Publications by authors named "Brett W Stringer"

41 Publications

Targeting Orphan G Protein-Coupled Receptor 17 with T0 Ligand Impairs Glioblastoma Growth.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 Jul 27;13(15). Epub 2021 Jul 27.

Molecular Signaling Lab, Faculty of Medicine and Health Technology, Tampere University, P.O. Box 553, 33101 Tampere, Finland.

Glioblastoma, an invasive high-grade brain cancer, exhibits numerous treatment challenges. Amongst the current therapies, targeting functional receptors and active signaling pathways were found to be a potential approach for treating GBM. We exploited the role of endogenous expression of GPR17, a G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR), with agonist GA-T0 in the survival and treatment of GBM. RNA sequencing was performed to understand the association of GPR17 expression with LGG and GBM. RT-PCR and immunoblotting were performed to confirm the endogenous expression of GPR17 mRNA and its encoded protein. Biological functions of GPR17 in the GBM cells was assessed by in vitro analysis. HPLC and histopathology in wild mice and an acute-toxicity analysis in a patient-derived xenograft model were performed to understand the clinical implication of GA-T0 targeting GPR17. We observed the upregulation of GPR17 in association with improved survival of LGG and GBM, confirming it as a predictive biomarker. GA-T0-stimulated GPR17 leads to the inhibition of cyclic AMP and calcium flux. GPR17 signaling activation enhances cytotoxicity against GBM cells and, in patient tissue-derived mesenchymal subtype GBM cells, induces apoptosis and prevents proliferation by stoppage of the cell cycle at the G1 phase. Modulation of the key genes involved in DNA damage, cell cycle arrest, and in several signaling pathways, including MAPK/ERK, PI3K-Akt, STAT, and NF-κB, prevents tumor regression. In vivo activation of GPR17 by GA-T0 reduces the tumor volume, uncovering the potential of GA-T0-GPR17 as a targeted therapy for GBM treatment. Conclusion: Our analysis suggests that GA-T0 targeting the GPR17 receptor presents a novel therapy for treating glioblastoma.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13153773DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8345100PMC
July 2021

The Suitability of Glioblastoma Cell Lines as Models for Primary Glioblastoma Cell Metabolism.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Dec 11;12(12). Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Flinders Health and Medical Research Institute, Flinders University, Adelaide, SA 5042, Australia.

In contrast to most non-malignant tissue, cells comprising the brain tumour glioblastoma (GBM) preferentially utilise glycolysis for metabolism via "the Warburg effect". Research into therapeutics targeting the disease's highly glycolytic state offer a promising avenue to improve patient survival. These studies often employ GBM cell lines for in vitro studies which translate poorly to the in vivo patient context. The metabolic traits of five of the most used GBM cell lines were assessed and compared to primary GBM and matched, healthy brain tissue. In patient-derived GBM cell lines, the basal mitochondrial rate ( = 0.043) and ATP-linked respiration ( < 0.001) were lower than primary adjacent normal cells from the same patient, while reserve capacity ( = 0.037) and Krebs cycle capacity ( = 0.002) were higher. Three cell lines, U251MG, U373MG and D54, replicate the mitochondrial metabolism of primary GBM cells. Surprisingly, glycolytic capacity is not different between healthy and GBM tissue. The T98G cell line recapitulated glycolysis-related metabolic parameters of the primary GBM cells and is recommended for research relating to glycolysis. These findings can guide preclinical research into the development of novel therapeutics targeting metabolic pathways in GBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12123722DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7764800PMC
December 2020

SRRM4 Expands the Repertoire of Circular RNAs by Regulating Microexon Inclusion.

Cells 2020 11 16;9(11). Epub 2020 Nov 16.

Flinders Cancer Research, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University, Bedford Park 5042, South Australia, Australia.

High-throughput RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) and dedicated bioinformatics pipelines have synergized to identify an expansive repertoire of unique circular RNAs (circRNAs), exceeding 100,000 variants. While the vast majority of these circRNAs comprise canonical exonic and intronic sequences, microexons (MEs)-which occur in 30% of functional mRNA transcripts-have been entirely overlooked. CircRNAs which contain these known MEs (ME-circRNAs) could be identified with commonly utilized circRNA prediction pipelines, CIRCexplorer2 and CIRI2, but were not previously recognized as ME-circRNAs. In addition, when employing a bespoke bioinformatics pipeline for identifying RNA chimeras, called Hyb, we could also identify over 2000 ME-circRNAs which contain novel MEs at their backsplice junctions, that are uncalled by either CIRCexplorer2 or CIRI2. Analysis of circRNA-seq datasets from gliomas of varying clinical grades compared with matched control tissue has shown circRNAs have potential as prognostic markers for stratifying tumor from healthy tissue. Furthermore, the abundance of microexon-containing circRNAs (ME-circRNAs) between tumor and normal tissues is correlated with the expression of a splicing associated factor, Serine/arginine repetitive matrix 4 (). Overexpressing SRRM4, known for regulating ME inclusion in mRNAs critical for neural differentiation, in human HEK293 cells resulted in the biogenesis of over 2000 novel ME-circRNAs, including , and changes in the abundance of many canonical circRNAs, including and . This shows SRRM4, in which its expression is correlated with poor prognosis in gliomas, acts as a bona fide circRNA biogenesis factor. Given the known roles of MEs and circRNAs in oncogenesis, the identification of these previously unrecognized ME-circRNAs further increases the complexity and functional purview of this non-coding RNA family.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9112488DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7697094PMC
November 2020

Neutralisation of adeno-associated virus transduction by human vitreous humour.

Gene Ther 2021 05 15;28(5):242-255. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

LVF Ophthalmology Research Centre, Translational Research Institute, Woolloongabba, QLD, 4102, Australia.

