We have extended our understanding of the molecular biology underlying adult glioblastoma over many years. In contrast, high-grade gliomas in children and adolescents have remained a relatively under-investigated disease. The latest large-scale genomic and epigenomic profiling studies have yielded an unprecedented abundance of novel data and revealed deeper insights into gliomagenesis across all age groups, highlighting key distinctions, but also some commonalities. As we are on the verge of dissecting glioblastomas into meaningful biological subgroups, this Review summarizes the hallmark genetic alterations associated with distinct epigenetic features and patient characteristics in both paediatric and adult disease, and examines the complex interplay between the glioblastoma genome and epigenome.
Midline pediatric high-grade astrocytomas (pHGAs) are incurable with few treatment targets identified. Most tumors harbor K27M mutations on histone 3 variants. In 40 treatment-naïve midline pHGAs, 39 analyzed by whole-exome sequencing, we find additional somatic mutations specific to tumor location. Gain-of-function mutations in ACVR1 occur in tumors of the pons in conjunction with H3.1 K27M, while FGFR1 mutations/fusions occur in thalamic tumors associated with H3.3 K27M. Hyper-activation of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP)/ACVR1 developmental pathway in pHGAs harbouring ACVR1 mutations led to increased phospho-SMAD1/5/8 expression and up-regulation of BMP downstream early response genes in tumour cells. Global DNA methylation profiles were significantly associated with the K27M mutation regardless of the mutant H3 variant and irrespective of tumor location, supporting its role in driving the epigenetic phenotype. This significantly expands the potential treatment targets and further justifies pre-treatment biopsy in pHGA as a means to orient therapeutic efforts in this disease.
TP53 mutations confer subgroup specific poor survival for children with medulloblastoma. We hypothesized that WNT activation which is associated with improved survival for such children abrogates TP53 related radioresistance and can be used to sensitize TP53 mutant tumors for radiation. We examined the subgroup-specific role of TP53 mutations in a cohort of 314 patients treated with radiation. TP53 wild-type or mutant human medulloblastoma cell-lines and normal neural stem cells were used to test radioresistance of TP53 mutations and the radiosensitizing effect of WNT activation on tumors and the developing brain. Children with WNT/TP53 mutant medulloblastoma had higher 5-year survival than those with SHH/TP53 mutant tumours (100% and 36.6% ± 8.7%, respectively (p < 0.001)). Introduction of TP53 mutation into medulloblastoma cells induced radioresistance (survival fractions at 2Gy (SF2) of 89% ± 2% vs. 57.4% ± 1.8% (p < 0.01)). In contrast, β-catenin mutation sensitized TP53 mutant cells to radiation (p < 0.05). Lithium, an activator of the WNT pathway, sensitized TP53 mutant medulloblastoma to radiation (SF2 of 43.5% ± 1.5% in lithium treated cells vs. 56.6 ± 3% (p < 0.01)) accompanied by increased number of γH2AX foci. Normal neural stem cells were protected from lithium induced radiation damage (SF2 of 33% ± 8% for lithium treated cells vs. 27% ± 3% for untreated controls (p = 0.05). Poor survival of patients with TP53 mutant medulloblastoma may be related to radiation resistance. Since constitutive activation of the WNT pathway by lithium sensitizes TP53 mutant medulloblastoma cells and protect normal neural stem cells from radiation, this oral drug may represent an attractive novel therapy for high-risk medulloblastomas.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40478-014-0174-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Medulloblastoma has recently been found to consist of 4 molecularly and clinically distinct subgroups: WNT, Sonce hedgehog (SHH), Group 3, and Group 4. Deregulated microRNA expression is known to contribute to pathogenesis and has been shown to have diagnostic and prognostic potential in the classification of various cancers.
Molecular subgrouping and microRNA expression analysis of 44 frozen and 59 formalin-fixed paraffin embedded medulloblastomas from an Indian cohort were carried out by real-time RT-PCR assay.
