Hermine Mohr and Natalia S Pellegata. (20-11-2017).

Bioscientifica Ltd.2017, DOI: 10.1530/ERC-17-0249


Research Area B


Animal models of cancer have been instrumental in advancing our understanding of the biology of tumor initiation and progression, in studying gene function and in performing preclinical studies aimed at testing novel therapies. Several animal models of the MEN1 syndrome have been generated in different organisms by introducing loss-of-function mutations in the orthologues of the human MEN1 gene. In this review, we will discuss MEN1 and MEN1-like models in Drosophila, mice and rats. These model systems with their specific advantages and limitations have contributed to elucidate the function of Menin in tumorigenesis, which turned out to be remarkably conserved from flies to mammals, as well as the biology of the disease. Mouse models of MEN1 closely resemble the human disease in terms of tumor spectrum and associated hormonal changes, although individual tumor frequencies are variable. Rats affected by the MENX (MEN1-like) syndrome share some features with MEN1 patients albeit they bear a germline mutation in Cdkn1b (p27) and not in Men1. Both Men1-knockout mice and MENX rats have been exploited for therapy-response studies testing novel drugs for efficacy against neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) and have provided promising leads for novel therapies. In addition to presenting well-established models of MEN1, we also discuss potential models which, if implemented, might broaden even further our knowledge of neuroendocrine tumorigenesis. In the future, patient-derived xenografts in zebrafish or mice might allow us to expand the tool-box currently available for preclinical studies of MEN1-associated tumors.