Although Notch signaling has been widely implicated in neoplastic growth, direct evidence for in vivo initiation of neoplasia by the pathway in murine models has been limited to tumors of lymphoid, breast, and choroid plexus cells. To examine tumorigenic potential in the eye and brain, we injected retroviruses encoding activated forms of Notch1, Notch2, or Notch3 into embryonic mice. Interestingly, the majority of animals infected with active Notch3 developed proliferative lesions comprised of pigmented ocular choroid cells, retinal and optic nerve glia, and lens epithelium. Notch3-induced lesions in the choroid, retina, and optic nerve were capable of invading adjacent tissues, suggesting that they were malignant tumors. Although Notch3 activation induced choroidal tumors in up to 67% of eyes, Notch1 or Notch2 activation never resulted in such tumors. Active forms of Notch1 and Notch2 did generate a few small proliferative glial nodules in the retina and optic nerve, whereas Notch3 was 10-fold more efficient at generating growths, many of which were large invasive gliomas. Expression of active Notch1/Notch3 chimeric receptors implicated the RBPjk-association molecule and transactivation domains of Notch3 in generating choroidal and glial tumors, respectively. In contrast to our findings in the optic nerve and retina, introduction of active Notch receptors, including Notch3, into the brain never caused glial tumors. Our results highlight the differential ability of Notch receptor paralogs to initiate malignant tumor formation, and suggest that glial precursors of the optic nerve, but not the brain, are susceptible to transformation by Notch3.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research