Genes & development
Alternate Journal
Genes Dev.

Identification of common mechanisms underlying organ development and primary tumor formation should yield new insights into tumor biology and facilitate the generation of relevant cancer models. We have developed a novel method to project the gene expression profiles of medulloblastomas (MBs)--human cerebellar tumors--onto a mouse cerebellar development sequence: postnatal days 1-60 (P1-P60). Genomically, human medulloblastomas were closest to mouse P1-P10 cerebella, and normal human cerebella were closest to mouse P30-P60 cerebella. Furthermore, metastatic MBs were highly associated with mouse P5 cerebella, suggesting that a clinically distinct subset of tumors is identifiable by molecular similarity to a precise developmental stage. Genewise, down- and up-regulated MB genes segregate to late and early stages of development, respectively. Comparable results for human lung cancer vis-a-vis the developing mouse lung suggest the generalizability of this multiscalar developmental perspective on tumor biology. Our findings indicate both a recapitulation of tissue-specific developmental programs in diverse solid tumors and the utility of tumor characterization on the developmental time axis for identifying novel aspects of clinical and biological behavior.

Kho AT, Zhao Q, Cai Z, Butte AJ, Kim JYH, Pomeroy SL, Rowitch DH, Kohane IS. Conserved mechanisms across development and tumorigenesis revealed by a mouse development perspective of human cancers. Genes & development. 2004;18(6):629-40.