JOURNAL ARTICLE

GSK3beta regulates differentiation and growth arrest in glioblastoma

Serdar Korur, Roland M Huber, Balasubramanian Sivasankaran, Michael Petrich, Pier Morin, Brian A Hemmings, Adrian Merlo, Maria Maddalena Lino
PloS One 2009 October 13, 4 (10): e7443
19823589
Cancers are driven by a population of cells with the stem cell properties of self-renewal and unlimited growth. As a subpopulation within the tumor mass, these cells are believed to constitute a tumor cell reservoir. Pathways controlling the renewal of normal stem cells are deregulated in cancer. The polycomb group gene Bmi1, which is required for neural stem cell self-renewal and also controls anti-oxidant defense in neurons, is upregulated in several cancers, including medulloblastoma. We have found that Bmi1 is consistently and highly expressed in GBM. Downregulation of Bmi1 by shRNAs induced a differentiation phenotype and reduced expression of the stem cell markers Sox2 and Nestin. Interestingly, expression of glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3beta), which was found to be consistently expressed in primary GBM, also declined. This suggests a functional link between Bmi1 and GSK3beta. Interference with GSK3beta activity by siRNA, the specific inhibitor SB216763, or lithium chloride (LiCl) induced tumor cell differentiation. In addition, tumor cell apoptosis was enhanced, the formation of neurospheres was impaired, and clonogenicity reduced in a dose-dependent manner. GBM cell lines consist mainly of CD133-negative (CD133-) cells. Interestingly, ex vivo cells from primary tumor biopsies allowed the identification of a CD133- subpopulation of cells that express stem cell markers and are depleted by inactivation of GSK3beta. Drugs that inhibit GSK3, including the psychiatric drug LiCl, may deplete the GBM stem cell reservoir independently of CD133 status.

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