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1.  Inhibition of BRD4 attenuates tumor cell self-renewal and suppresses stem cell signaling in MYC driven medulloblastoma 
Oncotarget  2014;5(9):2355-2371.
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.
PMCID: PMC4058011  PMID: 24796395
Medulloblastoma; MYC; BRD4; JQ1; Senescence
2.  Subgroup Specific Alternative Splicing in Medulloblastoma 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;123(4):485-499.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00401-012-0959-7
PMCID: PMC3984840  PMID: 22358458
medulloblastoma; alternative splicing; neuronal development; molecular subgroup; pediatric cancer
3.  Integrated genomic analysis identifies the mitotic checkpoint kinase WEE1 as a novel therapeutic target in medulloblastoma 
Molecular Cancer  2014;13:72.
Background
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.
Methods
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
Taken together, these findings highlight mitotic kinases and, in particular, WEE1 as a rational therapeutic target for medulloblastoma.
doi:10.1186/1476-4598-13-72
PMCID: PMC3987923  PMID: 24661910
Medulloblastoma; WEE1; Mitosis; MK-1775; Integrated genomics
4.  Recurrent somatic alterations of FGFR1 and NTRK2 in pilocytic astrocytoma 
Jones, David T.W. | Hutter, Barbara | Jäger, Natalie | Korshunov, Andrey | Kool, Marcel | Warnatz, Hans-Jörg | Zichner, Thomas | Lambert, Sally R. | Ryzhova, Marina | Quang, Dong Anh Khuong | Fontebasso, Adam M. | Stütz, Adrian M. | Hutter, Sonja | Zuckermann, Marc | Sturm, Dominik | Gronych, Jan | Lasitschka, Bärbel | Schmidt, Sabine | Şeker-Cin, Huriye | Witt, Hendrik | Sultan, Marc | Ralser, Meryem | Northcott, Paul A. | Hovestadt, Volker | Bender, Sebastian | Pfaff, Elke | Stark, Sebastian | Faury, Damien | Schwartzentruber, Jeremy | Majewski, Jacek | Weber, Ursula D. | Zapatka, Marc | Raeder, Benjamin | Schlesner, Matthias | Worth, Catherine L. | Bartholomae, Cynthia C. | von Kalle, Christof | Imbusch, Charles D. | Radomski, Sylwester | Lawerenz, Chris | van Sluis, Peter | Koster, Jan | Volckmann, Richard | Versteeg, Rogier | Lehrach, Hans | Monoranu, Camelia | Winkler, Beate | Unterberg, Andreas | Herold-Mende, Christel | Milde, Till | Kulozik, Andreas E. | Ebinger, Martin | Schuhmann, Martin U. | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Pomeroy, Scott L. | von Deimling, Andreas | Witt, Olaf | Taylor, Michael D. | Wolf, Stephan | Karajannis, Matthias A. | Eberhart, Charles G. | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Hasselblatt, Martin | Ligon, Keith L. | Kieran, Mark W. | Korbel, Jan O. | Yaspo, Marie-Laure | Brors, Benedikt | Felsberg, Jörg | Reifenberger, Guido | Collins, V. Peter | Jabado, Nada | Eils, Roland | Lichter, Peter | Pfister, Stefan M.
Nature genetics  2013;45(8):927-932.
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.
doi:10.1038/ng.2682
PMCID: PMC3951336  PMID: 23817572
5.  Aberrant patterns of H3K4 and H3K27 histone lysine methylation occur across subgroups in medulloblastoma 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;125(3):373-384.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00401-012-1070-9
PMCID: PMC3580007  PMID: 23184418
MLL2; KDM6A; Histone lysine methylation; Medulloblastoma; PRC2
6.  Polycomb group gene BMI1 controls invasion of medulloblastoma cells and inhibits BMP-regulated cell adhesion 
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/2051-5960-2-10
PMCID: PMC3928978  PMID: 24460684
BMI1; BMP; Medulloblastoma; Cell adhesion; Cell motility
8.  Medulloblastomics: The End of the Beginning 
Nature reviews. Cancer  2012;12(12):818-834.
