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PS2 - 171 Bmi1 Identifies Treatment-Refractory Stem Cells in Human Glioblastoma

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 October 2016

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Glioblastoma (GBM) is an aggressive brain tumor that is resistant to conventional radiation and cytotoxic chemotherapies. We hypothesize that brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs), a subpopulation of treatment-resistant cells with stem cell properties cause tumor relapse and a subset of neural stem cell genes regulate BTIC self-renewal, driving GBM recurrence. We adapted the existing treatment protocol for adults with primary GBM for in vivo treatment of immunocompromised mice engrafted with GBMs. Post-chemoradiotherapy, the recovered GFP+GBMs were profiled for self-renewal and expression of critical stem cell genes. Using invitro and invivo gain-of-function/loss-of-function experiments, we investigated the regulatory functions of Bmi1 in primary neural stem & progenitor cells (NSPCs) and GBM tumor formation. Finally, global RNA-Seq profiling was performed to understand the consequences of Bmi1 dysregulation on target gene expression. GBM cells showed an increase in Bmi1 levels post-chemoradiotherapy, suggesting the presence of a treatment-refractory BTICs. GFP+cells extracted from treated xenografts had higher self-renewal and BTIC marker expression. Although treated mice responded to therapy, we observed tumor relapse with increased Bmi1 expression. Knockdown of Bmi1 diminished self-renewal and proliferation of GBM cells and delayed tumorigenesis, highlighting a critical role for Bmi1 in tumor maintenance. Conversely, over-expressing Bmi1 in NSPCs failed to initiate tumor formation in vivo. Using high-throughput sequencing data, we generated a map of signaling pathways dysregulated in GBM that may lead to tumor recurrence. Our data confirms the existence of a rare treatment-refractory BTIC population with enhanced self-renewal capacity that escapes therapy and drives tumor relapse.

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Copyright © The Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences Inc. 2016