Genetic susceptibility to neuroblastoma: current knowledge and future directions.
ABSTRACT: Neuroblastoma, a malignancy of the developing peripheral nervous system that affects infants and young children, is a complex genetic disease. Over the past two decades, significant progress has been made toward understanding the genetic determinants that predispose to this often lethal childhood cancer. Approximately 1-2% of neuroblastomas are inherited in an autosomal dominant fashion and a combination of co-morbidity and linkage studies has led to the identification of germline mutations in PHOX2B and ALK as the major genetic contributors to this familial neuroblastoma subset. The genetic basis of "sporadic" neuroblastoma is being studied through a large genome-wide association study (GWAS). These efforts have led to the discovery of many common susceptibility alleles, each with modest effect size, associated with the development and progression of sporadic neuroblastoma. More recently, next-generation sequencing efforts have expanded the list of potential neuroblastoma-predisposing mutations to include rare germline variants with a predicted larger effect size. The evolving characterization of neuroblastoma's genetic basis has led to a deeper understanding of the molecular events driving tumorigenesis, more precise risk stratification and prognostics and novel therapeutic strategies. This review details the contemporary understanding of neuroblastoma's genetic predisposition, including recent advances and discusses ongoing efforts to address gaps in our knowledge regarding this malignancy's complex genetic underpinnings.
Project description:Until recently, the genetic basis of neuroblastoma, a heterogeneous neoplasm arising from the developing sympathetic nervous system, remained undefined. The discovery of gain-of-function mutations in the ALK receptor tyrosine kinase gene as the major cause of familial neuroblastoma led to the discovery of identical somatic mutations and rapid advancement of ALK as a tractable therapeutic target. Inactivating mutations in a master regulator of neural crest development, PHOX2B, have also been identified in a subset of familial neuroblastomas. Other high penetrance susceptibility alleles likely exist, but together these heritable mutations account for less than 10% of neuroblastoma cases. A genome-wide association study of a large neuroblastoma cohort identified common and rare polymorphisms highly associated with the disease. Ongoing resequencing efforts aim to further define the genetic landscape of neuroblastoma.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is a clinically heterogenous pediatric cancer of the sympathetic nervous system that originates from neural crest cells. It is the most common extracranial solid tumor in childhood and prognosis ranges from spontaneous tumor regression to aggressive disease resistant to multimodal therapy. Prognosis depends on patient characteristics and tumor biology that determine risk classification. Advancements in therapy reductions are merited for low- and intermediate-risk neuroblastoma patients, who generally have excellent outcomes. Of the patients with high-risk disease, only 50% achieve long-term survival, and therapeutic advancements are needed. Over the past several decades, genomic features such as germline mutations, somatic genetic aberrations, chromosome copy number, transcriptomics, and epigenetics have proven to contribute to the pathogenesis of neuroblastoma. The primary predisposition genes in familial neuroblastoma are ALK and PHOX2B. Sporadic neuroblastoma arises with complex pathogenesis, but chromosomal abnormalities and single-nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified to cooperatively lead to oncogenesis. These advances have led to new therapeutic approaches with the potential to improve outcomes for children with neuroblastoma.
Project description:Germline mutations in the succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) (mitochondrial respiratory chain complex II) subunit B gene, SDHB, cause susceptibility to head and neck paraganglioma and phaeochromocytoma. Previously, we did not identify somatic SDHB mutations in sporadic phaeochromocytoma, but SDHB maps to 1p36, a region of frequent loss of heterozygosity (LOH) in neuroblastoma as well. Hence, to evaluate SDHB as a candidate neuroblastoma tumour suppressor gene (TSG) we performed mutation analysis in 46 primary neuroblastomas by direct sequencing, but did not identify germline or somatic SDHB mutations. As TSGs such as RASSF1A are frequently inactivated by promoter region hypermethylation, we designed a methylation-sensitive PCR-based assay to detect SDHB promoter region methylation. In 21% of primary neuroblastomas and 32% of phaeochromocytomas (32%) methylated (and unmethylated) alleles were detected. Although promoter region methylation was also detected in two neuroblastoma cell lines, this was not associated with silencing of SDHB expression, and treatment with a demethylating agent (5-azacytidine) did not increase SDH activity. These findings suggest that although germline SDHB mutations are an important cause of phaeochromocytoma susceptibility, somatic inactivation of SDHB does not have a major role in sporadic neural crest tumours and SDHB is not the target of 1p36 allele loss in neuroblastoma and phaeochromocytoma.
