The KDM1A histone demethylase is a promising new target for the epigenetic therapy of medulloblastoma

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Abstract

Background: Medulloblastoma is a leading cause of childhood cancer-related deaths. Current aggressive treatments frequently lead to cognitive and neurological disabilities in survivors. Novel targeted therapies are required to improve outcome in high-risk medulloblastoma patients and quality of life of survivors. Targeting enzymes controlling epigenetic alterations is a promising approach recently bolstered by the identification of mutations in histone demethylating enzymes in medulloblastoma sequencing efforts. Hypomethylation of lysine 4 in histone 3 (H3K4) is also associated with a dismal prognosis for medulloblastoma patients. Functional characterization of important epigenetic key regulators is urgently needed. Results: We examined the role of the H3K4 modifying enzyme, KDM1A, in medulloblastoma, an enzyme also associated with malignant progression in the closely related tumor, neuroblastoma. Re-analysis of gene expression data and immunohistochemistry of tissue microarrays of human medulloblastomas showed strong KDM1A overexpression in the majority of tumors throughout all molecular subgroups. Interestingly, KDM1A knockdown in medulloblastoma cell lines not only induced apoptosis and suppressed proliferation, but also impaired migratory capacity. Further analyses revealed bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) as a major KDM1A target gene. BMP2 is known to be involved in development and differentiation of granule neuron precursor cells (GNCPs), one potential cell of origin for medulloblastoma. Treating medulloblastoma cells with the specific KDM1A inhibitor, NCL-1, significantly inhibited growth in vitro. Conclusion: We provide the first evidence that a histone demethylase is functionally involved in the regulation of the malignant phenotype of medulloblastoma cells, and lay a foundation for future evaluation of KDM1A-inihibiting therapies in combating medulloblastoma.

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Pajtler, K. W., Weingarten, C., Thor, T., Künkele, A., Heukamp, L. C., Büttner, R., … Schulte, J. H. (2014). The KDM1A histone demethylase is a promising new target for the epigenetic therapy of medulloblastoma. Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 2(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/2051-5960-1-19

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