Tompa M. et al.
BACKGROUND: Immune evasion in glioblastoma (GBM) shields cancer cells from cytotoxic immune response. METHODS: We investigated CpG methylation in promoters, genes, and pathways in 22 pairs of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded sequential (FFPE) GBM using restricted resolution bisulfite sequencing (RRBS) and bioinformatic analyses. RESULTS: Gene ontology revealed hypermethylation in elements of the innate and adaptive immune system when recurrent GBM samples (GBM) were compared to control (CG) and primary GBM samples (GBM). Higher methylation levels of the IL-7 signaling pathway and response to IL-7 were found in GBM suggesting a progressive blockade of the IL-7 driven T cell response in sequential GBM. Analyses of the Cancer Genome Atlas array-based data confirmed hypermethylation of the IL-7 pathway in recurrent compared with primary GBM. We also quantified DNA CpG methylation in promoter and gene regions of the IL-7 ligand and IL-7 α-receptor subunit in individual samples of a large RRBS-based sequential cohort of GBM in a Viennese database and found significantly higher methylation levels in the IL-7 receptor α-subunit in GBM compared with GBM. CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed the progressive suppression of the IL-7 receptor-mediated pathway as a means of immune evasion by GBM and thereby highlighted it as a new treatment target.