Molecular mechanisms preventing self-renewing brain stem cells from oncogenic transformation are poorly defined. We show that the expression levels of SOX5, SOX6, and SOX21 (SOX5/6/21) transcription factors increase in stem cells of the subventricular zone (SVZ) upon oncogenic stress, whereas their expression in human glioma decreases during malignant progression. Elevated levels of SOX5/6/21 promoted SVZ cells to exit the cell cycle, whereas genetic ablation of SOX5/6/21 dramatically increased the capacity of these cells to form glioma-like tumors in an oncogene-driven mouse brain tumor model. Loss-of-function experiments revealed that SOX5/6/21 prevent detrimental hyperproliferation of oncogene expressing SVZ cells by facilitating an antiproliferative expression profile. Consistently, restoring high levels of SOX5/6/21 in human primary glioblastoma cells enabled expression of CDK inhibitors and decreased p53 protein turnover, which blocked their tumorigenic capacity through cellular senescence and apoptosis. Altogether, these results provide evidence that SOX5/6/21 play a central role in driving a tumor suppressor response in brain stem cells upon oncogenic insult. Cancer Res; 77(18); 4985-97. ©2017 AACR.
©2017 American Association for Cancer Research.