Project description:Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) is a heterogeneous congenital disorder that affects the enteric nervous system, while neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumor of the sympathetic nervous system. Familial cases of both HSCR and neuroblastoma appear to be functionally linked to PHOX2B, which plays a key role in the development of neural crest derivatives. However, the association between common PHOX2B variants and disease risk is contested. Additionally, large-scale examination for pleiotropy or shared genetic susceptibility in sporadic HSCR and neuroblastoma cases lacks theoretical support. Here, we report the first examination of PHOX2B in 1470 HSCR and 469 neuroblastoma patients with matched healthy controls. The PHOX2B rs28647582 polymorphism was found to be associated with HSCR (P = 2.21E-03, OR = 1.26), and each subtype of the ailment (3.22E-03 ? P ? 0.43, 1.11 ? OR ? 2.32). The association between rs28647582 and NB risk was consistent with HSCR in a recessive model, though the P value was marginal (P = 0.06). These new genetic findings indicate the potential pleiotropic effects of PHOX2B in both HSCR and neuroblastoma, which could guide the development of therapeutic targets for the treatment of related neurodevelopmental disorders.
Project description:Heterozygous germline mutations in PHOX2B, a transcriptional regulator of sympathetic neuronal differentiation, predispose to diseases of the sympathetic nervous system, including neuroblastoma and congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). Although the PHOX2B variants in CCHS largely involve expansions of the second polyalanine repeat within the C-terminus of the protein, those associated with neuroblastic tumors are nearly always frameshift and truncation mutations. To test the hypothesis that the neuroblastoma-associated variants exert their effects through loss or gain of protein-protein interactions, we performed a large-scale yeast two-hybrid screen using both wild-type (WT) and six different mutant PHOX2B proteins against over 10?000 human genes. The neuronal calcium sensor protein HPCAL1 (VILIP-3) exhibited strong binding to WT PHOX2B and a CCHS-associated polyalanine expansion mutant but only weakly or not at all to neuroblastoma-associated frameshift and truncation variants. We demonstrate that both WT PHOX2B and the neuroblastoma-associated R100L missense and the CCHS-associated alanine expansion variants induce nuclear translocation of HPCAL1 in a Ca(2+)-independent manner, while the neuroblastoma-associated 676delG frameshift and K155X truncation mutants impair subcellular localization of HPCAL1, causing it to remain in the cytoplasm. HPCAL1 did not appreciably influence the ability of WT PHOX2B to transactivate the DBH promoter, nor did it alter the decreased transactivation potential of PHOX2B variants in 293T cells. Abrogation of the PHOX2B-HPCAL1 interaction by shRNA knockdown of HPCAL1 in neuroblastoma cells expressing PHOX2B led to impaired neurite outgrowth with transcriptional profiles indicative of inhibited sympathetic neuronal differentiation. Our results suggest that certain PHOX2B variants associated with neuroblastoma pathogenesis, because of their inability to bind to key interacting proteins such as HPCAL1, may predispose to this malignancy by impeding the differentiation of immature sympathetic neurons.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumour of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system (SNS). One of the master regulator genes for peripheral SNS differentiation, the homeobox transcription factor PHOX2B, is mutated in familiar and sporadic neuroblastomas. Here we report that inducible expression of PHOX2B in the neuroblastoma cell line SJNB-8 down-regulates MSX1, a homeobox gene important for embryonic neural crest development. Inducible expression of MSX1 in SJNB-8 caused inhibition of both cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar. Affymetrix micro- array and Northern blot analysis demonstrated that MSX1 strongly up-regulated the Delta-Notch pathway. These experiments describe for the first time regulation of the Delta-Notch pathway by MSX1, and connect these genes to the PHOX2B oncogene, indicative of a role in neuroblastoma biology. Keywords: Delta, Notch, MSX1, neuroblastoma, PHOX2B Overall design: Time course experiments of two independent clones (K2 and K5), with 2 or 4 time points, respectively.
