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Neoplasia. 2003 May-Jun;5(3):198-204. doi: 10.1016/S1476-5586(03)80052-0.

c-Myc enhances sonic hedgehog-induced medulloblastoma formation from nestin-expressing neural progenitors in mice.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Utah School of Medicine and Huntsman Cancer Institute, Salt Lake City, UT 84132, USA.


Medulloblastomas are malignant brain tumors that arise in the cerebella of children. The presumed cells-of-origin are undifferentiated precursors of granule neurons that occupy the external granule layer (EGL) of the developing cerebellum. The overexpression of proteins that normally stimulate proliferation of neural progenitor cells may initiate medulloblastoma formation. Two known mitogens for neural progenitors are the c-Myc oncoprotein and Sonic hedgehog (Shh), a crucial determinant of embryonic pattern formation in the central nervous system. We modeled the ability of c-Myc and Shh to induce medulloblastoma in mice using the RCAS/tv-a system, which allows postnatal gene transfer and expression in a cell type-specific manner. We targeted the expression of Shh and c-Myc to nestin-expressing neural progenitor cells by injecting replication-competent ALV splice acceptor (RCAS) vectors into the cerebella of newborn mice. Following injection with RCAS-Shh alone, 3/32 (9%) mice developed medulloblastomas and 5/32 showed multifocal hyperproliferation of the EGL, possibly a precursor stage of medulloblastoma. Following injection with RCAS-Shh plus RCAS-Myc, 9/39 (23%) mice developed medulloblastomas. We conclude that nestin-expressing neural progenitors, present in the cerebellum at birth, can act as the cells-of-origin for medulloblastoma, and that c-Myc cooperates with Shh to enhance tumorigenicity.

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