Neutralising antibodies (NAbs), caused by past adeno-associated virus (AAV) infection, represent a critical challenge for AAV-mediated gene therapy, with even low NAb titres capable of inhibiting gene transfer, however in protein-rich environments such as the vitreous it is expected that other constituents could also interact with the transduction process. Inhibition of AAV2/2, AAV2/5, AAV2/6 and AAV2/8 transduction by human vitreous humour (VH) obtained from 80 post-mortem eye cups was investigated in this report, with clinically relevant vitreous dilutions as low as 1:2. Unexpectedly, the highest prevalence of inhibition of transduction was observed against AAV2/6, with 66% of tested samples displaying neutralisation at a 1:2 VH dilution. Only two samples showed inhibition of AAV2/8, indicating this serotype is an attractive vector for use in non-vitrectomised eyes of unscreened individuals. Levels of anti-AAV NAbs observed in the VH were much lower than previously observed in serum of a similar Australian population. Among ten tested eye cup pairs, we observed only small variation in anti-AAV NAbs levels between the left and right eye cups. Interaction with 1:2 diluted VH had an augmentation effect on AAV2/8 transduction (p = 0.004), a phenomenon which was not due to albumin or transferrin and which, if developed, might benefit the use of AAV2/8 in clinical settings.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41434-020-0162-8DOI Listing
May 2021

Lower Tubulin Expression in Glioblastoma Stem Cells Attenuates Efficacy of Microtubule-Targeting Agents.

ACS Pharmacol Transl Sci 2019 Dec 30;2(6):402-413. Epub 2019 Jul 30.

Faculty of Medicine and Health, Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, John Hopkins Drive, Sydney, New South Wales 2006, Australia.

Sensitivity to microtubule-targeting agents (MTAs) varies among cancers and predicting the response of individual cancer patients to MTAs remains challenging. As microtubules possess vast molecular heterogeneity generated by tubulin isotypes and their post-translational modifications, we questioned whether this heterogeneity can impact MTA sensitivity. We investigated microtubule heterogeneity in 15 glioblastoma cell lines and measured sensitivity of orthogonal MTAs using a per-division growth rate inhibition method that corrects for the confounding effects of variable cell proliferation rates. We found that the tubulin profile is unique for each glioblastoma cell line and that the total α- and β-tubulin levels impact on MTA sensitivity. The baseline levels of α- and β-tubulin were up to 20% lower in cells that were not effectively killed by MTAs. We report that lower α/β-tubulin expression is associated with lack of cell differentiation and increased expression of stemness markers. The dedifferentiated stem-like cells with low α/β-tubulin levels survive MTAs treatment via reversible nonmutational dormancy. Our findings provide novel insights into the relationships between microtubules and MTAs and lay a foundation for better understanding of the sensitivity of cancer cells to MTAs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsptsci.9b00045DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7089104PMC
December 2019

MK2 Inhibition Induces p53-Dependent Senescence in Glioblastoma Cells.

Cancers (Basel) 2020 Mar 11;12(3). Epub 2020 Mar 11.

School of Medical Sciences, Charles Perkins Centre and Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 (MK2) has diverse roles in cancer. In response to chemotherapy, MK2 inhibition is synthetically lethal to p53-deficiency. While deletion is rare in glioblastomas, these tumors often carry mutations. Here, we show that MK2 inhibition strongly attenuated glioblastoma cell proliferation through p53 stabilization and senescence. The senescence-inducing efficacy of MK2 inhibition was particularly strong when cells were co-treated with the standard-of-care temozolomide. However, MK2 inhibition also increased the stability of p53 mutants and enhanced the proliferation of p53-mutant stem cells. These observations reveal that in response to DNA damaging chemotherapy, targeting MK2 in p53-mutated cells produces a phenotype that is distinct from the p53-deficient phenotype. Thus, MK2 represents a novel drug target in 70% glioblastomas harboring intact gene. However, targeting MK2 in tumors with mutations may accelerate disease progression. These findings are highly relevant since mutations occur in over 50% of all cancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers12030654DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7139970PMC
March 2020

Constitutive CHK1 Expression Drives a pSTAT3-CIP2A Circuit that Promotes Glioblastoma Cell Survival and Growth.

Mol Cancer Res 2020 05 20;18(5):709-722. Epub 2020 Feb 20.

Adult Cancer Program, Lowy Cancer Research Centre, University of New South Wales Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

High-constitutive activity of the DNA damage response protein checkpoint kinase 1 (CHK1) has been shown in glioblastoma (GBM) cell lines and in tissue sections. However, whether constitutive activation and overexpression of CHK1 in GBM plays a functional role in tumorigenesis or has prognostic significance is not known. We interrogated multiple glioma patient cohorts for expression levels of CHK1 and the oncogene cancerous inhibitor of protein phosphatase 2A (CIP2A), a known target of high-CHK1 activity, and examined the relationship between these two proteins in GBM. Expression levels of CHK1 and CIP2A were independent predictors for reduced overall survival across multiple glioma patient cohorts. Using siRNA and pharmacologic inhibitors we evaluated the impact of their depletion using both and models and sought a mechanistic explanation for high CIP2A in the presence of high-CHK1 levels in GBM and show that; (i) CHK1 and pSTAT3 positively regulate CIP2A gene expression; (ii) pSTAT3 and CIP2A form a recursively wired transcriptional circuit; and (iii) perturbing CIP2A expression induces GBM cell senescence and retards tumor growth and . Taken together, we have identified an oncogenic transcriptional circuit in GBM that can be destabilized by targeting CIP2A. IMPLICATIONS: High expression of CIP2A in gliomas is maintained by a CHK1-dependent pSTAT3-CIP2A recursive loop; interrupting CIP2A induces cell senescence and slows GBM growth adding impetus to the development of CIP2A as an anticancer drug target.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1541-7786.MCR-19-0934DOI Listing
May 2020

Q-Cell Glioblastoma Resource: Proteomics Analysis Reveals Unique Cell-States are Maintained in 3D Culture.

