Glioblastoma (GB) is the most common and aggressive primary brain malignancy, with poor prognosis and a lack of effective therapeutic options. Accumulating evidence suggests that intratumor heterogeneity likely is the key to understanding treatment failure. However, the extent of intratumor heterogeneity as a result of tumor evolution is still poorly understood. To address this, we developed a unique surgical multisampling scheme to collect spatially distinct tumor fragments from 11 GB patients. We present an integrated genomic analysis that uncovers extensive intratumor heterogeneity, with most patients displaying different GB subtypes within the same tumor. Moreover, we reconstructed the phylogeny of the fragments for each patient, identifying copy number alterations in EGFR and CDKN2A/B/p14ARF as early events, and aberrations in PDGFRA and PTEN as later events during cancer progression. We also characterized the clonal organization of each tumor fragment at the singlemolecule level, detecting multiple coexisting cell lineages. Our results reveal the genome-wide architecture of intratumor variability in GB across multiple spatial scales and patient-specific patterns of cancer evolution, with consequences for treatment design.tumor progression | high grade glioma
Transformed, oncogenic precursors, possessing both defining neural-stem-cell properties and the ability to initiate intracerebral tumours, have been identified in human brain cancers. Here we report that bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), amongst which BMP4 elicits the strongest effect, trigger a significant reduction in the stem-like, tumour-initiating precursors of human glioblastomas (GBMs). Transient in vitro exposure to BMP4 abolishes the capacity of transplanted GBM cells to establish intracerebral GBMs. Most importantly, in vivo delivery of BMP4 effectively blocks the tumour growth and associated mortality that occur in 100% of mice after intracerebral grafting of human GBM cells. We demonstrate that BMPs activate their cognate receptors (BMPRs) and trigger the Smad signalling cascade in cells isolated from human glioblastomas (GBMs). This is followed by a reduction in proliferation, and increased expression of markers of neural differentiation, with no effect on cell viability. The concomitant reduction in clonogenic ability, in the size of the CD133+ population and in the growth kinetics of GBM cells indicates that BMP4 reduces the tumour-initiating cell pool of GBMs. These findings show that the BMP-BMPR signalling system--which controls the activity of normal brain stem cells--may also act as a key inhibitory regulator of tumour-initiating, stem-like cells from GBMs and the results also identify BMP4 as a novel, non-cytotoxic therapeutic effector, which may be used to prevent growth and recurrence of GBMs in humans.
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be critical for the engraftment and long-term growth of many tumors, including glioblastoma (GBM). The cells are at least partially spared by traditional chemotherapies and radiation therapies, and finding new treatments that can target CSCs may be critical for improving patient survival. It has been shown that the NOTCH signaling pathway regulates normal stem cells in the brain, and that GBMs contain stemlike cells with higher NOTCH activity. We therefore used low-passage and established GBM-derived neurosphere cultures to examine the overall requirement for NOTCH activity, and also examined the effects on tumor cells expressing stem cell markers. NOTCH blockade by c-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) reduced neurosphere growth and clonogenicity in vitro, whereas expression of an active form of NOTCH2 increased tumor growth. The putative CSC markers CD133, NESTIN, BMI1, and OLIG2 were reduced following NOTCH blockade. When equal numbers of viable cells pretreated with either vehicle (dimethyl sulfoxide) or GSI were injected subcutaneously into nude mice, the former always formed tumors, whereas the latter did not. In vivo delivery of GSI by implantation of drug-impregnated polymer beads also effectively blocked tumor growth, and significantly prolonged survival, albeit in a relatively small cohort of animals. We found that NOTCH pathway inhibition appears to deplete stem-like cancer cells through reduced proliferation and increased apoptosis associated with decreased AKT and STAT3 phosphorylation. In summary, we demonstrate that NOTCH pathway blockade depletes stem-like cells in GBMs, suggesting that GSIs may be useful as chemotherapeutic reagents to target CSCs in malignant gliomas.
