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Genomic analyses of childhood ependymomas

In this issue of Nature two groups present independent genomic analyses on ependymomas, a type of tumour that occurs throughout the nervous system, but most commonly in the hindbrain in children. Mack et al. found a low overall mutation rate and no significant recurrent mutations in 47 hindbrain ependymomas. But posterior fossa group B tumours, a subgroup found predominantly in infants and associated with poor prognosis, were distinguished by a CpG island methylator phenotype. This subgroup is shown to be susceptible to various compounds that target epigenetic modifications, including an EZH2 inhibitor that showed efficacy in a mouse xenograft model. Parker et al.found the C11orf95–RELA fusion gene in about 70% of supratentorial tumours, but not in other ependymoma subgroups. The gene fusions arise through chromothripsis and lead to the expression of a fusion protein that constitutively activates NF-KB signalling. In a mouse model, expression of C11orf95–RELA in neural stem cells leads to the formation of brain tumours. These findings identify NF-KB signalling as a possible therapeutic target in patients with this type of ependymoma.

Nature 506, 7489 table of contents

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