Mechanisms of Medulloblastoma Dissemination and Novel Targeted Therapies

Sammanfattning: Medulloblastomas are the most frequent malignant childhood brain tumors, arising in the posterior fossa of children. The overall 5-year survival is 70%, although children often suffer severe long-term side effects from standard medical care. To improve progression-free survival and quality of life for these children, finding new therapeutic targets in medulloblastoma is imperative.Medulloblastoma is divided in to four molecular subgroups (WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4) based on key developmental pathways essential for the initiation and maintenance of tumor development. The MYC family of proto-oncogenes regulates cell proliferation and differentiation in normal brain. Aberrant expression of MYC proteins occurs commonly in medulloblastoma.Our studies on Group 3 medulloblastoma identify the transcription factor SOX9 as a novel target for the E3 ubiquitin ligase FBW7, and show that increased stability of SOX9 confers an increased metastatic potential in medulloblastoma. Moreover, SOX9-positive cells drive distant recurrences in medulloblastoma when combining two regulatable TetON/OFF systems. MYCN depletion leads to increased SOX9 expression in Group 3 medulloblastoma cells, and the recurring tumor cells are more migratory in vitro and in vivo. Segueing to treatment of medulloblastoma, we show that BET bromodomain inhibition specifically targets MYC-amplified medulloblastoma cells by downregulating MYC and MYC-transcriptional targets, and that combining BET bromodomain- and cyclin-dependent kinase- inhibition improves survival in mice compared to single therapy. Combination treatment results in decreased MYC levels and increased apoptosis, and RNA-seq confirms upregulation of apoptotic markers along with downregulated MYC target genes in medulloblastoma cells.This thesis addresses novel findings in transcription factor biology, recurrence and treatment in Group 3 medulloblastoma, the most malignant subgroup of the disease.