Metabolic Regulation of the Epigenome Drives Lethal Infantile Ependymoma
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Posterior fossa A (PFA) ependymomas are lethal malignancies of the hindbrain in infants and toddlers. Lacking highly recurrent somatic mutations, PFA ependymomas are proposed to be epigenetically driven tumors for which model systems are lacking. Here we demonstrate that PFA ependymomas are maintained under hypoxia, associated with restricted availability of specific metabolites to diminish histone methylation, and increase histone demethylation and acetylation at histone 3 lysine 27 (H3K27). PFA ependymomas initiate from a cell lineage in the first trimester of human development that resides in restricted oxygen. Unlike other ependymomas, transient exposure of PFA cells to ambient oxygen induces irreversible cellular toxicity. PFA tumors exhibit a low basal level of H3K27me3, and, paradoxically, inhibition of H3K27 methylation specifically disrupts PFA tumor growth. Targeting metabolism and/or the epigenome presents a unique opportunity for rational therapy for infants with PFA ependymoma.
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