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.
doi:10.1038/nrc3410
PMCID: PMC3889646  PMID: 23175120
9.  Prevalence and distribution of late gadolinium enhancement in a large population of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: effect of age and left ventricular systolic function 
Background
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), an X-linked disorder affects approximately 1 in 5000 males, is universally associated with heart disease. We previously identified myocardial disease by late gadolinium enhancement (LGE) in DMD subjects at various stages of disease, but the true prevalence is unclear. Cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) is well established for both assessment of ventricular function and myocardial fibrosis by LGE. We sought to establish i) prevalence and distribution of LGE in a large DMD population and ii) relationship among LGE, age, LVEF by CMR and current living status.
Methods
Current living status, demographic and CMR data including ventricular volumes, LVEF and LGE from 314 DMD patients undergoing evaluation at a single large tertiary referral center were analyzed.
Results
113 of 314 (36%) of DMD subjects showed LGE positivity with prevalence increasing from 17% of patients <10 years to 34% of those aged 10–15 years and 59% of those >15 years-old. Patients with LVEF ≥55% were LGE positive in 30% of cases; this increased to 84% for LVEF <55%. LGE was more prevalent in the free wall (531/1243, 42.7%) vs. septal segments (30/565, 5.3%). Patients with septal involvement were significantly older and had lower LVEF than those with isolated free wall LGE. Ten percent (11/113) patients who had LGE died 10.8 months after CMR. Only one patient from the LGE negative group died. Patients who died had higher heart rate, larger left ventricular volume and mass, greater number of positive LGE segment and increase incident of septal LGE compared to those who remained alive.
Conclusion
In DMD patients, LGE occurs early, is progressive and increases with both age and decreasing LVEF. Segmentally, the incidence of the number of positive LGE segments increase with age and lower LVEF. Older patients and those who died during the study period had more septal LGE involvement. The current studies suggest that the time course and distribution of LGE-positivity may be an important clinical biomarker to aid in the management of DMD-associated cardiac disease.
doi:10.1186/1532-429X-15-107
PMCID: PMC3896985  PMID: 24359596
Cardiovascular magnetic resonance; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Late gadolinium enhancement; Ejection fraction; Myocardial fibrosis
10.  Medulloblastoma Down Under 2013: a report from the third annual meeting of the International Medulloblastoma Working Group 
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;127:189-201.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1213-7
PMCID: PMC3895219  PMID: 24264598
11.  TERT promoter mutations are highly recurrent in SHH subgroup medulloblastoma 
Remke, Marc | Ramaswamy, Vijay | Peacock, John | Shih, David J. H. | Koelsche, Christian | Northcott, Paul A. | Hill, Nadia | Cavalli, Florence M. G. | Kool, Marcel | Wang, Xin | Mack, Stephen C. | Barszczyk, Mark | Morrissy, A. Sorana | Wu, Xiaochong | Agnihotri, Sameer | Luu, Betty | Jones, David T. W. | Garzia, Livia | Dubuc, Adrian M. | Zhukova, Nataliya | Vanner, Robert | Kros, Johan M. | French, Pim J. | Van Meir, Erwin G. | Vibhakar, Rajeev | Zitterbart, Karel | Chan, Jennifer A. | Bognár, László | Klekner, Almos | Lach, Boleslaw | Jung, Shin | Saad, Ali G. | Liau, Linda M. | Albrecht, Steffen | Zollo, Massimo | Cooper, Michael K. | Thompson, Reid C. | Delattre, Oliver O. | Bourdeaut, Franck | Doz, François F. | Garami, Miklós | Hauser, Peter | Carlotti, Carlos G. | Van Meter, Timothy E. | Massimi, Luca | Fults, Daniel | Pomeroy, Scott L. | Kumabe, Toshiro | Ra, Young Shin | Leonard, Jeffrey R. | Elbabaa, Samer K. | Mora, Jaume | Rubin, Joshua B. | Cho, Yoon-Jae | McLendon, Roger E. | Bigner, Darell D. | Eberhart, Charles G. | Fouladi, Maryam | Wechsler-Reya, Robert J. | Faria, Claudia C. | Croul, Sidney E. | Huang, Annie | Bouffet, Eric | Hawkins, Cynthia E. | Dirks, Peter B. | Weiss, William A. | Schüller, Ulrich | Pollack, Ian F. | Rutkowski, Stefan | Meyronet, David | Jouvet, Anne | Fèvre-Montange, Michelle | Jabado, Nada | Perek-Polnik, Marta | Grajkowska, Wieslawa A. | Kim, Seung-Ki | Rutka, James T. | Malkin, David | Tabori, Uri | Pfister, Stefan M. | Korshunov, Andrey | von Deimling, Andreas | Taylor, Michael D.
