Recent efforts at stratifying medulloblastomas based on their molecular features have revolutionized our understanding of this morbidity. Collective efforts by multiple independent groups have subdivided medulloblastoma from a single disease into four distinct molecular subgroups characterized by disparate transcriptional signatures, mutational spectra, copy number profiles and, most importantly, clinical features. We present a summary of recent studies that have contributed to our understanding of the core medulloblastoma subgroups, focusing largely on clinically relevant discoveries that have already, and will continue to, shape research.
chromatin; genomics; medulloblastoma; molecular classification; pediatric brain tumors; subgroups
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Current treatment includes surgery, craniospinal radiation, and high-dose cytotoxic chemotherapy. Despite these aggressive therapies, one-third of patients still succumb to their disease, and survivors suffer devastating side effects, including cognitive deficits, endocrine disorders, and increased incidence of secondary cancers later in life. More effective and less toxic therapies are desperately needed for MB.
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.
Molecular sub-classification is rapidly informing the clinical management of medulloblastoma. However, the disease remains associated with poor outcomes and therapy-associated late-effects, and the majority of patients are not characterized by a validated prognostic biomarker. Here, we investigated the potential of epigenetic DNA methylation for disease sub-classification, particularly in formalin-fixed biopsies, and to identify biomarkers for improved therapeutic individualization. Tumor DNA methylation profiles were assessed, alongside molecular and clinical disease features, in 230 patients primarily from the SIOP-UKCCSG PNET3 clinical trial. We demonstrate by cross-validation in frozen training and formalin-fixed test sets that medulloblastoma comprises four robust DNA methylation subgroups (termed WNT, SHH, G3 and G4), highly related to their transcriptomic counterparts, and which display distinct molecular, clinical and pathological disease characteristics. WNT patients displayed an expected favorable prognosis, while outcomes for SHH, G3 and G4 were equivalent in our cohort. MXI1 and IL8 methylation were identified as novel independent high-risk biomarkers in cross-validated survival models of non-WNT patients, and were validated using non-array methods. Incorporation of MXI1 and IL8 into current survival models significantly improved the assignment of disease-risk; 46% of patients could be classified as ‘favorable-risk’ (>90% survival) compared to 13% using current models, while the high-risk group was reduced to 16% from 30%. DNA methylation profiling enables the robust sub-classification of four disease sub-groups in frozen and routinely-collected/archival formalin-fixed biopsy material, and the incorporation of DNA methylation biomarkers can significantly improve disease-risk stratification. These findings have important implications for future risk-adapted clinical disease management.
Subgroups; medulloblastoma; methylation; prognosis; biomarkers
The computation of arterial wall deformation and stresses under physiologic conditions requires a coupled compliant arterial wall-blood flow interaction model. The in-vivo arterial wall motion is constrained by tethering from the surrounding tissues. This tethering, together with the average in-vivo pressure, results in wall pre-stress. For an accurate simulation of the physiologic conditions, it is important to incorporate the wall pre-stress in the computational model. The computation of wall pre-stress is complex, as the un-loaded and un-tethered arterial shape with residual stress is unknown. In this study, the arterial wall deformation and stresses in a canine femoral artery under pulsatile pressure was computed after incorporating the wall pre-stresses. A nonlinear least square optimization based inverse algorithm was developed to compute the in-vivo wall pre-stress.
First, the proposed inverse algorithm was used to obtain the un-loaded and un-tethered arterial geometry from the unstressed in-vivo geometry. Then, the un-loaded, and un-tethered arterial geometry was pre-stressed by applying a mean in-vivo pressure of 104.5 mmHg and an axial stretch of 48% from the un-tethered length. Finally, the physiologic pressure pulse was applied at the inlet and the outlet of the pre-stressed configuration to calculate the in-vivo deformation and stresses. The wall material properties were modeled with an incompressible, Mooney-Rivlin model derived from previously published experimental stress-strain data (Attinger et al., 1968).
The un-loaded and un-tethered artery geometry computed by the inverse algorithm had a length, inner diameter and thickness of 35.14 mm, 3.10 mm and 0.435 mm, respectively. The pre-stressed arterial wall geometry was obtained by applying the in-vivo axial-stretch and average in-vivo pressure to the un-loaded and un-tethered geometry. The length of the pre-stressed artery, 51.99 mm, was within 0.01 mm (0.019%) of the in-vivo length of 52.0 mm; the inner diameter of 3.603 mm was within 0.003 mm (0.08%) of the corresponding in-vivo diameter of 3.6 mm, and the thickness of 0.269 mm was within 0.0015 mm (0.55%) of the in-vivo thickness of 0.27 mm. Under physiologic pulsatile pressure applied to the pre-stressed artery, the time averaged longitudinal stress was found to be 42.5% higher than the circumferential stresses. The results of this study are similar to the results reported by Zhang et al., (2005) for the left anterior descending coronary artery.
