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  • 1
    Abstract: Ependymoma is a malignant pediatric brain tumor, often incurable under the current treatment regimen. We aimed to evaluate the expression of microRNAs (miRs) in pediatric ependymoma tumors in an attempt to identify prognostic molecular markers which would lead to potential therapeutic targets. Following miR-array expression analysis, we focused on 9 miRs that correlated with relapse which were further validated by quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in a cohort of 67 patients. Western blotting and immunohistochemistry were used to measure target protein expression in 20 and 34 tumor samples, respectively. High expression of miR-124-3p significantly correlated with the lower progression-free survival (PFS) of 16% compared to 67% in those expressing low levels (P = .002). Interestingly, in the group of patients with local disease (n = 56) expression levels of this miR distinguished 2 subgroups with a significantly different outcome (P = .001). miR-124-3p was identified as an independent prognostic factor of relapse in the multivariate analysis performed in the whole cohort and in the group with localized disease. In the localized group, a patient expressing high levels of miR-124-3p had a 4.1-fold increased risk for relapse (P = .005). We demonstrated the direct binding of miR-124-3p to its target TP53INP1. Negative TP53INP1 protein levels correlated with a poor outcome (P = .034). We propose miR-124-3p and TP53INP1 as new biomarkers for prognostic stratification that may be possible therapeutic targets for ependymoma.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 28437838
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  • 2
    Keywords: SURVIVAL ; TP53 ; TARGETED THERAPY ; ATRX ; DIPG ; H3.3
    Abstract: Pediatric glioblastomas (GBM) including diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are devastating brain tumors with no effective therapy. Here, we investigated clinical and biological impacts of histone H3.3 mutations. Forty-two DIPGs were tested for H3.3 mutations. Wild-type versus mutated (K27M-H3.3) subgroups were compared for HIST1H3B, IDH, ATRX and TP53 mutations, copy number alterations and clinical outcome. K27M-H3.3 occurred in 71 %, TP53 mutations in 77 % and ATRX mutations in 9 % of DIPGs. ATRX mutations were more frequent in older children (p 〈 0.0001). No G34V/R-H3.3, IDH1/2 or H3.1 mutations were identified. K27M-H3.3 DIPGs showed specific copy number changes, including all gains/amplifications of PDGFRA and MYC/PVT1 loci. Notably, all long-term survivors were H3.3 wild type and this group of patients had better overall survival. K27M-H3.3 mutation defines clinically and biologically distinct subgroups and is prevalent in DIPG, which will impact future therapeutic trial design. K27M- and G34V-H3.3 have location-based incidence (brainstem/cortex) and potentially play distinct roles in pediatric GBM pathogenesis. K27M-H3.3 is universally associated with short survival in DIPG, while patients wild-type for H3.3 show improved survival. Based on prognostic and therapeutic implications, our findings argue for H3.3-mutation testing at diagnosis, which should be rapidly integrated into the clinical decision-making algorithm, particularly in atypical DIPG.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22661320
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  • 3
    Keywords: CANCER ; DISTINCT ; prognosis ; PROGRESSION ; chemotherapy ; ABERRATIONS ; MUTATIONS ; CHILDREN ; ADOLESCENTS ; INTRATUMOR HETEROGENEITY
    Abstract: BACKGROUND: Recurrent medulloblastoma is a therapeutic challenge because it is almost always fatal. Studies have confirmed that medulloblastoma consists of at least four distinct subgroups. We sought to delineate subgroup-specific differences in medulloblastoma recurrence patterns. METHODS: We retrospectively identified a discovery cohort of all recurrent medulloblastomas at the Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto, ON, Canada) from 1994 to 2012 (cohort 1), and established molecular subgroups using a nanoString-based assay on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissues or frozen tissue. The anatomical site of recurrence (local tumour bed or leptomeningeal metastasis), time to recurrence, and survival after recurrence were assessed in a subgroup-specific manner. Two independent, non-overlapping cohorts (cohort 2: samples from patients with recurrent medulloblastomas from 13 centres worldwide, obtained between 1991 and 2012; cohort 3: samples from patients with recurrent medulloblastoma obtained at the NN Burdenko Neurosurgical Institute [Moscow, Russia] between 1994 and 2011) were analysed to confirm and validate observations. When possible, molecular subgrouping was done on tissue obtained from both the initial surgery and at recurrence. RESULTS: Cohort 1 consisted of 30 patients with recurrent medulloblastomas; nine with local recurrences, and 21 with metastatic