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Kaur R.,University of Manitoba | Aiken C.,University of Manitoba | Morrison L.C.,University of Manitoba | Rao R.,Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in Stem | And 4 more authors.
DMM Disease Models and Mechanisms | Year: 2015

Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant primary pediatric brain tumor and is currently divided into four subtypes based on different genomic alterations, gene expression profiles and response to treatment: WNT, Sonic Hedgehog (SHH), Group 3 and Group 4. This extensive heterogeneity has made it difficult to assess the functional relevance of genes to malignant progression. For example, expression of the transcription factor Orthodenticle homeobox2 (OTX2) is frequently dysregulated in multiple MB variants; however, its role may be subtype specific. We recently demonstrated that neural precursors derived from transformed human embryonic stem cells (trans-hENs), but not their normal counterparts (hENs), resemble Groups 3 and 4 MB in vitro and in vivo. Here, we tested the utility of this model system as a means of dissecting the role of OTX2 in MB using gain- and loss-of-function studies in hENs and trans-hENs, respectively. Parallel experiments with MB cells revealed that OTX2 exerts inhibitory effects on hEN and SHH MB cells by regulating growth, self-renewal and migration in vitro and tumor growth in vivo. This was accompanied by decreased expression of pluripotent genes, such as SOX2, and was supported by overexpression of SOX2 in OTX2+ SHH MB and hENs that resulted in significant rescue of self-renewal and cell migration. By contrast, OTX2 is oncogenic and promotes self-renewal of trans-hENs and Groups 3 and 4 MB independent of pluripotent gene expression. Our results demonstrate a novel role for OTX2 in self-renewal and migration of hENs and MB cells and reveal a cell-context-dependent link between OTX2 and pluripotent genes. Our study underscores the value of human embryonic stem cell derivatives as alternatives to cell lines and heterogeneous patient samples for investigating the contribution of key developmental regulators to MB progression. © 2015. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.

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