Glioblastoma (GBM) is one of the cancers with the worst prognosis, despite huge efforts to understand its unusual heterogeneity and aggressiveness. This is mainly due to glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs), which are also responsible for the frequent tumor recurrence following surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy. In this study, we investigate the expression pattern of the anti-apoptotic BCL-xL protein in several GBM cell lines and the role it might play in GSC-enriched tumorspheres. We report that several GBM cell lines have an increased BCL-xL expression in tumorspheres compared to differentiated cells. Moreover, by artificially modulating BCL-xL expression, we unravel a correlation between BCL-xL and tumorsphere size. In addition, BCL-xL upregulation appears to sensitize GBM tumorspheres to newly developed BH3 mimetics, opening promising therapeutic perspectives for treating GBM patients.
Keywords: BCL-xL; BH3 mimetics; apoptosis; cancer stem cells; glioblastoma; therapeutic opportunity.