Ependymal tumors are heterogeneous with regard to morphology, localization, age at first clinical manifestation, and prognosis. Several molecular alterations have been reported in these tumors, including allelic losses on chromosomes 10, 17, and 22 and mutations in the NF2 gene. However, in contrast to astrocytic gliomas, no consistent molecular alterations have been associated with distinct types of ependymal tumors. To evaluate whether morphological subsets of ependymomas are characterized by specific genetic lesions, we analyzed a series of 62 ependymal tumors, including myxopapillary ependymomas, subependymomas, ependymomas, and anaplastic ependymomas, for allelic losses on chromosome arms 10q and 22q and mutations in the PTEN and NF2 genes. Allelic losses on 10q and 22q were detected in 5 of 56 and 12 of 54 tumors, respectively. Six ependymomas carried somatic NF2 mutations, whereas no mutations were detected in the PTEN gene. All six of the NF2 mutations occurred in ependymomas of WHO grade II and were exclusively observed in tumors with a spinal localization (P = 0.0063). These findings suggest that a considerable fraction of spinal ependymomas are associated with molecular events involving chromosome 22 and that mutations in the NF2 gene may be of primary importance for their genesis. Furthermore, our data suggest that the more favorable clinical course of spinal ependymomas may relate to a distinct pattern of genetic alterations different from that of intracerebral ependymomas.
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