Tumor suppressor mutations and growth factor signaling in the pathogenesis of NF1-associated peripheral nerve sheath tumors: II. The role of dysregulated growth factor signaling

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2005 Jan;64(1):1-9. doi: 10.1093/jnen/64.1.1.


Patients with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), one of the most common genetic disease affecting the nervous system, develop multiple neurofibromas that can transform into aggressive sarcomas known as malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors (MPNSTs). Studies of human tumors and newly developed transgenic mouse models indicate that Schwann cells are the primary neoplastic cell type in neurofibromas and MPNSTs and that development of these peripheral nerve sheath tumors involves mutations of multiple tumor suppressor genes. However, it is widely held that tumor suppressor mutations alone are not sufficient to induce peripheral nerve sheath tumor formation and that dysregulated growth factor signaling cooperates with these mutations to promote neurofibroma and MPNST tumorigenesis. In Part I of this review, we discussed findings demonstrating that a loss of NF1 tumor suppressor gene function in neoplastic Schwann cells is a key early step in neurofibroma formation and that progression from neurofibroma to MPNST is associated with abnormalities of additional tumor suppressor genes, including p53, INK4A, andp27(kip1). In Part II of this review, we consider evidence that dysregulated signaling by specific growth factors and growth factor receptors promotes the proliferation, migration, and survival of neoplastic Schwann cells in neurofibromas and MPNSTs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Growth Factor / genetics
  • Nerve Growth Factor / physiology*
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Nerve Sheath Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / genetics*
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / metabolism
  • Neurofibromatosis 1 / pathology
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • Nerve Growth Factor