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Open Access Research article

Evidence of perturbations of cell cycle and DNA repair pathways as a consequence of human and murine NF1-haploinsufficiency

Alexander Pemov1, Caroline Park2, Karlyne M Reilly3 and Douglas R Stewart1*

Author Affiliations

1 Genetic Disease Research Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, 20892, USA

2 Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, 10461, USA

3 National Cancer Institute at Frederick, Fort Detrick Building 50, Frederick, Maryland, 21702, USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:194  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-194

Published: 22 March 2010

Abstract

Background

Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common monogenic tumor-predisposition disorder that arises secondary to mutations in the tumor suppressor gene NF1. Haploinsufficiency of NF1 fosters a permissive tumorigenic environment through changes in signalling between cells, however the intracellular mechanisms for this tumor-promoting effect are less clear. Most primary human NF1+/- cells are a challenge to obtain, however lymphoblastoid cell lines (LCLs) have been collected from large NF1 kindreds. We hypothesized that the genetic effects of NF1-haploinsufficiency may be discerned by comparison of genome-wide transcriptional profiling in somatic, non-tumor cells (LCLs) from NF1-affected and -unaffected individuals. As a cross-species filter for heterogeneity, we compared the results from two human kindreds to whole-genome transcriptional profiling in spleen-derived B lymphocytes from age- and gender-matched Nf1+/- and wild-type mice, and used gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA), Onto-Express, Pathway-Express and MetaCore tools to identify genes perturbed in NF1-haploinsufficiency.

Results

We observed moderate expression of NF1 in human LCLs and of Nf1 in CD19+ mouse B lymphocytes. Using the t test to evaluate individual transcripts, we observed modest expression differences in the transcriptome in NF1-haploinsufficient LCLs and Nf1-haploinsuffiicient mouse B lymphocytes. However, GSEA, Onto-Express, Pathway-Express and MetaCore analyses identified genes that control cell cycle, DNA replication and repair, transcription and translation, and immune response as the most perturbed in NF1-haploinsufficient conditions in both human and mouse.

Conclusions

Haploinsufficiency arises when loss of one allele of a gene is sufficient to give rise to disease. Haploinsufficiency has traditionally been viewed as a passive state. Our observations of perturbed, up-regulated cell cycle and DNA repair pathways may functionally contribute to NF1-haploinsufficiency as an "active state" that ultimately promotes the loss of the wild-type allele.