The developmental origin of brain tumours: a cellular and molecular framework.

17 Jul 2018

The development of the nervous system relies on the coordinated regulation of stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. The discovery that brain tumours contain a subpopulation of cells with stem/progenitor characteristics that are capable of sustaining tumour growth has emphasized the importance of understanding the cellular dynamics and the molecular pathways regulating neural stem cell behaviour. By focusing on recent work on glioma and medulloblastoma, we review how lineage tracing contributed to dissecting the embryonic origin of brain tumours and how lineage-specific mechanisms that regulate stem cell behaviour in the embryo may be subverted in cancer to achieve uncontrolled proliferation and suppression of differentiation.