Glioblastomas and brain metastases are highly proliferative brain tumors with short survival times. Previously, using 13C-NMR analysis of brain tumors resected from patients during infusion of 13C-glucose, we demonstrated that there is robust oxidation of glucose in the citric acid cycle, yet glucose contributes less than 50% of the carbons to the acetyl-CoA pool. Here we show that primary and metastatic mouse orthotopic brain tumors have the capacity to oxidize [1,2-13C]acetate and can do so simultaneously with [1,6-13C]glucose oxidation. The tumors do not oxidize [U-13C]glutamine. In vivo oxidation of [1,2-13C]acetate was validated in brain tumor patients and was correlated with expression of acetyl-CoA synthetase enzyme 2, ACSS2. Together the data demonstrate a strikingly common metabolic phenotype in diverse brain tumors that includes the ability to oxidize acetate in the citric acid cycle. This adaptation may be important for meeting the high biosynthetic and bioenergetic demands of malignant growth.
Brain tumors can arise following deregulation of signaling pathways normally activated during brain development and may derive from neural stem cells. Given the requirement for Hedgehog in non-neoplastic stem cells, we investigated whether Hedgehog blockade could target the stem-like population in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). We found that Gli1, a key Hedgehog pathway target, was highly expressed in 5 of 19 primary GBM and in 4 of 7 GBM cell lines. Shh ligand was expressed in some primary tumors, and in GBMderived neurospheres, suggesting a potential mechanism for pathway activation. Hedgehog pathway blockade by cyclopamine caused a 40%-60% reduction in growth of adherent glioma lines highly expressing Gli1 but not in those lacking evidence of pathway activity. When GBM-derived neurospheres were treated with cyclopamine and then dissociated and seeded in media lacking the inhibitor, no new neurospheres formed, suggesting that the clonogenic cancer stem cells had been depleted. Consistent with this hypothesis, the stem-like fraction in gliomas marked by both aldehyde dehydrogenase activity and Hoechst dye excretion (side population) was significantly reduced or eliminated by cyclopamine. In contrast, we found that radiation treatment of our GBM neurospheres increased the percentage of these stemlike cells, suggesting that this standard therapy preferentially targets better-differentiated neoplastic cells. Most importantly, viable GBM cells injected intracranially following Hedgehog blockade were no longer able to form tumors in athymic mice, indicating that a cancer stem cell population critical for ongoing growth had been removed. STEM CELLS
Glioblastomas (GBMs) contain transformed, self-maintaining, multipotent, tumour-initiating cancer stem cells, whose identification has radically changed our perspective on the physiology of these tumours. Currently, it is unknown whether multiple types of transformed precursors, which display alternative sets of the complement of properties of true cancer stem cells, can be found in a GBM. If different subsets of such cancer stem-like cells (CSCs) do exist, they might represent distinct cell targets, with a differential therapeutic importance, also depending on their characteristics and lineage relationship. Here, we report the presence of two types of CSCs within different regions of the same human GBM. Cytogenetic and molecular analysis shows that the two types of CSCs bear quite diverse tumorigenic potential and distinct genetic anomalies, and, yet, derive from common ancestor cells. This provides critical information to unravel the development of CSCs and the key molecular/genetic components underpinning tumorigenicity in human GBMs.
The presented work shows that sequential EGFR amplification and EGFRvIII mutations might represent concerted evolutionary events that drive the aggressive nature of GBM by promoting invasion and angiogenesis via distinct signaling pathways. In particular, c-SRC may be an attractive therapeutic target for tumors harboring EGFRvIII as we identified this protein specifically mediating angiogenic tumor growth downstream of EGFRvIII.
Efforts to identify and target glioblastoma (GBM) drivers have primarily focused on receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). Clinical benefits, however, have been elusive. Here, we identify a SRY-related box 2 (SOX2) transcriptional regulatory network that is independent of upstream RTKs and is capable of driving glioma initiating cells. We identified oligodendrocyte lineage transcription factor 2 (OLIG2) and zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) as potential SOX2 targets, which are frequently co-expressed irrespective of driver mutations. In murine glioma models, we show that different combinations of tumor suppressor and oncogene mutations can activate Sox2, Olig2, and Zeb1 expression. We demonstrate that ectopic co-expression of the three transcription factors can transform tumor suppressor deficient astrocytes into glioma initiating cells in the absence of an upstream RTK oncogene. Finally, we demonstrate that the transcriptional inhibitor mithramycin downregulates SOX2 and its target genes, resulting in markedly reduced proliferation of GBM cells in vivo.
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