A previously unidentified group of progenitor cells in the cerebellum region of the mouse brain may naturally be more prone to developing into tumors rather than neurons, reports a paper published online this week in the journal Nature Neuroscience.
Zeng-jie Yang and colleagues discovered progenitors in the cerebellum of newborn mice that have a reduced ability to repair damage to their DNA. When cells with damaged DNA divide and create more cells, tumors can result. As such, these newly discovered progenitors-with their reduced capacity for DNA repair-may be more predisposed to developing tumors. These findings suggest that tumors may not only arise from outside factors that damage DNA, but they could also result from the natural properties of particular cells during development.