Acta Neuropathologica  2013;126:917-929.
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.
doi:10.1007/s00401-013-1198-2
PMCID: PMC3830749  PMID: 24174164
TERT promoter mutations; SHH pathway; Adult; Medulloblastoma
12.  Hypermutation of the Inactive X Chromosome Is a Frequent Event in Cancer 
Cell  2013;155(3):567-581.
Summary
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.
Graphical Abstract
Highlights
•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.
doi:10.1016/j.cell.2013.09.042
PMCID: PMC3898475  PMID: 24139898
13.  Targeting the Enhancer of Zeste Homologue 2 in Medulloblastoma 
Enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2) is the catalytic subunit of Polycomb repressive complex 2 that catalyzes the trimethylation of histone H3 on Lys 27, and represses gene transcription. EZH2 enhances cancer-cell proliferation and regulates stem cell maintenance and differentiation. Here, we demonstrate that EZH2 is highly expressed in medulloblastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor of childhood, and this altered expression is correlated with genomic gain of chromosome 7 in a subset of medulloblastoma. Inhibition of EZH2 by RNAi suppresses medulloblastoma tumor cell growth. We show that 3-deazaneplanocin A, a chemical inhibitor of EZH2, can suppress medulloblastoma cell growth partially by inducing apoptosis. Suppression of EZH2 expression diminishes the ability of tumor cells to form spheres in culture and strongly represses the ability of known oncogenes to transform neural stem cells. These findings establish a role of EZH2 in medulloblastoma and identify EZH2 as a potential therapeutic target especially in high-risk tumors.
doi:10.1002/ijc.27455
PMCID: PMC3375399  PMID: 22287205
EZH2; Medulloblastoma; Polycomb repressive complex 2; histone lysine methylation; DZNEP
14.  G-protein coupled receptor expression patterns delineate medulloblastoma subgroups 
Background
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. Genetic profiling has identified four principle tumor subgroups; each subgroup is characterized by different initiating mutations, genetic and clinical profiles, and prognoses. The two most well-defined subgroups are caused by overactive signaling in the WNT and SHH mitogenic pathways; less is understood about Groups 3 and 4 medulloblastoma. Identification of tumor subgroup using molecular classification is set to become an important component of medulloblastoma diagnosis and staging, and will likely guide therapeutic options. However, thus far, few druggable targets have emerged. G-protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) possess characteristics that make them ideal targets for molecular imaging and therapeutics; drugs targeting GPCRs account for 30-40% of all current pharmaceuticals. While expression patterns of many proteins in human medulloblastoma subgroups have been discerned, the expression pattern of GPCRs in medulloblastoma has not been investigated. We hypothesized that analysis of GPCR expression would identify clear subsets of medulloblastoma and suggest distinct GPCRs that might serve as molecular targets for both imaging and therapy.
Results
Our study found that medulloblastoma tumors fall into distinct clusters based solely on GPCR expression patterns. Normal cerebellum clustered separately from the tumor samples. Further, two of the tumor clusters correspond with high fidelity to the WNT and SHH subgroups of medulloblastoma. Distinct over-expressed GPCRs emerge; for example, LGR5 and GPR64 are significantly and uniquely over-expressed in the WNT subgroup of tumors, while PTGER4 is over-expressed in the SHH subgroup. Uniquely under-expressed GPCRs were also observed. Our key findings were independently validated using a large international dataset.
