The role of deregulated E2F1 expression in brain tumors

Melissa Vinores Olson, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Mutations disabling the retinoblastoma (Rb) pathway are among the most common in human cancers, including brain cancer. These mutations promote tumor development through deregulated control of the E2F family of transcription factors. E2F1 belongs to a class of E2F's identified as transcriptional activators and involved in the G1/S phase transition of the cell. However, E2F-1 presents with a paradox as it is considered to have membership in two gene classes, functioning as both an oncogene and a tumor suppressor. This unusual trait generates a degree of uncertainty on the role that E2F1 plays in the development or maintenance of any given tumor. Here we show that E2F1 functions as an oncogene in brain tumors through the generation of mice engineered to overexpress E2F1 specifically within glial cells and neuronal progenitors as directed by the GFAP promoter. Mice carrying the transgene develop with high penetrance a phenotype characterized by neurological deficits including paresia, ataxia, head tilt and seizures. MRI imagining of the tgE2F1 mice reveals a low incidence of mild hydrocephalus, and most notably, histological analysis demonstrates that 25% of tgE2F1 mice present with the spontaneous formation of malignant brain tumors. Overall these neoplasms show histological features from a wide range of aggressive brain cancers including medulloblastoma, choroid plexus carcinoma, primary neuroectodermic tumor and malignant gliomas. Isolation and characterization of astrocytes from the tgE2F1 animal reveals a highly proliferative population of cells with 55% ± 2.5 of the tgE2F1astrocytes, 35% ± 3.4 normal mouse astrocytes in S-phase and the acquired capacity to grow in anchorage independent conditions. Additionally tgE2F1 astrocytes show an aberrant phenotype with random chromosomal fusions and nearly all cells demonstrating polyploidy. Taken together, this model forces a comparison to human brain tumor formation. Mouse age as related to tumoral mimics the human scenario with juvenile tgE2F1 mice presenting embryonal tumors typically identified in children, and older tgE2F1 mice demonstrating gliomas. In this regard, this study suggests a global role for E2F1 in the formation and maintenance of multilineage brain tumors, irrefutably establishing E2F1 as an oncogene in the brain.

Subject Area

Cellular biology|Neurology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Olson, Melissa Vinores, "The role of deregulated E2F1 expression in brain tumors" (2006). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3209531.