The emerging role of NG2 in pediatric diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma

Yadavilli, S.; Scafidi, J.; Becher, O. J.; Saratsis, A. M.; Hiner, R. L.; Kambhampati, M.; Mariarita, S.; MacDonald, T. J.; Codispoti, K. E.; Magge, S. N.; Jaiswal, J. K.; Packer, R. J.; Nazarian, J.

Oncotarget. 2015 May 20; 6(14):12141-55


Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) have a dismal prognosis and are poorly understood brain cancers. Receptor tyrosine kinases stabilized by neuron-glial antigen 2 (NG2) protein are known to induce gliomagenesis. Here, we investigated NG2 expression in a cohort of DIPG specimens (n= 50). We demonstrate NG2 expression in the majority of DIPG specimens tested and determine that tumors harboring histone 3.3 mutation express the highest NG2 levels. We further demonstrate that microRNA 129-2 (miR129-2) is downregulated and hypermethylated in human DIPGs, resulting in the increased expression of NG2. Treatment with 5-Azacytidine, a methyltransferase inhibitor, results in NG2 downregulation in DIPG primary tumor cells in vitro. NG2 expression is altered (symmetric segregation) in mitotic human DIPG and mouse tumor cells. These mitotic cells co-express oligodendrocyte (Olig2) and astrocyte (glial fibrillary acidic protein, GFAP) markers, indicating lack of terminal differentiation. NG2 knockdown retards cellular migration in vitro, while NG2 expressing neurospheres are highly tumorigenic in vivo, resulting in rapid growth of pontine tumors. NG2 expression is targetable in vivo using miR129-2 indicating a potential avenue for therapeutic interventions. This data implicates NG2 as a molecule of interest in DIPGs especially those with H3.3 mutation.

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