Mesenchymal glioblastoma constitutes a major ceRNA signature in the TGF-β pathway

Theranostics. 2018 Sep 9;8(17):4733-4749. doi: 10.7150/thno.26550. eCollection 2018.


Rationale: Competitive endogenous RNA (ceRNA) networks play important roles in posttranscriptional regulation. Their dysregulation is common in cancer. However, ceRNA signatures have been poorly examined in the invasive and aggressive phenotypes of mesenchymal glioblastoma (GBM). This study aims to characterize mesenchymal glioblastoma at the mRNA-miRNA level and identify the mRNAs in ceRNA networks (micNET) markers and their mechanisms in tumorigenesis. Methods: The mRNAs in ceRNA networks (micNETs) of glioblastoma were investigated by constructing a GBM ceRNA network followed by integration with a STRING protein interaction network. The prognostic micNET markers of mesenchymal GBM were identified and validated across multiple datasets. ceRNA interactions were identified between micNETs and miR181 family members. LY2109761, an inhibitor of TGFBR2, demonstrated tumor-suppressive effects on both primary cultured cells and a patient-derived xenograft intracranial model. Results: We characterized mesenchymal glioblastoma at the mRNA-miRNA level and reported a ceRNA network that could separate the mesenchymal subtype from other subtypes. Six genes (TGFBR2, RUNX1, PPARG, ACSL1, GIT2 and RAP1B) that interacted with each other in both a ceRNA-related manner and in terms of their protein functions were identified as markers of the mesenchymal subtype. The coding sequence (CDS) and 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of TGFBR2 upregulated the expression of these genes, whereas TGFBR2 inhibition by siRNA or miR-181a/d suppressed their expression levels. Furthermore, mesenchymal subtype-related genes and the invasion phenotype could be reversed by suppressing the six mesenchymal marker genes. Conclusions: This study suggests that the micNETs may have translational significance in the diagnosis of mesenchymal GBM and may be novel therapeutic targets.

Keywords: TGFBR2; ceRNA network; mesenchymal subtype; micNETs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Carcinogenesis*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Glioblastoma / pathology*
  • Heterografts
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / analysis
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • RNA, Messenger / analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Transcriptome*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta