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The study of the origin and development of cerebellar tumours has been hampered by the complexity and heterogeneity of cerebellar cells that change over the course of development. We used single-cell transcriptomics to study >60,000 cells from the developing murine cerebellum, and show that different molecular subgroups of childhood cerebellar tumors mirror the transcription of cells from distinct, temporally restricted cerebellar lineages. Sonic Hedgehog medulloblastoma transcriptionally mirrors the granule cell hierarchy as expected, whereas Group 3 medulloblastoma resemble Nestin+ve stem cells, Group 4 medulloblastomas resemble unipolar brush cells, and PFA/PFB ependymoma and cerebellar pilocytic astrocytoma resemble the pre-natal gliogenic progenitor cells. Furthermore, single-cell transcriptomics of human childhood cerebellar tumors demonstrates that many bulk tumors contain a mixed population of cells with divergent differentiation. Our data highlight cerebellar tumors as a disorder of early brain development, and provide a proximate explanation for the peak incidence of cerebellar tumors in early childhood.

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