Loss of patched and disruption of granule cell development in a pre-neoplastic stage of medulloblastoma

Trudy G. Oliver, Tracy Ann Read, Jessica D. Kessler, Anriada Mehmeti, Jonathan F. Wells, Trang T.T. Huynh, Simon M. Lin, Robert J. Wechsler-Reya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

208 Scopus citations


Medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor in children. It is thought to resullt from the transformation of granule cell precursors (GCPs) in the developing cerebellum, but little is known about the early stages of the disease. Here, we identify a pre-neoplastic stage of medulloblastoma in patched heterozygous mice, a model of the human disease. We show that pre-neoplastic cells are present in the majority of patched mutants, although only 16% of these mice develop tumors. Pre-neoplastic cells, like tumor cells, exhibit activation of the Sonic hedgehog pathway and constitutive proliferation. Importantly, they also lack expression of the wild-type patched allele, suggesting that loss of patched is an early event in tumorigenesis. Although pre-neoplastic cells resemble GCPs and tumor cells in many respects, they have a distinct molecular signature. Genes that mark the pre-neoplastic stage include regulators of migration, apoptosis and differentiation, processes crucial for normal development but previously unrecognized for their role in medulloblastoma. The identification and molecular characterization of pre-neoplastic cells provides insight into the early steps in medulloblastoma formation, and may yield important markers for early detection and therapy of this disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2425-2439
Number of pages15
Issue number10
StatePublished - May 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Braim tumor
  • Differentiation
  • Hedgehog
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Migration
  • Mouse
  • Patched
  • Pre-neoplastic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology


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