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Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis
SJR: 0.946 SNIP: 0.503 CiteScore™: 2

ISSN Print: 0893-9675
ISSN Online: 2162-6448

Critical Reviews™ in Oncogenesis

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevOncog.2015013565
pages 271-299

Pediatric Brain Tumors: Genomics and Epigenomics Pave the Way

Adam M. Fontebasso
Division of Experimental Medicine, Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Nada Jabado
Division of Experimental Medicine, Montreal Children's Hospital, McGill University and McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Departments of Human Genetics and Pediatrics, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada


Primary malignant brain tumors remain a disproportionate cause of morbidity and mortality in humans. A number of studies exploring the cancer genome of brain tumors across ages using integrated genetics and epigenetics and next-generation sequencing technologies have recently emerged. This has led to considerable advances in the understanding of the basic biology and pathogenesis of brain tumors, including the most malignant and common variants in children: gliomas and medulloblastoma. Notably, studies of pediatric brain tumors have identified unexpected oncogenic pathways implicated in tumorigenesis. These range from a single pathway/molecule defect such as abnormalities of the mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway, considered to be a hallmark of pilocytic astrocytomas, to alterations in the epigenome as a critical component altered in many subgroups of high-grade brain tumors. Importantly, the type, timing, and spatial clustering of these molecular alterations provide a better understanding of the pathogenesis of the respective brain tumor they target and critical markers for therapy that will help refine pathological grading. We summarize these novel findings in pediatric brain tumors, which also are put in the context of the evolving notion of molecular pathology, now a mandated tool for proper classification and therapy assignment in the clinical setting.

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