Methylation profiling of paediatric pilocytic astrocytoma reveals variants specifically associated with tumour location and predictive of recurrence.
Childhood pilocytic astrocytomas (PA) are low-grade tumours with an excellent prognosis. However, a minority, particularly those in surgically inaccessible locations, have poorer long-term outcome. At present, it is unclear whether anatomical location in isolation, or in combination with underlying biological variation, determines clinical behaviour. Here, we have tested the utility of DNA methylation profiling to inform tumour biology and to predict behaviour in paediatric PA. Genome-wide DNA methylation profiles were generated for 117 paediatric PAs. Using a combination of analyses, we identified DNA methylation variants specific to tumour location and predictive of behaviour. Receiver-operating characteristic analysis was used to test the predictive utility of clinical and/or DNA methylation features to classify tumour behaviour at diagnosis. Unsupervised analysis distinguished three methylation clusters associated with tumour location (cortical, midline and infratentorial). Differential methylation of 5404 sites identified enrichment of genes involved in 'embryonic nervous system development'. Specific hypermethylation of NEUROG1 and NR2E1 was identified as a feature of cortical tumours. A highly accurate method to classify tumours according to behaviour, which combined three clinical features (age, location and extent of resection) and methylation level at a single site, was identified. Our findings show location-specific epigenetic profiles for PAs, potentially reflecting their cell type of origin. This may account for differences in clinical behaviour according to location independent of histopathology. We also defined an accurate method to predict tumour behaviour at diagnosis. This warrants further testing in similar patient cohorts.
Sexton-Oates, A; Dodgshun, A; Hovestadt, V; Jones, DTW; Ashley, DM; Sullivan, M; MacGregor, D; Saffery, R
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