Genome wide DNA methylation analysis identifies novel molecular subgroups and predicts survival in neuroblastoma

H. Lalchungnunga, Wen Hao, John M. Maris, Shahab Asgharzadeh, Kai-Oliver Henrich, Frank Westermann, Deborah A. Tweddle, Ed Schwalbe, Gordon Strathdee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Neuroblastoma is the most common malignancy in infancy, accounting for 15% of childhood cancer deaths. Outcome for the high-risk disease remains poor. DNA-methylation patterns are significantly altered in all cancer types and can be utilised for disease stratification. Methods: Genome-wide DNA methylation (n = 223), gene expression (n = 130), genetic/clinical data (n = 213), whole-exome sequencing (n = 130) was derived from the TARGET study. Methylation data were derived from HumanMethylation450 BeadChip arrays. t-SNE was used for the segregation of molecular subgroups. A separate validation cohort of 105 cases was studied. Results: Five distinct neuroblastoma molecular subgroups were identified, based on genome-wide DNA-methylation patterns, with unique features in each, including three subgroups associated with known prognostic features and two novel subgroups. As expected, Cluster-4 (infant diagnosis) had significantly better 5-year progression-free survival (PFS) than the four other clusters. However, in addition, the molecular subgrouping identified multiple patient subsets with highly increased risk, most notably infant patients that do not map to Cluster-4 (PFS 50% vs 80% for Cluster-4 infants, P = 0.005), and allowed identification of subgroup-specific methylation differences that may reflect important biological differences within neuroblastoma. Conclusions: Methylation-based clustering of neuroblastoma reveals novel molecular subgroups, with distinct molecular/clinical characteristics and identifies a subgroup of higher-risk infant patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2006-2015
Number of pages10
JournalBritish Journal of Cancer
Early online date29 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Nov 2022


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