Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is a common autosomal dominant cancer predisposition syndrome, in which 15% to 20% of affected individuals develop astrocytomas. Neurofibromin, the protein product of the NF1 gene, functions as a tumor suppressor, largely by inhibiting Ras activity. While loss of neurofibromin has been implicated in the molecular pathogenesis of other NF1-associated tumors, there is no formal evidence demonstrating loss of neurofibromin function in NF1-associated astrocytomas. In this report, we describe an NF1 patient from whom both astrocytoma tumor tissue as well as corresponding non-neoplastic white matter were available for analysis. Loss of neurofibromin expression was observed in the tumor and was associated with elevated levels of Ras-GTP. However, elevated Ras-GTP levels were not the result of oncogenic Ras mutations, altered p120-GAP function, growth factor receptor activation, or abnormal p53, Rb, or p16 expression. Furthermore, increased Raf-MAPK and PI3-K/Akt activity was detected in the NF1 astrocytoma compared with the corresponding normal white matter. These results support a role for neurofibromin as the critical GAP in the molecular pathogenesis of NF1 astrocytomas.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)759-767
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2000


  • Astrocytoma
  • NF1
  • Neurofibromin
  • Ras
  • Signal transduction
  • Tumor suppressor gene


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