Neuroblastoma is one of the most frequent, yet distinctive and challenging childhood tumors. The uniqueness of this tumor depends on its biological markers, which classify neuroblastomas into favorable and unfavorable, with 5-year survival rates ranging from almost 100–30%. In this review, we focus on some biological factors that play major roles in neuroblastoma: MYCN, Trk, and ALK. The MYCN and Trk family genes have been studied for decades and are known to be crucial for the tumorigenesis and progression of neuroblastoma. ALK gene mutations have been recognized recently to be responsible for familial neuroblastomas. Each factor plays an important role in normal neural development, regulating cell proliferation or differentiation by activating several signaling pathways, and interacting with each other. These factors have been studied not only as prognostic factors, but also as targets of neuroblastoma therapy, and some clinical trials are ongoing. We review the basic aspects of MYCN, Trk, and ALK in both neural development and in neuroblastoma.
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