Targeting self-renewal in high-grade brain tumors leads to loss of brain tumor stem cells and prolonged survival

Cell Stem Cell. 2014 Aug 7;15(2):185-98. doi: 10.1016/j.stem.2014.04.007. Epub 2014 May 15.


Cancer stem cells (CSCs) have been suggested as potential therapeutic targets for treating malignant tumors, but the in vivo supporting evidence is still missing. Using a GFP reporter driven by the promoter of the nuclear receptor tailless (Tlx), we demonstrate that Tlx(+) cells in primary brain tumors are mostly quiescent. Lineage tracing demonstrates that single Tlx(+) cells can self-renew and generate Tlx(-) tumor cells in primary tumors, suggesting that they are brain tumor stem cells (BTSCs). After introducing a BTSC-specific knock-out of the Tlx gene in primary mouse tumors, we observed a loss of self-renewal of BTSCs and prolongation of animal survival, accompanied by induction of essential signaling pathways mediating cell-cycle arrest, cell death, and neural differentiation. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of targeting glioblastomas and indicates the suitability of BTSCs as therapeutic targets, thereby supporting the CSC hypothesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Cell Lineage
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cell Survival
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology*
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology*
  • Nestin / metabolism
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Xenograft Model Antitumor Assays


  • Nes protein, mouse
  • Nestin
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE46125