Posterior fossa (PF) ependymomas (EPNs) in infants less than 1 year of age (iEPN-PF) have a poorer clinical outcome than EPNs in older children. While radiation therapy is the standard of care for the latter, it is withheld in infants to avoid neurotoxicity to immature brain. It is unknown whether the adverse outcome in iEPN-PFs is due to treatment differences or aggressive biology. We examined this question using molecular profiling.Methods:
Six anaplastic iEPN-PFs were subjected to transcriptomic analysis and FISH for p16 loss and gains of 1q, and compared with anaplastic PF EPNs from older children. Results were validated by immunohistochemistry (IHC).Results:
All six iEPN-PFs were grouped within EPN PF subgroup A (PFA). E2F targets and G2M checkpoint were identified as the most enriched gene sets in iEPN-PF, which was validated in a larger independent cohort. Accordingly, MIB-1 IHC demonstrated a higher mitotic rate in iEPN-PFs than noninfant anaplastic EPN PFA. Genetic and protein analyses demonstrated that p16 loss and low p16 protein expression is a hallmark of iEPN-PF, and that none harbored 1q gains. Kaplan–Meier analysis confirmed the poorer clinical outcome of the iEPN-PF cohort.Conclusions:
Biological differences, characterized by loss of p16 expression without gains of 1q in iEPN-PFs, as well as deregulated E2F target gene transcription, are indicative of deregulated p16-CDK4/6-pRB-E2F pathway activity. This may underlie the poor clinical outcome seen in this group of iEPN-PFs, rather than the withholding of radiation therapy. Results suggest a potential actionable therapy for iEPN-PF, namely cyclin-dependent kinase 4/6 (CDK4/6) inhibitors.