previously unidentified molecular subgroup, characterized genetically by c-MYC copy number gains and transcriptionally by enrichment of photoreceptor pathways and increased miR-183∼96∼182 expression, is associated with significantly lower rates of event-free and overall survivals.
Our results detail the complex genomic heterogeneity of medulloblastomas and identify a previously unrecognized molecular subgroup with poor clinical outcome for which more effective therapeutic strategies should be developed.
Despite significant progress in the molecular understanding of medulloblastoma, stratification of risk in patients remains a challenge. Focus has shifted from clinical parameters to molecular markers, such as expression of specific genes and selected genomic abnormalities, to improve accuracy of treatment outcome prediction. Here, we show how integration of high-level clinical and genomic features or risk factors, including disease subtype, can yield more comprehensive, accurate, and biologically interpretable prediction models for relapse versus no-relapse classification. We also introduce a novel Bayesian nomogram indicating the amount of evidence that each feature contributes on a patient-by-patient basis.
Patients and Methods
A Bayesian cumulative log-odds model of outcome was developed from a training cohort of 96 children treated for medulloblastoma, starting with the evidence provided by clinical features of metastasis and histology (model A) and incrementally adding the evidence from gene-expression–derived features representing disease subtype–independent (model B) and disease subtype–dependent (model C) pathways, and finally high-level copy-number genomic abnormalities (model D). The models were validated on an independent test cohort (n = 78).
On an independent multi-institutional test data set, models A to D attain an area under receiver operating characteristic (au-ROC) curve of 0.73 (95% CI, 0.60 to 0.84), 0.75 (95% CI, 0.64 to 0.86), 0.80 (95% CI, 0.70 to 0.90), and 0.78 (95% CI, 0.68 to 0.88), respectively, for predicting relapse versus no relapse.
The proposed models C and D outperform the current clinical classification schema (au-ROC, 0.68), our previously published eight-gene outcome signature (au-ROC, 0.71), and several new schemas recently proposed in the literature for medulloblastoma risk stratification.
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in childhood. Molecular studies from several groups around the world demonstrated that medulloblastoma is not one disease but comprises a collection of distinct molecular subgroups. However, all these studies reported on different numbers of subgroups. The current consensus is that there are only four core subgroups, which should be termed WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4. Based on this, we performed a meta-analysis of all molecular and clinical data of 550 medulloblastomas brought together from seven independent studies. All cases were analyzed by gene expression profiling and for most cases SNP or array-CGH data were available. Data are presented for all medulloblastomas together and for each subgroup separately. For validation purposes, we compared the results of this meta-analysis with another large medulloblastoma cohort (n = 402) for which subgroup information was obtained by immunohistochemistry. Results from both cohorts are highly similar and show how distinct the molecular subtypes are with respect to their transcriptome, DNA copy-number aberrations, demographics, and survival. Results from these analyses will form the basis for prospective multi-center studies and will have an impact on how the different subgroups of medulloblastoma will be treated in the future.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0958-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Medulloblastoma; Pediatric brain tumor; Subgroups; Meta-analysis
Medulloblastoma, a small blue cell malignancy of the cerebellum, is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in pediatric oncology. Current mechanisms for clinical prognostication and stratification include clinical factors (age, presence of metastases, and extent of resection) as well as histological subgrouping (classic, desmoplastic, and large cell/anaplastic histology). Transcriptional profiling studies of medulloblastoma cohorts from several research groups around the globe have suggested the existence of multiple distinct molecular subgroups that differ in their demographics, transcriptomes, somatic genetic events, and clinical outcomes. Variations in the number, composition, and nature of the subgroups between studies brought about a consensus conference in Boston in the fall of 2010. Discussants at the conference came to a consensus that the evidence supported the existence of four main subgroups of medulloblastoma (Wnt, Shh, Group 3, and Group 4). Participants outlined the demographic, transcriptional, genetic, and clinical differences between the four subgroups. While it is anticipated that the molecular classification of medulloblastoma will continue to evolve and diversify in the future as larger cohorts are studied at greater depth, herein we outline the current consensus nomenclature, and the differences between the medulloblastoma subgroups.
