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Mangerel J.,The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Center | Price A.,The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Center | Castelo-Branco P.,The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Center | Castelo-Branco P.,University of Algarve | And 42 more authors.
Acta Neuropathologica

Although telomeres are maintained in most cancers by telomerase activation, a subset of tumors utilize alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) to sustain self-renewal capacity. In order to study the prevalence and significance of ALT in childhood brain tumors we screened 517 pediatric brain tumors using the novel C-circle assay. We examined the association of ALT with alterations in genes found to segregate with specific histological phenotypes and with clinical outcome. ALT was detected almost exclusively in malignant tumors (p = 0.001). ALT was highly enriched in primitive neuroectodermal tumors (12 %), choroid plexus carcinomas (23 %) and high-grade gliomas (22 %). Furthermore, in contrast to adult gliomas, pediatric low grade gliomas which progressed to high-grade tumors did not exhibit the ALT phenotype. Somatic but not germline TP53 mutations were highly associated with ALT (p = 1.01 × 10−8). Of the other alterations examined, only ATRX point mutations and reduced expression were associated with the ALT phenotype (p = 0.0005). Interestingly, ALT attenuated the poor outcome conferred by TP53 mutations in specific pediatric brain tumors. Due to very poor prognosis, one year overall survival was quantified in malignant gliomas, while in children with choroid plexus carcinoma, five year overall survival was investigated. For children with TP53 mutant malignant gliomas, one year overall survival was 63 ± 12 and 23 ± 10 % for ALT positive and negative tumors, respectively (p = 0.03), while for children with TP53 mutant choroid plexus carcinomas, 5 years overall survival was 67 ± 19 and 27 ± 13 % for ALT positive and negative tumors, respectively (p = 0.07). These observations suggest that the presence of ALT is limited to a specific group of childhood brain cancers which harbor somatic TP53 mutations and may influence the outcome of these patients. Analysis of ALT may contribute to risk stratification and targeted therapies to improve outcome for these children. © 2014, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg. Source

Barszczyk M.,The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Center | Barszczyk M.,University of Toronto | Buczkowicz P.,The Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumor Research Center | Buczkowicz P.,University of Toronto | And 29 more authors.
Acta Neuropathologica

Pediatric ependymomas are highly recurrent tumors resistant to conventional chemotherapy. Telomerase, a ribonucleoprotein critical in permitting limitless replication, has been found to be critically important for the maintenance of tumor-initiating cells (TICs). These TICs are chemoresistant, repopulate the tumor from which they are identified, and are drivers of recurrence in numerous cancers. In this study, telomerase enzymatic activity was directly measured and inhibited to assess the therapeutic potential of targeting telomerase. Telomerase repeat amplification protocol (TRAP) (n = 36) and C-circle assay/telomere FISH/ATRX staining (n = 76) were performed on primary ependymomas to determine the prevalence and prognostic potential of telomerase activity or alternative lengthening of telomeres (ALT) as telomere maintenance mechanisms, respectively. Imetelstat, a phase 2 telomerase inhibitor, was used to elucidate the effect of telomerase inhibition on proliferation and tumorigenicity in established cell lines (BXD-1425EPN, R254), a primary TIC line (E520) and xenograft models of pediatric ependymoma. Over 60 % of pediatric ependymomas were found to rely on telomerase activity to maintain telomeres, while no ependymomas showed evidence of ALT. Children with telomerase-active tumors had reduced 5-year progression-free survival (29 ± 11 vs 64 ± 18 %; p = 0.03) and overall survival (58 ± 12 vs 83 ± 15 %; p = 0.05) rates compared to those with tumors lacking telomerase activity. Imetelstat inhibited proliferation and self-renewal by shortening telomeres and inducing senescence in vitro. In vivo, Imetelstat significantly reduced subcutaneous xenograft growth by 40 % (p = 0.03) and completely abolished the tumorigenicity of pediatric ependymoma TICs in an orthotopic xenograft model. Telomerase inhibition represents a promising therapeutic approach for telomerase-active pediatric ependymomas found to characterize high-risk ependymomas. © 2014, The Author(s). Source

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