bims-malgli Biomed News
on Biology of malignant gliomas
Issue of 2021‒05‒16
fourteen papers selected by
Oltea Sampetrean
Keio University

  1. JCI Insight. 2021 May 10. pii: 141486. [Epub ahead of print]6(9):
      Glioma stem cells (GSCs) drive propagation and therapeutic resistance of glioblastomas, the most aggressive diffuse brain tumors. However, the molecular mechanisms that maintain the stemness and promote therapy resistance remain poorly understood. Here we report CD109/STAT3 axis as crucial for the maintenance of stemness and tumorigenicity of GSCs and as a mediator of chemoresistance. Mechanistically, CD109 physically interacts with glycoprotein 130 to promote activation of the IL-6/STAT3 pathway in GSCs. Genetic depletion of CD109 abolished the stemness and self-renewal of GSCs and impaired tumorigenicity. Loss of stemness was accompanied with a phenotypic shift of GSCs to more differentiated astrocytic-like cells. Importantly, genetic or pharmacologic targeting of CD109/STAT3 axis sensitized the GSCs to chemotherapy, suggesting that targeting CD109/STAT3 axis has potential to overcome therapy resistance in glioblastoma.
    Keywords:  Brain cancer; Molecular biology; Molecular pathology; Oncology; Stem cells
  2. Neuro Oncol. 2021 May 14. pii: noab115. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: The development of rational combination therapies is key to overcome inherent treatment resistance of glioblastoma. We aim at identifying new druggable targets by disturbing glioblastoma cells with inhibitors of Bromodomain and Extra-Terminal motif (BET) proteins to reveal cancer relevant vulnerabilities that may sensitize to a second drug. BET-proteins are epigenetic modulators and have been associated with proto-oncogene overexpression in cancer.METHODS: A glioblastoma derived sphere-line was treated with the BET inhibitor JQ1 over a time-course of 48h, followed by RNA-sequencing. Four chromatin marks were investigated by chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by sequencing (ChIP-seq). Signatures of interest were functionally validated in vitro and in orthotopic xenografts. Combination therapies were evaluated for synergistic effects.
    RESULTS: Cancer relevant pathways significantly modulated by JQ1 comprised interferon-alpha (IFN-α) response genes and response signatures to histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi). The IFN-signature was reminiscent of a glioblastoma-derived IFN-signature comprising CD274 (PD-L1). Functional pathway analysis suggested that JQ1 was acting directly on the transcriptional level of IFN-response genes and not via the canonical JAK-STAT pathway. This was in line with JQ1 modulated expression and BRD4 and POL2 occupancy at IFN-signature genes, supporting a direct mechanistic interaction. Finally, we showed that combining HDACi with JQ1 acts synergistically in reducing cell viability of GS-lines.
    CONCLUSIONS: Our approach identified BETi-induced vulnerabilities in cancer relevant pathways, potentially amenable to synergistic combinatorial therapy, such as combination with HDACi. The direct inhibitory effect of BETi on IFN-responsive genes in GBM cells, including CD274, indicates modulation of the tumor immune landscape and warrants further studies.
    Keywords:  BET inhibitors; epigenetics; glioblastoma; interferon stimulated genes; synergistic combination therapy
  3. Neurooncol Adv. 2021 Jan-Dec;3(1):3(1): vdab042
      Background: Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPGs) are lethal pediatric brain tumors. Presently, MRI is the mainstay of disease diagnosis and surveillance. We identify clinically significant computational features from MRI and create a prognostic machine learning model.Methods: We isolated tumor volumes of T1-post-contrast (T1) and T2-weighted (T2) MRIs from 177 treatment-naïve DIPG patients from an international cohort for model training and testing. The Quantitative Image Feature Pipeline and PyRadiomics was used for feature extraction. Ten-fold cross-validation of least absolute shrinkage and selection operator Cox regression selected optimal features to predict overall survival in the training dataset and tested in the independent testing dataset. We analyzed model performance using clinical variables (age at diagnosis and sex) only, radiomics only, and radiomics plus clinical variables.
