Neuroblastoma (NB) is a childhood cancer arising from sympatho-adrenal neural crest cells. Disseminated forms have high frequency of multiple tumoral foci whose etiology remains unknown; NB embryonic origin limits investigations in patients and current models. We developed an avian embryonic model driving human NB tumorigenesis in tissues homologous to patients. We found that aggressive NBs display a metastatic mode, secondary dissemination via peripheral nerves and aorta. Through tumor transcriptional profiling, we found that NB dissemination is induced by the shutdown of a pro-cohesion autocrine signal, SEMA3C, which constrains the tumoral mass. Lowering SEMA3C levels shifts the balance toward detachment, triggering NB cells to collectively evade the tumor. Together with patient cohort analysis, this identifies a microenvironment-driven pro-metastatic switch for NB.
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