The effect of a PP2A inhibitor on the nuclear receptor corepressor pathway in glioma

J Neurosurg. 2010 Aug;113(2):225-33. doi: 10.3171/2009.11.JNS091272.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylation / drug effects
  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / chemistry
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Glioma / drug therapy*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Histones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, SCID
  • Nuclear Receptor Co-Repressor 1 / metabolism
  • Phosphorylation / drug effects
  • Protein Phosphatase 1 / metabolism
  • Protein Phosphatase 2 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Protein Phosphatase 2 / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Histones
  • NCOR1 protein, human
  • Nuclear Receptor Co-Repressor 1
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Protein Phosphatase 1
  • Protein Phosphatase 2