    Results: All selected features were intensity and texture-based on the wavelet-filtered images (3 T1 gray-level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM) texture features, T2 GLCM texture feature, and T2 first-order mean). This multivariable Cox model demonstrated a concordance of 0.68 (95% CI: 0.61-0.74) in the training dataset, significantly outperforming the clinical-only model (C = 0.57 [95% CI: 0.49-0.64]). Adding clinical features to radiomics slightly improved performance (C = 0.70 [95% CI: 0.64-0.77]). The combined radiomics and clinical model was validated in the independent testing dataset (C = 0.59 [95% CI: 0.51-0.67], Noether's test P = .02).
    Conclusions: In this international study, we demonstrate the use of radiomic signatures to create a machine learning model for DIPG prognostication. Standardized, quantitative approaches that objectively measure DIPG changes, including computational MRI evaluation, could offer new approaches to assessing tumor phenotype and serve a future role for optimizing clinical trial eligibility and tumor surveillance.
    Keywords:  H3K27M-mutant; diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas; diffuse midline glioma; machine learning; magnetic resonance imaging; radiomics
  4. Glia. 2021 May 15.
      High-grade gliomas (HGGs) are aggressive, treatment-resistant, and often fatal human brain cancers. The TNF-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK)/fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14) signaling axis is involved in tissue repair after injury and constitutive signaling has been implicated in the pathogenesis of numerous solid cancers. The Fn14 gene is expressed at low levels in the normal, uninjured brain but is highly expressed in primary isocitrate dehydrogenase wild-type and recurrent HGGs. Fn14 signaling is implicated in numerous aspects of glioma biology including brain invasion and chemotherapy resistance, but whether Fn14 overexpression can directly promote tumor malignancy has not been reported. Here, we used the replication-competent avian sarcoma-leukosis virus/tumor virus A system to examine the impact of Fn14 expression on glioma development and pathobiology. We found that the sole addition of Fn14 to an established oncogenic cocktail previously shown to generate proneural-like gliomas led to the development of highly invasive and lethal brain cancer with striking biological features including extensive pseudopalisading necrosis, constitutive canonical and noncanonical NF-κB pathway signaling, and high plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) expression. Analyses of HGG patient datasets revealed that high human PAI-1 gene (SERPINE1) expression correlates with shorter patient survival, and that the SERPINE1 and Fn14 (TNFRSF12A) genes are frequently co-expressed in bulk tumor tissues, in tumor subregions, and in malignant cells residing in the tumor microenvironment. These findings provide new insights into the potential importance of Fn14 in human HGG pathobiology and designate both the NF-κB signaling node and PAI-1 as potential targets for therapeutic intervention. MAIN POINTS: This work demonstrates that elevated levels of the TWEAK receptor Fn14 in tumor-initiating, neural progenitor cells leads to the transformation of proneural-like gliomas into more aggressive and lethal tumors that exhibit constitutive NF-κB pathway activation and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 overexpression.
    Keywords:  Fn14; NF-κB; PAI-1; RCAS/tv-a model; glioblastoma; high-grade glioma
  5. Lab Chip. 2021 May 10.
      Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and the most aggressive type of primary brain malignancy. Glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) can migrate in vascular niches within or away from the tumour mass, increasing tumour resistance to treatments and contributing to relapses. To study individual GSC migration and their interactions with the perivasculature of the tumour microenvironment, there is a need to develop a human organotypic in vitro model. Herein, we demonstrated a perivascular niche-on-a-chip, in a serum-free condition with gravity-driven flow, that supported the stemness of patient-derived GSCs and foetal neural stem cells grown in a three-dimensional environment (3D). Endothelial cells from three organ origins, (i) human brain microvascular endothelial cells (hCMEC/D3), (ii) human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) and, (iii) human lung microvascular endothelial cells (HMVEC-L) formed rounded microvessels within the extracellular-matrix integrated microfluidic chip. By optimising cell extraction protocols, systematic studies were performed to evaluate the effects of serum-free media, 3D cell cultures, and the application of gravity-driven flow on the characteristics of endothelial cells and their co-culture with GSCs. Our results showed the maintenance of adherent and tight junction markers of hCMEC/D3 in the serum-free culture and that gravity-driven flow was essential to support adequate viability of both the microvessel and the GSCs in co-culture (>80% viability at day 3). Endpoint biological assays showed upregulation of neovascularization-related genes (e.g., angiopoietins, vascular endothelial growth factor receptors) in endothelial cells co-cultured with GSCs in contrast to the neural stem cell reference that showed insignificant changes. The on-chip platform further permitted live-cell imaging of GSC - microvessel interaction, enabling quantitative analysis of GSC polarization and migration. Overall, our comparative genotypic (i.e. qPCR) and phenotypic (i.e. vessel permeability and GSC migration) studies showed that organotypic (brain cancer cells-brain endothelial microvessel) interactions differed from those within non-tissue specific vascular niches of human origin. The development and optimization of this on-chip perivascular niche, in a serum-free flowable culture, could provide the next level of complexity of an in vitro system to study the influence of glioma stem cells on brain endothelium.
