Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DIPG) is a devastating disease with no effective cures. DIPG arises in the brainstem and is found almost exclusively in children. Mutations in canonical cancer signalling pathways including the RTK/RAS/PI3K pathway, the Tp53 pathway, and the CDK4/6 G1 checkpoint occur in DIPGs, targeting different effectors within these pathways and resulting in significant genetic heterogeneity between tumors. However, genome-wide studies provided abundant evidence that unique selective pressures drive HGG in children compared to adults, identifying novel oncogenic mutations connecting tumorigenesis and chromatin regulation as well as developmental signaling pathways. Recurrent mutations of the BMP receptor ACVR1/ALK2 are found in 25-30% of DIPGs, and are further restricted to the youngest patients, highlighting critical connections between development and gliomagenesis. The molecular hallmark of DIPGs is frequent recurrent somatic mutation in histone H3. Mutually exclusive somatic heterozygous H3F3A or HIST1H3B mutations encoding a K27M variant of histone H3.3 or H3.1, respectively, are found in nearly 80 percent of DIPGs. These recurrent mutations provide clear evidence of an important role for chromatin regulation in DIPG disease pathogenesis, and present a unifying molecular mechanism driving DIPG. We have evaluated the contribution of H3.3 K27M mutation to DIPG tumor growth in vitro to gain insights into molecular mechanisms of oncogenic activity, and to assess the potential of histone H3 mutation as a therapeutic sensitivity in this incurable brain tumor.

Citation Format: Andre B. Silveira, Lawryn H. Kasper, Jon D. Larson, Xiaoyan Zhu, Alexander K. Diaz, Suzanne J. Baker. Oncogenic mechanisms in diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference on Advances in Pediatric Cancer Research: From Mechanisms and Models to Treatment and Survivorship; 2015 Nov 9-12; Fort Lauderdale, FL. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2016;76(5 Suppl):Abstract nr IA26.