Object: Nuclear receptor corepressor (N-CoR) forms a complex that maintains neural stem cells in an undifferentiated state through transcriptional repression. Recently, it has been shown that N-CoR is overexpressed in glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumor stem cells and has a putative role in maintaining these cells in an undifferentiated immortal state. To determine the effects of disruption of N-CoR complex function by serine/threonine protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) inhibition on GBM tumor cell differentiation and proliferation, the authors developed and investigated a competitive small molecule inhibitor (LB1) of PP2A in GBM.
Methods: The authors investigated the effects of LB1 on GBM proliferation and molecular differentiation pathways using in vitro and in vivo studies.
Results: The LB1 inhibited PP2A, leading to increased levels of phosphorylated Akt kinase and decreased NCoR expression, as well as dose-dependent antiproliferative activity in cultured U87 and U251 malignant glioma cells (dose range 1-10 microM). Systemic LB1 treatment (1.5 mg/kg/day for 21 days) had significant tumor antiproliferative effects in mice harboring U87 glioma xenografts (73% mean reduction in tumor volume compared with controls; p < 0.001). Moreover, a reduction in PP2A expression and activity after LB1 treatment in vivo correlated with increased Akt phosphorylation, reduced nuclear N-CoR expression and N-CoR cytoplasmic translocation, and increased accumulation of acetylated core histones, which coincided with the appearance of glial fibrillary acidic protein-expressing tumor cells.
Conclusions: These findings indicate that PP2A inhibition effectively disrupts N-CoR complex function/expression and leads to cytoplasmic translocation of N-CoR with subsequent tumor cell differentiation and/or death. Therapeutic paradigms that target N-CoR function in the cancer stem cell component of malignant gliomas may have treatment utility.