Cells 2020 01 21;9(2). Epub 2020 Jan 21.

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Sid Faithfull Brain Cancer Laboratory, Brisbane, QLD 4006, Australia.

Glioblastoma (GBM) is a treatment-refractory central nervous system (CNS) tumour, and better therapies to treat this aggressive disease are urgently needed. Primary GBM models that represent the true disease state are essential to better understand disease biology and for accurate preclinical therapy assessment. We have previously presented a comprehensive transcriptome characterisation of a panel (n = 12) of primary GBM models (Q-Cell). We have now generated a systematic, quantitative, and deep proteome abundance atlas of the Q-Cell models grown in 3D culture, representing 6167 human proteins. A recent study has highlighted the degree of functional heterogeneity that coexists within individual GBM tumours, describing four cellular states (MES-like, NPC-like, OPC-like and AC-like). We performed comparative proteomic analysis, confirming a good representation of each of the four cell-states across the 13 models examined. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analysis identified upregulation of a number of GBM-associated cancer pathway proteins. Bioinformatics analysis, using the OncoKB database, identified a number of functional actionable targets that were either uniquely or ubiquitously expressed across the panel. This study provides an in-depth proteomic analysis of the GBM Q-Cell resource, which should prove a valuable functional dataset for future biological and preclinical investigations.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells9020267DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7072469PMC
January 2020

Transcription factors NFIA and NFIB induce cellular differentiation in high-grade astrocytoma.

J Neurooncol 2020 Jan 23;146(1):41-53. Epub 2019 Nov 23.

The Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.

Introduction: Malignant astrocytomas are composed of heterogeneous cell populations. Compared to grade IV glioblastoma, low-grade astrocytomas have more differentiated cells and are associated with a better prognosis. Therefore, inducing cellular differentiation to alter the behaviour of high-grade astrocytomas may serve as a therapeutic strategy. The nuclear factor one (NFI) transcription factors are essential for normal astrocytic differentiation. Here, we investigate whether family members NFIA and NFIB act as effectors of cellular differentiation in glioblastoma.

Methods: We analysed expression of NFIA and NFIB in mRNA expression data of high-grade astrocytoma and with immunofluorescence co-staining. Furthermore, we induced NFI expression in patient-derived subcutaneous glioblastoma xenografts via in vivo electroporation.

Results: The expression of NFIA and NFIB is reduced in glioblastoma as compared to lower grade astrocytomas. At a cellular level, their expression is associated with differentiated and mature astrocyte-like tumour cells. In vivo analyses consistently demonstrate that expression of either NFIA or NFIB is sufficient to promote tumour cell differentiation in glioblastoma xenografts.

Conclusion: Our findings indicate that both NFIA and NFIB may have an endogenous pro-differentiative function in astrocytomas, similar to their role in normal astrocyte differentiation. Overall, our study establishes a basis for further investigation of targeting NFI-mediated differentiation as a potential differentiation therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11060-019-03352-3DOI Listing
January 2020

Simultaneous targeting of DNA replication and homologous recombination in glioblastoma with a polyether ionophore.

Neuro Oncol 2020 02;22(2):216-228

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer MRI, Queensland, Australia.

Background: Despite significant endeavor having been applied to identify effective therapies to treat glioblastoma (GBM), survival outcomes remain intractable. The greatest nonsurgical benefit arises from radiotherapy, though tumors typically recur due to robust DNA repair. Patients could therefore benefit from therapies with the potential to prevent DNA repair and synergize with radiotherapy. In this work, we investigated the potential of salinomycin to enhance radiotherapy and further uncover novel dual functions of this ionophore to induce DNA damage and prevent repair.

Methods: In vitro primary GBM models and ex vivo GBM patient explants were used to determine the mechanism of action of salinomycin by immunoblot, flow cytometry, immunofluorescence, immunohistochemistry, and mass spectrometry. In vivo efficacy studies were performed using orthotopic GBM animal xenograft models. Salinomycin derivatives were synthesized to increase drug efficacy and explore structure-activity relationships.

Results: Here we report novel dual functions of salinomycin. Salinomycin induces toxic DNA lesions and prevents subsequent recovery by targeting homologous recombination (HR) repair. Salinomycin appears to target the more radioresistant GBM stem cell-like population and synergizes with radiotherapy to significantly delay tumor formation in vivo. We further developed salinomycin derivatives which display greater efficacy in vivo while retaining the same beneficial mechanisms of action.

Conclusion: Our findings highlight the potential of salinomycin to induce DNA lesions and inhibit HR to greatly enhance the effect of radiotherapy. Importantly, first-generation salinomycin derivatives display greater efficacy and may pave the way for clinical testing of these agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/neuonc/noz159DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7442340PMC
February 2020

The dystroglycan receptor maintains glioma stem cells in the vascular niche.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 12 28;138(6):1033-1052. Epub 2019 Aug 28.

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Sid Faithfull Brain Cancer Laboratory, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.

Glioblastomas (GBMs) are malignant central nervous system (CNS) neoplasms with a very poor prognosis. They display cellular hierarchies containing self-renewing tumourigenic glioma stem cells (GSCs) in a complex heterogeneous microenvironment. One proposed GSC niche is the extracellular matrix (ECM)-rich perivascular bed of the tumour. Here, we report that the ECM binding dystroglycan (DG) receptor is expressed and functionally glycosylated on GSCs residing in the perivascular niche. Glycosylated αDG is highly expressed and functional on the most aggressive mesenchymal-like (MES-like) GBM tumour compartment. Furthermore, we found that DG acts to maintain an MES-like state via tight control of MAPK activation. Antibody-based blockade of αDG induces robust ERK-mediated differentiation leading to reduced GSC potential. DG was shown to be required for tumour initiation in MES-like GBM, with constitutive loss significantly delaying or preventing tumourigenic potential in-vivo. These findings reveal a central role of the DG receptor, not only as a structural element, but also as a critical factor promoting MES-like GBM and the maintenance of GSCs residing in the perivascular niche.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02069-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6851226PMC
December 2019

A reference collection of patient-derived cell line and xenograft models of proneural, classical and mesenchymal glioblastoma.

