Clinically aggressive meningiomas linked to single gene

Wednesday 4 April 2018

A recent study discovered that a protein, called FOXM1, is responsible for clinically aggressive meningiomas

Almost a quarter of all primary brain tumours in adults are meningiomas. They are tumours that arise from the meninges, which are layers of tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

While the majority of meningiomas are slow growing, approximately 15-20% are aggressive and can recur following treatment. The reasons for tumour recurrence are unknown, and there are currently no effective treatments for aggressive meningiomas, making it essential to improve our understanding of this tumour type.

Research led by a team at the University of California San Francisco and California State University Channel Islands has uncovered a genetic driver associated with clinically aggressive meningiomas.

This genetic driver is a transcription factor called FOXM1. Transcription factors are special proteins that help ensure that the right genes are expressed in the right cells of the body at the right time. They do this by binding to DNA near the gene and turn it “on” of “off”.

The researchers analysed 280 transcription factors from 261 tumour samples gathered from individuals with meningiomas. They discovered that more aggressive meningiomas had higher than normal amounts of FOXM1.

Previous research has found the FOXM1 turns on genes that are responsible for cell growth and division. Thus, increased amounts of FOXM1 causes more cell growth and division, which results in the development of aggressive tumours.

"The identification of FOXM1 as a master transcription factor for meningioma proliferation provides a potential molecular target with prognostic and therapeutic significance,” said Dr Daniel Raleigh, senior co-author of the study.

This discovery could help the development of more effective treatments, and help healthcare professionals better distinguish between slow-growing and aggressive meningiomas.

To learn more about meningiomas and research into this tumour type, read Dr Gelareh Zadeh's project to target clinically challenging meningiomas.

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