[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glioblastoma (GBM), a uniformly lethal brain cancer, is characterized by diffuse invasion and abnormal activation of multiple receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) signaling pathways, presenting a major challenge to effective therapy. The activation of many RTK pathways is regulated by extracellular heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPG), suggesting these molecules may be effective targets in the tumor microenvironment. In this study, we demonstrated that the extracellular sulfatase, SULF2, an enzyme that regulates multiple HSPG-dependent RTK signaling pathways, was expressed in primary human GBM tumors and cell lines. Knockdown of SULF2 in human GBM cell lines and generation of gliomas from Sulf2(-/-) tumorigenic neurospheres resulted in decreased growth in vivo in mice. We found a striking SULF2 dependence in activity of PDGFRα, a major signaling pathway in GBM. Ablation of SULF2 resulted in decreased PDGFRα phosphorylation and decreased downstream MAPK signaling activity. Interestingly, in a survey of SULF2 levels in different subtypes of GBM, the proneural subtype, characterized by aberrations in PDGFRα, demonstrated the strongest SULF2 expression. Therefore, in addition to its potential as an upstream target for therapy of GBM, SULF2 may help identify a subset of GBMs that are more dependent on exogenous growth factor-mediated signaling. Our results suggest the bioavailability of growth factors from the microenvironment is a significant contributor to tumor growth in a major subset of human GBM.
The Journal of clinical investigation 03/2012; 122(3):911-22. · 15.39 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Medulloblastoma is a malignant brain tumor of childhood that comprises at least four molecularly distinct subgroups. We have previously described that cerebellar granule neuron precursors may give rise to the subgroup with a molecular fingerprint of Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling. Other recent data indicate that precursor cells within the dorsal brain stem may serve as cellular origins for Wnt-associated medulloblastomas. To see whether Shh-associated medulloblastomas are also able to develop in the dorsal brainstem, we analyzed two lines of transgenic mice with constitutive Shh signaling in hGFAP- and Math1-positive brainstem precursor populations, respectively. Our results show that in both of these lines, medulloblastomas arise from granule neuron precursors of the cochlear nuclei, a derivative of the auditory lower rhombic lip. This region is distinct from derivatives of precerebellar lower rhombic lip where medulloblastomas arise in mice with constitutive-active Wnt signaling. With respect to their histology and the expression of appropriate markers, Shh tumors from the murine cochlear nuclei perfectly resemble human Shh-associated medulloblastomas. Moreover, we find that in a series of 63 human desmoplastic medulloblastomas, 21 (33%) have a very close contact to the cochlear nuclei on MR imaging. In conclusion, we demonstrate that precursors of the murine rhombic lip, which either develop into cerebellar or into cochlear granule neurons, may give rise to Shh-associated medulloblastoma, and this has important implications for the cellular origin of human medulloblastomas.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Obesity is a major health problem worldwide. We are studying the causes and effects of obesity in C57Bl/6 mice following genetic ablation of NG2, a chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan widely expressed in progenitor cells and also in adipocytes. Although global NG2 ablation delays early postnatal adipogenesis in mouse skin, adult NG2 null mice are paradoxically heavier than wild-type mice, exhibiting larger white fat deposits. This adult onset obesity is not due to NG2-dependent effects on CNS function, since specific ablation of NG2 in oligodendrocyte progenitors yields the opposite phenotype; i.e. abnormally lean mice. Metabolic analysis reveals that, while activity and food intake are unchanged in global NG2 null mice, O(2) consumption and CO(2) production are decreased, suggesting a decrease in energy expenditure. Since brown fat plays important roles in regulating energy expenditure, we have investigated brown fat function via cold challenge and high fat diet feeding, both of which induce the adaptive thermogenesis that normally occurs in brown fat. In both tests, body temperatures in NG2 null mice are reduced compared to wild-type mice, indicating a deficit in brown fat function in the absence of NG2. In addition, adipogenesis in NG2 null brown pre-adipocytes is dramatically impaired compared to wild-type counterparts. Moreover, mRNA levels for PR domain containing 16 (PRDM16) and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator (PGC)1-α, proteins important for brown adipocyte differentiation, are decreased in NG2 null brown fat deposits in vivo and NG2 null brown pre-adipocytes in vitro. Altogether, these results indicate that brown fat dysfunction in NG2 null mice results from deficits in the recruitment and/or development of brown pre-adipocytes. As a consequence, obesity in NG2 null mice may occur due to disruptions in brown fat-dependent energy homeostasis, with resulting effects on lipid storage in white adipocytes.
