Chromatin remodeling defects in pediatric brain tumors

Alexia Klonou, Danai Spiliotakopoulou, Marios S. Themistocleous, Christina Piperi, Athanasios G. Papavassiliou


Brain tumors are regarded as the most prevalent solid neoplasms in children and the principal reason of death in this population. Even though surgical resection, radiotherapy and chemotherapy have improved outcome, a significant number of patients die in 6–12 months after diagnosis while those who survive, frequently experience side effects and relapses. Several studies suggest that many types of cancer including pediatric brain tumors are characterized by alterations in epigenetic profiles with deregulated chromatin remodeling and posttranslational covalent histone modifications playing a prominent role. Moreover, interplay of genetic and epigenetic changes has been associated to tumor growth and invasion as well as to modulation of patient’s response to current treatment. Therefore, detection of tumor-specific histone changes and elucidation of the underlying gene defects will allow successful tailoring of personalized treatment. The goal of this review is to provide an update of genetic and epigenetic alterations that characterize pediatric brain tumors focusing on histone modifications, aiming at directing future molecular and epigenetic therapeutic targeting.