An inverse method was adopted to compute physiologic pre-stress in the arterial wall before conducting pulsatile hemodynamic calculations. The wall stresses were higher in magnitude in the longitudinal direction, under physiologic pressure after incorporating the effect of in-vivo axial stretch and pressure loading.
Patients with repaired or palliated right heart congenital heart disease (CHD) are often left with residual lesions that progress and can result in significant morbidity. However, right ventricular-pulmonary arterial evaluation and the timing of reintvervention is still subjective. Currently, it relies on symptomology, or RV imaging-based metrics from echocardiography or MR derived parameters including right ventricular (RV) ejection fraction (EF), end-systolic pressure (ESP), and end-diastolic volume (EDV). However, the RV is coupled to the pulmonary vasculature, and they are not typically evaluated together. For example, the dysfunctional right ventricular-pulmonary circulation (RV-PC) adversely affects the RV myocardial performance resulting in decreased efficiency. Therefore, comprehensive hemodynamic assessment should incorporate changes in RV-PC and energy efficiency for CHD patients.
The ventricular pressure-volume relationship (PVR) and other energy-based endpoints derived from PVR, such as stroke work (SW) and ventricular elastance (Ees), can provide a measure of RV performance. However, a detailed explanation of the relationship between RV performance and pulmonary arterial hemodynamics is lacking. More importantly, PVR is impractical for routine longitudinal evaluation in a clinical setting, because it requires invasive catheterization. As an alternative, analytical methods and computational fluid dynamics (CFD) have been used to compute energy endpoints, such as power loss or energy dissipation, in abnormal physiologies.
In this review, we review the causes of RV-PA failure and the limitation of current clinical parameters to quantify RV-PC dysfunction. Then, we describe the advantage of currently available energy-based endpoints and emerging energy endpoints, such as energy loss in the Pas or kinetic energy, obtained from a new non-invasive imaging technique, i.e. 4D phase contrast MRI.
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
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Genomic studies of human high-grade gliomas have discovered known and candidate tumor drivers. Studies in both cell culture and mouse models have complemented these approaches and have identified additional genes and processes important for gliomagenesis. Previously, we found that mobilization of Sleeping Beauty transposons in mice ubiquitously throughout the body from the Rosa26 locus led to gliomagenesis with low penetrance. Here we report the characterization of mice in which transposons are mobilized in the Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP) compartment. Glioma formation in these mice did not occur on an otherwise wild-type genetic background, but rare gliomas were observed when mobilization occurred in a p19Arf heterozygous background. Through cloning insertions from additional gliomas generated by transposon mobilization in the Rosa26 compartment, several candidate glioma genes were identified. Comparisons to genetic, epigenetic and mRNA expression data from human gliomas implicates several of these genes as tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes in human glioblastoma.
While medulloblastoma, a pediatric tumor of the cerebellum, is characterized by aberrations in developmental pathways, the majority of genetic determinants remain unknown. An unbiased Sleeping Beauty transposon screen revealed MyoD as a putative medulloblastoma tumor suppressor. This was unexpected, as MyoD is a muscle differentiation factor and not previously known to be expressed in cerebellum or medulloblastoma. In response to deletion of one allele of MyoD, two other Sonic hedgehog-driven mouse medulloblastoma models showed accelerated tumor formation and death, confirming MyoD as a tumor suppressor in these models. In normal cerebellum, MyoD was expressed in the proliferating granule neuron progenitors that are thought to be precursors to medulloblastoma. Similar to some other tumor suppressors that are induced in cancer, MyoD was expressed in proliferating medulloblastoma cells in three mouse models and in human medulloblastoma cases. This suggests that although expression of MyoD in a proliferating tumor is insufficient to prevent tumor progression, its expression in the cerebellum hinders medulloblastoma genesis.
