BRAF V600E mutations in papillary craniopharyngioma (2016)

Papillary craniopharyngioma (PCP) is an intracranial tumor that results in high levels of morbidity.We recently demonstrated that the vast majority of these tumors harbor the oncogenic BRAF V600E mutation. The pathologic diagnosis of PCP can now be confirmed using mutation specific immunohistochemistry and targeted genetic testing. Treatment with targeted agents is now also a possibility in select situations. We recently reported a patient with a multiply recurrent PCP in whom targeting both BRAF and MEK resulted in a dramatic therapeutic response with a marked anti-tumor immune response. This work shows that activation of the MAPK pathway is the likely principal oncogenic driver of these tumors.We will now investigate the efficacy of this approach in a multicenter phase II clinical trial. Post-treatment resection samples will be monitored for the emergence of resistance mechanisms. Further advances in the non-invasive diagnosis of PCP by radiologic criteria and by cell-free DNA testing could someday allow neo-adjuvant therapy for this disease in select patient populations.

Dramatic Response of BRAF V600E Mutant Papillary Craniopharyngioma to Targeted Therapy (2015)

We recently reported that BRAF V600E is the principal oncogenic driver of papillary craniopharyngioma, a highly morbid intracranial tumor commonly refractory to treatment. Here, we describe our treatment of a man age 39 years with multiply recurrent BRAF V600E craniopharyngioma using dabrafenib (150mg, orally twice daily) and trametinib (2mg, orally twice daily). After 35 days of treatment, tumor volume was reduced by 85%. Mutations that commonly mediate resistance to MAPK pathway inhibition were not detected in a post-treatment sample by whole exome sequencing. A blood-based BRAF V600E assay detected circulating BRAF V600E in the patient’s blood. Re-evaluation of the existing management paradigms for craniopharyngioma is warranted, as patient morbidity might be reduced by noninvasive mutation testing and neoadjuvant-targeted treatment.

Exome sequencing identifies BRAF mutations in papillary craniopharyngiomas (2014)

Craniopharyngiomas are epithelial tumors that typically arise in the suprasellar region of the brain1. Patients experience substantial clinical sequelae both from extension of the tumors and from therapeutic interventions which damage the optic chiasm, the pituitary stalk, and the hypothalamic area2–4. Using whole exome sequencing we identified mutations in beta-catenin (CTNNB1) in nearly all adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas (11/12; 92%) and recurrent mutations in BRAF (V600E) in all papillary craniopharyngiomas (3/3; 100%). Targeted genotyping revealed BRAF V600E in 95% of papillary craniopharyngiomas (36 of 39 tumors) and CTNNB1 mutation in 96% of adamantinomatous craniopharyngiomas (51 of 53 tumors). The CTNNB1 and BRAF mutations were clonal in each tumor subtype and no other recurrent mutations or genomic aberrations were detected in either subtype. Adamantinomatous and papillary craniopharyngiomas harbor mutations that are mutually exclusive and clonal. These findings have important implications for the diagnosis and treatment of these neoplasms.

Genomic sequencing of meningiomas identifies oncogenic SMO and AKT1 mutations (2013)

Meningiomas are the most common primary nervous system tumor. The tumor suppressor NF2 is disrupted in approximately half of meningiomas1 but the complete spectrum of genetic changes remains undefined. We performed whole-genome or whole-exome sequencing on 17 meningiomas and focused sequencing on an additional 48 tumors to identify and validate somatic genetic alterations. Most meningiomas exhibited simple genomes, with fewer mutations, rearrangements, and copy-number alterations than reported in other adult tumors. However, several meningiomas harbored more complex patterns of copy-number changes and rearrangements including one tumor with chromothripsis. We confirmed focal NF2 inactivation in 43% of tumors and found alterations in epigenetic modifiers among an additional 8% of tumors. A subset of meningiomas lacking NF2 alterations harbored recurrent oncogenic mutations in AKT1 (E17K) and SMO (W535L) and exhibited immunohistochemical evidence of activation of their pathways. These mutations were present in therapeutically challenging tumors of the skull base and higher grade. These results begin to define the spectrum of genetic alterations in meningiomas and identify potential therapeutic targets.