C D Stiles

Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States

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Publications (168)1426.18 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Brain tumors are a major cause of cancer-related morbidity and mortality. Developing new therapeutics for these cancers is difficult, as many of these tumors are not easily grown in standard culture conditions. Neurosphere cultures under serum-free conditions and orthotopic xenografts have expanded the range of tumors that can be maintained. However, many types of brain tumors remain difficult to propagate or study. This is particularly true for pediatric brain tumors such as pilocytic astrocytomas and medulloblastomas. This protocol describes a system that allows primary human brain tumors to be grown in culture. This quantitative assay can be used to investigate the effect of microenvironment on tumor growth, and to test new drug therapies. This protocol describes a system where fluorescently labeled brain tumor cells are grown on an organotypic brain slice from a juvenile mouse. The response of tumor cells to drug treatments can be studied in this assay, by analyzing changes in the number of cells on the slice over time. In addition, this system can address the nature of the microenvironment that normally fosters growth of brain tumors. This brain tumor organotypic slice co-culture assay provides a propitious system for testing new drugs on human tumor cells within a brain microenvironment.
    Journal of Visualized Experiments 11/2015; DOI:10.3791/53304 · 1.33 Impact Factor
  • Mariella G. Filbin · Charles D. Stiles ·
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    ABSTRACT: The multiple cell types of brain and blood arise from pluripotent stem cells via progressively more committed downstream progenitors. In this issue of Cancer Cell, Alcantara Llaguno and colleagues show that identical genetic drivers give rise to distinct glioma subtypes within differentially committed neural progenitors-a paradigm well established for leukemias.
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    ABSTRACT: Background: Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs), the most frequent pediatric brain tumor, comprise a heterogeneous group of diseases. Recent genomic analyses suggest that these tumors are mostly driven by mitogene-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway alterations. However, little is known about the molecular characteristics inherent to their clinical and histological heterogeneity. Methods: We performed gene expression profiling on 151 paraffin-embedded PLGGs from different locations, ages, and histologies. Using unsupervised and supervised analyses, we compared molecular features with age, location, histology, and BRAF genomic status. We compared molecular differences with normal pediatric brain expression profiles to observe whether those patterns were mirrored in normal brain. Results: Unsupervised clustering distinguished 3 molecular groups that correlated with location in the brain and histological subtype. "Not otherwise specified" (NOS) tumors did not constitute a unified class. Supratentorial pilocytic astrocytomas (PAs) were significantly enriched with genes involved in pathways related to inflammatory activity compared with infratentorial tumors. Differences based on tumor location were not mirrored in location-dependent differences in expression within normal brain tissue. We identified significant differences between supratentorial PAs and diffuse astrocytomas as well as between supratentorial PAs and dysembryoplastic neuroepithelial tumors but not between supratentorial PAs and gangliogliomas. Similar expression patterns were observed between childhood and adolescent PAs. We identified differences between BRAF-duplicated and V600E-mutated tumors but not between primary and recurrent PLGGs. Conclusion: Expression profiling of PLGGs reveals significant differences associated with tumor location, histology, and BRAF genomic status. Supratentorial PAs, in particular, are enriched in inflammatory pathways that appear to be tumor-related.
    Neuro-Oncology 03/2015; DOI:10.1093/neuonc/nov045 · 5.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The bHLH transcription factor Olig2 is expressed in cycling neural progenitor cells but also in terminally differentiated, myelinating oligodendrocytes. Sustained expression of Olig2 is counterintuitive because all known functions of the protein in expansion of neural progenitors and specification of oligodendrocyte progenitors are completed with the formation of mature white matter. How are the biological functions of Olig2 suppressed in terminally differentiated oligodendrocytes? In previous studies, we have shown that a triple serine motif in the amino terminus of Olig2 is phosphorylated in cycling neural progenitors but not in their differentiated progeny. We now show that phosphorylation of the triple serine motif regulates intranuclear compartmentalization of murine Olig2. Phosphorylated Olig2 is preferentially localized to a transcriptionally active "open" chromatin compartment together with coregulator proteins essential for regulation of gene expression. Unphosphorylated Olig2, as seen in mature white matter, is localized mainly within a transcriptionally inactive, chromatin fraction characterized by condensed and inaccessible DNA. Of special note is the observation that the p53 tumor suppressor protein is confined to the open chromatin fraction. Proximity ligation assays show that phosphorylation brings Olig2 within 30 nm of p53 within the open chromatin compartment. The data thus shed light on previously noted promitogenic functions of phosphorylated Olig2, which reflect, at least in part, an oppositional relationship with p53 functions.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 06/2014; 34(25):8507-18. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0309-14.2014 · 6.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low-grade gliomas represent the most frequent brain tumors arising during childhood. They are characterized by a broad and heterogeneous group of tumors that are currently classified by the WHO according to their morphological appearance. Here we review the clinical features of these tumors, current therapeutic strategies and the recent discovery of genomic alterations characteristic to these tumors. We further explore how these recent biological findings stand to transform the treatment for these tumors and impact the diagnostic criteria for pediatric low-grade gliomas.
    Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA) - Reviews on Cancer 04/2014; 1845(2). DOI:10.1016/j.bbcan.2014.02.004 · 7.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Abnormal GABAergic interneuron density, and imbalance of excitatory versus inhibitory tone, is thought to result in epilepsy, neurodevelopmental disorders, and psychiatric disease. Recent studies indicate that interneuron cortical density is determined primarily by the size of the precursor pool in the embryonic telencephalon. However, factors essential for regulating interneuron allocation from telencephalic multipotent precursors are poorly understood. Here we report that Olig1 represses production of GABAergic interneurons throughout the mouse brain. Olig1 deletion in mutant mice results in ectopic expression and upregulation of Dlx1/2 genes in the ventral medial ganglionic eminences and adjacent regions of the septum, resulting in an ∼30% increase in adult cortical interneuron numbers. We show that Olig1 directly represses the Dlx1/2 I12b intergenic enhancer and that Dlx1/2 functions genetically downstream of Olig1. These findings establish Olig1 as an essential repressor of Dlx1/2 and interneuron production in developing mammalian brain.
    Neuron 02/2014; 81(3):574-87. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2013.11.024 · 15.05 Impact Factor
  • Ekaterina Pak · Rosalind A Segal · Charles D Stiles ·

    Nature Neuroscience 11/2013; 16(12):1710-1712. DOI:10.1038/nn.3580 · 16.10 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Drug transit through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is essential for therapeutic responses in malignant glioma. Conventional methods for assessment of BBB penetrance require synthesis of isotopically labeled drug derivatives. Here, we report a new methodology using matrix assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry imaging (MALDI MSI) to visualize drug penetration in brain tissue without molecular labeling. In studies summarized here, we first validate heme as a simple and robust MALDI MSI marker for the lumen of blood vessels in the brain. We go on to provide three examples of how MALDI MSI can provide chemical and biological insights into BBB penetrance and metabolism of small molecule signal transduction inhibitors in the brain - insights that would be difficult or impossible to extract by use of radiolabeled compounds.
    Scientific Reports 10/2013; 3:2859. DOI:10.1038/srep02859 · 5.58 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pediatric low-grade gliomas (PLGGs) are among the most common solid tumors in children but, apart from BRAF kinase mutations or duplications in specific subclasses, few genetic driver events are known. Diffuse PLGGs comprise a set of uncommon subtypes that exhibit invasive growth and are therefore especially challenging clinically. We performed high-resolution copy-number analysis on 44 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded diffuse PLGGs to identify recurrent alterations. Diffuse PLGGs exhibited fewer such alterations than adult low-grade gliomas, but we identified several significantly recurrent events. The most significant event, 8q13.1 gain, was observed in 28% of diffuse astrocytoma grade IIs and resulted in partial duplication of the transcription factor MYBL1 with truncation of its C-terminal negative-regulatory domain. A similar recurrent deletion-truncation breakpoint was identified in two angiocentric gliomas in the related gene v-myb avian myeloblastosis viral oncogene homolog (MYB) on 6q23.3. Whole-genome sequencing of a MYBL1-rearranged diffuse astrocytoma grade II demonstrated MYBL1 tandem duplication and few other events. Truncated MYBL1 transcripts identified in this tumor induced anchorage-independent growth in 3T3 cells and tumor formation in nude mice. Truncated transcripts were also expressed in two additional tumors with MYBL1 partial duplication. Our results define clinically relevant molecular subclasses of diffuse PLGGs and highlight a potential role for the MYB family in the biology of low-grade gliomas.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 04/2013; 110(20). DOI:10.1073/pnas.1300252110 · 9.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors oligodendrocyte transcription factor 1 (OLIG1) and OLIG2 are structurally similar and, to a first approximation, coordinately expressed in the developing CNS and postnatal brain. Despite these similarities, it was apparent from early on after their discovery that OLIG1 and OLIG2 have non-overlapping developmental functions in patterning, neuron subtype specification and the formation of oligodendrocytes. Here, we summarize more recent insights into the separate roles of these transcription factors in the postnatal brain during repair processes and in neurological disease states, including multiple sclerosis and malignant glioma. We discuss how the unique functions of OLIG1 and OLIG2 may reflect their distinct genetic targets, co-regulator proteins and/or post-translational modifications.