Medulloblastoma; Consensus; Subgroups; SHH; WNT; Group 3; Group 4
Poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) is a protein involved in single strand break repair. Recently, PARP inhibitors have shown considerable promise in the treatment of several cancers, both in monotherapy and in combination with cytotoxic agents. Synthetic lethal action of PARP inhibitors has been observed in tumors with mutations in double strand break repair pathways. In addition, PARP inhibition potentially enhances sensitivity of tumor cells to DNA damaging agents, including radiotherapy. Aim of this study is to determine the radiosensitizing properties of the PARP inhibitor Olaparib in childhood medulloblastoma, ependymoma and high grade glioma (HGG). Increased PARP1 expression was observed in medulloblastoma, ependymoma and HGG, as compared to non-neoplastic brain tissue. Pediatric high grade glioma, medulloblastoma and ependymoma gene expression profiling revealed that high PARP1 expression is associated with poor prognosis. Cell growth inhibition assays with Olaparib resulted in differential sensitivity, with IC50 values ranging from 1.4 to 8.4 μM, irrespective of tumor type and PARP1 protein expression. Sensitization to radiation was observed in medulloblastoma, ependymoma and HGG cell lines with subcytotoxic concentrations of Olaparib, which coincided with persistence of double strand breaks. Combining PARP inhibitors with radiotherapy in clinical studies in childhood high grade brain tumors may improve therapeutic outcome.
PARP; radiation; medulloblastoma; ependymoma; glioma; pediatric
The diagnosis of medulloblastoma likely encompasses several distinct entities, with recent evidence for the existence of at least four unique molecular subgroups that exhibit distinct genetic, transcriptional, demographic, and clinical features. Assignment of molecular subgroup through routine profiling of high-quality RNA on expression microarrays is likely impractical in the clinical setting. The planning and execution of medulloblastoma clinical trials that stratify by subgroup, or which are targeted to a specific subgroup requires technologies that can be economically, rapidly, reliably, and reproducibly applied to formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) specimens. In the current study, we have developed an assay that accurately measures the expression level of 22 medulloblastoma subgroup-specific signature genes (CodeSet) using nanoString nCounter Technology. Comparison of the nanoString assay with Affymetrix expression array data on a training series of 101 medulloblastomas of known subgroup demonstrated a high concordance (Pearson correlation r = 0.86). The assay was validated on a second set of 130 non-overlapping medulloblastomas of known subgroup, correctly assigning 98% (127/130) of tumors to the appropriate subgroup. Reproducibility was demonstrated by repeating the assay in three independent laboratories in Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. Finally, the nanoString assay could confidently predict subgroup in 88% of recent FFPE cases, of which 100% had accurate subgroup assignment. We present an assay based on nanoString technology that is capable of rapidly, reliably, and reproducibly assigning clinical FFPE medulloblastoma samples to their molecular subgroup, and which is highly suited for future medulloblastoma clinical trials.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-011-0899-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Medulloblastoma; Molecular classification; Clinical trials; NanoString
Both OTX2 and MYC are important oncogenes in medulloblastoma, the most common malignant brain tumor in childhood. Much is known about MYC binding to promoter regions, but OTX2 binding is hardly investigated. We used ChIP-on-chip data to analyze the binding patterns of both transcription factors in D425 medulloblastoma cells. When combining the data for all promoter regions in the genome, OTX2 binding showed a remarkable bi-modal distribution pattern with peaks around −250 bp upstream and +650 bp downstream of the transcription start sites (TSSs). Indeed, 40.2% of all OTX2-bound TSSs had more than one significant OTX2-binding peak. This OTX2-binding pattern was very different from the TSS-centered single peak binding pattern observed for MYC and other known transcription factors. However, in individual promoter regions, OTX2 and MYC have a strong tendency to bind in proximity of each other. OTX2-binding sequences are depleted near TSSs in the genome, providing an explanation for the observed bi-modal distribution of OTX2 binding. This contrasts to the enrichment of E-box sequences at TSSs. Both OTX2 and MYC binding independently correlated with higher gene expression. Interestingly, genes of promoter regions with multiple OTX2 binding as well as MYC binding showed the highest expression levels in D425 cells and in primary medulloblastomas. Genes within this class of promoter regions were enriched for medulloblastoma and stem cell specific genes. Our data suggest an important functional interaction between OTX2 and MYC in regulating gene expression in medulloblastoma.
