A mouse model recapitulating molecular features of human mesothelioma

Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 15;65(18):8090-5. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-05-2312.


Malignant mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure and generally has a poor prognosis because it is often diagnosed in advanced stages and is refractory to conventional therapy. Human malignant mesotheliomas accumulate multiple somatic genetic alterations, including inactivation of the NF2 and CDKN2A/ARF tumor suppressor genes. To better understand the significance of NF2 inactivation in malignant mesothelioma and identify tumor suppressor gene alterations that cooperate with NF2 loss of function in malignant mesothelioma pathogenesis, we treated Nf2 (+/-) knockout mice with asbestos to induce malignant mesotheliomas. Asbestos-exposed Nf2 (+/-) mice exhibited markedly accelerated malignant mesothelioma tumor formation compared with asbestos-treated wild-type (WT) littermates. Loss of the WT Nf2 allele, leading to biallelic inactivation, was observed in all nine asbestos-induced malignant mesotheliomas from Nf2 (+/-) mice and in 50% of malignant mesotheliomas from asbestos-exposed WT mice. For a detailed comparison with the murine model, DNA analyses were also done on a series of human malignant mesothelioma samples. Remarkably, similar to human malignant mesotheliomas, tumors from Nf2 (+/-) mice showed frequent homologous deletions of the Cdkn2a/Arf locus and adjacent Cdkn2b tumor suppressor gene, as well as reciprocal inactivation of Tp53 in a subset of tumors that retained the Arf locus. As in the human disease counterpart, malignant mesotheliomas from the Nf2 (+/-) mice also showed frequent activation of Akt kinase, which plays a central role in tumorigenesis and therapeutic resistance. Thus, this murine model of environmental carcinogenesis faithfully recapitulates many of the molecular features of human malignant mesothelioma and has significant implications for the further characterization of malignant mesothelioma pathogenesis and preclinical testing of novel therapeutic modalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite
  • Cocarcinogenesis
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Genes, Neurofibromatosis 2 / physiology
  • Genes, p53 / genetics
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Mesothelioma / chemically induced
  • Mesothelioma / genetics*
  • Mesothelioma / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF / genetics


  • Tumor Suppressor Protein p14ARF
  • Asbestos, Crocidolite