News Story

New Cell of Origin for Optic Gliomas Identified

Children with Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) are prone to the development of low-grade brain tumors affecting the nerve carrying vision to the brain, called the optic nerve. Where these tumors come from has been a matter of scientific debate. Using new genetic modeling strategies, recent studies indicate that optic gliomas can arise from two different cell types.
Anne Solga, PhD, a former graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. David Gutmann, working with her colleagues in the NF Center and the University of California-San Diego, now report that optic gliomas develop from both neural stem cells and progenitor cells. Using novel genetically-engineered mouse strains, she found that loss of Nf1 expression in neural stem cells leads to optic glioma formation by 3 months of age. In striking contrast, Nf1 loss in progenitor cells, called pre-oligodendrocyte precursor cells (pre-OPCs), causes optic gliomas to form nearly 3 months later (at 6 months of age).
These findings demonstrate that the specific cell of origin is one factor that determines when optic gliomas will form. Importantly, Dr. Solga showed that pre-OPCs do not arise from neural stem cells, indicating two separate paths to tumor formation exist.
This work appears in the journal Oncotarget.
Solga AC, Toonen JA, Pan Y, Cimino PJ, Ma Y, Castillon GA, Gianino SM, Ellisman MH, Lee DY, Gutmann DH. The cell of origin dictates the temporal course of neurofibromatosis-1 (NF1) low-grade glioma formation. Oncotarget. 2017 May 3. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.17589. PMID: 28525381