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Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive, fatal tumor strongly associated with asbestos exposure. There is an urgent need to improve MM patient outcomes and this requires functionally validated pre-clinical models. Mesothelioma-derived cell lines provide an essential and relatively robust tool and remain among the most widely used systems for candidate drug evaluation.
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Malignant mesothelioma is a highly aggressive, asbestos-related cancer frequently marked by mutations of both NF2 and CDKN2A. We demonstrate that germline knockout of one allele of each of these genes causes accelerated onset and progression of asbestos-induced malignant mesothelioma compared with asbestos-exposed Nf2(+/-) or wild-type mice. Ascites from some Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice exhibited large tumor spheroids, and tail vein injections of malignant mesothelioma cells established from these mice, but not from Nf2(+/-) or wild-type mice, produced numerous tumors in the lung, suggesting increased metastatic potential of tumor cells from Nf2(+/-);Cdkn2a(+/-) mice.

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Malignant mesothelioma has been linked to asbestos exposure and generally has a poor prognosis because it is often diagnosed in advanced stages and is refractory to conventional therapy. Human malignant mesotheliomas accumulate multiple somatic genetic alterations, including inactivation of the NF2 and CDKN2A/ARF tumor suppressor genes. To better understand the significance of NF2 inactivation in malignant mesothelioma and identify tumor suppressor gene alterations that cooperate with NF2 loss of function in malignant mesothelioma pathogenesis, we treated Nf2 (+/-) knockout mice with asbestos to induce malignant mesotheliomas.

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Human malignant mesothelioma (HMM) is an aggressive malignancy mainly caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. Here we investigated tumor suppressor genes in mesothelioma cells from tumoral ascites developed in mice exposed to asbestos (asb) fibers and in 12 HMM cell cultures. Mutations in Nf2, p16/Cdkn2a, p19/Arf and Trp53 genes and protein expression of p15/Cdkn2b and Cdk4 were analyzed in 12 cultures from mice hemizygous for Nf2 (asb-Nf2(KO3/+)) and 4 wild type counterparts (asb-Nf2(+/+)).

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The neurofibromatosis 2 (NF2) tumor suppressor gene was recently implicated in the genesis of human mesothelioma. To investigate the role of this tumor suppressor gene in rat asbestos-induced mesothelioma, a commonly used model for the human disease, we characterized the rat homologue of NF2 and examined rat chrysotile-induced primary mesotheliomas and cell lines derived from chrysotile- and crocidolite-induced mesotheliomas for alterations in this gene. The coding sequence obtained for the rat NF2 gene had 90% nucleotide homology with the human NF2 gene.

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