Conclusions
Our results identify GPCRs with potential to act as imaging and therapeutic targets. Elucidating tumorigenic pathways is a secondary benefit to identifying differential GPCR expression patterns in medulloblastoma tumors.
doi:10.1186/2051-5960-1-66
PMCID: PMC3893540  PMID: 24252460
Medulloblastoma subgroups; G-protein coupled receptors; Therapeutic targets; Imaging targets
15.  ABC transporter activity linked to radiation resistance and molecular subtype in pediatric medulloblastoma 
Background
Resistance to radiation treatment remains a major clinical problem for patients with brain cancer. Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood, and occurs in the cerebellum. Though radiation treatment has been critical in increasing survival rates in recent decades, the presence of resistant cells in a substantial number of medulloblastoma patients leads to relapse and death.
Methods
Using the established medulloblastoma cell lines UW228 and Daoy, we developed a novel model system to enrich for and study radiation tolerant cells early after radiation exposure. Using fluorescence-activated cell sorting, dead cells and cells that had initiated apoptosis were removed, allowing surviving cells to be investigated before extensive proliferation took place.
Results
Isolated surviving cells were tumorigenic in vivo and displayed elevated levels of ABCG2, an ABC transporter linked to stem cell behavior and drug resistance. Further investigation showed another family member, ABCA1, was also elevated in surviving cells in these lines, as well as in early passage cultures from pediatric medulloblastoma patients. We discovered that the multi-ABC transporter inhibitors verapamil and reserpine sensitized cells from particular patients to radiation, suggesting that ABC transporters have a functional role in cellular radiation protection. Additionally, verapamil had an intrinsic anti-proliferative effect, with transient exposure in vitro slowing subsequent in vivo tumor formation. When expression of key ABC transporter genes was assessed in medulloblastoma tissue from 34 patients, levels were frequently elevated compared with normal cerebellum. Analysis of microarray data from independent cohorts (n = 428 patients) showed expression of a number of ABC transporters to be strongly correlated with certain medulloblastoma subtypes, which in turn are associated with clinical outcome.
Conclusions
ABC transporter inhibitors are already being trialed clinically, with the aim of decreasing chemotherapy resistance. Our findings suggest that the inhibition of ABC transporters could also increase the efficacy of radiation treatment for medulloblastoma patients. Additionally, the finding that certain family members are associated with particular molecular subtypes (most notably high ABCA8 and ABCB4 expression in Sonic Hedgehog pathway driven tumors), along with cell membrane location, suggests ABC transporters are worthy of consideration for the diagnostic classification of medulloblastoma.
doi:10.1186/2162-3619-2-26
PMCID: PMC3851566  PMID: 24219920
Medulloblastoma; Radiation resistance; ABC transporter; ABCG2; ABCA1; Stem; Brain tumor; Verapamil; Reserpine; Sonic hedgehog
16.  Clinical and neuroanatomical predictors of cerebellar mutism syndrome 
Neuro-Oncology  2012;14(10):1294-1303.
Cerebellar mutism syndrome (CMS) is an important medical challenge in the management of pediatric posterior fossa brain tumors, because it occurs in a subset of children following tumor resection. A definitive clinical profile and neuroanatomical substrate associated with CMS remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between presurgical and clinical variables and the incidence of CMS, along with diffusion tensor imaging, to characterize the integrity of cerebello-thalamo-cerebral white matter pathways. Seventeen children with posterior fossa tumors and CMS, 34 children with posterior fossa tumors without CMS, and 28 healthy children were enrolled in this study. Bilateral cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathways were delineated and segmented into anatomical regions. Mean integrity measures for each region were compared among children with CMS, children without CMS, and healthy children. Left-handedness, medulloblastoma histology, and larger tumor size distinguished between patients with CMS and patients without CMS (P < .04). Right cerebellar white matter within the cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway was compromised in children with CMS relative to children without CMS and healthy children (P < .02). We provide a potential schema for CMS risk among children treated for posterior fossa tumors. Left-handed children treated for medulloblastoma may be the most at risk for CMS, and unilateral, localized damage within the cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway at the level of the right cerebellum is implicated in the presentation of CMS. This disruption in communication between the right cerebellum and left frontal cortex may contribute to speech-language problems observed in children with CMS. Our findings may be relevant for surgical planning and speech-language therapy to mitigate symptoms of CMS.