Project description:Heterozygous germline mutations and deletions in PHOX2B, a key regulator of autonomic neuron development, predispose to neuroblastoma, a tumor of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system. To gain insight into the oncogenic mechanisms engaged by these changes, we used zebrafish models to study the functional consequences of aberrant PHOX2B expression in the cells of the developing sympathetic nervous system. Allelic deficiency, modeled by phox2b morpholino knockdown, led to a decrease in the terminal differentiation markers th and dbh in sympathetic ganglion cells. The same effect was seen on overexpression of two distinct neuroblastoma-associated frameshift mutations, 676delG and K155X - but not the R100L missense mutation - in the presence of endogenous Phox2b, pointing to their dominant-negative effects. We demonstrate that Phox2b is capable of regulating itself as well as ascl1, and that phox2b deficiency uncouples this autoregulatory mechanism, leading to inhibition of sympathetic neuron differentiation. This effect on terminal differentiation is associated with an increased number of phox2b(+), ascl1(+), elavl3(-) cells that respond poorly to retinoic acid. These findings suggest that a reduced dosage of PHOX2B during development, through either a heterozygous deletion or dominant-negative mutation, imposes a block in the differentiation of sympathetic neuronal precursors, resulting in a cell population that is likely to be susceptible to secondary transforming events.
Project description:Neuroblastoma is an embryonal tumour of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system (SNS). One of the master regulator genes for peripheral SNS differentiation, the homeobox transcription factor PHOX2B, is mutated in familiar and sporadic neuroblastomas. Here we report that inducible expression of PHOX2B in the neuroblastoma cell line SJNB-8 down-regulates MSX1, a homeobox gene important for embryonic neural crest development. Inducible expression of MSX1 in SJNB-8 caused inhibition of both cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar. Affymetrix micro- array and Northern blot analysis demonstrated that MSX1 strongly up-regulated the Delta-Notch pathway. These experiments describe for the first time regulation of the Delta-Notch pathway by MSX1, and connect these genes to the PHOX2B oncogene, indicative of a role in neuroblastoma biology. Experiment Overall Design: Time course experiments of two independent clones (K2 and K5), with 2 or 4 time points, respectively.
Project description:The pathogenic role of the PHOX2B gene in neuroblastoma is indicated by heterozygous mutations in neuroblastoma patients and by gene overexpression in both neuroblastoma cell lines and tumor samples. PHOX2B encodes a transcription factor which is crucial for the correct development and differentiation of sympathetic neurons. PHOX2B overexpression is considered a prognostic marker for neuroblastoma and it is also used by clinicians to monitor minimal residual disease. Furthermore, it has been observed that neuronal differentiation in neuroblastoma is dependent on down-regulation of PHOX2B expression, which confirms that PHOX2B expression may be considered a target in neuroblastoma. Here, PHOX2B promoter or 3' untranslated region were used as molecular targets in an in vitro high-throughput approach that led to the identification of molecules able to decrease PHOX2B expression at transcriptional and likely even at post-transcriptional levels. Further functional investigations carried out on PHOX2B mRNA levels and biological consequences, such as neuroblastoma cell apoptosis and growth, showed that chloroquine and mycophenolate mofetil are most promising agents for neuroblastoma therapy based on down-regulation of PHOX2B expression. Finally, a strong correlation between the effect of drugs in terms of down-regulation of PHOX2B expression and of biological consequences in neuroblastoma cells confirms the role of PHOX2B as a potential molecular target in neuroblastoma.
Project description:Neuroblastoma (NB) is a frequent pediatric tumor for which recurrent somatic rearrangements are known. Germline mutations of predisposing gene(s) are suspected on the basis of rare familial cases and the association of NB with other genetically determined congenital malformations of neural crest-derived cells--namely, Hirschsprung disease (HSCR) and/or congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS). We recently identified the paired-like homeobox 2B (PHOX2B) gene as the major disease-causing gene in isolated and syndromic CCHS, which prompted us to regard it as a candidate gene in NB. Here, we report on germline mutations of PHOX2B in both a familial case of NB and a patient with the HSCR-NB association. PHOX2B, therefore, stands as the first gene for which germline mutations predispose to NB.