Molecular epigenetics and genetics in neuro-oncology.

Brain Tumor Research Center, Department of Neurosurgery, Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143, USA.
Neurotherapeutics (Impact Factor: 5.9). 08/2009; 6(3):436-46. DOI: 10.1016/j.nurt.2009.04.002
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Gliomas arise through genetic and epigenetic alterations of normal brain cells, although the exact cell of origin for each glioma subtype is unknown. The alteration-induced changes in gene expression and protein function allow uncontrolled cell division, tumor expansion, and infiltration into surrounding normal brain parenchyma. The genetic and epigenetic alterations are tumor subtype and tumor-grade specific. Particular alterations predict tumor aggressiveness, tumor response to therapy, and patient survival. Genetic alterations include deletion, gain, amplification, mutation, and translocation, which result in oncogene activation and tumor suppressor gene inactivation, or in some instances the alterations may simply be a consequence of tumorigenesis. Epigenetic alterations in brain tumors include CpG island hypermethylation associated with tumor suppressor gene silencing, gene-specific hypomethylation associated with aberrant gene activation, and genome-wide hypomethylation potentially leading to loss of imprinting, chromosomal instability, and cellular hyperproliferation. Other epigenetic alterations, such as changes in the position of histone variants and changes in histone modifications are also likely to be important in the molecular pathology of brain tumors. Given that histone deacetylases are targets for drugs that are already in clinical trial, surprisingly little is known about histone acetylation in primary brain tumors. Although a majority of epigenetic alterations are independent of genetic alterations, there is interaction on specific genes, signaling pathways and within chromosomal domains. Next-generation sequencing technology is now the method of choice for genomic and epigenome profiling, allowing more comprehensive understanding of genetic and epigenetic contributions to tumorigenesis in the brain.

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    ABSTRACT: The mechanism underlying abnormally high transcription of the glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) gene in glioma cells is not clear. In this study, to assess histone H3K9 acetylation levels in promoters I and II of the gdnf gene in normal human brain tissue, low- and high-grade glioma tissues, normal rat astrocytes, and rat C6 glioblastoma cells, we employed chromatin immunoprecipitation-polymerase chain reaction (ChIP-PCR), real-time PCR, and a pGL3 dual fluorescence reporter system. We also investigated the influence of treatment with curcumin, a histone acetyltransferase inhibitor, and trichostatin A (TSA), a deacetylase inhibitor, on promoter acetylation and activity and messenger RNA (mRNA) expression level of the gdnf gene in C6 cells. Compared to normal brain tissue, H3K9 acetylation in promoters I and II of the gdnf gene increased significantly in high-grade glioma tissues but not in low-grade glioma tissues. Moreover, H3K9 promoter acetylation level of the gdnf gene in C6 cells was also remarkably higher than in normal astrocytes. In C6 cells, curcumin markedly decreased promoter II acetylation and activity and GDNF mRNA expression. Conversely, all three measurements were significantly increased following TSA treatment. Our results suggest that histone H3K9 hyperacetylation in promoter II of the gdnf gene might be one of the reasons for its abnormal high transcription in glioma cells.
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