F Zindy, T Uziel, O Ayrault, C Calabrese, M Valentine, JE Rehg, RJ Gilbertson, CJ Sherr, MF Roussel
Mice lacking p53 and one or two alleles of the cyclin D-dependent kinase inhibitor p18(Ink4c) are prone to medulloblastoma development. The tumor frequency is increased by exposing postnatal animals to ionizing radiation at a time when their cerebella are developing. In irradiated mice engineered to express a floxed p53 allele and a Nestin-Cre transgene, tumor development can be restricted to the brain. Analysis of these animals indicated that inactivation of one or both Ink4c alleles did not affect the time of medulloblastoma onset but increased tumor invasiveness. All such tumors exhibited complete loss of function of the Patched 1 (Ptc1) gene encoding the receptor for sonic hedgehog, and many exhibited other recurrent genetic alterations, including trisomy of chromosome 6, amplification of N-Myc, modest increases in copy number of the Ccnd1 gene encoding cyclin D1, and other complex chromosomal rearrangements. In contrast, medulloblastomas arising in Ptc1(+/-) mice lacking one or both Ink4c alleles retained p53 function and exhibited only limited genomic instability. Nonetheless, complete inactivation of the wild-type Ptc1 allele was a universal event, and trisomy of chromosome 6 was again frequent. The enforced expression of N-Myc or cyclin D1 in primary cerebellar granule neuron precursors isolated from Ink4c(-/-), p53(-/-) mice enabled the cells to initiate medulloblastomas when injected back into the brains of immunocompromised recipient animals. These "engineered" tumors exhibited gene expression profiles indistinguishable from those of medulloblastomas that arose spontaneously. These results underscore the functional interplay between a network of specific genes that recurrently contribute to medulloblastoma formation.