EPEN-10. Elucidating the biological difference between pediatric supratentorial ependymomas using genetically engineered brain tumor organoids.

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Ependymomas (EPN) are neuroepithelial tumors of the central nervous system occurring both in adults and children. DNA methylation profiling has identified ten distinct molecular groups. In the supratentorial (ST) compartment, ZFTA-fusion positive and YAP1-fusion positive ST-EPN represent the two main groups in pediatric patients that are histologically very similar but have a completely different clinical behavior. While most ST-EPN-YAP1 patients survive, only 50% of ZFTA positive patients survive longer than 5 years. Improving survival of ZFTA positive patients requires better understanding of the tumor biology. Despite having different oncogenic fusions, it is unclear whether the cellular origin and tumor biology is related or not and why they respond differently to treatment. The development of human stem cell-derived brain organoids provides a novel opportunity to model these ST-EPN in vitro. These organoids mimic embryonal brain development, during which the cells-of-origin of ST-EPN as well as their micro-environment are present. To induce the development of ST-EPN in vitro, we genetically manipulated cerebral organoids to overexpress the group-specific oncogenic fusion proteins. Electroporating constructs expressing the different fusion proteins into organoids early in brain development (day 11), induced ectopic growth after approximately 30 days. Based on immunohistochemistry, we observed a different phenotype using either the ZFTA or YAP1 fusion constructs, as well as (over)expression of group-specific markers in the organoids. Preliminary transcriptomic analyses suggest that these genetically modified brain organoids represent models with features of human ST-EPN tumors. Ongoing single-cell RNA-sequencing and epigenomic analyses during normal organoid and tumor development will further reveal how well these models represent human primary tumors, how they develop in time, and possibly whether they originate from similar cells or different cells within these organoids. Hence, these models will uniquely contribute to the molecular and biological understanding of ependymomas and can be used to identify new targeted therapies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)i40-i40
Issue numberSupplement_1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


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