The differential expression of 9 microRNAs in the 4 molecular subgroups was validated in a set of 101 medulloblastomas. The tumors in the WNT subgroup showed significant (P < .0001) overexpression of miR-193a-3p, miR-224, miR-148a, miR-23b, and miR-365. Reliable classification of medulloblastomas into the 4 molecular subgroups was obtained using a set of 12 protein-coding genes and 9 microRNAs as markers in a real-time RT-PCR assay with an accuracy of 97% as judged by the Prediction Analysis of Microarrays. Age at diagnosis, histology, gender-related incidence, and the relative survival rates of the 4 molecular subgroups in the present Indian cohort were found to be similar to those reported for medulloblastomas from the American and European subcontinent. Non-WNT, non–SHH medulloblastomas underexpressing miR-592 or overexpressing miR-182 were found to have significantly inferior survival rates, indicating utility of these miRNAs as markers for risk stratification.
The microRNA based real-time PCR assay is rapid, simple, inexpensive, and useful for molecular classification and risk stratification of medulloblastomas, in particular formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissues, wherein the expression profile of protein-coding genes is often less reliable due to RNA fragmentation.
Indian cohort, medulloblastoma; miRNA; molecular classification; risk stratification
Childhood Central Nervous System Primitive Neuro-Ectodermal brain Tumours (CNS-PNETs) are highly aggressive brain tumours for which molecular features and best therapeutic strategy remains unknown. We interrogated a large cohort of these rare tumours in order to identify molecular markers that will enhance clinical management of CNS-PNET.
Transcriptional and copy number profiles from primary hemispheric CNS-PNETs were examined using clustering, gene and pathways enrichment analyses to discover tumour sub-groups and group-specific molecular markers. Immuno-histochemical and/or gene expression analyses were used to validate and examine the clinical significance of novel sub-group markers in 123 primary CNS-PNETs.
Three molecular sub-groups of CNS-PNETs distinguished by primitive neural (Group 1), oligo-neural (Group 2) and mesenchymal lineage (Group 3) gene expression signature were identified. Tumour sub-groups exhibited differential expression of cell lineage markers, LIN28 and OLIG2, and correlated with distinct demographics, survival and metastatic incidence. Group 1 tumours affected primarily younger females; male: female ratios were respectively 0.61 (median age 2.9 years; 95% CI: 2.4–5.2; p≤ 0.005), 1.25 (median age 7.9 years; 95% CI: 6–9.7) and 1.63 (median age 5.9 years; 95% CI: 4.9–7.8) for group 1, 2 and 3 patients. Overall outcome was poorest in group 1 patients which had a median survival of 0.8 years (95% CI: 0.47–1.2; p=0.019) as compared to 1.8 years (95% CI: 1.4–2.3) and 4.3 years; (95% CI: 0.82–7.8) respectively for group 2 and 3 patients. Group 3 tumours had the highest incidence of metastases at diagnosis; M0: M+ ratio were respectively 0.9 and 3.9 for group 3, versus group 1 and 2 tumours combined (p=0.037).
LIN28 and OLIG2 represent highly promising, novel diagnostic and prognostic molecular markers for CNS PNET that warrants further evaluation in prospective clinical trials.
Based on extensive pre-clinical studies, the oncolytic parvovirus H-1 (H-1PV) is currently applied to patients with recurrent glioblastoma in a phase I/IIa clinical trial (ParvOryx01, NCT01301430). Cure rates of about 40% in pediatric high-risk medulloblastoma (MB) patients also indicate the need of new therapeutic approaches. In order to prepare a future application of oncolytic parvovirotherapy to MB, the present study preclinically evaluates the cytotoxic efficacy of H-1PV on MB cells in vitro and characterizes cellular target genes involved in this effect. Six MB cell lines were analyzed by whole genome oligonucleotide microarrays after treatment and the results were matched to known molecular and cytogenetic risk factors. In contrast to non-transformed infant astrocytes and neurons, in five out of six MB cell lines lytic H-1PV infection and efficient viral replication could be demonstrated. The cytotoxic effects induced by H-1PV were observed at LD50s below 0.05 p. f. u. per cell indicating high susceptibility. Gene expression patterns in the responsive MB cell lines allowed the identification of candidate target genes mediating the cytotoxic effects of H-1PV. H-1PV induced down-regulation of key regulators of early neurogenesis shown to confer poor prognosis in MB such as ZIC1, FOXG1B, MYC, and NFIA. In MB cell lines with genomic amplification of MYC, expression of MYC was the single gene most significantly repressed after H-1PV infection. H-1PV virotherapy may be a promising treatment approach for MB since it targets genes of functional relevance and induces cell death at very low titers of input virus.
medulloblastoma; oncolytic virus; parvovirus H-1PV; cellular targets; MYC; master regulators of neurogenesis
Recurrent medulloblastoma is a daunting therapeutic challenge as it is almost universally fatal. Recent studies confirmed that medulloblastoma comprises four distinct subgroups. We sought to delineate subgroup specific differences in medulloblastoma recurrence patterns.