doi:10.1093/neuonc/nos160
PMCID: PMC3452341  PMID: 22952198
cerebellar mutism syndrome; cerebello-thalamo-cerebral pathway; diffusion tensor imaging; posterior fossa syndrome; posterior fossa tumors
17.  Functional Genomics Identifies Drivers of Medulloblastoma Dissemination 
Cancer research  2012;72(19):4944-4953.
Medulloblastomas are malignant brain tumors that arise in the cerebellum in children and disseminate via the cerebrospinal fluid to the leptomeningeal spaces of the brain and spinal cord. Challenged by the poor prognosis for patients with metastatic dissemination, pediatric oncologists have developed aggressive treatment protocols, combining surgery, craniospinal radiation, and high-dose chemotherapy that often cause disabling neurotoxic effects in long-term survivors. Insights into the genetic control of medulloblastoma dissemination have come from transposon insertion mutagenesis studies. Mobilizing the Sleeping Beauty transposon in cerebellar neural progenitor cells caused widespread dissemination of typically nonmetastatic medulloblastomas in Patched+/− mice, in which Sonic Hedgehog (Shh) signaling is hyperactive. Candidate metastasis genes were identified by sequencing the insertion sites and then mapping these sequences back to the mouse genome. To determine whether genes located at transposon insertion sites directly caused medulloblastomas to disseminate, we overexpressed candidate genes in Nestin+ neural progenitors in the cerebella of mice by retroviral transfer in combination with Shh. We show here that ectopic expression of Eras, Lhx1, Ccrk, and Akt shifted the in vivo growth characteristics of Shh-induced medulloblastomas from a localized pattern to a disseminated pattern in which tumor cells seeded the leptomeningeal spaces of the brain and spinal cord.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-12-1629
PMCID: PMC3463769  PMID: 22875024
medulloblastoma; metastasis; leptomeningeal dissemination
18.  Non-invasive evaluation of energy loss in the pulmonary arteries using 4D phase contrast MR measurement: a proof of concept 
Background
The repair surgery of congenital heart disease (CHD) associated with the right ventricular (RV)-pulmonary artery (PA) pathophysiology often left patients with critical post-operative lesions, leading to regurgitation and obstruction in the PAs. These lesions need longitudinal (with time) assessment for monitoring the RV function, in order for patients to have appropriate treatment before irreversible RV dysfunction occurs. In this research, we computed energy loss in the branch PAs using blood flow and pressure drop data obtained from 4D phase contrast (PC) MRI, to non-invasively quantify the RV-PA pathophysiology.
Methods
4D PC MRI was acquired for a CHD patient with abnormal RV-PA physiology, including pulmonary regurgitation and PA stenosis, and a subject with normal RV-PA physiology. The blood velocity, flow rate, and pressure drop data, obtained from 4D PC MRI, were used to compute and compare the energy loss values between the patient and normal subjects.
Results
The pressure drop in the branch PAs for the patient was −1.3 mmHg/s and −0.2 mmHg/s for the RPA and LPA, respectively, and was larger (one order of magnitude) than that for the control. Similarly, the total energy loss in the branch PAs for the patient, -96.9 mJ/s and −16.4 mJ/s, for the RPA and LPA, respectively, was larger than that for the control.