PLoS ONE 01/2012; 7(1):e30637. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant astrocytomas (MA) are aggressive central nervous system tumors with poor prognosis. Activating mutation of BRAF (BRAF(V600E)) has been reported in a subset of these tumors, especially in children. We have investigated the incidence of BRAF(V600E) in additional pediatric patient cohorts and examined the effects of BRAF blockade in preclinical models of BRAF(V600E) and wild-type BRAF MA.
BRAF(V600E) mutation status was examined in two pediatric MA patient cohorts. For functional studies, BRAF(V600E) MA cell lines were used to investigate the effects of BRAF shRNA knockdown in vitro, and to investigate BRAF pharmacologic inhibition in vitro and in vivo.
BRAF(V600E) mutations were identified in 11 and 10% of MAs from two distinct series of tumors (six of 58 cases total). BRAF was expressed in all MA cell lines examined, among which BRAF(V600E) was identified in four instances. Using the BRAF(V600E)-specific inhibitor PLX4720, pharmacologic blockade of BRAF revealed preferential antiproliferative activity against BRAF(V600E) mutant cells in vitro, in contrast to the use of shRNA-mediated knockdown of BRAF, which inhibited cell growth of glioma cell lines regardless of BRAF mutation status. Using orthotopic MA xenografts, we show that PLX4720 treatment decreases tumor growth and increases overall survival in mice-bearing BRAF(V600E) mutant xenografts, while being ineffective, and possibly tumor promoting, against xenografts with wild-type BRAF.
Our results indicate a 10% incidence of activating BRAF(V600E) among pediatric MAs. With regard to implications for therapy, our results support evaluation of BRAF(V600E)-specific inhibitors for treating BRAF(V600E) MA patients.
Clinical Cancer Research 12/2011; 17(24):7595-604. · 7.84 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) are highly aggressive tumors of childhood that are almost universally fatal. Our understanding of this devastating cancer is limited by a dearth of available tissue for study and by the lack of a faithful animal model. Intriguingly, DIPGs are restricted to the ventral pons and occur during a narrow window of middle childhood, suggesting dysregulation of a postnatal neurodevelopmental process. Here, we report the identification of a previously undescribed population of immunophenotypic neural precursor cells in the human and murine brainstem whose temporal and spatial distributions correlate closely with the incidence of DIPG and highlight a candidate cell of origin. Using early postmortem DIPG tumor tissue, we have established in vitro and xenograft models and find that the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway implicated in many developmental and oncogenic processes is active in DIPG tumor cells. Modulation of Hh pathway activity has functional consequences for DIPG self-renewal capacity in neurosphere culture. The Hh pathway also appears to be active in normal ventral pontine precursor-like cells of the mouse, and unregulated pathway activity results in hypertrophy of the ventral pons. Together, these findings provide a foundation for understanding the cellular and molecular origins of DIPG, and suggest that the Hh pathway represents a potential therapeutic target in this devastating pediatric tumor.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2011; 108(11):4453-8. · 9.74 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Malignant astrocytomas are a deadly solid tumor in children. Limited understanding of their underlying genetic basis has contributed to modest progress in developing more effective therapies. In an effort to identify such alterations, we performed a genome-wide search for DNA copy number aberrations (CNA) in a panel of 33 tumors encompassing grade 1 through grade 4 tumors. Genomic amplifications of 10-fold or greater were restricted to grade 3 and 4 astrocytomas and included the MDM4 (1q32), PDGFRA (4q12), MET (7q21), CMYC (8q24), PVT1 (8q24), WNT5B (12p13), and IGF1R (15q26) genes. Homozygous deletions of CDKN2A (9p21), PTEN (10q26), and TP53 (17p3.1) were evident among grade 2 to 4 tumors. BRAF gene rearrangements that were indicated in three tumors prompted the discovery of KIAA1549-BRAF fusion transcripts expressed in 10 of 10 grade 1 astrocytomas and in none of the grade 2 to 4 tumors. In contrast, an oncogenic missense BRAF mutation (BRAF(V600E)) was detected in 7 of 31 grade 2 to 4 tumors but in none of the grade 1 tumors. BRAF(V600E) mutation seems to define a subset of malignant astrocytomas in children, in which there is frequent concomitant homozygous deletion of CDKN2A (five of seven cases). Taken together, these findings highlight BRAF as a frequent mutation target in pediatric astrocytomas, with distinct types of BRAF alteration occurring in grade 1 versus grade 2 to 4 tumors.
Cancer Research 01/2010; 70(2):512-9. · 8.65 Impact Factor