Background: Brain tumors are the most common solid tumors of childhood, but little is understood about the factors that influence their development. Pediatric low-grade gliomas in particular display unique temporal and spatial localization associated with different genetic mutations (eg, BRAF genomic alterations, mutations in the neurofibromatosis type 1 [NF1] gene) for reasons that remain unclear. NF1 low-grade gliomas typically arise in the optic pathway of young children as optic pathway gliomas (OPGs), likely from a cell of origin that resides within the third ventricular zone (TVZ). However, the factors that contribute to their distinct temporal patterning and penetrance have not been adequately explored. Methods: TVZ neuroglial progenitor cells (NPCs) were analyzed over the course of mouse brain development. Progenitors isolated by fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) were assessed for functional and molecular differences. The impact of different germline Nf1 mutations on TVZ NPC properties was analyzed using genetically engineered mice. Results: We identify 3 individual factors that could each contribute to Nf1 optic glioma temporal patterning and penetrance. First, there are 3 functionally and molecularly distinct populations of mouse TVZ NPCs, one of which ("M"cells) exhibits the highest clonogenic incidence, proliferation, and abundance during embryogenesis. Second, TVZ NPC proliferation dramatically decreases after birth. Third, germline Nf1 mutations differentially increase TVZ NPC proliferation during embryogenesis. Conclusions: The unique temporal patterning and penetrance of Nf1 optic glioma reflects the combined effects of TVZ NPC population composition, time-dependent changes in progenitor proliferation, and the differential impact of the germline Nf1 mutation on TVZ NPC expansion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)625-637
Number of pages13
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • germline mutation
  • gliomagenesis
  • neurofibromatosis
  • pediatric brain tumor
  • third ventricle


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