    Nature Reviews Neuroscience 11/2012; 13(12):819-31. DOI:10.1038/nrn3386 · 31.43 Impact Factor
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    Jing Zhou · Charles D. Stiles ·
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    ABSTRACT: In this issue of Neuron, Li et al. (2012) show that the neuron/glia cell fate switch of cortical progenitors is regulated by MEK1 and MEK2. The observations resonate with recent studies on the genesis of low-grade astrocytomas and highlight neuronal support functions of astrocytes in the postnatal brain.
    Neuron 09/2012; 75(6):940-942. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2012.09.003 · 15.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Gliomas consist of multiple histologic and molecular subtypes with different clinical phenotypes and responsiveness to treatment. However, enrollment criteria for clinical trials still largely do not take into account these underlying molecular differences. We have incorporated a high-throughput tumor genotyping program based on the ABI SNaPshot platform as well as other molecular diagnostic tests into the standard evaluation of glioma patients in order to assess whether prospective molecular profiling would allow rational patient selection onto clinical trials. From 218 gliomas we prospectively collected SNaPshot genotyping data on 68 mutated loci from 15 key cancer genes along with data from clinical assays for gene amplification (EGFR, PDGFRA, MET), 1p/19q co-deletion and MGMT promoter methylation. SNaPshot mutations and focal gene amplifications were detected in 38.5 and 47.1 % of glioblastomas, respectively. Genetic alterations in EGFR, IDH1 and PIK3CA closely matched frequencies reported in recent studies. In addition, we identified events that are rare in gliomas although are known driver mutations in other cancer types, such as mutations of AKT1, BRAF and KRAS. Patients with genetic alterations that activate signaling pathways were enrolled onto genetically selective clinical trials for malignant glioma as well as for other solid cancers. High-throughput molecular profiling incorporated into the routine clinical evaluation of glioma patients may enable the rational selection of patients for targeted therapy clinical trials and thereby improve the likelihood that such trials succeed.
    Journal of Neuro-Oncology 07/2012; 110(1):89-98. DOI:10.1007/s11060-012-0938-9 · 3.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lengthy developmental programs generate cell diversity within an organotypic framework, enabling the later physiological actions of each organ system. Cell identity, cell diversity and cell function are determined by cell type-specific transcriptional programs; consequently, transcriptional regulatory factors are useful markers of emerging cellular complexity, and their expression patterns provide insights into the regulatory mechanisms at play. We performed a comprehensive genome-scale in situ expression screen of 921 transcriptional regulators in the developing mammalian urogenital system. Focusing on the kidney, analysis of regional-specific expression patterns identified novel markers and cell types associated with development and patterning of the urinary system. Furthermore, promoter analysis of synexpressed genes predicts transcriptional control mechanisms that regulate cell differentiation. The annotated informational resource (www.gudmap.org) will facilitate functional analysis of the mammalian kidney and provides useful information for the generation of novel genetic tools to manipulate emerging cell populations.