tumor suppressor; medulloblastoma; cerebellum; bHLH transcription factor; gene regulation
Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. While aggressive surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy have improved outcomes, survivors suffer severe long-term side effects, and many patients still succumb to their disease. For patients whose tumors are driven by mutations in the Sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway, SHH antagonists offer some hope. However, many SHH-associated MBs do not respond to these drugs, and those that do may develop resistance. Therefore, more effective treatment strategies are needed for both SHH and non-SHH-associated MB. One such strategy involves targeting the cells that are critical for maintaining tumor growth, known as tumor-propagating cells (TPCs). We previously identified a population of TPCs in tumors from patched mutant mice, a model for SHH-dependent MB. These cells express the surface antigen CD15/SSEA-1 and have elevated levels of genes associated with the G2/M phases of the cell cycle. Here, we show that CD15+ cells progress more rapidly through the cell cycle than CD15- cells and contain an increased proportion of cells in G2/M, suggesting that they might be vulnerable to inhibitors of this phase. Indeed, exposure of tumor cells to inhibitors of Aurora and Polo-like kinases, key regulators of G2/M, induces cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and enhanced sensitivity to conventional chemotherapy. Moreover, treatment of tumor-bearing mice with these agents significantly inhibits tumor progression. Importantly, cells from human patient-derived MB xenografts are also sensitive to Aurora and Polo-like kinase inhibitors. Our findings suggest that targeting G2/M regulators may represent a novel approach for treatment of human MB.
Medulloblastoma; Cancer stem cell; Aurora kinase; Polo-like kinase; Hedgehog
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.
Pediatric ependymomas are highly recurrent tumors resistant to conventional chemotherapy. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein critical in permitting limitless replication, has been found to be critically important for the maintenance of tumor-initiating cells (TICs). These TICs are chemoresistant, repopulate the tumor from which they are identified, and are drivers of recurrence in numerous cancers. In this study, telomerase enzymatic activity was directly measured and inhibited to assess the therapeutic potential of targeting telomerase. Telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) (n = 36) and C-circle assay/telomere FISH/ATRX staining (n = 76) were performed on primary ependymomas to determine the prevalence and prognostic potential of telomerase activity or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) as telomere maintenance mechanisms, respectively. Imetelstat, a phase 2 telomerase inhibitor, was used to elucidate the effect of telomerase inhibition on proliferation and tumorigenicity in established cell lines (BXD-1425EPN, R254), a primary TIC line (E520) and xenograft models of pediatric ependymoma. Over 60 % of pediatric ependymomas were found to rely on telomerase activity to maintain telomeres, while no ependymomas showed evidence of ALT. Children with telomerase-active tumors had reduced 5-year progression-free survival (29 ± 11 vs 64 ± 18 %; p = 0.03) and overall survival (58 ± 12 vs 83 ± 15 %; p = 0.05) rates compared to those with tumors lacking telomerase activity. Imetelstat inhibited proliferation and self-renewal by shortening telomeres and inducing senescence in vitro. In vivo, Imetelstat significantly reduced subcutaneous xenograft growth by 40 % (p = 0.03) and completely abolished the tumorigenicity of pediatric ependymoma TICs in an orthotopic xenograft model. Telomerase inhibition represents a promising therapeutic approach for telomerase-active pediatric ependymomas found to characterize high-risk ependymomas.