Conclusions
The amount of energy loss in the pulmonary blood flow for the patient was considerably larger than the normal subject due to PA regurgitation and PA stenosis. Thus, we believe that the status of RV-PA pathophysiology for CHD patients can be evaluated non-invasively using energy loss endpoint.
doi:10.1186/1475-925X-12-93
PMCID: PMC3849381  PMID: 24053359
4D phase contrast MRI; Pulmonary insufficiency; Energy-based endpoint
19.  Update on a Pharmacokinetic-Centric Alternative Tier II Program for MMT—Part II: Physiologically Based Pharmacokinetic Modeling and Manganese Risk Assessment 
Journal of Toxicology  2012;2012:791431.
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.
doi:10.1155/2012/791431
PMCID: PMC3356703  PMID: 22645610
20.  Left ventricular noncompaction in Duchenne muscular dystrophy 
Background
Left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC) describes deep trabeculations in the left ventricular (LV) endocardium and a thinned epicardium. LVNC is seen both as a primary cardiomyopathy and as a secondary finding in other syndromes affecting the myocardium such as neuromuscular disorders. The objective of this study is to define the prevalence of LVNC in the Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) population and characterize its relationship to global LV function.
Methods
Cardiac magnetic resonance (CMR) was used to assess ventricular morphology and function in 151 subjects: DMD with ejection fraction (EF) > 55% (n = 66), DMD with EF < 55% (n = 30), primary LVNC (n = 15) and normal controls (n = 40). The non-compacted to compacted (NC/C) ratio was measured in each of the 16 standard myocardial segments. LVNC was defined as a diastolic NC/C ratio > 2.3 for any segment.
Results
LVNC criteria were met by 27/96 DMD patients (prevalence of 28%): 11 had an EF > 55% (prevalence of 16.7%), and 16 had an EF < 55% (prevalence of 53.3%). The median maximum NC/C ratio was 1.8 for DMD with EF > 55%, 2.46 for DMD with EF < 55%, 1.54 for the normal subjects, and 3.69 for primary LVNC patients. Longitudinal data for 78 of the DMD boys demonstrated a mean rate of change in NC/C ratio per year of +0.36.
Conclusion
The high prevalence of LVNC in DMD is associated with decreased LV systolic function that develops over time and may represent muscular degeneration versus compensatory remodeling.
doi:10.1186/1532-429X-15-67
PMCID: PMC3750745  PMID: 23914774
Left ventricular noncompaction; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging
21.  Subgroup specific structural variation across 1,000 medulloblastoma genomes 
Northcott, Paul A | Shih, David JH | Peacock, John | Garzia, Livia | Morrissy, Sorana | Zichner, Thomas | Stütz, Adrian M | Korshunov, Andrey | Reimand, Juri | Schumacher, Steven E | Beroukhim, Rameen | Ellison, David W | Marshall, Christian R | Lionel, Anath C | Mack, Stephen | Dubuc, Adrian | Yao, Yuan | Ramaswamy, Vijay | Luu, Betty | Rolider, Adi | Cavalli, Florence | Wang, Xin | Remke, Marc | Wu, Xiaochong | Chiu, Readman YB | Chu, Andy | Chuah, Eric | Corbett, Richard D | Hoad, Gemma R | Jackman, Shaun D | Li, Yisu | Lo, Allan | Mungall, Karen L | Nip, Ka Ming | Qian, Jenny Q | Raymond, Anthony