recurrences. Cohort 2 consisted of 77 patients and cohort 3 of 96 patients with recurrent medulloblastoma. Subgroup affiliation remained stable at recurrence in all 34 cases with available matched primary and recurrent pairs (five pairs from cohort 1 and 29 pairs from cohort 2 [15 SHH, five group 3, 14 group 4]). This finding was validated in 17 pairs from cohort 3. When analysed in a subgroup-specific manner, local recurrences in cohort 1 were more frequent in SHH tumours (eight of nine [89%]) and metastatic recurrences were more common in group 3 and group 4 tumours (17 of 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 cohort 2 (p=0.0013 for local vs metastatic recurrence, SHH vs group 3 vs group 4,), and cohort 3 (p〈0.0001). Treatment with craniospinal irradiation at diagnosis was not significantly associated with the anatomical pattern of recurrence. Survival after recurrence was significantly longer in patients with group 4 tumours in cohort 1 (p=0.013) than with other subgroups, which was confirmed in cohort 2 (p=0.0075), but not cohort 3 (p=0.70). INTERPRETATION: Medulloblastoma does not change subgroup at the time of recurrence, reinforcing the stability of the four main medulloblastoma subgroups. Significant differences in the location and timing of recurrence across medulloblastoma subgroups have potential treatment ramifications. Specifically, intensified local (posterior fossa) therapy should be tested in the initial treatment of patients with SHH tumours. Refinement of therapy for patients with group 3 or group 4 tumours should focus on metastases. FUNDING: Canadian Institutes of Health Research, National Institutes of Health, Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, Garron Family Chair in Childhood Cancer Research at The Hospital for Sick Children and The University of Toronto.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24140199
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  • 4
    Keywords: CANCER ; CELLS ; DISTINCT ; CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM ; METHYLATION ; ADULT ; BRAIN-TUMORS ; TELOMERASE ACTIVITY ; RISK STRATIFICATION ; SELF-RENEWAL
    Abstract: 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.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24174164
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  • 5
    Keywords: SURVIVAL ; DIAGNOSIS ; prognosis ; CHILDREN ; RECURRENT ; TP53 mutation
    Abstract: BACKGROUND: Children presenting with medulloblastoma have a wide range of initial presenting symptoms. However, the influence of underlying tumor biology on the initial presentation of medulloblastoma is currently unknown. In light of the recent discovery of distinct medulloblastoma subgroups, we sought to define the initial presentation of childhood medulloblastoma in a subgroup specific manner. PROCEDURE: We assembled a cohort of 126 medulloblastoma cases at the Hospital for Sick Children between 1994 and 2012 and determined subgroup affiliation using nanoString. Clinical details pertaining to the initial presentation were determined through a retrospective chart review. RESULTS: The median pre-diagnostic interval across all medulloblastoma cases was 4 weeks (IQR: 4-12 weeks). Strikingly, when the pre-diagnostic interval was then determined in a subgroup specific manner, cases with WNT and Group 4 tumors showed significantly longer median pre-diagnostic intervals of 8 weeks compared to 2 weeks for SHH and 4 weeks for Group 3 (P = 0.0001). Younger age was significantly associated with a prolonged pre-diagnostic interval (P = 0.02 for all). When stratifying by subgroup the association with age was only significant in Group 4 (P = 0.04 for Group 4). Improved survival was significantly associated with a longer pre-diagnostic interval (P = 0.02), however is no longer significant when controlling for subgroup (P = 0.07). CONCLUSIONS: The duration of the pre-diagnostic interval in childhood medulloblastoma is highly subgroup dependent, further highlighting the clinical heterogeneity and biological relevance of the four principle subgroups of medulloblastoma.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24616042
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  • 6
    Abstract: 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, beta-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 gammaH2AX 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.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 25539912
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  • 7
