Detection of histone H3 K27M mutation and post-translational modifications in pediatric diffuse midline glioma via tissue immunohistochemistry informs diagnosis and clinical outcomes

Oncotarget. 2018 Dec 14;9(98):37112-37124. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.26430.


Pediatric diffuse midline glioma is a highly morbid glial neoplasm that may arise in the thalamus or brainstem (also known as diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma or DIPG). Because tumor anatomic location precludes surgical resection, diagnosis and treatment is based on MR imaging and analysis of biopsy specimens. Up to 80% of pediatric diffuse midline gliomas harbor a histone H3 mutation resulting in the replacement of lysine 27 with methionine (K27M) in genes encoding histone H3 variant H3.3 (H3F3A) or H3.1 (HIST1H3B). H3K27M mutant glioma responds more poorly to treatment and is associated with worse clinical outcome than wild-type tumors, so mutation detection is now diagnostic for a new clinical entity, diffuse midline glioma H3K27M mutant, as defined in the most recent WHO classification system. We previously reported patterns of histone H3 trimethylation (H3K27me3) and acetylation (H3K27Ac) associated with H3K27M mutation that impact transcription regulation and contribute to tumorigenesis. Given the clinical implications of the H3K27M mutation and these associated H3 post-translational modifications (PTMs), we set to determine whether they can be characterized via immunohistochemistry (IHC) in a cohort of pediatric glioma (n = 69) and normal brain tissue (n = 4) specimens. We observed 100% concordance between tissue IHC and molecular sequencing for detecting H3K27M mutation. In turn, H3K37M and H3K27me3 results, but not H3K27Ac staining patterns, were predictive of clinical outcomes. Our results demonstrate H3K27M and H3K27me3 staining of pediatric glioma tissue may be useful for diagnosis, stratification to epigenetic targeted therapies, and longitudinal monitoring of treatment response.

Keywords: diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma; diffuse midline glioma; histone H3 post-translational modification; histone H3K27M mutation; pediatric glioma.