The finding adds a new layer of complexity to the quest to understand the causes of childhood brain cancers, according to senior author David H. Gutmann, M.D., Ph.D., the Donald O. Schnuck Family Professor of Neurology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and co-director of the neuro-oncology program at the Siteman Cancer Center.
"Our findings suggest that brain tumors arising in different regions may be genetically distinct as a consequence of their unique cellular origins," Gutmann says. "This is yet another factor we need to consider when trying to understand how pediatric brain tumors form."
Researchers use information about tumor origins to develop new tests and treatments for the tumors. Brain tumors are the leading cause of cancer-related death in children, and the most common childhood brain tumor is the pilocytic astrocytoma (PA). Approximately 15 percent of all PAs are linked to neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1), a genetic condition that causes childhood brain tumors and is a primary focus of Gutmann's research. However, the genetic basis for the majority of PAs is unexplained.
In the new study, Gutmann led six laboratories in the most detailed genetic analysis of PAs to date.
"We were hoping to identify genes that contribute to the formation of these tumors and find indicators that might help us predict which tumors will be relatively well-behaved and which will be more aggressive," Gutmann says.
Previous studies have failed to produce any solid leads on the genetic alterations that predispose children to PAs.
"It should be recognized that the genetic alterations in this tumor may be very subtle," Gutmann notes. "When we looked at gene activity levels in the tumors as a function of brain location, though, a very interesting pattern began to emerge."
Cells in different parts of the brain carry the same genes, but they also contain factors that modify the use of those genes, suppressing some genes and activating others to allow the cells to take on specialized characteristics as the brain matures. These changes in gene activity levels are called changes in gene expression.
The researchers found that tumors arising in different regions of the brain retain distinct patterns of gene expression. These patterns provided genetic fingerprints or bar codes for the location of PAs, as well as for another glial cell tumor called an ependymoma. In addition, scientists also detected these distinct patterns of expression in normal glia and stem cells from these brain locations, suggesting that genetic fingerprints can be used to identify the potential origins of brain tumors.
"There's been a movement in recent years to link normal brain development to pediatric neuro-oncology, and these findings affirm that as a necessary approach," Gutmann says. "We won't fully understand the causes of pediatric brain tumors until we consider them in the context of factors that shape the development and specialization of different brain regions."
Michael C. Purdy | EurekAlert!
A new technique isolates neuronal activity during memory consolidation
22.06.2017 | Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)
CWRU researchers find a chemical solution to shrink digital data storage
22.06.2017 | Case Western Reserve University
Heatwaves in the Arctic, longer periods of vegetation in Europe, severe floods in West Africa – starting in 2021, scientists want to explore the emissions of the greenhouse gas methane with the German-French satellite MERLIN. This is made possible by a new robust laser system of the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT in Aachen, which achieves unprecedented measurement accuracy.
Methane is primarily the result of the decomposition of organic matter. The gas has a 25 times greater warming potential than carbon dioxide, but is not as...
Hydrogen is regarded as the energy source of the future: It is produced with solar power and can be used to generate heat and electricity in fuel cells. Empa researchers have now succeeded in decoding the movement of hydrogen ions in crystals – a key step towards more efficient energy conversion in the hydrogen industry of tomorrow.
As charge carriers, electrons and ions play the leading role in electrochemical energy storage devices and converters such as batteries and fuel cells. Proton...
Scientists from the Excellence Cluster Universe at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich have establised "Cosmowebportal", a unique data centre for cosmological simulations located at the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre (LRZ) of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. The complete results of a series of large hydrodynamical cosmological simulations are available, with data volumes typically exceeding several hundred terabytes. Scientists worldwide can interactively explore these complex simulations via a web interface and directly access the results.
With current telescopes, scientists can observe our Universe’s galaxies and galaxy clusters and their distribution along an invisible cosmic web. From the...
Temperature measurements possible even on the smallest scale / Molecular ruby for use in material sciences, biology, and medicine
Chemists at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in cooperation with researchers of the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing (BAM)...
Germany counts high-precision manufacturing processes among its advantages as a location. It’s not just the aerospace and automotive industries that require almost waste-free, high-precision manufacturing to provide an efficient way of testing the shape and orientation tolerances of products. Since current inline measurement technology not yet provides the required accuracy, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is collaborating with four renowned industry partners in the INSPIRE project to develop inline sensors with a new accuracy class. Funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), the project is scheduled to run until the end of 2019.
New Manufacturing Technologies for New Products
19.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
13.06.2017 | Event News
22.06.2017 | Life Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.06.2017 | Materials Sciences