Sci Rep 2019 03 20;9(1):4902. Epub 2019 Mar 20.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, Australia.

Low-passage, serum-free cell lines cultured from patient tumour tissue are the gold-standard for preclinical studies and cellular investigations of glioblastoma (GBM) biology, yet entrenched, poorly-representative cell line models are still widely used, compromising the significance of much GBM research. We submit that greater adoption of these critical resources will be promoted by the provision of a suitably-sized, meaningfully-described reference collection along with appropriate tools for working with them. Consequently, we present a curated panel of 12 readily-usable, genetically-diverse, tumourigenic, patient-derived, low-passage, serum-free cell lines representing the spectrum of molecular subtypes of IDH-wildtype GBM along with their detailed phenotypic characterisation plus a bespoke set of lentiviral plasmids for bioluminescent/fluorescent labelling, gene expression and CRISPR/Cas9-mediated gene inactivation. The cell lines and all accompanying data are readily-accessible via a single website, Q-Cell (qimrberghofer.edu.au/q-cell/) and all plasmids are available from Addgene. These resources should prove valuable to investigators seeking readily-usable, well-characterised, clinically-relevant, gold-standard models of GBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-41277-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6427001PMC
March 2019

Expression and activity of the calcitonin receptor family in a sample of primary human high-grade gliomas.

BMC Cancer 2019 Feb 18;19(1):157. Epub 2019 Feb 18.

Drug Discovery Biology and Department of Pharmacology, Monash Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Monash University, Parkville, VIC, 3052, Australia.

Background: Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive type of primary brain cancer. With median survival of less than 15 months, identification and validation of new GBM therapeutic targets is of critical importance.

Results: In this study we tested expression and performed pharmacological characterization of the calcitonin receptor (CTR) as well as other members of the calcitonin family of receptors in high-grade glioma (HGG) cell lines derived from individual patient tumours, cultured in defined conditions. Previous immunohistochemical data demonstrated CTR expression in GBM biopsies and we were able to confirm CALCR (gene encoding CTR) expression. However, as assessed by cAMP accumulation assay, only one of the studied cell lines expressed functional CTR, while the other cell lines have functional CGRP (CLR/RAMP1) receptors. The only CTR-expressing cell line (SB2b) showed modest coupling to the cAMP pathway and no activation of other known CTR signaling pathways, including ERK and p38 MAP kinases, and Ca mobilization, supportive of low cell surface receptor expression. Exome sequencing data failed to account for the discrepancy between functional data and expression on the cell lines that do not respond to calcitonin(s) with no deleterious non-synonymous polymorphisms detected, suggesting that other factors may be at play, such as alternative splicing or rapid constitutive receptor internalisation.

Conclusions: This study shows that GPCR signaling can display significant variation depending on cellular system used, and effects seen in model recombinant cell lines or tumour cell lines are not always reproduced in a more physiologically relevant system and vice versa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12885-019-5369-yDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6379965PMC
February 2019

Intratumoural Heterogeneity Underlies Distinct Therapy Responses and Treatment Resistance in Glioblastoma.

Cancers (Basel) 2019 Feb 6;11(2). Epub 2019 Feb 6.

Cell and Molecular Biology Department, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane 4006, QLD, Australia.

Glioblastomas are the most common and lethal neoplasms of the central nervous system. Neighbouring glioma cells maintain extreme degrees of genetic and phenotypic variation that form intratumoural heterogeneity. This genetic diversity allows the most adaptive tumour clones to develop treatment resistance, ultimately leading to disease recurrence. We aimed to model this phenomenon and test the effectiveness of several targeted therapeutic interventions to overcome therapy resistance. Heterogeneous tumour masses were first deconstructed into single tumour cells, which were expanded independently as single-cell clones. Single nucleotide polymorphism arrays, whole-genome and RNA sequencing, and CpG methylation analysis validated the unique molecular profile of each tumour clone, which displayed distinct pathologic features, including cell morphology, growth rate, and resistance to temozolomide and ionizing radiation. We also identified variable sensitivities to AURK, CDK, and EGFR inhibitors which were consistent with the heterogeneous molecular alterations that each clone harboured. These targeted therapies effectively eliminated the temozolomide- and/or irradiation-resistant clones and also parental polyclonal cells. Our findings indicate that polyclonal tumours create a dynamic environment that consists of diverse tumour elements and treatment responses. Designing targeted therapies based on a range of molecular profiles can be a more effective strategy to eradicate treatment resistance, recurrence, and metastasis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers11020190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6406894PMC
February 2019

Novel dual-action prodrug triggers apoptosis in glioblastoma cells by releasing a glutathione quencher and lysine-specific histone demethylase 1A inhibitor.

J Neurochem 2019 05 3;149(4):535-550. Epub 2019 Feb 3.

Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, Wollongong, New South Wales, Australia.

