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Am J Pathol. 2003 Jan;162(1):343-52.

Null mutation of DNA strand break-binding molecule poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase causes medulloblastomas in p53(-/-) mice.

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International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), Lyon, France.


Medulloblastoma is an invasive embryonal tumor of the cerebellum with predominant neuronal differentiation. Although several genes have been implicated in medulloblasoma formation, such as Patched (Ptc1) and the adenomatous polyposis coli gene (Apc), the majority of these tumors cannot be explained by mutations in these genes. The cellular origin as well as the genetic and molecular changes involved in the genesis and progression of human medulloblastomas remain largely unknown. Here we show that disruption of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP-1) causes a high incidence (49%) of aggressive brain tumors in p53 null mice, with typical features of human cerebellar medulloblastomas. At as early as 8 weeks of age, lesions started on the outer surface of the cerebellum from remnant granule cell precursors of the developmental external germinal layer. Progression of these tumors is associated with the re-activation of the neuronal specific transcription factor Math1, dysregulation of Shh/Ptc1 signaling pathway, and chromosomal aberrations, including triradial and quadriradial chromosomes. The present study indicates that the loss of function of DNA double-strand break-sensing and repair molecules is an etiological factor in the evolution of the cerebellar medulloblastomas. These PARP-1/p53 double null mice represent a novel model for the pathogenesis of human medulloblastomas.

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