We retrospectively identified a discovery cohort of all recurrent medulloblastomas at the Hospital for Sick Children between 1994-2012, and performed molecular subgrouping on FFPE tissues using a nanoString-based assay. The anatomical site of recurrence (local tumour bed or leptomeningeal metastasis), time to recurrence and survival post-recurrence were determined in a subgroup specific fashion. Subgroup specific recurrence patterns were confirmed in two independent, non-overlapping FFPE validation cohorts. Where possible molecular subgrouping was performed on tissue obtained from both the initial surgery and at recurrence.
A screening cohort of 30 recurrent medulloblastomas was assembled; nine with local recurrences, and 21 metastatic. When re-analysed in a subgroup specific manner, local recurrences were more frequent in SHH tumours (8/9, 88%) and metastatic recurrences were more common in Group 3 and 4 (17/20 [85%] with one WNT, p=0.0014, local vs metastatic recurrence, SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4). The subgroup specific location of recurrence was confirmed in a multicenter validation cohort (p=0·0013 for local vs metastatic recurrence SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4, n=77), and a second independent validation cohort comprising 96 recurrences (p<0·0001 for local vs metastatic recurrence SHH vs Group 3 vs Group 4, n=96). Treatment with craniospinal irradiation at diagnosis was not significantly associated with the anatomical pattern of recurrence. Survival post recurrence was significantly longer in Group 4 patients (p=0·013) as confirmed in a multicenter validation cohort (p=0·0075). Strikingly, subgroup affiliation remained stable at recurrence in all 34 cases with available matched primary and recurrent pairs.
Medulloblastoma does not switch subgroup at the time of recurrence further highlighting the stability of the four principle medulloblastoma subgroups. Significant differences in the location and timing of recurrence across medulloblastoma subgroups were observed which have potential treatment ramifications. Specifically, intensified local (posterior fossa) therapy should be tested in the initial treatment of SHH patients. Refinement of therapy for Groups 3 and 4 should focus on the metastatic compartment, as it is the near universal cause of patient deaths.
Studies in pediatric high-grade astrocytomas (HGA) by our group and others have uncovered recurrent somatic mutations affecting highly conserved residues in histone 3 (H3) variants. One of these mutations leads to analogous p.Lys27Met (K27M) mutations in both H3.3 and H3.1 variants, is associated with rapid fatal outcome, and occurs specifically in HGA of the midline in children and young adults. This includes diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (80 %) and thalamic or spinal HGA (>90 %), which are surgically challenging locations with often limited tumor material available and critical need for specific histopathological markers. Here, we analyzed formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues from 143 pediatric HGA and 297 other primary brain tumors or normal brain. Immunohistochemical staining for H3K27M was compared to tumor genotype, and also compared to H3 tri-methylated lysine 27 (H3K27me3) staining, previously shown to be drastically decreased in samples carrying this mutation. There was a 100 % concordance between genotype and immunohistochemical analysis of H3K27M in tumor samples. Mutant H3K27M was expressed in the majority of tumor cells, indicating limited intra-tumor heterogeneity for this specific mutation within the limits of our dataset. Both H3.1 and H3.3K27M mutants were recognized by this antibody while non-neoplastic elements, such as endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cells or lymphocytes, did not stain. H3K27me3 immunoreactivity was largely mutually exclusive with H3K27M positivity. These results demonstrate that mutant H3K27M can be specifically identified with high specificity and sensitivity using an H3K27M antibody and immunohistochemistry. Use of this antibody in the clinical setting will prove very useful for diagnosis, especially in the context of small biopsies in challenging midline tumors and will help orient care in the context of the extremely poor prognosis associated with this mutation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-014-1337-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
K27M; Histone 3 variants; IHC; K27 trimethylation; High-grade astrocytomas
Despite the histological similarity of ependymomas from throughout the neuroaxis, the disease likely comprises multiple independent entities, each with a distinct molecular pathogenesis. Transcriptional profiling of two large independent cohorts of ependymoma reveals the existence of two demographically, transcriptionally, genetically, and clinically distinct groups of posterior fossa (PF) ependymomas. Group A patients are younger, have laterally located tumors with a balanced genome, and are much more likely to exhibit recurrence, metastasis at recurrence, and death compared with Group B patients. Identification and optimization of immunohistochemical (IHC) markers for PF ependymoma subgroups allowed validation of our findings on a third independent cohort, using a human ependymoma tissue microarray, and provides a tool for prospective prognostication and stratification of PF ependymoma patients.