Targeting epigenetic mechanisms has shown promise against several cancers but has so far been unsuccessful against glioblastoma (GBM). Altered histone 3 lysine 4 methylation and increased lysine-specific histone demethylase 1A (LSD1) expression in GBM tumours nonetheless suggest that epigenetic mechanisms are involved in GBM. We engineered a dual-action prodrug, which is activated by the high hydrogen peroxide levels associated with GBM cells. This quinone methide phenylaminecyclopropane prodrug releases the LSD1 inhibitor 2-phenylcyclopropylamine with the glutathione scavenger para-quinone methide to trigger apoptosis in GBM cells. Quinone methide phenylaminocyclopropane impaired GBM cell behaviours in two-dimensional and three-dimensional assays, and triggered cell apoptosis in several primary and immortal GBM cell cultures. These results support our double-hit hypothesis of potentially targeting LSD1 and quenching glutathione, in order to impair and kill GBM cells but not healthy astrocytes. Our data suggest this strategy is effective at selectively targeting GBM and potentially other types of cancers. OPEN SCIENCE BADGES: This article has received a badge for *Open Materials* because it provided all relevant information to reproduce the study in the manuscript. The complete Open Science Disclosure form for this article can be found at the end of the article. More information about the Open Practices badges can be found at https://cos.io/our-services/open-science-badges/.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jnc.14655DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6590141PMC
May 2019

EphA3 Pay-Loaded Antibody Therapeutics for the Treatment of Glioblastoma.

Cancers (Basel) 2018 Dec 17;10(12). Epub 2018 Dec 17.

Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, Brisbane 4006, Australia.

The EphA3 receptor has recently emerged as a functional tumour-specific therapeutic target in glioblastoma (GBM). EphA3 is significantly elevated in recurrent disease, is most highly expressed on glioma stem cells (GSCs), and has a functional role in maintaining self-renewal and tumourigenesis. An unlabelled EphA3-targeting therapeutic antibody is currently under clinical assessment in recurrent GBM patients. In this study, we assessed the efficacy of EphA3 antibody drug conjugate (ADC) and radioimmunotherapy (RIT) approaches using orthotopic animal xenograft models. Brain uptake studies, using positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) imaging, show EphA3 antibodies are effectively delivered across the blood-tumour barrier and accumulate at the tumour site with no observed normal brain reactivity. A robust anti-tumour response, with no toxicity, was observed using EphA3, ADC, and RIT approaches, leading to a significant increase in overall survival. Our current research provides evidence that GBM patients may benefit from pay-loaded EphA3 antibody therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers10120519DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316644PMC
December 2018

Cytoplasmic dynein regulates the subcellular localization of sphingosine kinase 2 to elicit tumor-suppressive functions in glioblastoma.

Oncogene 2019 02 24;38(8):1151-1165. Epub 2018 Sep 24.

Centre for Cancer Biology, University of South Australia and SA Pathology, Adelaide, SA, Australia.

While the two mammalian sphingosine kinases, SK1 and SK2, both catalyze the generation of pro-survival sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), their roles vary dependent on their different subcellular localization. SK1 is generally found in the cytoplasm or at the plasma membrane where it can promote cell proliferation and survival. SK2 can be present at the plasma membrane where it appears to have a similar function to SK1, but can also be localized to the nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum or mitochondria where it mediates cell death. Although SK2 has been implicated in cancer initiation and progression, the mechanisms regulating SK2 subcellular localization are undefined. Here, we report that SK2 interacts with the intermediate chain subunits of the retrograde-directed transport motor complex, cytoplasmic dynein 1 (DYNC1I1 and -2), and we show that this interaction, particularly with DYNC1I1, facilitates the transport of SK2 away from the plasma membrane. DYNC1I1 is dramatically downregulated in patient samples of glioblastoma (GBM), where lower expression of DYNC1I1 correlates with poorer patient survival. Notably, low DYNC1I1 expression in GBM cells coincided with more SK2 localized to the plasma membrane, where it has been recently implicated in oncogenesis. Re-expression of DYNC1I1 reduced plasma membrane-localized SK2 and extracellular S1P formation, and decreased GBM tumor growth and tumor-associated angiogenesis in vivo. Consistent with this, chemical inhibition of SK2 reduced the viability of patient-derived GBM cells in vitro and decreased GBM tumor growth in vivo. Thus, these findings demonstrate a tumor-suppressive function of DYNC1I1, and uncover new mechanistic insights into SK2 regulation which may have implications in targeting this enzyme as a therapeutic strategy in GBM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41388-018-0504-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6363647PMC
February 2019

Changes in cell morphology guide identification of tubulin as the off-target for protein kinase inhibitors.

Pharmacol Res 2018 08 23;134:166-178. Epub 2018 Jun 23.

The University of Sydney, Faculty of Medicine and Health, Charles Perkins Centre, NSW 2006, Australia. Electronic address:

In the field of kinase inhibitors for applications in cancer research, tubulin is emerging as a targeted cellular protein that can significantly contribute to their activities. However, investigation of kinase inhibitors beyond the kinome is an area often neglected. Herein, we describe the results of pharmacological studies using drugs targeting kinases, tubulin or both. A key finding is that if cells are treated with a kinase inhibitor unintentionally targeting tubulin, their characteristic shape will diminish within a short timeframe. These changes in cell morphology are not seen when cells are treated with bona fide kinase inhibitors that do not directly target tubulin. Thus, early changes in cell morphology upon treatments are a strong indication that the inhibitor is directly targeting tubulin. Recognizing tubulin as a target of kinase inhibitors will build confidence in the future mechanistic studies using kinase inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.phrs.2018.06.023DOI Listing
August 2018

A unique F MRI agent for the tracking of non phagocytic cells in vivo.

Nanoscale 2018 May;10(17):8226-8239

Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology and ARC Centre of Excellence in Convergent Bio-Nano Science and Technology, The University of Queensland, QLD 4072, Australia.

