Object: The neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2) gene is the only tumor suppressor gene that has been clearly implicated in the development of benign meningiomas. Interestingly, previous data obtained by the authors indicate that reduced NF2 protein expression seldom occurs in meningothelial meningiomas, the most common histological type of meningioma. The goal of the current study was to explore further the hypothesis of NF2 gene-independent tumorigenesis of meningothelial meningiomas.
Methods: The authors performed a mutational analysis of all 17 exons of the NF2 gene by using single-stranded conformational polymorphism (SSCP). In addition, expression levels of the NF2 protein and mu-calpain, a protease suggested to inactivate the NF2 protein, were determined by immunoblotting analysis of 27 meningiomas (20 meningothelial and seven nonmeningothelial). Mutations of the NF2 gene were found in only one (5%) of 20 meningothelial meningiomas and three (43%) of seven nonmeningothelial tumors (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.042). The levels of NF2 protein were severely reduced in six (28.5%) of 21 meningothelial meningiomas, in contrast to six (86%) of seven nonmeningothelial meningiomas (Fisher's exact test, p = 0.023). Activation of IL-calpain did not correlate with the status of NF2 protein expression in the meningiomas analyzed, demonstrating that mu-calpain activation does not account for the loss of NF2 protein in meningiomas with apparently normal NF2 genes.
Conclusions: These results clearly demonstrate that NF2 gene mutations and decreased NF2 protein expression rarely occur in meningothelial meningiomas compared with other histological types of meningiomas. The clinical behavior of meningothelial meningiomas, however, is similar to that of other benign meningiomas. It is likely, therefore, that the tumorigenesis of meningothelial meningiomas is the result of deleterious alterations of genes that have final phenotypical effects similar to inactivation of the NF2 gene.