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    Keywords: brain ; SONIC HEDGEHOG ; CENTRAL-NERVOUS-SYSTEM ; N-MYC ; BRAIN-TUMORS ; SUPPRESSOR GENE ; PRIMITIVE NEUROECTODERMAL TUMORS ; prospective ; CHILDHOOD MEDULLOBLASTOMA ; RISK STRATIFICATION ; EMBRYONAL TUMOR ; TRUE ROSETTES ETANTR
    Abstract: Medulloblastoma, the most common malignant paediatric brain tumour, is currently diagnosed and stratified using a combination of clinical and demographic variables. Recent transcriptomic approaches have demonstrated that the histological entity known as medulloblastoma is comprised of multiple clinically and molecularly distinct subgroups. The current consensus is that four defined subgroups of medulloblastoma exist: WNT, SHH, Group 3, and Group 4. Each subgroup probably contains at least one additional level of hierarchy, with some evidence for multiple subtypes within each subgroup. The demographic and clinical differences between the subgroups present immediate and pressing questions to be addressed in the next round of clinical trials for patients with medulloblastoma. Many of the genetically defined targets for rational medulloblastoma therapies are unique to a given subgroup, suggesting the need for subgroup-specific trials of novel therapies. The development of practical, robust and widely accepted subgroup biomarkers that are amenable to the conditions of a prospective clinical trial is, therefore, an urgent need for the paediatric neuro-oncology community. In this Review, we discuss the clinical implications of molecular subgrouping in medulloblastoma, highlighting how these subgroups are transitioning from a research topic in the laboratory to a clinically relevant topic with important implications for patient care.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22565209
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  • 3
    Keywords: CANCER ; PATHWAY ; GENES ; ACTIVATION ; MUTATIONS ; SUBGROUPS ; LANDSCAPE ; TETRAPLOID TUMOR-CELLS ; TBR1
    Abstract: 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 shows tremendous biological and clinical heterogeneity. 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 identified. WNT tumours, showing activated wingless pathway signalling, carry a favourable prognosis under current treatment regimens. SHH tumours show hedgehog pathway activation, and have an intermediate prognosis. Group 3 and 4 tumours are molecularly less well characterized, and also present the greatest clinical challenges. 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, conducted as part of the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) PedBrain Tumor Project. Tetraploidy was identified as a frequent early event in Group 3 and 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 what are, to our knowledge, the first medulloblastoma fusion genes identified. 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 and 4 patients.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 22832583
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  • 4
    Keywords: CANCER ; transcription ; COMPLEX ; MUTATIONS ; STEM-CELLS ; MOUSE MODEL ; histone deacetylase inhibitor ; RETINOIC ACID ; DISTINCT SUBGROUPS ; DRIVEN MEDULLOBLASTOMA
    Abstract: The unexpectedly high frequency and universality of alterations to the chromatin machinery is one of the most striking themes emerging from the current deluge of cancer genomics data. Medulloblastoma (MB), a malignant pediatric brain tumor, is no exception to this trend, with a wealth of recent studies indicating multiple alterations at all levels of chromatin processing. MB is typically now regarded as being composed of four major molecular entities (WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4), which vary in their clinical and biological characteristics. Similarities and differences across these subgroups are also reflected in the specific chromatin modifiers that are found to be altered in each group, and each new cancer genome sequence or microarray profile is adding to this important knowledge base. These data are fundamentally changing our understanding of tumor developmental pathways, not just for MB but also for cancer as a whole. They also provide a new class of targets for the development of rational, personalized therapeutic approaches. The mechanisms by which these chromatin remodelers are dysregulated in MB, and the consequences both for future basic research and for translation to the clinic, will be examined here.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23432644
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  • 5