    Development 05/2012; 139(10):1863-73. DOI:10.1242/dev.074005 · 6.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Alterations of BRAF are the most common known genetic aberrations in pediatric gliomas. They frequently are found in pilocytic astrocytomas, where genomic duplications involving BRAF and the poorly characterized gene KIAA1549 create fusion proteins with constitutive B-Raf kinase activity. BRAF V600E point mutations are less common and generally occur in nonpilocytic tumors. The development of BRAF inhibitors as drugs has created an urgent need for robust clinical assays to identify activating lesions in BRAF. KIAA1549-BRAF fusion transcripts have been detected in frozen tissue, however, methods for FFPE tissue have not been reported. We developed a panel of FFPE-compatible quantitative RT-PCR assays for the most common KIAA1549-BRAF fusion transcripts. Application of these assays to a collection of 51 low-grade pediatric gliomas showed 97% sensitivity and 91% specificity compared with fluorescence in situ hybridization or array comparative genomic hybridization. In parallel, we assayed samples for the presence of the BRAF V600E mutation by PCR pyrosequencing. The data further support previous observations that these two alterations of the BRAF, KIAA1549 fusions and V600E point mutations, are associated primarily with pilocytic astrocytomas and nonpilocytic gliomas, respectively. These results show that fusion transcripts and mutations can be detected reliably in standard FFPE specimens and may be useful for incorporation into future studies of pediatric gliomas in basic science or clinical trials.
    The Journal of molecular diagnostics: JMD 08/2011; 13(6):669-77. DOI:10.1016/j.jmoldx.2011.07.002 · 4.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Malignant gliomas are highly lethal tumors resistant to current therapies. The standard treatment modality for these tumors, surgical resection followed by radiation therapy and concurrent temozolomide, has demonstrated activity, but development of resistance and disease progression is common. Although oncogenic Ras mutations are uncommon in gliomas, Ras has been found to be constitutively activated through the action of upstream signaling pathways, suggesting that farnesyltransferase inhibitors may show activity against these tumors. We now report the in vitro and orthotopic in vivo results of combination therapy using radiation, temozolomide and lonafarnib (SCH66336), an oral farnesyl transferase inhibitor, in a murine model of glioblastoma. We examined the viability, proliferation, farnesylation of H-Ras, and activation of downstream signaling of combination-treated U87 cells in vitro. Lonafarnib alone or in combination with radiation and temozolomide had limited tumor cell cytotoxicity in vitro although it did demonstrate significant inhibition in tumor cell proliferation. In vivo, lonafarnib alone had a modest ability to inhibit orthotopic U87 tumors, radiation and temozolomide demonstrated better inhibition, while significant anti-tumor activity was found with concurrent lonafarnib, radiation, and temozolomide, with the majority of animals demonstrating a decrease in tumor volume. The use of tumor neurospheres derived from freshly resected adult human glioblastoma tissue was relatively resistant to both temozolomide and radiation therapy. Lonafarnib had a significant inhibitory activity against these neurospheres and could potentate the activity of temozolomide and radiation. These data support the continued research of high grade glioma treatment combinations of farnesyl transferase inhibitors, temozolomide, and radiation therapy.
    Journal of Neuro-Oncology 08/2011; 104(1):179-89. DOI:10.1007/s11060-010-0502-4 · 3.07 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cancers of the nervous system are clinically challenging tumors that present with varied histopathologies and genetic etiologies. While the prognosis for the most malignant of these tumors is essentially unchanged despite decades of basic and translational science research, the past few years have witnessed the identification of numerous targetable molecular alterations in these cancers. With the advent of advanced genomic sequencing methodologies and the development of accurate small-animal models of these nervous system cancers, we are now ideally positioned to develop personalized therapies that target the unique cellular and molecular changes that define their formation and drive their continued growth. Recently, the National Cancer Institute convened a workshop to advance our understanding of nervous system cancer mouse models and to inform clinical trials by reconsidering these neoplasms as complex biological systems characterized by heterogeneity at all levels.
    Neuro-Oncology 07/2011; 13(7):692-9. DOI:10.1093/neuonc/nor080 · 5.56 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: High-grade gliomas are notoriously insensitive to radiation and genotoxic drugs. Paradoxically, the p53 gene is structurally intact in the majority of these tumors. Resistance to genotoxic modalities in p53-positive gliomas is generally attributed to attenuation of p53 functions by mutations of other components within the p53 signaling axis, such as p14(Arf), MDM2, and ATM, but this explanation is not entirely satisfactory. We show here that the central nervous system (CNS)-restricted transcription factor Olig2 affects a key posttranslational modification of p53 in both normal and malignant neural progenitors and thereby antagonizes the interaction of p53 with promoter elements of multiple target genes. In the absence of Olig2 function, even attenuated levels of p53 are adequate for biological responses to genotoxic damage.
