High-Level MYCN-Amplified RB1-Proficient Retinoblastoma Tumors Retain Distinct Molecular Signatures

Khashayar Roohollahi, Yvonne de Jong*, Saskia E. van Mil, Armida W. M. Fabius, Annette C. Moll, Josephine C. Dorsman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Purpose: Retinoblastomas are malignant eye tumors diagnosed in young children. Most retinoblastomas are genetically characterized by biallelic inactivation of the RB1 gene. However, 1.5% of tumors demonstrate high-level amplification of the proto-oncogene MYCN. Patients with MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient retinoblastoma receive a diagnosis at an earlier age and show a clinically and histologically more malignant phenotype. This study aimed to identify genome-wide molecular features that distinguish this subtype from other retinoblastomas. Design: Cohort study. Participants: Forty-seven retinoblastoma tumors, comprising 36 RB1–/–, 4 RB1+/–, and 7 RB1+/+ tumors. In total, 5 retinoblastomas displayed high-level MYCN amplification, with 3 being RB1+/+, 1 being RB1+/–, and 1 being RB1–/–. Methods: Integrated analysis, based on gene expression, methylation, and methylation-expression correlations, was performed to identify distinct molecular components of MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient retinoblastomas compared with other retinoblastoma subtypes. The methylation and methylation-expression correlation analysis was initially conducted within a subset of samples (n = 15) for which methylation profiles were available. The significant findings were cross-validated in the entire cohort (n = 47) and in publicly available data. Main Outcome Measures: Differentially expressed genes/pathways, differentially methylated genes, and methylation-driven differential gene expression. Results: A large number of genes (n = 3155) were identified with distinct expression patterns in MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient retinoblastomas. The upregulated and downregulated genes were associated with translation and cell-cycle processes, respectively. Methylation analysis revealed distinct methylated patterns in MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient tumors, many of which showing significant impact on gene expression. Data integration identified a 40-gene expression signature with hypermethylated state resulting in a significant downregulation in MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient retinoblastomas. Cross-validation using the entire cohort and the public domain expression data verified the overall lower expression of these genes not only in retinoblastomas with a MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient background, but also in MYCN-amplified neuroblastomas. These include the metabolism-associated TSTD1 gene and the cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor gene CDKN2C. Conclusions: MYCN-amplified RB1-proficient retinoblastomas display significantly distinct molecular features compared with other retinoblastomas, including a set of 40 hypermethylation-driven downregulated genes. This gene set can give insight into the biology of MYCN-amplified retinoblastomas and may help us to understand the more aggressive clinical behavior.
Original languageEnglish
Article number100188
JournalOphthalmology Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2022

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