The Role of Otx2 in Bypassing Restrictions of Hindbrain Progenitor Cell Proliferation and the Mechanisms of its Dysregulation in Medulloblastoma
Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. The understanding of the genetic alterations in this tumor is emergent, and many such genetic driver events have yet to be functionally-characterized. Our studies have sought to understand the causes and consequences of OTX2 dysregulation in established medulloblastomas and in its putative cellular origins. Using a tumor genetic approach, we have uncovered frequent OTX2 copy number gains driving expression of this oncogene in a subset of medulloblastomas. However, OTX2 is frequently expressed in medulloblastomas independent of genomic copy number gain, and we thus sought to understand the transcriptional regulation of this gene in these tumors. We have found that chromatin accessibility, promoter DNA methylation, and activity of a distal downstream enhancer is distinct between OTX2-expressing and -nonexpressing medulloblastomas. Notably, autoregulation serves to maintain OTX2 expression in some medulloblastomas, whereas DNA methylation actively suppresses OTX2 in tumors not expressing this gene. Finally, we describe the effect of expressing Otx2 (the mouse homolog of OTX2) aberrantly in the developing mouse hindbrain, revealing that Otx2 disrupts spatiotemporal restrictions of neuronal progenitor cell proliferation. The effect of Otx2 in vivo is transient, with ectopically-proliferating cells give way to differentiated neurons. We found that OTX2 expression was not able to give rise to high penetrance medulloblastoma when combined with P53 deletion or double heterozygosity for P53 and PTEN. Thus, although Otx2 alters migration and proliferation dynamics of hindbrain neuronal progenitor cells, further studies are needed to identify the genetic alterations that cooperate with this oncogene to give rise to medulloblastoma.
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