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Subtypes of medulloblastoma have distinct developmental origins

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Janet Lindsey, Professor Steven Clifford, Professor David Ellison, Dr Richard Gilbertson

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Abstract

Medulloblastoma encompasses a collection of clinically and molecularly diverse tumour subtypes that together comprise the most common malignant childhood brain tumour(1-4). These tumours are thought to arise within the cerebellum, with approximately 25% originating from granule neuron precursor cells (GNPCs) after aberrant activation of the Sonic Hedgehog pathway (hereafter, SHH subtype)(3-8). The pathological processes that drive heterogeneity among the other medulloblastoma subtypes are not known, hindering the development of much needed new therapies. Here we provide evidence that a discrete subtype of medulloblastoma that contains activating mutations in the WNT pathway effector CTNNB1 (hereafter, WNT subtype) 1,3,4 arises outside the cerebellum from cells of the dorsal brainstem. We found that genes marking human WNT-subtype medulloblastomas are more frequently expressed in the lower rhombic lip (LRL) and embryonic dorsal brainstem than in the upper rhombic lip (URL) and developing cerebellum. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and intra-operative reports showed that human WNT-subtype tumours infiltrate the dorsal brainstem, whereas SHH-subtype tumours are located within the cerebellar hemispheres. Activating mutations in Ctnnb1 had little impact on progenitor cell populations in the cerebellum, but caused the abnormal accumulation of cells on the embryonic dorsal brainstem which included aberrantly proliferating Zic1(+) precursor cells. These lesions persisted in all mutant adult mice; moreover, in 15% of cases in which Tp53 was concurrently deleted, they progressed to form medulloblastomas that recapitulated the anatomy and gene expression profiles of human WNT-subtype medulloblastoma. We provide the first evidence, to our knowledge, that subtypes of medulloblastoma have distinct cellular origins. Our data provide an explanation for the marked molecular and clinical differences between SHH- and WNT-subtype medulloblastomas and have profound implications for future research and treatment of this important childhood cancer.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Gibson P, Tong YA, Robinson G, Thompson MC, Currle DS, Eden C, Kranenburg TA, Hogg T, Poppleton H, Martin J, Finkelstein D, Pounds S, Weiss A, Patay Z, Scoggins M, Ogg R, Pei YX, Yang ZJ, Brun S, Lee Y, Zindy F, Lindsey JC, Taketo MM, Boop FA, Sanford RA, Gajjar A, Clifford SC, Roussel MF, McKinnon PJ, Gutmann DH, Ellison DW, Wechsler-Reya R, Gilbertson RJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Nature

Year: 2010

Volume: 468

Issue: 7327

Pages: 1095-1099

Print publication date: 23/12/2010

ISSN (print): 0028-0836

ISSN (electronic): 1476-4687

Publisher: Nature Publishing Group

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nature09587

DOI: 10.1038/nature09587


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Funding

Funder referenceFunder name
American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities
Collaborative Ependymoma Research Network
P30CA021765National Institutes of Health
P01CA96832National Institutes of Health
R01CA129541National Institutes of Health

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