Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is amongst the deadliest of human cancers, with a median survival rate of just over one year following diagnosis. Characterized by rapid proliferation and diffuse infiltration into the brain, GBM is notoriously difficult to treat, with tumor cells showing limited response to existing therapies and eventually developing resistance to these interventions. As such, there is intense interest in better understanding the molecular alterations in GBM to guide the development of more efficient targeted therapies. GBM tumors can be classified into several molecular subtypes which have distinct genetic signatures, and they show aberrant activation of numerous signal transduction pathways, particularly those connected to receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs) which control glioma cell growth, survival, migration, invasion, and angiogenesis. There are also non-canonical modes of RTK signaling found in GBM, which involve G-protein-coupled receptors and calcium channels. This review uses The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) GBM dataset in combination with a data-mining approach to summarize disease characteristics, with a focus on select molecular pathways that drive GBM pathogenesis. We also present a unique genomic survey of RTKs that are frequently altered in GBM subtypes, as well as catalog the GBM disease association scores for all RTKs. Lastly, we discuss current RTK targeted therapies and highlight emerging directions in GBM research.
Keywords: calcium; glioblastoma multiforme; receptor tyrosine kinase; tyrosine kinase inhibitors.