Glioblastoma (GBM), the most common brain malignancy, remains fatal with no effective treatment. Analyses of common aberrations in GBM suggest major regulatory pathways associated with disease etiology. However, 90% of GBMs are diagnosed at an advanced stage (primary GBMs), providing no access to early disease stages for assessing disease progression events. As such, both understanding of disease mechanisms and the development of biomarkers and therapeutics for effective disease management are limited. Here, we describe an adult-inducible astrocyte-specific system in genetically engineered mice that queries causation in disease evolution of regulatory networks perturbed in human GBM. Events yielding disease, both engineered and spontaneous, indicate ordered grade-specific perturbations that yield high-grade astrocytomas (anaplastic astrocytomas and GBMs). Impaired retinoblastoma protein RB tumor suppression yields grade II histopathology. Additional activation of v-Ki-ras2 Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog (KRAS) network drives progression to grade III disease, and further inactivation of phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) yields GBM. Spontaneous missense mutation of tumor suppressor Trp53 arises subsequent to KRAS activation, but before grade III progression. The stochastic appearance of mutations identical to those observed in humans, particularly the same spectrum of p53 amino acid changes, supports the validity of engineered lesions and the ensuing interpretations of etiology. Absence of isocitrate dehydrogenase 1 (IDH1) mutation, asymptomatic low grade disease, and rapid emergence of GBM combined with a mesenchymal transcriptome signature reflect characteristics of primary GBM and provide insight into causal relationships.