News Story

Understanding the Impact of Co-existing Genetic Mutations on Optic Glioma Growth

Aparna News
One of the most common tumors seen in children with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is the optic pathway glioma, a low-grade tumor that forms within the nerve carrying vision from the eyes to the brain. While most of these tumors are caused by mutations in the NF1 gene, rare optic pathway gliomas may also harbor additional genetic mutations. The two most frequently reported involve the BRAF and PTEN genes.
To determine the importance of these co-existing genetic mutations on optic glioma growth, Aparna Kaul PhD, a post-doctoral fellow in Dr. David Gutmann’s laboratory in the Washington University NF Center, used genetically-engineered mouse models. While BRAF alterations had little effect on mouse optic glioma growth, the combination of PTEN and NF1 gene mutations resulted in a more aggressive brain tumor. These mouse optic gliomas were larger and grew faster.
Future studies are currently aimed at identifying better treatments for these types of brain tumors with multiple genetic mutations.
Kaul A, Toonen JA, Gianino SM, Gutmann DH. The impact of coexisting genetic mutations on murine optic glioma biology. Neuro Oncol. 10.1093/neuonc/neu2014ou287, 2014.