  6. Brain Tumor Pathol. 2021 May 11.
      As a new concept of glioma therapy, immunotherapy combined with standard therapies is a promising modality to improve glioma patient survival. VEGF and its signaling pathway molecules not only inhibit angiogenesis but also may reinforce the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, including promotion of the accumulation of immunosuppressive tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs). In this review, we discuss VEGF-targeted therapy as a new treatment option of the TAM-targeted therapy for high-grade gliomas, as well as other TAM-targeted therapies. The authors also discuss the potential of these therapies combined with conventional immunotherapies.
    Keywords:  Bevacizumab; Combination; Glioma; Immunotherapy; Tumor-associated macrophages
  7. Nat Commun. 2021 May 11. 12(1): 2582
      Immune checkpoint blockers (ICBs) have failed in all phase III glioblastoma (GBM) trials. Here, we show that regulatory T (Treg) cells play a key role in GBM resistance to ICBs in experimental gliomas. Targeting glucocorticoid-induced TNFR-related receptor (GITR) in Treg cells using an agonistic antibody (αGITR) promotes CD4 Treg cell differentiation into CD4 effector T cells, alleviates Treg cell-mediated suppression of anti-tumor immune response, and induces potent anti-tumor effector cells in GBM. The reprogrammed GBM-infiltrating Treg cells express genes associated with a Th1 response signature, produce IFNγ, and acquire cytotoxic activity against GBM tumor cells while losing their suppressive function. αGITR and αPD1 antibodies increase survival benefit in three experimental GBM models, with a fraction of cohorts exhibiting complete tumor eradication and immune memory upon tumor re-challenge. Moreover, αGITR and αPD1 synergize with the standard of care treatment for newly-diagnosed GBM, enhancing the cure rates in these GBM models.
  8. J Neurosci Res. 2021 May 10.
      CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat)-based genetic screens offer unbiased and powerful tools for systematic and specific evaluation of phenotypes associated with specific target genes. CRISPR screens have been utilized heavily in vitro to identify functional coding and noncoding genes in a large number of cell types, including glioblastoma (GB), though no prior study has described the evaluation of CRISPR screening in GB in vivo. Here, we describe a protocol for targeting and transcriptionally repressing GB-specific long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) by CRISPR interference (CRISPRi) system in vivo, with tumor growth in the mouse cerebral cortex. Given the target-specific parameters of each individual screen, we list general steps involved in transducing guide RNA libraries into GB tumor lines, maintaining sufficient coverage, as well as cortically injecting and subsequently isolating transduced screen tumor cell populations for analysis. Finally, in order to demonstrate the use of this technique to discern an essential lncRNA, HOTAIR, from a nonessential lncRNA, we injected a 1:1 (HOTAIR:control nonessential lncRNA knockdown) mixture of fluorescently tagged U87 GB cells into the cortex of eight mice, evaluating selective depletion of HOTAIR-tagged cells at 2 weeks of growth. Fluorescently tagged populations were analyzed via flow cytometry for hiBFP (control knockdown) and green fluorescent protein (HOTAIR knockdown), revealing 17% (p = 0.007) decrease in fluorescence associated with HOTAIR knockdown relative to control. The described in vivo CRISPR screening methodology thus appears to be an effective option for identifying noncoding (and coding) genes affecting GB growth within the mouse cortex.