There is currently intense interest in new methods for understanding the fate of therapeutically-relevant cells, such as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). The absence of a confounding background signal and consequent unequivocal assignment makes 19F MRI one of the most attractive modalities for the tracking of injected cells in vivo. We describe here the synthesis of novel partly-fluorinated polymeric nanoparticles with small size and high fluorine content as MRI agents. The polymers, constructed from perfluoropolyether methacrylate (PFPEMA) and oligo(ethylene glycol) methacrylate (OEGMA) have favourable cell uptake profiles and excellent MRI performance. To facilitate cell studies the polymer was further conjugated with a fluorescent dye creating a dual-modal imaging agent. The efficacy of labelling of MSCs was assessed using 19F NMR, flow cytometry and confocal microscopy. The labelling efficiency of 2.6 ± 0.1 × 1012 19F atoms per cell, and viability of >90% demonstrates high uptake and good tolerance by the cells. This loading translates to a minimum 19F MRI detection sensitivity of ∼7.4 × 103 cells per voxel. Importantly, preliminary in vivo data demonstrate that labelled cells can be readily detected within a short acquisition scan period (12 minutes). Hence, these copolymers show outstanding potential for 19F MRI cellular tracking and for quantification of non-phagocytic and therapeutically-relevant cells in vivo.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1039/c8nr00703aDOI Listing
May 2018

Dianthin-30 or gelonin versus monomethyl auristatin E, each configured with an anti-calcitonin receptor antibody, are differentially potent in vitro in high-grade glioma cell lines derived from glioblastoma.

Cancer Immunol Immunother 2017 Sep 13;66(9):1217-1228. Epub 2017 May 13.

Department of Medicine/Cardiology (Austin Health, Heidelberg), University of Melbourne, Lance Townsend Building, Level 10, Austin Campus, Studley Road, Heidelberg, VIC, 3084, Australia.

We have reported that calcitonin receptor (CTR) is widely expressed in biopsies from the lethal brain tumour glioblastoma by malignant glioma and brain tumour-initiating cells (glioma stem cells) using anti-human CTR antibodies. A monoclonal antibody against an epitope within the extracellular domain of CTR was raised (mAb2C4) and chemically conjugated to either plant ribosome-inactivating proteins (RIPs) dianthin-30 or gelonin, or the drug monomethyl auristatin E (MMAE), and purified. In the high-grade glioma cell line (HGG, representing glioma stem cells) SB2b, in the presence of the triterpene glycoside SO1861, the EC for mAb2C4:dianthin was 10.0 pM and for mAb2C4:MMAE [antibody drug conjugate (ADC)] 2.5 nM, 250-fold less potent. With the cell line U87MG, in the presence of SO1861, the EC for mAb2C4:dianthin was 20 pM, mAb2C4:gelonin, 20 pM, compared to the ADC (6.3 nM), which is >300 less potent. Several other HGG cell lines that express CTR were tested and the efficacies of mAb2C4:RIP (dianthin or gelonin) were similar. Co-administration of the enhancer SO1861 purified from plants enhances lysosomal escape. Enhancement with SO1861 increased potency of the immunotoxin (>3 log values) compared to the ADC (1 log). The uptake of antibody was demonstrated with the fluorescent conjugate mAb2C4:Alexa Fluor 568, and the release of dianthin-30:Alexa Fluor488 into the cytosol following addition of SO1861 supports our model. These data demonstrate that the immunotoxins are highly potent and that CTR is an effective target expressed by a large proportion of HGG cell lines representative of glioma stem cells and isolated from individual patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00262-017-2013-zDOI Listing
September 2017

Development and Biological Evaluation of a Photoactivatable Small Molecule Microtubule-Targeting Agent.

ACS Med Chem Lett 2017 Apr 15;8(4):395-400. Epub 2017 Mar 15.

School of Medical Sciences and Charles Perkins Centre, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

Photoremovable protecting groups added to bioactive molecules provide spatial and temporal control of the biological effects. We present synthesis and characterization of the first photoactivatable small-molecule tubulin inhibitor. By blocking the pharmacophoric OH group on compound with photoremovable 4,5-dimethoxy-2-nitrobenzyl moiety we developed the photocaged prodrug that had no effect in biological assays. Short UV light exposure of the derivative or UV-irradiation of cells treated with resulted in fast and potent inhibition of tubulin polymerization, attenuation of cell viability, and apoptotic cell death, implicating release of the parent active compound. This study validates for the first time the photoactivatable prodrug concept in the field of small molecule tubulin inhibitors. The caged derivative represents a novel tool in antitubulin approaches.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsmedchemlett.6b00483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5392771PMC
April 2017

Structural Optimization and Pharmacological Evaluation of Inhibitors Targeting Dual-Specificity Tyrosine Phosphorylation-Regulated Kinases (DYRK) and CDC-like kinases (CLK) in Glioblastoma.

J Med Chem 2017 03 28;60(5):2052-2070. Epub 2017 Feb 28.

Oncogenic Signaling Laboratory, Centre for Cancer Research, Hudson Institute of Medical Research , 27 Wright Street, Clayton, Victoria 3168, Australia.

The DYRK family contains kinases that are up-regulated in malignancy and control several cancer hallmarks. To assess the anticancer potential of inhibitors targeting DYRK kinases, we developed a series of novel DYRK inhibitors based on the 7-azaindole scaffold. All compounds were tested for their ability to inhibit DYRK1A, DYRK1B, DYRK2, and the structurally related CLK1. The library was screened for anticancer efficacy in established and stem cell-like glioblastoma cell lines. The most potent inhibitors (IC ≤ 50 nM) significantly decreased viability, clonogenic survival, migration, and invasion of glioblastoma cells. Target engagement was confirmed with genetic knockdown and the cellular thermal shift assay. We demonstrate that DYRK1A's thermal stability in cells is increased upon compound treatment, confirming binding in cells. In summary, we present synthesis, structure-activity relationship, and efficacy in glioblastoma-relevant models for a library of novel 7-azaindoles.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.jmedchem.6b01840DOI Listing
March 2017

Anti-GD2-ch14.18/CHO coated nanoparticles mediate glioblastoma (GBM)-specific delivery of the aromatase inhibitor, Letrozole, reducing proliferation, migration and chemoresistance in patient-derived GBM tumor cells.