    Cancer cell 03/2011; 19(3):359-71. DOI:10.1016/j.ccr.2011.01.035 · 23.52 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The bHLH transcription factors that regulate early development of the central nervous system can generally be classified as either antineural or proneural. Initial expression of antineural factors prevents cell cycle exit and thereby expands the pool of neural progenitors. Subsequent (and typically transient) expression of proneural factors promotes cell cycle exit, subtype specification, and differentiation. Against this backdrop, the bHLH transcription factor Olig2 in the oligodendrocyte lineage is unorthodox, showing antineural functions in multipotent CNS progenitor cells but also sustained expression and proneural functions in the formation of oligodendrocytes. We show here that the proliferative function of Olig2 is controlled by developmentally regulated phosphorylation of a conserved triple serine motif within the amino-terminal domain. In the phosphorylated state, Olig2 maintains antineural (i.e., promitotic) functions that are reflected in human glioma cells and in a genetically defined murine model of primary glioma.
    Neuron 03/2011; 69(5):906-17. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2011.02.005 · 15.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cellular heterogeneity is a distinctive feature of high-grade gliomas [1]. What are the cellular mechanisms that give rise to the collection of cell types that comprise glioblastoma multiforme? According to the clonal evolution model of tumor heterogeneity (also known as the stochastic model), tumor initiation occurs by an induced change in a single previously normal cell (Fig. 3.1a) [2]. This neoplastic cell has a selective growth advantage compared with the surrounding normal cells. KeywordsGlioma stem cells-CD133-Neurospheres-Glioma cell of origin-Brain tumor
    12/2010: pages 45-53;
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    ABSTRACT: Pheochromocytomas, which are catecholamine-secreting tumors of neural crest origin, are frequently hereditary. However, the molecular basis of the majority of these tumors is unknown. We identified the transmembrane-encoding gene TMEM127 on chromosome 2q11 as a new pheochromocytoma susceptibility gene. In a cohort of 103 samples, we detected truncating germline TMEM127 mutations in approximately 30% of familial tumors and about 3% of sporadic-appearing pheochromocytomas without a known genetic cause. The wild-type allele was consistently deleted in tumor DNA, suggesting a classic mechanism of tumor suppressor gene inactivation. Pheochromocytomas with mutations in TMEM127 are transcriptionally related to tumors bearing NF1 mutations and, similarly, show hyperphosphorylation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) effector proteins. Accordingly, in vitro gain-of-function and loss-of-function analyses indicate that TMEM127 is a negative regulator of mTOR. TMEM127 dynamically associates with the endomembrane system and colocalizes with perinuclear (activated) mTOR, suggesting a subcompartmental-specific effect. Our studies identify TMEM127 as a tumor suppressor gene and validate the power of hereditary tumors to elucidate cancer pathogenesis.
    Nature Genetics 02/2010; 42(3):229-33. DOI:10.1038/ng.533 · 29.35 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

17k Citations
1,426.18 Total Impact Points


  • 1981-2014
    • Harvard University
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1977-2014
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      • • Department of Cancer Biology
      • • Department of Pediatric Oncology
      • • Division of Molecular and Cellular Oncology
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1978-2013
    • Harvard Medical School
      • • Department of Neurobiology
      • • Department of Medicine
      • • Department of Pediatrics
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2001-2003
    • Centre for Cancer Biology
      Tarndarnya, South Australia, Australia
    • University College London
      • Wolfson Institute for Biomedical Research
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1996
    • Columbia University
      New York, New York, United States
  • 1995
    • University of Toronto
      • Division of Neurosurgery
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 1989-1990
    • Yale University
      • Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry
      New Haven, CT, United States
    • Massachusetts General Hospital
      • Molecular Biology Laboratory
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1976
    • John Muir Health
      Concord, California, United States