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Despite recent improvements in cure rates, prediction of disease outcome remains a major challenge and survivors suffer from serious therapy-related side-effects. Recent data showed that patients with WNT-activated tumors have a favorable prognosis, suggesting that these patients could be treated less intensively, thereby reducing the side-effects. This illustrates the potential benefits of a robust classification of medulloblastoma patients and a detailed knowledge of associated biological mechanisms.
Methods and Findings
To get a better insight into the molecular biology of medulloblastoma we established mRNA expression profiles of 62 medulloblastomas and analyzed 52 of them also by comparative genomic hybridization (CGH) arrays. Five molecular subtypes were identified, characterized by WNT signaling (A; 9 cases), SHH signaling (B; 15 cases), expression of neuronal differentiation genes (C and D; 16 and 11 cases, respectively) or photoreceptor genes (D and E; both 11 cases). Mutations in β-catenin were identified in all 9 type A tumors, but not in any other tumor. PTCH1 mutations were exclusively identified in type B tumors. CGH analysis identified several fully or partly subtype-specific chromosomal aberrations. Monosomy of chromosome 6 occurred only in type A tumors, loss of 9q mostly occurred in type B tumors, whereas chromosome 17 aberrations, most common in medulloblastoma, were strongly associated with type C or D tumors. Loss of the inactivated X-chromosome was highly specific for female cases of type C, D and E tumors. Gene expression levels faithfully reflected the chromosomal copy number changes. Clinicopathological features significantly different between the 5 subtypes included metastatic disease and age at diagnosis and histology. Metastatic disease at diagnosis was significantly associated with subtypes C and D and most strongly with subtype E. Patients below 3 yrs of age had type B, D, or E tumors. Type B included most desmoplastic cases. We validated and confirmed the molecular subtypes and their associated clinicopathological features with expression data from a second independent series of 46 medulloblastomas.
The new medulloblastoma classification presented in this study will greatly enhance the understanding of this heterogeneous disease. It will enable a better selection and evaluation of patients in clinical trials, and it will support the development of new molecular targeted therapies. Ultimately, our results may lead to more individualized therapies with improved cure rates and a better quality of life.
Serial Analysis of Gene Expression (SAGE) and microarrays have found awidespread application, but much ambiguity exists regarding the evaluation of these technologies. Cross-platform utilization of gene expression data from the SAGE and microarray technology could reduce the need for duplicate experiments and facilitate a more extensive exchange of data within the research community. This requires a measure for the correspondence of the different gene expression platforms. To date, a number of cross-platform evaluations (including a few studies using SAGE and Affymetrix GeneChips) have been conducted showing a variable, but overall low, concordance. This study evaluates these overall measures and introduces the between-ratio difference as a concordance measure pergene.
In this study, gene expression measurements of Unigene clusters represented by both Affymetrix GeneChips HG-U133A and SAGE were compared using two independent RNA samples. After matching of the data sets the final comparison contains a small data set of 1094 unique Unigene clusters, which is unbiased with respect to expression level. Different overall correlation approaches, like Up/Down classification, contingency tables and correlation coefficients were used to compare both platforms. In addition, we introduce a novel approach to compare two platforms based on the calculation of differences between expression ratios observed in each platform for each individual transcript. This approach results in a concordance measure per gene (with statistical probability value), as opposed to the commonly used overall concordance measures between platforms.
We can conclude that intra-platform correlations are generally good, but that overall agreement between the two platforms is modest. This might be due to the binomially distributed sampling variation in SAGE tag counts, SAGE annotation errors and the intensity variation between probe sets of a single gene in Affymetrix GeneChips. We cannot identify or advice which platform performs better since both have their (dis)-advantages. Therefore it is strongly recommended to perform follow-up studies of interesting genes using additional techniques. The newly introduced between-ratio difference is a filtering-independent measure for between-platform concordance. Moreover, the between-ratio difference per gene can be used to detect transcripts with similar regulation on both platforms.