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant paediatric brain tumour. Recurrence and progression of disease occurs in 15-20% of standard risk and 30-40% of high risk patients. We analysed whether circumvention of chemoresistance pathways (drug export, DNA repair and apoptotic inhibition) can restore chemotherapeutic efficacy in a panel of MB cell lines.
We demonstrate, by immunohistochemistry in patient tissue microarrays, that ABCB1 is expressed in 43% of tumours and is significantly associated with high-risk. We show that ABCB1, O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) and BCL2 family members are differentially expressed (by quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Western blotting and flow cytometry) in MB cell lines. Based on these findings, each pathway was then inhibited or circumvented and cell survival assessed using clonogenic assays. Inhibition of ABCB1 using vardenafil or verapamil resulted in a significant increase in sensitivity to etoposide in ABCB1-expressing MB cell lines. Sensitivity to temozolomide (TMZ) was MGMT-dependent, but two novel imidazotetrazine derivatives (N-3 sulfoxide and N-3 propargyl TMZ analogues) demonstrated ≥7 fold and ≥3 fold more potent cytotoxicity respectively compared to TMZ in MGMT-expressing MB cell lines. Activity of the BAD mimetic ABT-737 was BCL2A1 and ABCB1 dependent, whereas the pan-BCL2 inhibitor obatoclax was effective as a single cytotoxic agent irrespective of MCL1, BCL2, BCL2A1, or ABCB1 expression.
ABCB1 is associated with high-risk MB; hence, inhibition of ABCB1 by vardenafil may represent a valid approach in these patients. Imidazotetrazine analogues of TMZ and the BH3 mimetic obatoclax are promising clinical candidates in drug resistant MB tumours expressing MGMT and BCL2 anti-apoptotic members respectively.
Medulloblastoma; ABCB1; MGMT; Etoposide; Temozolomide; Obatoclax
This study aimed to prospectively evaluate clinical, histopathological and molecular variables for outcome prediction in medulloblastoma patients. Patients from the HIT2000 cooperative clinical trial were prospectively enrolled based on the availability of sufficient tumor material and complete clinical information. This revealed a cohort of 184 patients (median age 7.6 years), which was randomly split at a 2:1 ratio into a training (n = 127), and a test (n = 57) dataset in order to build and test a risk score for this population. Independent validation was performed in a non-overlapping cohort (n = 83). All samples were subjected to thorough histopathological investigation, CTNNB1 mutation analysis, quantitative PCR, MLPA and FISH analyses for cytogenetic variables, and methylome analysis. By univariable analysis, clinical factors (M-stage), histopathological variables (large cell component, endothelial proliferation, synaptophysin pattern), and molecular features (chromosome 6q status, MYC amplification, subgrouping) were found to be prognostic. Molecular consensus subgrouping (WNT, SHH, Group 3, Group 4) was validated as an independent feature to stratify patients into different risk groups. When comparing methods for the identification of WNT-driven medulloblastoma, this study identified CTNNB1 sequencing and methylation profiling to most reliably identify these patients. After removing patients with particularly favorable (CTNNB1 mutation, extensive nodularity) or unfavorable (MYC amplification) markers, a risk score for the remaining “intermediate molecular risk” population dependent on age, M-stage, pattern of synaptophysin expression, and MYCN copy-number status was identified, with speckled synaptophysin expression indicating worse outcome. Test and independent validation of the score confirmed significant discrimination of patients by risk profile. Methylation subgrouping and CTNNB1 mutation status represent robust tools for the risk stratification of medulloblastoma. A simple clinico-pathological risk score was identified, which was confirmed in a test set and by independent clinical validation.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-014-1276-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Medulloblastoma; Biomarker; Risk stratification; Prospective; Clinical trial cohort; Methylation profiling
Pilocytic astrocytoma, the most common childhood brain tumor1, is typically associated with mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations2. Surgically inaccessible midline tumors are therapeutically challenging, showing sustained tendency for progression3 and often becoming a chronic disease with substantial morbidities4.
