Neuroblastoma (NB) is a tumor of the peripheral sympathetic nervous system that sub-stantially contributes to childhood cancer mortality. NB originates from neural crest cells (NCCs) undergoing a defective sympathetic neuronal differentiation and although the starting events leading to the development of NB remain to be fully elucidated, the master role of genetic alterations in key oncogenes has been ascertained: (1) amplification and/or over‐expression of MYCN, which is strongly associated with tumor progression and invasion; (2) activating mutations, amplification and/or over‐expression of ALK, which is involved in tumor initiation, angiogenesis and invasion; (3) amplification and/or over‐expression of LIN28B, promoting proliferation and suppression of neuroblast differentiation; (4) mutations and/or over‐expression of PHOX2B, which is involved in the regulation of NB differentiation, stemness maintenance, migration and metastasis. Moreover, altered microRNA (miRNA) expression takes part in generating pathogenetic networks, in which the regulatory loops among transcription factors, miRNAs and target genes lead to complex and aberrant oncogene expression that underlies the development of a tumor. In this review, we have focused on the circuitry linking the oncogenic transcription factors MYCN and PHOX2B with their transcriptional targets ALK and LIN28B and the tumor suppressor microRNAs let‐7, miR‐34 and miR‐204, which should act as down‐regulators of their expression. We have also looked at the physiologic role of these genetic and epigenetic determinants in NC development, as well as in terminal differentiation, with their pathogenic dysregulation leading to NB oncogenesis.
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