Swartling FJ, Čančer M, Frantz A, Weishaupt H, Persson AI
Cell Tissue Res. 359 (1) 225-254 [2015-01-00; online 2014-11-23]
Neurogenesis, the generation of new neurons, is deregulated in neural stem cell (NSC)- and progenitor-derived murine models of malignant medulloblastoma and glioma, the most common brain tumors of children and adults, respectively. Molecular characterization of human malignant brain tumors, and in particular brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs), has identified neurodevelopmental transcription factors, microRNAs, and epigenetic factors known to inhibit neuronal and glial differentiation. We are starting to understand how these factors are regulated by the major oncogenic drivers in malignant brain tumors. In this review, we will focus on the molecular switches that block normal neuronal differentiation and induce brain tumor formation. Genetic or pharmacological manipulation of these switches in BTSCs has been shown to restore the ability of tumor cells to differentiate. We will discuss potential brain tumor therapies that will promote differentiation in order to reduce treatment resistance, suppress tumor growth, and prevent recurrence in patients.