    Keywords: PROSTATE-CANCER ; ACUTE LYMPHOBLASTIC-LEUKEMIA ; SQUAMOUS-CELL CARCINOMA ; LUNG ADENOCARCINOMA ; ACUTE MYELOID-LEUKEMIA ; SOMATIC MUTATIONS ; GENETIC LANDSCAPE ; 21 BREAST CANCERS ; RECURRENT MUTATIONS ; FREQUENT MUTATION
    Abstract: All cancers are caused by somatic mutations; however, understanding of the biological processes generating these mutations is limited. The catalogue of somatic mutations from a cancer genome bears the signatures of the mutational processes that have been operative. Here we analysed 4,938,362 mutations from 7,042 cancers and extracted more than 20 distinct mutational signatures. Some are present in many cancer types, notably a signature attributed to the APOBEC family of cytidine deaminases, whereas others are confined to a single cancer class. Certain signatures are associated with age of the patient at cancer diagnosis, known mutagenic exposures or defects in DNA maintenance, but many are of cryptic origin. In addition to these genome-wide mutational signatures, hypermutation localized to small genomic regions, 'kataegis', is found in many cancer types. The results reveal the diversity of mutational processes underlying the development of cancer, with potential implications for understanding of cancer aetiology, prevention and therapy.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 23945592
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  • 6
    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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  • 7
    Keywords: EXPRESSION ; MELANOMA ; GLIOMAS ; HUMAN CANCER ; telomere length ; ASTROCYTIC TUMORS ; GIANT-CELL GLIOBLASTOMAS ; ATRX ; OCCUR
    Abstract: Hot spot mutations in the promoter region of telomerase reverse transcriptase (TERT) have recently been described in several human tumor entities. These mutations result in an upregulation of the telomerase complex activity and thus constitute a relevant mechanism for immortalization of tumor cells. Knowledge of the TERT promoter status in tumors is likely to be of interest for molecular classification and as a potential target for therapy. We, therefore, performed a systematic analysis of TERT promoter mutations in 1,515 tumors of the human nervous system and its coverings including 373 pediatric and 1,142 adult patients. We detected a total of 327 mutations. TERT promoter mutations were exceedingly rare in tumors typically encountered in pediatric patients. In entities typically encountered in adult patients TERT promoter mutations were strongly associated with older age (p 〈 0.0001). Highest mutation frequencies were detected in gliosarcomas (81 %), oligodendrogliomas (78 %), oligoastrocytomas (58 %), primary glioblastomas (54 %), and solitary fibrous tumors (50 %). Related to other molecular alterations, TERT promoter mutations were strongly associated with 1p/19q loss (p 〈 0.0001), but inversely associated with loss of ATRX expression (p 〈 0.0001) and IDH1/IDH2 mutations (p 〈 0.0001). TERT promoter mutations are typically found in adult patients and occur in a highly tumor type-associated distribution.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24154961
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  • 8
    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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  • 9
    Keywords: CANCER ; GROWTH ; TUMORS ; NERVOUS-SYSTEM ; ADULT ; MOUSE MODELS ; PEDIATRIC MEDULLOBLASTOMA ; HEDGEHOG PATHWAY INHIBITOR ; TERT PROMOTER MUTATIONS ; ITRACONAZOLE
    Abstract: Smoothened (SMO) inhibitors recently entered clinical trials for sonic-hedgehog-driven medulloblastoma (SHH-MB). Clinical response is highly variable. To understand the mechanism(s) of primary resistance and identify pathways cooperating with aberrant SHH signaling, we sequenced and profiled a large cohort of SHH-MBs (n = 133). SHH pathway mutations involved PTCH1 (across all age groups), SUFU (infants, including germline), and SMO (adults). Children 〉3 years old harbored an excess of downstream MYCN and GLI2 amplifications and frequent TP53 mutations, often in the germline, all of which were rare in infants and adults. Functional assays in different SHH-MB xenograft models demonstrated that SHH-MBs harboring a PTCH1 mutation were responsive to SMO inhibition, whereas tumors harboring an SUFU mutation or MYCN amplification were primarily resistant.
    Type of Publication: Journal article published
    PubMed ID: 24651015
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  • 10
    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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