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Sonic hedgehog accelerates DNA replication to cause replication stress promoting cancer initiation in medulloblastoma

Tamayo-Orrego L, Gallo D, Racicot F, Bemmo A, Mohan S, Ho B, Salameh S, Hoang T, Jackson AP, Brown GW, Charron F

The mechanisms generating cancer-initiating mutations are not well understood. Sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway activation is frequent in medulloblastoma (MB), with PTCH1 mutations being a common initiating event. Here we investigated the role of the developmental mitogen SHH in initiating carcinogenesis in the cells of origin: granule cell progenitors (GCPs). We delineate a molecular mechanism for tumor initiation in MB. Exposure of GCPs to Shh causes a distinct form of DNA replication stress, increasing both origin firing and fork velocity. Shh promotes DNA helicase loading and activation, with increased Cdc7-dependent origin firing. The S-phase duration is reduced and hyper-recombination occurs, causing copy number neutral loss of heterozygosity—a frequent event at the PTCH1/ptch1 locus. Moreover, Cdc7 inhibition to attenuate origin firing reduces recombination and preneoplastic tumor formation in mice. Therefore, tissue-specific replication stress induced by Shh promotes loss of heterozygosity, which in tumor-prone Ptch1+/− GCPs results in loss of this tumor suppressor—an early cancer-initiating event.

Nature Cancer 2020;1(8):840-854.

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