Oncotarget 2017 Mar;8(10):16605-16620

Centre for Systems Medicine, Department of Physiology and Medical Physics, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, York House, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Aromatase is a critical enzyme in the irreversible conversion of androgens to oestrogens, with inhibition used clinically in hormone-dependent malignancies. We tested the hypothesis that targeted aromatase inhibition in an aggressive brain cancer called glioblastoma (GBM) may represent a new treatment strategy. In this study, aromatase inhibition was achieved using third generation inhibitor, Letrozole, encapsulated within the core of biodegradable poly lactic-co-glycolic acid (PLGA) nanoparticles (NPs). PLGA-NPs were conjugated to human/mouse chimeric anti-GD2 antibody ch14.18/CHO, enabling specific targeting of GD2-positive GBM cells. Treatment of primary and recurrent patient-derived GBM cells with free-Letrozole (0.1 μM) led to significant decrease in cell proliferation and migration; in addition to reduced spheroid formation. Anti-GD2-ch14.18/CHO-NPs displayed specific targeting of GBM cells in colorectal-glioblastoma co-culture, with subsequent reduction in GBM cell numbers when treated with anti-GD2-ch14.18-PLGA-Let-NPs in combination with temozolomide. As miR-191 is an estrogen responsive microRNA, its expression, fluctuation and role in Letrozole treated GBM cells was evaluated, where treatment with premiR-191 was capable of rescuing the reduced proliferative phenotype induced by aromatase inhibitor. The repurposing and targeted delivery of Letrozole for the treatment of GBM, with the potential role of miR-191 identified, provides novel avenues for target assessment in this aggressive brain cancer.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15073DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5369988PMC
March 2017

Nuclear factor one B (NFIB) encodes a subtype-specific tumour suppressor in glioblastoma.

Oncotarget 2016 May;7(20):29306-20

Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, 4072, Queensland, Australia.

Glioblastoma (GBM) is an essentially incurable and rapidly fatal cancer, with few markers predicting a favourable prognosis. Here we report that the transcription factor NFIB is associated with significantly improved survival in GBM. NFIB expression correlates inversely with astrocytoma grade and is lowest in mesenchymal GBM. Ectopic expression of NFIB in low-passage, patient-derived classical and mesenchymal subtype GBM cells inhibits tumourigenesis. Ectopic NFIB expression activated phospho-STAT3 signalling only in classical and mesenchymal GBM cells, suggesting a mechanism through which NFIB may exert its context-dependent tumour suppressor activity. Finally, NFIB expression can be induced in GBM cells by drug treatment with beneficial effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.8720DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5045397PMC
May 2016

Pharmacology of novel small-molecule tubulin inhibitors in glioblastoma cells with enhanced EGFR signalling.

Biochem Pharmacol 2015 Dec 28;98(4):587-601. Epub 2015 Oct 28.

School of Medical Sciences, The University of Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia. Electronic address:

We recently reported that CMPD1, originally developed as an inhibitor of MK2 activation, primarily inhibits tubulin polymerisation and induces apoptosis in glioblastoma cells. In the present study we provide detailed pharmacological investigation of CMPD1 analogues with improved molecular properties. We determined their anti-cancer efficacy in glioblastoma cells with enhanced EGFR signalling, as deregulated EGFR often leads to chemoresistance. Eight analogues of CMPD1 with varying lipophilicity and basicity were synthesised and tested for efficacy in the cell viability assay using established glioblastoma cell lines and patient-derived primary glioblastoma cells. The mechanism of action for the most potent analogue 15 was determined using MK2 activation and tubulin polymerisation assays, together with the immunofluorescence analysis of the mitotic spindle formation. Apoptosis was analysed by Annexin V staining, immunoblotting analysis of bcl-2 proteins and PARP cleavage. The apoptotic activity of CMPD1 and analogue 15 was comparable across glioblastoma cell lines regardless of the EGFR status. Primary glioblastoma cells of the classical subtype that are characterized by enhanced EGFR activity were most sensitive to the treatment with CMPD1 and 15. In summary, we present mechanism of action for a novel small molecule tubulin inhibitor, compound 15 that inhibits tubulin polymerisation and mitotic spindle formation, induces degradation of anti-apoptotic bcl-2 proteins and leads to apoptosis of glioblastoma cells. We also demonstrate that the enhanced EGFR activity does not decrease the efficacy of tubulin inhibitors developed in this study.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bcp.2015.10.014DOI Listing
December 2015

EphA2 as a Diagnostic Imaging Target in Glioblastoma: A Positron Emission Tomography/Magnetic Resonance Imaging Study.

Mol Imaging 2015 ;14:385-99

Noninvasive imaging is a critical technology for diagnosis, classification, and subsequent treatment planning for patients with glioblastoma. It has been shown that the EphA2 receptor tyrosine kinase (RTK) is overexpressed in a number of tumors, including glioblastoma. Expression levels of Eph RTKs have been linked to tumor progression, metastatic spread, and poor patient prognosis. As EphA2 is expressed at low levels in normal neural tissues, this protein represents an attractive imaging target for delineation of tumor infiltration, providing an improved platform for image-guided therapy. In this study, EphA2-4B3, a monoclonal antibody specific to human EphA2, was labeled with 64Cu through conjugation to the chelator 1,4,7-triazacyclononane-1,4,7-triacetic acid (NOTA). The resulting complex was used as a positron emission tomography (PET) tracer for the acquisition of high-resolution longitudinal PET/magnetic resonance images. EphA2-4B3-NOTA-64Cu images were qualitatively and quantitatively compared to the current clinical standards of [18F]FDOPA and gadolinium (Gd) contrast-enhanced MRI. We show that EphA2-4B3-NOTA-64Cu effectively delineates tumor boundaries in three different mouse models of glioblastoma. Tumor to brain contrast is significantly higher in EphA2-4B3-NOTA-64Cu images than in [18F]FDOPA images and Gd contrast-enhanced MRI. Furthermore, we show that nonspecific uptake in the liver and spleen can be effectively blocked by a dose of nonspecific (isotype control) IgG.
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March 2016

Neurosphere and adherent culture conditions are equivalent for malignant glioma stem cell lines.

