Wu created the mouse model with two of her graduate students, Caroline Gregorian and Jonathan Nakashima, co-first authors of this paper. It was created by altering two cell signaling pathways that are commonly activated in peripheral and central nervous system cancers, the RAS/RAF/MAPK & PTEN/P13K/AKT pathways, known to regulate cell proliferation, survival and differentiation.
"When we began to generate mouse models to mimic different human cancers, we usually did gene-based analysis to see the relevance of a specific gene in the development of the cancer," Wu said. "But we realize that sometimes targeting the cell signaling pathways that organize and instruct cells to function, both for normal functions of our body and also in abnormal ways in disease, are more important and informative than the individual gene"
The mouse model developed benign neurofibromas, but then progressed to the deadly sub-type of sarcoma. The neurofibromas had half the normal levels of PTEN and the sarcomas had a complete loss of PTEN. Since PTEN is an important factor in suppressing cells from becoming malignant, this could provide an explanation for the sequence of the normal cells transforming into benign neurofibromas that could then transform into cancer.
Wondering if this was also the case in people, Dr. Wu collaborated with Eilber and pathologist Dr. Sarah Dry, director of the Institute of Molecular Medicine's Pathway Pathology Center, and a multidisciplinary team of physician-scientists to determine if people with this sarcoma sub-type also had little or no PTEN.
"This type of collaboration is the hallmark of the work at the Jonsson Cancer Center a
|Contact: Kim Irwin|
University of California - Los Angeles