Center for Neuropathology and Prion Research (ZNP), Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 23, D-81377 Munich, Bavaria, Germany.
The molecular mechanisms leading to brain tumors still remain unclear. Nevertheless, there is increasing evidence that epigenetic effects play crucial roles in tumor development and progression. Thereby, 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC) represents a further base modification of cytosine besides 5-methylcytosine (5mC). In addition to the role of 5hmC as an intermediate in demethylation, 5hmC is of reasonable importance for cellular control. Previous studies showed that loss of 5hmC is a hallmark of human malignancies, e.g. in glioma, melanoma, and myeloid tumors. In myeloid malignancies studies showed that loss of 5hmC was due to mutations within ten-eleven-translocation (TET) genes, enzymes being responsible for conversion of 5mC to 5hmC. Nevertheless, till date there are no genetic characterization data of TET enzymes available for glioma.
In this study, we genetically characterized TET2 and TET3 alterations in 50 human gliomas (WHO-Grade II-IV) and in 19 healthy brain samples. We identified 7 genetic alterations within TET2 (p.V218M, p.G355N, p.P363L, p.L1721W, p.P1723S, p.I1762V, p.H1778R). Additionally, we performed quantification of 5hmC amount and added functional prediction analysis of identified TET alterations to evaluate the biological impact of these alterations on the hydroxymethylome. An analysis of TET3 showed no non-synonymous alterations.
In summary, we did not find correlations of TET alterations with 5hmC amount. Thus, our data emphasize that, in contrast to leukemia, loss of 5hmC in glioma is not caused by TET gene alterations. Moreover, other disturbances, such as disrupted gene expressions or functional inhibitions of TET proteins may be responsible for the aberrant epigenome of human glioma.
Keywords: Epigenetics, Glioma, Methylation, Demethylation, 5hmC, Ten-Eleven-Translocation.