Research Papers:

Characterization of novel biomarkers in selecting for subtype specific medulloblastoma phenotypes

Lisa Liang, Christopher Aiken, Robyn McClelland, Ludivine Coudière Morrison, Nazanin Tatari, Marc Remke, Vijay  Ramaswamy, Magimairajan Issaivanan, Timothy Ryken, Marc R. Del Bigio, Michael D. Taylor and Tamra E. Werbowetski-Ogilvie _

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:38881-38900. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6195

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Lisa Liang1,*, Christopher Aiken1,*, Robyn McClelland1, Ludivine Coudière Morrison1, Nazanin Tatari2, Marc Remke3, Vijay Ramaswamy3, Magimairajan Issaivanan4, Timothy Ryken5, Marc R. Del Bigio6, Michael D. Taylor3 and Tamra E. Werbowetski-Ogilvie1

1 Regenerative Medicine Program, Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

2 Department of Immunology, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

3 Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre and Program in Developmental and Stem Cell Biology, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

4 Cancer Care Manitoba (CCMB), Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

5 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Kansas, Kansas City, Kansas, USA

6 Department of Pathology, University of Manitoba and Manitoba Institute of Child Health, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

* These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Tamra E. Werbowetski-Ogilvie, email:

Keywords: medulloblastoma, biomarkers, progenitors, self-renewal, high-throughput flow cytometry

Received: February 14, 2015 Accepted: October 14, 2015 Published: October 20, 2015


Major research efforts have focused on defining cell surface marker profiles for characterization and selection of brain tumor stem/progenitor cells. Medulloblastoma is the most common primary malignant pediatric brain cancer and consists of 4 molecular subgroups: WNT, SHH, Group 3 and Group 4. Given the heterogeneity within and between medulloblastoma variants, surface marker profiles may be subtype-specific. Here, we employed a high throughput flow cytometry screen to identify differentially expressed cell surface markers in self-renewing vs. non-self-renewing SHH medulloblastoma cells. The top 25 markers were reduced to 4, CD271/p75NTR/NGFR, CD106/VCAM1, EGFR and CD171/NCAM-L1, by evaluating transcript levels in SHH tumors relative to samples representing the other variants. However, only CD271/p75NTR/NGFR and CD171/NCAM-L1 maintain differential expression between variants at the protein level. Functional characterization of CD271, a low affinity neurotrophin receptor, in cell lines and primary cultures suggested that CD271 selects for lower self-renewing progenitors or stem cells. Moreover, CD271 levels were negatively correlated with expression of SHH pathway genes. Our study reveals a novel role for CD271 in SHH medulloblastoma and suggests that targeting CD271 pathways could lead to the design of more selective therapies that lessen the broad impact of current treatments on developing nervous systems.

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