Ependymomas arise from the ependymal cells at different locations throughout the brain and spinal cord. These tumors have a broad age distribution with a range from less than 1 year to more than 80 years. In some intramedullary spinal ependymomas, mutations in the neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) gene and loss of heterozygosity (LOH) on chromosome arm 22q have been described. Cytogenetic studies have also identified alterations involving chromosome arm 11q, including rearrangements at 11q13, in ependymomas. We analyzed 21 intramedullary spinal, 14 ventricular, 11 filum terminale and 6 intracerebral ependymomas for mutations in the MEN1 gene, which is located at 11q13, and mutations in the NF2 gene, which is located at 22q12, as well as for LOH on 11q and 22q. NF2 mutations were found in 6 tumors, all of which were intramedullary spinal and all of which displayed LOH 22q. Allelic loss on 22q was found in 20 cases and was significantly more frequent in intramedullary spinal ependymomas than in tumors in other locations. LOH 11q was found in 7 patients and exhibited a highly significant inverse association with LOH 22q (p<0.001). A hemizygous MEN1 mutation was identified in 3 tumors, all of which were recurrences from the same patient. Interestingly, the initial tumor corresponded to WHO grade II and displayed LOH 11q but not yet a MEN1 mutation. In 2 subsequent recurrences, the tumor had progressed to anaplastic ependymoma (WHO grade III) and exhibited a nonsense mutation in exon 10 of MEN1 (W471X) in conjunction with LOH 11q. This suggests that loss of wild-type MEN1 may be involved in the malignant progression of a subset of ependymomas. To conclude, our findings provide evidence for different genetic pathways involved in ependymoma formation and progression, which may allow to define genetically and clinically distinct tumor entities. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.