    Keywords:  RRID:Addgene_111596; RRID:Addgene_12259; RRID:Addgene_39196; RRID:Addgene_46911; RRID:Addgene_60955; RRID:Addgene_8455; RRID:CVCL_0022; RRID:CVCL_0063; RRID:IMSR_JAX:002019; brain tumors; clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeat; lncRNA
  9. Sci Rep. 2021 May 11. 11(1): 9974
      Glioblastoma remains the most devastating brain tumor despite optimal treatment, because of the high rate of recurrence. Distant recurrence has distinct genomic alterations compared to local recurrence, which requires different treatment planning both in clinical practice and trials. To date, perfusion-weighted MRI has revealed that perfusional characteristics of tumor are associated with prognosis. However, not much research has focused on recurrence patterns in glioblastoma: namely, local and distant recurrence. Here, we propose two different neural network models to predict the recurrence patterns in glioblastoma that utilizes high-dimensional radiomic profiles based on perfusion MRI: area under the curve (AUC) (95% confidence interval), 0.969 (0.903-1.000) for local recurrence; 0.864 (0.726-0.976) for distant recurrence for each patient in the validation set. This creates an opportunity to provide personalized medicine in contrast to studies investigating only group differences. Moreover, interpretable deep learning identified that salient radiomic features for each recurrence pattern are related to perfusional intratumoral heterogeneity. We also demonstrated that the combined salient radiomic features, or "radiomic risk score", increased risk of recurrence/progression (hazard ratio, 1.61; p = 0.03) in multivariate Cox regression on progression-free survival.
  10. Autophagy. 2021 May 12. 1-11
      Glioblastoma (GBM), a very aggressive and incurable tumor, often results from constitutive activation of EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) and of phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI3K). To understand the role of autophagy in the pathogenesis of glial tumors in vivo, we used an established Drosophila melanogaster model of glioma based on overexpression in larval glial cells of an active human EGFR and of the PI3K homolog Pi3K92E/Dp110. Interestingly, the resulting hyperplastic glia express high levels of key components of the lysosomal-autophagic compartment, including vacuolar-type H+-ATPase (V-ATPase) subunits and ref(2)P (refractory to Sigma P), the Drosophila homolog of SQSTM1/p62. However, cellular clearance of autophagic cargoes appears inhibited upstream of autophagosome formation. Remarkably, downregulation of subunits of V-ATPase, of Pdk1, or of the Tor (Target of rapamycin) complex 1 (TORC1) component raptor prevents overgrowth and normalize ref(2)P levels. In addition, downregulation of the V-ATPase subunit VhaPPA1-1 reduces Akt and Tor-dependent signaling and restores clearance. Consistent with evidence in flies, neurospheres from patients with high V-ATPase subunit expression show inhibition of autophagy. Altogether, our data suggest that autophagy is repressed during glial tumorigenesis and that V-ATPase and MTORC1 components acting at lysosomes could represent therapeutic targets against GBM.
    Keywords:  Autophagy; V-ATPase; cancer model; fruit fly; glioblastoma; lysosomes; neurospheres; ref(2)P
  11. Neuro Oncol. 2021 May 13. pii: noab111. [Epub ahead of print]
      BACKGROUND: Temozolomide offers minimal benefit in patients with glioblastoma with unmethylated O 6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter status, hence the need for novel therapies. This study evaluated whether veliparib, a brain-penetrant poly ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) inhibitor, acts synergistically with radiation and temozolomide.METHODS: VERTU was a multicenter 2:1 randomized phase II trial in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma and MGMT-unmethylated promotor status. The experimental arm consisted of veliparib and radiotherapy, followed by adjuvant veliparib and temozolomide. The standard arm consisted of concurrent temozolomide and radiotherapy, followed by adjuvant temozolomide. The primary objective was to extend the 6-month progression-free survival (PFS-6m) in the experimental arm.
    RESULTS: A total of 125 participants were enrolled, with 84 in the experimental arm and 41 in the standard arm. The median age was 61 years, 70% were male, 59% had Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status of 0, and 87% underwent macroscopic resection. PFS-6m was 46% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 36-57%) in the experimental arm and 31% (95% CI: 18-46%) in the standard arm. Median OS was 12.7 months (95% CI: 11.4-14.5 months) in the experimental arm and 12.8 months (95% CI: 9.5-15.8 months) in the standard arm. The most common grade 3-4 adverse events were thrombocytopenia and neutropenia, with no new safety signals.
    CONCLUSION: The veliparib-containing regimen was feasible and well tolerated. However, there was insufficient evidence of clinical benefit in this population. Further information from correlative translational work and other trials of PARP inhibitors in glioblastoma are still awaited.
    Keywords:  DNA damage; MGMT; PARP; glioblastoma; veliparib
  12. Neuro Oncol. 2021 May 13. pii: noab024. [Epub ahead of print]
    Keywords:  cancer stem cell; glioblastoma; inflammation; invasion; mesenchymal stem cell