GJ | Thiessen, Nina | Varhol, Richard J | Birol, Inanc | Moore, Richard A | Mungall, Andrew J | Holt, Robert | Kawauchi, Daisuke | Roussel, Martine F | Kool, Marcel | Jones, David TW | Witt, Hendrick | Fernandez-L, Africa | Kenney, Anna M | Wechsler-Reya, Robert J | Dirks, Peter | Aviv, Tzvi | Grajkowska, Wieslawa A | Perek-Polnik, Marta | Haberler, Christine C | Delattre, Olivier | Reynaud, Stéphanie S | Doz, François F | Pernet-Fattet, Sarah S | Cho, Byung-Kyu | Kim, Seung-Ki | Wang, Kyu-Chang | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Eberhart, Charles G | Fèvre-Montange, Michelle | Jouvet, Anne | Pollack, Ian F | Fan, Xing | Muraszko, Karin M | Gillespie, G. Yancey | Di Rocco, Concezio | Massimi, Luca | Michiels, Erna MC | Kloosterhof, Nanne K | French, Pim J | Kros, Johan M | Olson, James M | Ellenbogen, Richard G | Zitterbart, Karel | Kren, Leos | Thompson, Reid C | Cooper, Michael K | Lach, Boleslaw | McLendon, Roger E | Bigner, Darell D | Fontebasso, Adam | Albrecht, Steffen | Jabado, Nada | Lindsey, Janet C | Bailey, Simon | Gupta, Nalin | Weiss, William A | Bognár, László | Klekner, Almos | Van Meter, Timothy E | Kumabe, Toshihiro | Tominaga, Teiji | Elbabaa, Samer K | Leonard, Jeffrey R | Rubin, Joshua B | Liau, Linda M | Van Meir, Erwin G | Fouladi, Maryam | Nakamura, Hideo | Cinalli, Giuseppe | Garami, Miklós | Hauser, Peter | Saad, Ali G | Iolascon, Achille | Jung, Shin | Carlotti, Carlos G | Vibhakar, Rajeev | Ra, Young Shin | Robinson, Shenandoah | Zollo, Massimo | Faria, Claudia C | Chan, Jennifer A | Levy, Michael L | Sorensen, Poul HB | Meyerson, Matthew | Pomeroy, Scott L | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Bader, Gary D | Tabori, Uri | Hawkins, Cynthia E | Bouffet, Eric | Scherer, Stephen W | Rutka, James T | Malkin, David | Clifford, Steven C | Jones, Steven JM | Korbel, Jan O | Pfister, Stefan M | Marra, Marco A | Taylor, Michael D
Nature  2012;488(7409):49-56.
Summary
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.
doi:10.1038/nature11327
PMCID: PMC3683624  PMID: 22832581
22.  Distinct Neural Stem Cell Populations Give Rise to Disparate Brain Tumors in Response to N-MYC 
Cancer Cell  2012;21(5):601-613.
SUMMARY
The proto-oncogene MYCN is mis-expressed in various types of human brain tumors. To clarify how developmental and regional differences influence transformation, we transduced wild-type or mutationally-stabilized murine N-mycT58A into neural stem cells (NSCs) from perinatal murine cerebellum, brain stem and forebrain. Transplantation of N-mycWT NSCs was insufficient for tumor formation. N-mycT58A cerebellar and brain stem NSCs generated medulloblastoma/primitive neuroectodermal tumors, whereas forebrain NSCs developed diffuse glioma. Expression analyses distinguished tumors generated from these different regions, with tumors from embryonic versus postnatal cerebellar NSCs demonstrating SHH-dependence and SHH-independence, respectively. These differences were regulated in-part by the transcription factor SOX9, activated in the SHH subclass of human medulloblastoma. Our results demonstrate context-dependent transformation of NSCs in response to a common oncogenic signal.
