DNA methylation in adult diffuse gliomas

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Adult diffuse gliomas account for the majority of primary malignant brain tumours, and are in most cases lethal. Current therapies are often only marginally effective, and improved options will almost certainly benefit from further insight into the various processes contributing to gliomagenesis and pathology. While molecular characterization of these tumours classifies them on the basis of genetic alterations and chromosomal abnormalities, DNA methylation patterns are increasingly understood to play a role in glioma pathogenesis. Indeed, a subset of gliomas associated with improved survival is characterized by the glioma CpG island methylator phenotype (G-CIMP), which can be induced by the expression of mutant isocitrate dehydrogenase (IDH1/2). Aberrant methylation of particular genes or regulatory elements, within the context of G-CIMP-positive and/or negative tumours, has also been shown to be associated with differential survival. In this review, we provide an overview of the current knowledge regarding the role of DNA methylation in adult diffuse gliomas. In particular, we discuss IDH mutations and G-CIMP, MGMT promoter methylation, DNA methylation-mediated microRNA regulation and aberrant methylation of specific genes or groups of genes.

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