Electronic supplementary material
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Ependymoma; Telomerase; Telomerase inhibition; Imetelstat; TRAP
Leptomeningeal dissemination (LMD), the metastatic spread of tumor cells via the cerebrospinal fluid to the brain and spinal cord, is an ominous prognostic sign for patients with the pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. The need to reduce the risk of LMD has driven the development of aggressive treatment regimens, which cause disabling neurotoxic side effects in long-term survivors. Transposon-mediated mutagenesis studies in mice have revealed numerous candidate metastasis genes. Understanding how these genes drive LMD will require functional assessment using in vivo and cell culture models of medulloblastoma. We analyzed two genes that were sites of frequent transposon insertion and highly expressed in human medulloblastomas: Arnt (aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator) and Gdi2 (GDP dissociation inhibitor 2). Here we show that ectopic expression of Arnt and Gdi2 promoted LMD in mice bearing Sonic hedgehog (Shh)-induced medulloblastomas. We overexpressed Arnt and Gdi2 in a human medulloblastoma cell line (DAOY) and an immortalized, nontransformed cell line derived from mouse granule neuron precursors (SHH-NPD) and quantified migration, invasiveness, and anchorage-independent growth, cell traits that are associated with metastatic competence in carcinomas. In SHH-NPD cells. Arnt and Gdi2 stimulated all three traits. In DAOY cells, Arnt had the same effects, but Gdi2 stimulated invasiveness only. These results support a mechanism whereby Arnt and Gdi2 cause cells to detach from the primary tumor mass by increasing cell motility and invasiveness. By conferring to tumor cells the ability to proliferate without surface attachment, Arnt and Gdi2 favor the formation of stable colonies of cells capable of seeding the leptomeninges.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40478-014-0085-y) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Medulloblastoma; Metastasis; Leptomeningeal dissemination; Arnt; Gdi2
Amplification of the C19MC oncogenic miRNA cluster and high LIN28 expression has been linked to a distinctly aggressive group of cerebral CNS-PNETs (group 1 CNS-PNETs) arising in young children. In this study, we sought to evaluate the diagnostic specificity of C19MC and LIN28, and the clinical and biological spectra of C19MC amplified and/or LIN28+ CNS-PNETs. We interrogated 450 pediatric brain tumors using FISH and IHC analyses and demonstrate that C19MC alteration is restricted to a sub-group of CNS-PNETs with high LIN28 expression; however, LIN28 immunopositivity was not exclusive to CNS-PNETs but was also detected in a proportion of other malignant pediatric brain tumors including rhabdoid brain tumors and malignant gliomas. C19MC amplified/LIN28+ group 1 CNS-PNETs arose predominantly in children <4 years old; a majority arose in the cerebrum but 24 % (13/54) of tumors had extra-cerebral origins. Notably, group 1 CNS-PNETs encompassed several histologic classes including embryonal tumor with abundant neuropil and true rosettes (ETANTR), medulloepithelioma, ependymoblastoma and CNS-PNETs with variable differentiation. Strikingly, gene expression and methylation profiling analyses revealed a common molecular signature enriched for primitive neural features, high LIN28/LIN28B and DNMT3B expression for all group 1 CNS-PNETs regardless of location or tumor histology. Our collective findings suggest that current known histologic categories of CNS-PNETs which include ETANTRs, medulloepitheliomas, ependymoblastomas in various CNS locations, comprise a common molecular and diagnostic entity and identify inhibitors of the LIN28/let7/PI3K/mTOR axis and DNMT3B as promising therapeutics for this distinct histogenetic entity.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-014-1291-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
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
Medulloblastoma is a pediatric brain tumor with a variable prognosis due to clinical and genomic heterogeneity. Among the 4 major genomic sub-groups, patients with MYC amplified tumors have a particularly poor prognosis despite therapy with surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Targeting the MYC oncogene has traditionally been problematic. Here we report that MYC driven medulloblastoma can be targeted by inhibition of the bromodomain protein BRD4. We show that bromodomain inhibition with JQ1 restricts c-MYC driven transcriptional programs in medulloblastoma, suppresses medulloblastoma cell growth and induces a cell cycle arrest. Importantly JQ1 suppresses stem cell associated signaling in medulloblastoma cells and inhibits medulloblastoma tumor cell self-renewal. Additionally JQ1 also promotes senescence in medulloblastoma cells by activating cell cycle kinase inhibitors and inhibiting activity of E2F1. Furthermore BRD4 inhibition displayed an anti-proliferative, pro-senescence effect in a medulloblastoma model in vivo. In clinical samples we found that transcriptional programs suppressed by JQ1 are associated with adverse risk in medulloblastoma patients. Our work indicates that BRD4 inhibition attenuates stem cell signaling in MYC driven medulloblastoma and demonstrates the feasibility BET domain inhibition as a therapeutic approach in vivo.
Medulloblastoma; MYC; BRD4; JQ1; Senescence
Recently, a variety of physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models have been developed for the essential element manganese. This paper reviews the development of PBPK models (e.g., adult, pregnant, lactating, and neonatal rats, nonhuman primates, and adult, pregnant, lactating, and neonatal humans) and relevant risk assessment applications. Each PBPK model incorporates critical features including dose-dependent saturable tissue capacities and asymmetrical diffusional flux of manganese into brain and other tissues. Varied influx and efflux diffusion rate and binding constants for different brain regions account for the differential increases in regional brain manganese concentrations observed experimentally. We also present novel PBPK simulations to predict manganese tissue concentrations in fetal, neonatal, pregnant, or aged individuals, as well as individuals with liver disease or chronic manganese inhalation. The results of these simulations could help guide risk assessors in the application of uncertainty factors as they establish exposure guidelines for the general public or workers.
