Membrane-Depolarizing Channel Blockers Induce Selective Glioma Cell Death by Impairing Nutrient Transport and Unfolded Protein/Amino Acid Responses

Cancer Res. 2017 Apr 1;77(7):1741-1752. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-16-2274. Epub 2017 Jan 13.


Glioma-initiating cells (GIC) are considered the underlying cause of recurrences of aggressive glioblastomas, replenishing the tumor population and undermining the efficacy of conventional chemotherapy. Here we report the discovery that inhibiting T-type voltage-gated Ca2+ and KCa channels can effectively induce selective cell death of GIC and increase host survival in an orthotopic mouse model of human glioma. At present, the precise cellular pathways affected by the drugs affecting these channels are unknown. However, using cell-based assays and integrated proteomics, phosphoproteomics, and transcriptomics analyses, we identified the downstream signaling events these drugs affect. Changes in plasma membrane depolarization and elevated intracellular Na+, which compromised Na+-dependent nutrient transport, were documented. Deficits in nutrient deficit acted in turn to trigger the unfolded protein response and the amino acid response, leading ultimately to nutrient starvation and GIC cell death. Our results suggest new therapeutic targets to attack aggressive gliomas. Cancer Res; 77(7); 1741-52. ©2017 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acids / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Brain Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Calcium Channel Blockers / pharmacology*
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type / physiology*
  • Cell Death
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Dihydropyridines / pharmacology
  • Glioma / drug therapy*
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mycotoxins / pharmacology
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / pathology
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Proteomics
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Unfolded Protein Response / drug effects*


  • Amino Acids
  • Calcium Channel Blockers
  • Calcium Channels, T-Type
  • Dihydropyridines
  • Mycotoxins
  • Potassium Channels, Calcium-Activated
  • tremortin
  • Sodium
  • niguldipine