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Neoplasia. 2005 Apr;7(4):397-406.

The characteristics of astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas are caused by two distinct and interchangeable signaling formats.

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  • 1Department of Surgery (Neurosurgery), Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY 10021, USA.


Chronic platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF) signaling in glial progenitors leads to the formation of oligodendrogliomas in mice, whereas chronic combined Ras and Akt signaling leads to astrocytomas. Different histologies of these tumors imply that the pathways activated by these two oncogenic stimulations are different, and that the apparent lineage of the tumor cells may result from specific signaling activity. Therefore, we have investigated the signaling effects of PDGF in culture and in gliomas in vivo. In culture, PDGF transiently activates ERK1/2 and Akt, and subsequently elevates p21 and PCNA expression similar to chronic PDGF autocrine signaling in cultured astrocytes and PDGF-induced oligodendrogliomas in vivo. Culture experiments show that autocrine PDGF stimulation, and combined active Ras and Akt generate signaling patterns that are in some ways mutually exclusive. Furthermore, forced Akt activity in the context of chronic PDGF stimulation results in cells with an astrocytic differentiation pattern both in culture and in vivo. These data imply that these two interconvertible signaling motifs are distinct in mice and lead to gliomas resembling the two major glioma histologies found in humans. The ability of signaling activity to convert tumor cells from one lineage to another presents a mechanism for the development of tumors apparently comprised of cells from multiple lineages.

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