Medulloblastoma is comprised of four distinct molecular variants: WNT, SHH, Group 3, and Group 4. We analyzed alternative splicing usage in 14 normal cerebellar samples and 103 medulloblastomas of known subgroup. Medulloblastoma samples have a statistically significant increase in alternative splicing as compared to normal fetal cerebella (2.3-times; P<6.47E-8). Splicing patterns are distinct and specific between molecular subgroups. Unsupervised hierarchical clustering of alternative splicing events accurately assigns medulloblastomas to their correct subgroup. Subgroup-specific splicing and alternative promoter usage was most prevalent in Group 3 (19.4%) and SHH (16.2%) medulloblastomas, while observed less frequently in WNT (3.2%), and Group 4 (9.3%) tumors. Functional annotation of alternatively spliced genes reveals over-representation of genes important for neuronal development. Alternative splicing events in medulloblastoma may be regulated in part by the correlative expression of antisense transcripts, suggesting a possible mechanism affecting subgroup specific alternative splicing. Our results identify additional candidate markers for medulloblastoma subgroup affiliation, further support the existence of distinct subgroups of the disease, and demonstrate an additional level of transcriptional heterogeneity between medulloblastoma subgroups.
medulloblastoma; alternative splicing; neuronal development; molecular subgroup; pediatric cancer
Medulloblastoma is the most common type of malignant brain tumor that afflicts children. Although recent advances in chemotherapy and radiation have improved outcomes, high-risk patients do poorly with significant morbidity.
To identify new molecular targets, we performed an integrated genomic analysis using structural and functional methods. Gene expression profiling in 16 medulloblastoma patient samples and subsequent gene set enrichment analysis indicated that cell cycle-related kinases were associated with disease development. In addition a kinome-wide small interfering RNA (siRNA) screen was performed to identify kinases that, when inhibited, could prevent cell proliferation. The two genome-scale analyses were combined to identify key vulnerabilities in medulloblastoma. The inhibition of one of the identified targets was further investigated using RNAi and a small molecule inhibitor.
Combining the two analyses revealed that mitosis-related kinases were critical determinants of medulloblastoma cell proliferation. RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of WEE1 kinase and other mitotic kinases was sufficient to reduce medulloblastoma cell proliferation. These data prompted us to examine the effects of inhibiting WEE1 by RNAi and by a small molecule inhibitor of WEE1, MK-1775, in medulloblastoma cell lines. MK-1775 inhibited the growth of medulloblastoma cell lines, induced apoptosis and increased DNA damage at nanomolar concentrations. Further, MK-1775 was synergistic with cisplatin in reducing medulloblastoma cell proliferation and resulted in an associated increase in cell death. In vivo MK-1775 suppressed medulloblastoma tumor growth as a single agent.
Taken together, these findings highlight mitotic kinases and, in particular, WEE1 as a rational therapeutic target for medulloblastoma.
Medulloblastoma; WEE1; Mitosis; MK-1775; Integrated genomics
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
Medulloblastoma is the most common intracranial childhood malignancy and a genetically heterogeneous disease. Despite recent advances, current therapeutic approaches are still associated with high morbidity and mortality. Recent molecular profiling has suggested the stratification of medulloblastoma from one single disease into four distinct subgroups namely: WNT Group (best prognosis), SHH Group (intermediate prognosis), Group 3 (worst prognosis) and Group 4 (intermediate prognosis). BMI1 is a Polycomb group repressor complex gene overexpressed across medulloblastoma subgroups but most significantly in Group 4 tumours. Bone morphogenetic proteins are morphogens belonging to TGF-β superfamily of growth factors, known to inhibit medulloblastoma cell proliferation and induce apoptosis.
Here we demonstrate that human medulloblastoma of Group 4 characterised by the greatest overexpression of BMI1, also display deregulation of cell adhesion molecules. We show that BMI1 controls intraparenchymal invasion in a novel xenograft model of human MB of Group 4, while in vitro assays highlight that cell adhesion and motility are controlled by BMI1 in a BMP dependent manner.
BMI1 controls MB cell migration and invasion through repression of the BMP pathway, raising the possibility that BMI1 could be used as a biomarker to identify groups of patients who may benefit from a treatment with BMP agonists.
BMI1; BMP; Medulloblastoma; Cell adhesion; Cell motility
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.