Transitioning from genotypes to epigenotypes: why the time has come for medulloblastoma epigenomics

Neuroscience. 2014 Apr 4;264:171-85. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.07.030. Epub 2013 Jul 20.


Recent advances in genomic technologies have allowed for tremendous progress in our understanding of the biology underlying medulloblastoma, a malignant childhood brain tumor. Consensus molecular subgroups have been put forth by the pediatric neuro-oncology community and next-generation genomic studies have led to an improved description of driver genes and pathways somatically altered in these subgroups. In contrast to the impressive pace at which advances have been made at the level of the medulloblastoma genome, comparable studies of the epigenome have lagged behind. Complementary data yielded from genomic sequencing and copy number profiling have verified frequent targeting of chromatin modifiers in medulloblastoma, highly suggestive of prominent epigenetic deregulation in the disease. Past studies of DNA methylation-dependent gene silencing and microRNA expression analyses further support the concept of medulloblastoma as an epigenetic disease. In this Review, we aim to summarize the key findings of past reports pertaining to medulloblastoma epigenetics as well as recent and ongoing genomic efforts linking somatic alterations of the genome with inferred deregulation of the epigenome. In addition, we predict what is on the horizon for medulloblastoma epigenetics and how aberrant changes in the medulloblastoma epigenome might serve as an attractive target for future therapies.

Keywords: DNA methylation; chromatin; epigenomics; medulloblastoma; neuro-oncology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Child
  • Epigenesis, Genetic*
  • Epigenomics
  • Genotype*
  • Humans
  • Medulloblastoma / genetics*