Epigenetic Drivers in Pediatric Medulloblastoma.

Epigenetics is the process by which gene expression is regulated by events other than alterations of the genome. This includes DNA methylation, histone modifications, chromatin remodeling, microRNAs, and long non-coding RNAs. Methylation of DNA, chromatin remodeling, and histone modifications regulate the chromatin and access of transcription factors to DNA and in turn gene transcription. Alteration of chromatin is now recognized to be deregulated in many cancers. Medulloblastoma is an embryonal tumor of the cerebellum and the most common malignant brain tumor in children, that occurs only rarely in adults. Medulloblastoma is characterized by four major molecularly and histopathologically distinct groups, wingless (WNT), sonic hedgehog (SHH), group 3 (G3), and group 4 (G4), that, except for WNT, are each now subdivided in several subgroups. Gene expression array, next-generation sequencing, and methylation profiling of several hundred primary tumors by several consortia and independent groups revealed that medulloblastomas harbor a paucity of mutations most of which occur in epigenetic regulators, genetic alterations in oncogenes and tumor suppressors, in addition to copy number alterations and chromosome gains and losses. Remarkably, some tumors have no reported mutations, suggesting that some genes required for oncogenesis might be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms which are still to be uncovered and validated. This review will highlight several epigenetic regulators focusing mainly on histone modifiers identified in medulloblastoma.

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