Experimental Design: Minimal mRNA expression signatures diagnostic for the Wnt/Wingless (WNT) and Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) subgroups were developed, validated, and used to assign subgroup affiliation in 173 tumors from four independent cohorts, alongside a systematic investigation of subgroup clinical and molecular characteristics.
Results: WNT tumors [12% (21/173)] were diagnosed >5 years of age (peak, 10 years), displayed classic histology, CTNNB1 mutation (19/20), and associated chromosome 6 loss, and have previously been associated with favorable prognosis. SHH cases [24% (42/173)] predominated in infants (<3 years) and showed an age-dependent relationship to desmoplastic/nodular pathology; all infant desmoplastic/nodular cases (previously associated with a good outcome) were SHH-positive, but these relationships broke down in noninfants. PTCH1 mutations were common [34% (11/32)], but PTCH1 exon1c hypermethylation, chromosome 9q and REN (KCTD11) genetic loss were not SHH associated, and SMO or SUFU mutation, PTCH1 exon1a or SUFU hypermethylation did not play a role, indicating novel activating mechanisms in the majority of SHH cases. SHH tumors were associated with an absence of COL1A2 methylation. WNT/SHH-independent medulloblastomas [64% (110/173)] showed all histologies, peaked at 3 and 6 years, and were exclusively associated with chromosome 17p loss.
Conclusions: Medulloblastoma subgroups are characterized by distinct genomic, epigenomic and clinicopathologic features, and clinical outcomes. Validated array-independent gene expression assays for the rapid assessment of subgroup affiliation in small biopsies provide a basis for their routine clinical application, in strategies including molecular disease-risk stratification and delivery of targeted therapeutics.