Pediatric liver cancers (PLC) comprise diverse diseases affecting infants, children, and adolescents. Despite overall good prognosis, PLCs display heterogeneous response to chemotherapy. Integrated genomic analysis of 126 pediatric liver tumors showed a continuum of driver mechanisms associated with patient age, including new targetable oncogenes. In 10% of patients with hepatoblastoma, all before three years old, we identified a mosaic premalignant clonal expansion of cells altered at the 11p15.5 locus. Analysis of spatial and longitudinal heterogeneity revealed an important plasticity between “hepatocytic,” “liver progenitor,” and “mesenchymal” molecular subgroups of hepatoblastoma. We showed that during chemotherapy, “liver progenitor” cells accumulated massive loads of cisplatin-induced mutations with a specific mutational signature, leading to the development of heavily mutated relapses and metastases. Drug screening in PLC cell lines identified promising targets for cisplatin-resistant progenitor cells, validated in mouse xenograft experiments. These data provide new insights into cisplatin resistance mechanisms in PLC and suggest alternative therapies.
PLCs are deadly when they resist chemotherapy, with limited alternative treatment options. Using a multiomics approach, we identified PLC driver genes and the cellular phenotype at the origin of cisplatin resistance. We validated new treatments targeting these molecular features in cell lines and xenografts.
This article is highlighted in the In This Issue feature, p. 2355