Here we describe whole-genome sequencing of 96 pilocytic astrocytomas, with matched RNA sequencing (n=73), conducted by the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) PedBrain Tumor Project. We identified recurrent activating mutations in FGFR1 and PTPN11 and novel NTRK2 fusion genes in non-cerebellar tumors. New BRAF activating changes were also observed. MAPK pathway alterations affected 100% of tumors analyzed, with no other significant mutations, indicating pilocytic astrocytoma as predominantly a single-pathway disease.
Notably, we identified the same FGFR1 mutations in a subset of H3F3A-mutated pediatric glioblastoma with additional alterations in NF15. Our findings thus identify new potential therapeutic targets in distinct subsets of pilocytic astrocytoma and childhood glioblastoma.
Recent sequencing efforts have described the mutational landscape of the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. Although MLL2 is among the most frequent somatic single nucleotide variants (SNV), the clinical and biological significance of these mutations remains uncharacterized. Through targeted re-sequencing, we identified mutations of MLL2 in 8 % (14/175) of MBs, the majority of which were loss of function. Notably, we also report mutations affecting the MLL2-binding partner KDM6A, in 4 % (7/175) of tumors. While MLL2 mutations were independent of age, gender, histological subtype, M-stage or molecular subgroup, KDM6A mutations were most commonly identified in Group 4 MBs, and were mutually exclusive with MLL2 mutations. Immunohistochemical staining for H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, the chromatin effectors of MLL2 and KDM6A activity, respectively, demonstrated alterations of the histone code in 24 % (53/220) of MBs across all subgroups. Correlating these MLL2-and KDM6A-driven histone marks with prognosis, we identified populations of MB with improved (K4+/K27−) and dismal (K4−/K27−) outcomes, observed primarily within Group 3 and 4 MBs. Group 3 and 4 MBs demonstrate somatic copy number aberrations, and transcriptional profiles that converge on modifiers of H3K27-methylation (EZH2, KDM6A, KDM6B), leading to silencing of PRC2-target genes. As PRC2-mediated aberrant methylation of H3K27 has recently been targeted for therapy in other diseases, it represents an actionable target for a substantial percentage of medulloblastoma patients with aggressive forms of the disease.
MLL2; KDM6A; Histone lysine methylation; Medulloblastoma; PRC2
All cancers are caused by somatic mutations. However, understanding of the biological processes generating these mutations is limited. The catalogue of somatic mutations from a cancer genome bears the signatures of the mutational processes that have been operative. Here, we analysed 4,938,362 mutations from 7,042 cancers and extracted more than 20 distinct mutational signatures. Some are present in many cancer types, notably a signature attributed to the APOBEC family of cytidine deaminases, whereas others are confined to a single class. Certain signatures are associated with age of the patient at cancer diagnosis, known mutagenic exposures or defects in DNA maintenance, but many are of cryptic origin. In addition to these genome-wide mutational signatures, hypermutation localized to small genomic regions, kataegis, is found in many cancer types. The results reveal the diversity of mutational processes underlying the development of cancer with potential implications for understanding of cancer etiology, prevention and therapy.
Subgrouping of medulloblastoma by microarray expression profiling has dramatically changed our perspective of this malignant childhood brain tumour. Now, the availability of next-generation sequencing and complementary high-density genomic technologies has unmasked novel driver mutations in each medulloblastoma subgroup. The implications of these findings for the management of patients are readily apparent, pinpointing previously unappreciated diagnostic and therapeutic targets. Here, we summarize the ’explosion’ of data emerging from the application of modern genomics to medulloblastoma, and in particular the recurrent targets of mutation in medulloblastoma subgroups. These data are making their way into contemporary clinical trials as we seek to integrate conventional and molecularly targeted therapies.