doi:10.1016/j.ccr.2012.04.012
PMCID: PMC3360885  PMID: 22624711
N-MYC; GFAP; SOX9; medulloblastoma; neural stem cells; glioma
23.  ICGC PedBrain: Dissecting the genomic complexity underlying medulloblastoma 
Jones, David TW | Jäger, Natalie | Kool, Marcel | Zichner, Thomas | Hutter, Barbara | Sultan, Marc | Cho, Yoon-Jae | Pugh, Trevor J | Hovestadt, Volker | Stütz, Adrian M | Rausch, Tobias | Warnatz, Hans-Jörg | Ryzhova, Marina | Bender, Sebastian | Sturm, Dominik | Pleier, Sabrina | Cin, Huriye | Pfaff, Elke | Sieber, Laura | Wittmann, Andrea | Remke, Marc | Witt, Hendrik | Hutter, Sonja | Tzaridis, Theophilos | Weischenfeldt, Joachim | Raeder, Benjamin | Avci, Meryem | Amstislavskiy, Vyacheslav | Zapatka, Marc | Weber, Ursula D | Wang, Qi | Lasitschka, Bärbel | Bartholomae, Cynthia C | Schmidt, Manfred | von Kalle, Christof | Ast, Volker | Lawerenz, Chris | Eils, Jürgen | Kabbe, Rolf | Benes, Vladimir | van Sluis, Peter | Koster, Jan | Volckmann, Richard | Shih, David | Betts, Matthew J | Russell, Robert B | Coco, Simona | Tonini, Gian Paolo | Schüller, Ulrich | Hans, Volkmar | Graf, Norbert | Kim, Yoo-Jin | Monoranu, Camelia | Roggendorf, Wolfgang | Unterberg, Andreas | Herold-Mende, Christel | Milde, Till | Kulozik, Andreas E | von Deimling, Andreas | Witt, Olaf | Maass, Eberhard | Rössler, Jochen | Ebinger, Martin | Schuhmann, Martin U | Frühwald, Michael C | Hasselblatt, Martin | Jabado, Nada | Rutkowski, Stefan | von Bueren, André O | Williamson, Dan | Clifford, Steven C | McCabe, Martin G | Collins, V. Peter | Wolf, Stephan | Wiemann, Stefan | Lehrach, Hans | Brors, Benedikt | Scheurlen, Wolfram | Felsberg, Jörg | Reifenberger, Guido | Northcott, Paul A | Taylor, Michael D | Meyerson, Matthew | Pomeroy, Scott L | Yaspo, Marie-Laure | Korbel, Jan O | Korshunov, Andrey | Eils, Roland | Pfister, Stefan M | Lichter, Peter
Nature  2012;488(7409):100-105.
Summary
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.
doi:10.1038/nature11284
PMCID: PMC3662966  PMID: 22832583
25.  Molecular basis for clinical heterogeneity in inherited cardiomyopathies due to myopalladin mutations 
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(9):2039-2053.
Abnormalities in Z-disc proteins cause hypertrophic (HCM), dilated (DCM) and/or restrictive cardiomyopathy (RCM), but disease-causing mechanisms are not fully understood. Myopalladin (MYPN) is a Z-disc protein expressed in striated muscle and functions as a structural, signaling and gene expression regulating molecule in response to muscle stress. MYPN was genetically screened in 900 patients with HCM, DCM and RCM, and disease-causing mechanisms were investigated using comparative immunohistochemical analysis of the patient myocardium and neonatal rat cardiomyocytes expressing mutant MYPN. Cardiac-restricted transgenic (Tg) mice were generated and protein–protein interactions were evaluated. Two nonsense and 13 missense MYPN variants were identified in subjects with DCM, HCM and RCM with the average cardiomyopathy prevalence of 1.66%. Functional studies were performed on two variants (Q529X and Y20C) associated with variable clinical phenotypes. Humans carrying the Y20C-MYPN variant developed HCM or DCM, whereas Q529X-MYPN was found in familial RCM. Disturbed myofibrillogenesis with disruption of α-actinin2, desmin and cardiac ankyrin repeat protein (CARP) was evident in rat cardiomyocytes expressing MYPNQ529X. Cardiac-restricted MYPNY20C Tg mice developed HCM and disrupted intercalated discs, with disturbed expression of desmin, desmoplakin, connexin43 and vinculin being evident. Failed nuclear translocation and reduced binding of Y20C-MYPN to CARP were demonstrated using in vitro and in vivo systems. MYPN mutations cause various forms of cardiomyopathy via different protein–protein interactions. Q529X-MYPN causes RCM via disturbed myofibrillogenesis, whereas Y20C-MYPN perturbs MYPN nuclear shuttling and leads to abnormal assembly of terminal Z-disc within the cardiac transitional junction and intercalated disc.
doi:10.1093/hmg/dds022
PMCID: PMC3315208  PMID: 22286171

Results 1-25 (53)