Distinct molecular mechanisms of acquired resistance to temozolomide in glioblastoma cells

J Neurochem. 2012 Jul;122(2):444-55. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2012.07781.x. Epub 2012 May 28.


Temozolomide (TMZ) is an alkylating chemotherapeutic agent that prolongs the survival of patients with glioblastoma. Clinical benefit is more prominent in patients with methylation of the O(6) -methyl-guanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter. However, all patients eventually suffer from tumor progression because their tumors become resistant to TMZ. Here, we modeled acquired TMZ resistance in glioma cells in vitro to identify underlying molecular mechanisms. To this end, the glioma cell lines LNT-229, LN-308, and LN-18 were exposed repetitively to increasing concentrations of TMZ to induce a stable resistant phenotype (R) defined by clonogenic survival assays. The molecular mechanisms mediating acquired resistance were assessed by immunoblot, PCR, and flow cytometry. Rescue experiments were performed with siRNA-mediated candidate gene silencing. We found in LN-18 cells constitutively expressing MGMT a strong up-regulation of MGMT levels in TMZ-resistant cells. TMZ resistance in the MGMT-negative cell lines LNT-229 and LN-308 was not associated with de novo expression of MGMT. Instead, we found a down-regulation of several DNA mismatch-repair proteins in resistant LNT-229 cells. A TMZ-resistant phenotype was also achieved by silencing selected DNA mismatch repair proteins in parental LNT-229 cells. No obvious mechanism of resistance was identified in the third cell line, LN-308, except for reduced methylation of LINE-1 repetitive elements. In conclusion, we demonstrate that different molecular mechanisms may contribute to the development of acquired TMZ resistance in glioma cells, indicating the need to develop distinct strategies to overcome resistance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating / pharmacology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / drug effects
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival
  • Chromatin / drug effects
  • DNA Mismatch Repair
  • DNA Modification Methylases / biosynthesis
  • DNA Modification Methylases / genetics
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Repair
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / biosynthesis
  • DNA Repair Enzymes / genetics
  • DNA Replication / genetics
  • DNA Replication / physiology
  • Dacarbazine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Dacarbazine / pharmacology
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genes, Reporter / drug effects
  • Genes, Reporter / genetics
  • Glioblastoma / drug therapy*
  • Glioblastoma / genetics
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA Interference
  • Temozolomide
  • Tumor Stem Cell Assay
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins / genetics
  • p21-Activated Kinases / metabolism


  • Antineoplastic Agents, Alkylating
  • Chromatin
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Dacarbazine
  • DNA Modification Methylases
  • MGMT protein, human
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • DNA Repair Enzymes
  • Temozolomide