Incompletely resectable ependymomas are associated with a poor prognosis despite intensive radio- and chemotherapy. Novel treatments have been difficult to develop due to the lack of appropriate models. Here, we report on the generation of a high risk cytogenetic group 3 and molecular group C ependymoma model (DKFZ-EP1NS) which is based on primary ependymoma cells obtained from a patient with metastatic disease. This model displays stem cell features like self renewal capacity, differentiation capacity and specific marker expression. In vivo transplantation showed a high tumorigenic potential of these cells, and xenografts phenotypically recapitulated the original tumor in a niche dependent manner. DKFZ-EP1NS cells harbor transcriptome plasticity, enabling a shift from a neural stem cell-like program towards a profile of primary ependymoma tumor upon in vivo transplantation. Serial transplantation of DKFZ-EP1NS cells from orthotopic xenografts yielded secondary tumors in half the time compared to the initial transplantation. The cells were resistant to temozolomide, vincristine and cisplatin, but responded to histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDACi)-treatment in therapeutically achievable concentrations. In vitro treatment of DKFZ-EP1NS cells with the HDACi Vorinostat induced neuronal differentiation associated with loss of stem cell-specific properties. In summary, this is the first ependymoma model of a cytogenetic group 3 and molecular subgroup C ependymoma based on a human cell line with stem cell-like properties, which we used to demonstrate the differentiation inducing therapeutic potential of HDACi.
ependymoma; cancer stem cells; differentiation; histone deacetylase inhibitor
Three histological variants are known within the family of embryonal rosette-forming neuroepithelial brain tumors. These include embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes (ETANTR), ependymoblastoma (EBL), and medulloepithelioma (MEPL). In this study, we performed a comprehensive clinical, pathological, and molecular analysis of 97 cases of these rare brain neoplasms, including genome-wide DNA methylation and copy number profiling of 41 tumors. We identified uniform molecular signatures in all tumors irrespective of histological patterns, indicating that ETANTR, EBL, and MEPL comprise a single biological entity. As such, future WHO classification schemes should consider lumping these variants into a single diagnostic category, such as embryonal tumor with multilayered rosettes (ETMR). We recommend combined LIN28A immunohistochemistry and FISH analysis of the 19q13.42 locus for molecular diagnosis of this tumor category. Recognition of this distinct pediatric brain tumor entity based on the fact that the three histological variants are molecularly and clinically uniform will help to distinguish ETMR from other embryonal CNS tumors and to better understand the biology of these highly aggressive and therapy-resistant pediatric CNS malignancies, possibly leading to alternate treatment strategies.
Medulloblastoma is curable in approximately 70 % of patients. Over the past decade, progress in improving survival using conventional therapies has stalled, resulting in reduced quality of life due to treatment-related side effects, which are a major concern in survivors. The vast amount of genomic and molecular data generated over the last 5–10 years encourages optimism that improved risk stratification and new molecular targets will improve outcomes. It is now clear that medulloblastoma is not a single-disease entity, but instead consists of at least four distinct molecular subgroups: WNT/Wingless, Sonic Hedgehog, Group 3, and Group 4. The Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 meeting, which convened at Bunker Bay, Australia, brought together 50 leading clinicians and scientists. The 2-day agenda included focused sessions on pathology and molecular stratification, genomics and mouse models, high-throughput drug screening, and clinical trial design. The meeting established a global action plan to translate novel biologic insights and drug targeting into treatment regimens to improve outcomes. A consensus was reached in several key areas, with the most important being that a novel classification scheme for medulloblastoma based on the four molecular subgroups, as well as histopathologic features, should be presented for consideration in the upcoming fifth edition of the World Health Organization’s classification of tumours of the central nervous system. Three other notable areas of agreement were as follows: (1) to establish a central repository of annotated mouse models that are readily accessible and freely available to the international research community; (2) to institute common eligibility criteria between the Children’s Oncology Group and the International Society of Paediatric Oncology Europe and initiate joint or parallel clinical trials; (3) to share preliminary high-throughput screening data across discovery labs to hasten the development of novel therapeutics. Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013 was an effective forum for meaningful discussion, which resulted in enhancing international collaborative clinical and translational research of this rare disease. This template could be applied to other fields to devise global action plans addressing all aspects of a disease, from improved disease classification, treatment stratification, and drug targeting to superior treatment regimens to be assessed in cooperative international clinical trials.
Telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) promoter mutations were recently shown to drive telomerase activity in various cancer types, including medulloblastoma. However, the clinical and biological implications of TERT mutations in medulloblastoma have not been described. Hence, we sought to describe these mutations and their impact in a subgroup-specific manner. We analyzed the TERT promoter by direct sequencing and genotyping in 466 medulloblastomas. The mutational distributions were determined according to subgroup affiliation, demographics, and clinical, prognostic, and molecular features. Integrated genomics approaches were used to identify specific somatic copy number alterations in TERT promoter-mutated and wild-type tumors. Overall, TERT promoter mutations were identified in 21 % of medulloblastomas. Strikingly, the highest frequencies of TERT mutations were observed in SHH (83 %; 55/66) and WNT (31 %; 4/13) medulloblastomas derived from adult patients. Group 3 and Group 4 harbored this alteration in <5 % of cases and showed no association with increased patient age. The prognostic implications of these mutations were highly subgroup-specific. TERT mutations identified a subset with good and poor prognosis in SHH and Group 4 tumors, respectively. Monosomy 6 was mostly restricted to WNT tumors without TERT mutations. Hallmark SHH focal copy number aberrations and chromosome 10q deletion were mutually exclusive with TERT mutations within SHH tumors. TERT promoter mutations are the most common recurrent somatic point mutation in medulloblastoma, and are very highly enriched in adult SHH and WNT tumors. TERT mutations define a subset of SHH medulloblastoma with distinct demographics, cytogenetics, and outcomes.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1198-2) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
TERT promoter mutations; SHH pathway; Adult; Medulloblastoma
Mutation is a fundamental process in tumorigenesis. However, the degree to which the rate of somatic mutation varies across the human genome and the mechanistic basis underlying this variation remain to be fully elucidated. Here, we performed a cross-cancer comparison of 402 whole genomes comprising a diverse set of childhood and adult tumors, including both solid and hematopoietic malignancies. Surprisingly, we found that the inactive X chromosome of many female cancer genomes accumulates on average twice and up to four times as many somatic mutations per megabase, as compared to the individual autosomes. Whole-genome sequencing of clonally expanded hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) from healthy individuals and a premalignant myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) sample revealed no X chromosome hypermutation. Our data suggest that hypermutation of the inactive X chromosome is an early and frequent feature of tumorigenesis resulting from DNA replication stress in aberrantly proliferating cells.
•X chromosome has up to 4× more mutations than the autosomes in female cancer genomes•Hypermutations only affect the inactive X chromosome•X hypermutation involves somatic point mutations and indels, but not germline mutations•No X hypermutation is found in clonal expansions of normal or premalignant cells
A comparison of 402 cancer genomes identifies a surprisingly high level of somatic mutations in the inactive X chromosome of female cancer genomes. As hypermutability of the inactive X was not observed in clonal hematopoietic progenitor or preleukemic samples, it is likely that it may be a contributing factor to tumorigenesis.
Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant pediatric brain tumour, is currently treated with non-specific cytotoxic therapies including surgery, whole brain radiation, and aggressive chemotherapy. As medulloblastoma exhibits marked intertumoural heterogeneity, with at least four distinct molecular variants, prior attempts to identify targets for therapy have been underpowered due to small samples sizes. Here we report somatic copy number aberrations (SCNAs) in 1087 unique medulloblastomas. SCNAs are common in medulloblastoma, and are predominantly subgroup enriched. The most common region of focal copy number gain is a tandem duplication of the Parkinson’s disease gene SNCAIP, which is exquisitely restricted to Group 4α. Recurrent translocations of PVT1, including PVT1-MYC and PVT1-NDRG1 that arise through chromothripsis are restricted to Group 3. Numerous targetable SCNAs, including recurrent events targeting TGFβ signaling in Group 3, and NF-κB signaling in Group 4 suggest future avenues for rational, targeted therapy.
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