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Cancer Res. 2018 Mar 1;78(5):1266-1274. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-17-1718. Epub 2018 Jan 4.

Deletion of the von Hippel-Lindau Gene in Hemangioblasts Causes Hemangioblastoma-like Lesions in Murine Retina.

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Neuro-Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
Surgical Neurology Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
Department of Neurologic Surgery, University of Virginia Health System, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Department of Orthopedics, Xinqiao Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China.
National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
State Key Laboratory of Ophthalmology, Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China.
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
Neuro-Oncology Branch, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.
National Eye Institute, NIH, Bethesda, Maryland.


von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is an autosomal-dominant tumor predisposition syndrome characterized by the development of highly vascularized tumors and cysts. LOH of the VHL gene results in aberrant upregulation of hypoxia-inducible factors (HIF) and has been associated with tumor formation. Hemangioblastomas of the central nervous system and retina represent the most prevalent VHL-associated tumors, but no VHL animal model has reproduced retinal capillary hemangioblastomas (RCH), the hallmark lesion of ocular VHL. Here we report our work in developing a murine model of VHL-associated RCH by conditionally inactivating Vhl in a hemangioblast population using a Scl-Cre-ERT2 transgenic mouse line. In transgenic mice carrying the conditional allele and the Scl-Cre-ERT2 allele, 64% exhibited various retinal vascular anomalies following tamoxifen induction. Affected Vhl-mutant mice demonstrated retinal vascular lesions associated with prominent vasculature, anomalous capillary networks, hemorrhage, exudates, and localized fibrosis. Histologic analyses showed RCH-like lesions characterized by tortuous, dilated vasculature surrounded by "tumorlet" cell cluster and isolated foamy stromal cells, which are typically associated with RCH. Fluorescein angiography suggested increased vascular permeability of the irregular retinal vasculature and hemangioblastoma-like lesions. Vhl deletion was detected in "tumorlet" cells via microdissection. Our findings provide a phenotypic recapitulation of VHL-associated RCH in a murine model that may be useful to study RCH pathogenesis and therapeutics aimed at treating ocular VHL.Significance: This study describes a model that phenotypically recapitulates a form of retinal pathogenesis that is driven by genetic loss of the VHL tumor suppressor, providing a useful tool for its study and therapeutic intervention. Cancer Res; 78(5); 1266-74. ©2018 AACR.

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