Targeting extracellular matrix remodeling sensitizes glioblastoma to ionizing radiation

Neurooncol Adv. 2022 Sep 10;4(1):vdac147. doi: 10.1093/noajnl/vdac147. eCollection 2022 Jan-Dec.


Background: The median survival of Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients is 14+ months due to poor responses to surgery and chemoradiation. Means to counteract radiation resistance are therefore highly desirable. We demonstrate the membrane bound matrix metalloproteinase MT1-MMP promotes resistance of GBM to radiation, and that using a selective and brain permeable MT1-MMP inhibitor, (R)-ND336, improved tumor control can be achieved in preclinical studies.

Methods: Public microarray and RNA-sequencing data were used to determine MT1-MMP relevance in GBM patient survival. Glioma stem-like neurospheres (GSCs) were used for both in vitro and in vivo assays. An affinity resin coupled with proteomics was used to quantify active MT1-MMP in brain tissue of GBM patients. Short hairpin RNA (shRNA)-mediated knockdown of MT1-MMP and inhibition via the MT1-MMP inhibitor (R)-ND336, were used to assess the role of MT1-MMP in radio-resistance.

Results: MT1-MMP expression inversely correlated with patient survival. Active MT1-MMP was present in brain tissue of GBM patients but not in normal brain. shRNA- or (R)-ND336-mediated inhibition of MT1-MMP sensitized GSCs to radiation leading to a significant increase in survival of tumor-bearing animals. MT1-MMP depletion reduced invasion via the effector protease MMP2; and increased the cytotoxic response to radiation via induction of replication fork stress and accumulation of double strand breaks (DSBs), making cells more susceptible to genotoxic insult.

Conclusions: MT1-MMP is pivotal in maintaining replication fork stability. Disruption of MT1-MMP sensitizes cells to radiation and can counteract invasion. (R)-ND336, which efficiently penetrates the brain, is therefore a novel radio-sensitizer in GBM.

Keywords: (R)-ND336; GBM; MT1-MMP; radiation resistance; radio-sensitization.