Research Papers:

FoxO proteins or loss of functional p53 maintain stemness of glioblastoma stem cells and survival after ionizing radiation plus PI3K/mTOR inhibition

Elke Firat and Gabriele Niedermann _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:54883-54896. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.10702

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Elke Firat1, Gabriele Niedermann1,2,3

1Department of Radiation Oncology, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany

2German Cancer Consortium (DKTK), Freiburg, Germany

3German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany

Correspondence to:

Gabriele Niedermann, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cancer stem cells, radiotherapy, FOXO, p53, glioblastoma

Received: December 10, 2015     Accepted: June 12, 2016     Published: July 19, 2016


Dual PI3K/mTOR inhibitors do not effectively radiosensitize glioblastoma multiforme stem cells (GBM-SCs), but p53-proficient GBM-SCs are more responsive than p53-deficient ones. Here, we found that p53-proficient, but not p53-deficient, GBM-SCs lost stemness and differentiated after γ-irradiation combined with PI3K/mTOR inhibition; expression of FoxO proteins was also lost. FoxO overexpression inhibited the loss of stem cell markers under these conditions. Combined, but not single, FoxO1/3 deletion or pharmacological inhibition of FoxO transcriptional activity strongly reduced stem and progenitor marker expression, particularly that of Sox2. Binding of FoxO1 and FoxO3 to the sox2 regulatory regions was also found. However, combined FoxO1/3 knockdown strongly reduced self-renewal and post-treatment survival only in p53-proficient GBM-SCs. This suggests that FoxO1 and FoxO3 are crucial for functional stemness and post-treatment survival mainly in p53-proficient but not in p53-deficient GBM-SCs, and that these functions can be maintained through the loss of DNA damage-responsive p53 instead.

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