DMA repair is a fundamental process central to the survival and homeostasis of an organism. The developing nervous system is particularly susceptible to DNA damage and brain tumors can result from defective DNA repair. Brain tumors are the most common solid malignancy in children under 16 years of age and constitute about 20% of all pediatric cancer. Of these, medulloblastoma is the most common malignant brain tumor. During the previous funding cycle we generated novel mouse models of medulloblastoma that resulted from defective DNA repair. Molecular and cytogenetic analyses of the medulloblastomas revealed a remarkable uniformity in the genetic lesions that are present, many of which are also features of the human disease. These data highlight the utility of the mouse models for understanding the molecular basis of human medulloblastoma. In the current application we will expand these studies to investigate the importance of the DNA damage response as a barrier to medulloblastoma formation in Ptch1*'~ mice. We have also developed additional DNA repair deficient mice that target specific DNA strand-break repair pathways, which we will utilize to generate novel brain tumor models. These new tumor models will be important for further delineating the defining molecular events that occur during tumorigenesis in the nervous system. Finally, we will determine the utility of manipulating the DNA damage response as a means to enhance brain tumor therapy. Together, these experiments will expand our understanding of genotoxic stress responses and neural homeostasis, and will have significance for establishing the etiology of brain tumors. Furthermore, this work will also be important for providing a rational basis for designing novel therapeutic approaches for the treatment of these tumors. The successful completion of these goals will result from integration of our research efforts with those of the other members of this program.

Public Health Relevance

Brain tumors are the most common solid malignancy in children under 16 years of age and constitute about 20% of all pediatric cancer. A main goal of this proposal is to understand how the process of responding to DNA damage in the nervous system actively prevents brain tumors. We will also determine the utility of inhibiting the response to DNA damage in brain tumors as an improved method for the treatment of brain tumors.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Program Projects (P01)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZCA1-GRB-S)
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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
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