Central nervous system hemangioblastomas (CNS-HBs) occur sporadically or as a component of von Hippel-Lindau-VHL syndrome. CNS-HBs share some molecular similarities with pheochromocytomas/paragangliomas (PPGLs) and renal cell carcinomas (RCCs). Recently, hypoxia-inducible factors, particularly somatic HIF2A mutations, have been found to play an important role in the pathogenesis of PPGLs. Somatic mutations in HIF2A have been reported in PPGLs associated with polycythemia, which have been reported to also be present in patients with RCCs and HBs. However, whether CNS-HBs is associated with the presence of a HIF2A mutation is currently uknown. We analyzed somatic HIF2A and VHL mutations in a series of 28 sporadic CNS-HBs. We also investigated the expression of HIF target proteins and hypoxia-associated factor (HAF). Two sporadic CNS-HBs were found to have somatic HIF2A mutations. One tumor had 2 HIF2A missense mutations, one of which was previously described in a PPGL (c.1121 T>A, F374Y). The second patient had coexistence of somatic truncated mutations (c.1669 C>T, Q557*) in HIF2A together with a VHL mutation. Neither of the two patients had polycythemia at the time of diagnosis. We demonstrate that the novel truncated mutation in HIF2A (Q557*) affects HIF-2α prolyl hydroxylation with its reduced ubiquitination but intact transcriptional activity, resulting in an activating effect. Both CNS-HB samples showed positive expression of VEGFR2/CA9/Glut1 and HAF. Our data support the unique central role of the VHL/HIF-2α signaling pathway in the molecular pathogenesis of CNS-HBs and show for the first time the presence of HIF2A mutations in sporadic HB.
Keywords: Hemangioblastoma; Hypoxia-inducible factor 2α; Von Hippel–Lindau syndrome.