In astrocytic neoplasms, the number of cells expressing glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is inversely proportional to the extent of anaplasia. The loss of GFAP expression, the principal marker of astroglial cells, in these tumors has been proposed to constitute a step in their development and progression. To test this hypothesis, we crossed p53-negative (p53-/-) mice, which frequently develop astrocytomas after intrauterine exposure to ethylnitrosourea, with GFAP-negative (GFAP-/-) mice or GFAP+/+ controls. Brain tumors of glial origin were found in 12 of 35 GFAP+/+ p53-/- mice (34%) and in 11 of 27 GFAP-/- p53-/- mice (41%). The two groups did not differ in the age at which tumors were detected or in tumor histology or progression. Thus, the loss of GFAP expression frequently seen in high-grade astrocytomas does not constitute a step in tumor development. Rather, it may represent the undifferentiated state of these cells.
- Gene targeting
- Glial fibrillary acidic protein
- Intermediate filaments