Research Papers:

WNK1 kinase and its partners Akt, SGK1 and NBC-family Na+/HCO3 cotransporters are potential therapeutic targets for glioblastoma stem-like cells linked to Bisacodyl signaling

Wanyin Chen, Leonel Nguekeu Zebaze, Jihu Dong, Laëtitia Chézeau, Perrine Inquimbert, Sylvain Hugel, Songlin Niu, