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Open Access Research article

ADAR2 editing activity in newly diagnosed versus relapsed pediatric high-grade astrocytomas

Sara Tomaselli1, Federica Galeano1, Luca Massimi2, Concezio Di Rocco2, Libero Lauriola3, Angela Mastronuzzi1, Franco Locatelli14 and Angela Gallo1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory of RNA Editing, Department of Pediatric Haematology/Oncology, Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital, IRCCS, Piazza S. Onofrio 4, Rome 00165, Italy

2 Pediatric Neurosurgery Department, Policlinico Gemelli, Largo A. Gemelli 8, Rome 00168, Italy

3 Anatomopathology Department, Policlinico Gemelli, Largo A. Gemelli 8, Rome 00168, Italy

4 Università di Pavia, Strada Nuova 65, Pavia 27100, Italy

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:255  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-255

Published: 22 May 2013



High-grade (WHO grade III and IV) astrocytomas are aggressive malignant brain tumors affecting humans with a high risk of recurrence in both children and adults. To date, limited information is available on the genetic and molecular alterations important in the onset and progression of pediatric high-grade astrocytomas and, even less, on the prognostic factors that influence long-term outcome in children with recurrence. A-to-I RNA editing is an essential post-transcriptional mechanism that can alter the nucleotide sequence of several RNAs and is mediated by the ADAR enzymes. ADAR2 editing activity is particularly important in mammalian brain and is impaired in both adult and pediatric high-grade astrocytomas. Moreover, we have recently shown that the recovered ADAR2 activity in high-grade astrocytomas inhibits in vivo tumor growth. The aim of the present study is to investigate whether changes may occur in ADAR2-mediated RNA editing profiles of relapsed high-grade astrocytomas compared to their respective specimens collected at diagnosis, in four pediatric patients.


Total RNAs extracted from all tumor samples and controls were tested for RNA editing levels (by direct sequencing on cDNA pools) and for ADAR2 mRNA expression (by qRT-PCR).


A significant loss of ADAR2-editing activity was observed in the newly diagnosed and recurrent astrocytomas in comparison to normal brain. Surprisingly, we found a substantial rescue of ADAR2 editing activity in the relapsed tumor of the only patient showing prolonged survival.


High-grade astrocytomas display a generalized loss of ADAR2-mediated RNA editing at both diagnosis and relapse. However, a peculiar Case, in complete remission of disease, displayed a total rescue of RNA editing at relapse, intriguingly suggesting ADAR2 activity/expression as a possible marker for long-term survival of patients with high-grade astrocytomas.

High-grade astrocytomas; RNA editing; ADAR2