    Abstract: The development of targeted anti-cancer therapies through the study of cancer genomes is intended to increase survival rates and decrease treatment-related toxicity. We treated a transposon-driven, functional genomic mouse model of medulloblastoma with 'humanized' in vivo therapy (microneurosurgical tumour resection followed by multi-fractionated, image-guided radiotherapy). Genetic events in recurrent murine medulloblastoma exhibit a very poor overlap with those in matched murine diagnostic samples (〈5%). Whole-genome sequencing of 33 pairs of human diagnostic and post-therapy medulloblastomas demonstrated substantial genetic divergence of the dominant clone after therapy (〈12% diagnostic events were retained at recurrence). In both mice and humans, the dominant clone at recurrence arose through clonal selection of a pre-existing minor clone present at diagnosis. Targeted therapy is unlikely to be effective in the absence of the target, therefore our results offer a simple, proximal, and remediable explanation for the failure of prior clinical trials of targeted therapy.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 26760213
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  • 8
  • 9
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; tumor ; DISTINCT ; GENE-EXPRESSION ; TUMORS ; FEATURES ; clinical trials ; medulloblastoma ; MOLECULAR CLASSIFICATION ; SUBGROUPS ; MYC ; Molecular subgroup ; NanoString
    Abstract: The diagnosis of medulloblastoma likely encompasses several distinct entities, with recent evidence for the existence of at least four unique molecular subgroups that exhibit distinct genetic, transcriptional, demographic, and clinical features. Assignment of molecular subgroup through routine profiling of high-quality RNA on expression microarrays is likely impractical in the clinical setting. The planning and execution of medulloblastoma clinical trials that stratify by subgroup, or which are targeted to a specific subgroup requires technologies that can be economically, rapidly, reliably, and reproducibly applied to formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) specimens. In the current study, we have developed an assay that accurately measures the expression level of 22 medulloblastoma subgroup-specific signature genes (CodeSet) using nanoString nCounter Technology. Comparison of the nanoString assay with Affymetrix expression array data on a training series of 101 medulloblastomas of known subgroup demonstrated a high concordance (Pearson correlation r = 0.86). The assay was validated on a second set of 130 non-overlapping medulloblastomas of known subgroup, correctly assigning 98% (127/130) of tumors to the appropriate subgroup. Reproducibility was demonstrated by repeating the assay in three independent laboratories in Canada, the United States, and Switzerland. Finally, the nanoString assay could confidently predict subgroup in 88% of recent FFPE cases, of which 100% had accurate subgroup assignment. We present an assay based on nanoString technology that is capable of rapidly, reliably, and reproducibly assigning clinical FFPE medulloblastoma samples to their molecular subgroup, and which is highly suited for future medulloblastoma clinical trials.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22057785
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  • 10
    Keywords: GROWTH ; INHIBITOR ; ADVANCED SOLID TUMORS ; PHASE-I ; THERAPY ; MALIGNANCIES ; CANCER-CELLS ; TUMOR-INITIATING CELLS ; 3 YEARS OLD ; BI 2536
    Abstract: Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. This disease is heterogeneous and is composed of four subtypes of medulloblastoma [WNT, Sonic Hedgehog (SHH), Group 3, and Group 4]. An immediate goal is to identify novel molecular targets for the most aggressive forms of medulloblastoma. Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) is an oncogenic kinase that controls cell cycle and proliferation, making it a strong candidate for medulloblastoma treatment. In this study, pediatric medulloblastomas were subtyped in two patient cohorts (discovery cohort, n = 63 patients; validation cohort, n = 57 patients) using NanoString nCounter analysis and PLK1 mRNA was assessed. We determined that the SHH and Group 3 subtypes were independently associated with poor outcomes in children as was PLK1 using Cox regression analyses. Furthermore, we screened a library of 129 compounds in clinical trials using a model of pediatric medulloblastoma and determined that PLK1 inhibitors were the most promising class of agents against the growth of medulloblastoma. In patient-derived primary medulloblastoma isolates, the PLK1 small-molecule inhibitor BI2536 suppressed the self-renewal of cells with high PLK1 but not low PLK1 expression. PLK1 inhibition prevented medulloblastoma cell proliferation, self-renewal, cell-cycle progression, and induced apoptosis. In contrast, the growth of normal neural stem cells was unaffected by BI2536. Finally, BI2536 extended survival in medulloblastoma-bearing mice with efficacy comparable with Headstart, a standard-of-care chemotherapy regimen. We conclude that patients with medulloblastoma expressing high levels of PLK1 are at elevated risk. These preclinical studies pave the way for improving the treatment of medulloblastoma through PLK1 inhibition. Cancer Res; 73(22); 6734-44. (c)2013 AACR.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24019381
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