Anat Cell Biol 2015 Mar 20;48(1):25-35. Epub 2015 Mar 20.

Department of Neurosurgery, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.

Certain limitations of the neurosphere assay (NSA) have resulted in a search for alternative culture techniques for brain tumor-initiating cells (TICs). Recently, reports have described growing glioblastoma (GBM) TICs as a monolayer using laminin. We performed a side-by-side analysis of the NSA and laminin (adherent) culture conditions to compare the growth and expansion of GBM TICs. GBM cells were grown using the NSA and adherent culture conditions. Comparisons were made using growth in culture, apoptosis assays, protein expression, limiting dilution clonal frequency assay, genetic affymetrix analysis, and tumorigenicity in vivo. In vitro expansion curves for the NSA and adherent culture conditions were virtually identical (P=0.24) and the clonogenic frequencies (5.2% for NSA vs. 5.0% for laminin, P=0.9) were similar as well. Likewise, markers of differentiation (glial fibrillary acidic protein and beta tubulin III) and proliferation (Ki67 and MCM2) revealed no statistical difference between the sphere and attachment methods. Several different methods were used to determine the numbers of dead or dying cells (trypan blue, DiIC, caspase-3, and annexin V) with none of the assays noting a meaningful variance between the two methods. In addition, genetic expression analysis with microarrays revealed no significant differences between the two groups. Finally, glioma cells derived from both methods of expansion formed large invasive tumors exhibiting GBM features when implanted in immune-compromised animals. A detailed functional, protein and genetic characterization of human GBM cells cultured in serum-free defined conditions demonstrated no statistically meaningful differences when grown using sphere (NSA) or adherent conditions. Hence, both methods are functionally equivalent and remain suitable options for expanding primary high-grade gliomas in tissue culture.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.5115/acb.2015.48.1.25DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4371178PMC
March 2015

Eph family co-expression patterns define unique clusters predictive of cancer phenotype.

Growth Factors 2014 Dec 20;32(6):254-64. Epub 2014 Nov 20.

Brain Cancer Research Unit & Leukaemia Foundation Research Unit, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute , Brisbane, Queensland , Australia.

The Eph genes are the largest sub-family of receptor tyrosine kinases; however, it is most likely the least understood and the arena for many conflicting reports. In this tribute to Prof. Martin Lackmann and Prof. Tony Pawson, we utilized The Cancer Genome Atlas resources to shed new light on the understanding of this family. We found that mutation and expression analysis define two clusters of co-expressed Eph family genes that relate to aggressive phenotypes across multiple cancer types. Analysis of signal transduction pathways using reverse-phase protein arrays revealed a network of interactions, which associates cluster-specific Eph genes with epithelial-mesenchymal transition, metabolism, DNA-damage repair and apoptosis. Our findings support the role of the Eph family in modulating cancer progression and reveal distinct patterns of Eph expression, which correlate with disease outcome. These observations provide further rationale for seeking cancer therapies, which target the Eph/ephrin system.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3109/08977194.2014.984807DOI Listing
December 2014

Increased sensitivity to ionizing radiation by targeting the homologous recombination pathway in glioma initiating cells.

Mol Oncol 2014 Dec 27;8(8):1603-15. Epub 2014 Jun 27.

QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia; The University of Queensland Centre for Clinical Research, Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital Campus, Herston, Queensland 4029, Australia. Electronic address:

Glioblastoma is deemed the most malignant form of brain tumour, particularly due to its resistance to conventional treatments. A small surviving group of aberrant stem cells termed glioma initiation cells (GICs) that escape surgical debulking are suggested to be the cause of this resistance. Relatively quiescent in nature, GICs are capable of driving tumour recurrence and undergo lineage differentiation. Most importantly, these GICs are resistant to radiotherapy, suggesting that radioresistance contribute to their survival. In a previous study, we demonstrated that GICs had a restricted double strand break (DSB) repair pathway involving predominantly homologous recombination (HR) associated with a lack of functional G1/S checkpoint arrest. This unusual behaviour led to less efficient non-homologous end joining (NHEJ) repair and overall slower DNA DSB repair kinetics. To determine whether specific targeting of the HR pathway with small molecule inhibitors could increase GIC radiosensitivity, we used the Ataxia-telangiectasia mutated inhibitor (ATMi) to ablate HR and the DNA-dependent protein kinase inhibitor (DNA-PKi) to inhibit NHEJ. Pre-treatment with ATMi prior to ionizing radiation (IR) exposure prevented HR-mediated DNA DSB repair as measured by Rad51 foci accumulation. Increased cell death in vitro and improved in vivo animal survival could be observed with combined ATMi and IR treatment. Conversely, DNA-PKi treatment had minimal impact on GICs ability to resolve DNA DSB after IR with only partial reduction in cell survival, confirming the major role of HR. These results provide a mechanistic insight into the predominant form of DNA DSB repair in GICs, which when targeted may be a potential translational approach to increase patient survival.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molonc.2014.06.012DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5528585PMC
December 2014
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