MB-22ACTIVATED Wnt SIGNALING FOR THE THERAPEUTIC TARGETING OF TREATMENT-REFRACTORY MEDULLOBLASTOMA STEM CELLS
Brain tumors represent the leading cause of childhood cancer mortality, of which medulloblastoma (MB) is the most frequent malignant pediatric brain tumor. Current molecular subgroups of MB recognize distinct disease entities of which activated Wnt signaling (monosomy 6, exon 3 mutations in CTNNB1, and Wnt gene signature) is associated with a distinct subgroup and the best overall outcome. In contrast, only non-Wnt MBs are characterized by metastatic disease, increased rate of recurrence, and
... f recurrence, and poor overall survivorship. Given the excellent clinical outcome in patients with Wnt-driven MB, we aimed to convert treatment-resistant MB subgroups into an ostensibly benign tumor through selective targeting by small molecule Wnt agonists (Wnt3A), GSK3 inhibitors (CHIR99021), and transgenic lines containing a stabilized beta-catenin mutant. Activated Wnt signaling resulted in decreased in vitro self-renewal and promoted differentiation within primary human MB stem cells. The clinical relevance of these findings were demonstrated with an in vivo survival advantage in mice containing orthotopic injections of cells containing a stabilized beta-catenin mutant representative of constitutively active Wnt signaling. Xenografts generated from Wnt-activated tumors were much smaller in size, maintained a much lower rate of proliferation, and reduction in key MB stem cell self-renewal genes (Bmi1, Sox2, Msi1, FoxG1). Our work establishes activated Wnt signaling as a novel treatment paradigm in childhood MB, while providing evidence for the context-specific tumor suppressive function of the canonical Wnt pathway.