Schwann cells harbor the somatic NF1 mutation in neurofibromas: evidence of two different Schwann cell subpopulations

Hum Mol Genet. 2000 Dec 12;9(20):3055-64. doi: 10.1093/hmg/9.20.3055.


Neurofibromas are one of the most characteristic features of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), an inherited autosomal-dominant neurogenetic disorder affecting 1 in 3500 individuals worldwide. These benign tumors mainly consist of Schwann cells (SCs) and fibroblasts. Recent evidence demonstrates that somatic mutations at the NF1 gene are found in neurofibromas, but it has not been demonstrated whether SCs, fibroblasts and/or both cell types bear a somatic loss of NF1. We recently established a cell culture system that allows selective expansion of human SCs from neurofibromas. We cultured pure populations of SCs and fibroblasts derived from 10 neurofibromas with characterized NF1 mutations and found that SCs but not fibroblasts harbored a somatic mutation at the NF1 locus in all studied tumors. Furthermore, by culturing neurofibroma-derived SCs under different in vitro conditions we were able to obtain two genetically distinct SC subpopulations: NF1(-/-) and NF1(+/-). These data strongly support the idea that NF1 mutations in SCs, but not in fibroblasts, correlate to neurofibroma formation and demonstrate that only a portion of SCs in neurofibromas have mutations in both NF1 alleles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Separation
  • Cell Size / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Colforsin / pharmacology
  • Fibroblasts / pathology
  • Fibroblasts / physiology
  • Genes, Neurofibromatosis 1*
  • Genotype
  • Germ-Line Mutation
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Neurofibroma / genetics*
  • Neurofibroma / pathology
  • Schwann Cells / pathology
  • Schwann Cells / physiology*


  • Colforsin