Malignant astrocytomas originate from neural stem/progenitor cells in a somatic tumor suppressor mouse model

Cancer Cell. 2009 Jan 6;15(1):45-56. doi: 10.1016/j.ccr.2008.12.006.


Malignant astrocytomas are infiltrative and incurable brain tumors. Despite profound therapeutic implications, the identity of the cell (or cells) of origin has not been rigorously determined. We previously reported mouse models based on conditional inactivation of the human astrocytoma-relevant tumor suppressors p53, Nf1, and Pten, wherein through somatic loss of heterozygosity, mutant mice develop tumors with 100% penetrance. In the present study, we show that tumor suppressor inactivation in neural stem/progenitor cells is both necessary and sufficient to induce astrocytoma formation. We demonstrate in vivo that transformed cells and their progeny undergo infiltration and multilineage differentiation during tumorigenesis. Tumor suppressor heterozygous neural stem/progenitor cultures from presymptomatic mice show aberrant growth advantage and altered differentiation, thus identifying a pretumorigenic cell population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae / genetics
  • Aging / physiology
  • Animals
  • Astrocytoma / metabolism*
  • Astrocytoma / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics
  • Integrases / genetics
  • Integrases / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism*
  • Survival Rate
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / metabolism*


  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Cre recombinase
  • Integrases