Roughly half of all high-risk neuroblastoma patients present with MYCN amplification. The molecular consequences of MYCN overexpression in this aggressive pediatric tumor have been studied for decades, but thus far, our understanding of the early initiating steps of MYCN-driven tumor formation is still enigmatic. We performed a detailed transcriptome landscaping during murine TH-MYCN-driven neuroblastoma tumor formation at different time points. The neuroblastoma dependency factor MEIS2, together with ASCL1, was identified as a candidate tumor-initiating factor and shown to be a novel core regulatory circuit member in adrenergic neuroblastomas. Of further interest, we found a KEOPS complex member (gm6890), implicated in homologous double-strand break repair and telomere maintenance, to be strongly upregulated during tumor formation, as well as the checkpoint adaptor Claspin (CLSPN) and three chromosome 17q loci CBX2, GJC1 and LIMD2. Finally, cross-species master regulator analysis identified FOXM1, together with additional hubs controlling transcriptome profiles of MYCN-driven neuroblastoma. In conclusion, time-resolved transcriptome analysis of early hyperplastic lesions and full-blown MYCN-driven neuroblastomas yielded novel components implicated in both tumor initiation and maintenance, providing putative novel drug targets for MYCN-driven neuroblastoma.
Keywords: MYCN; mouse model; neuroblastoma; transcriptome analysis.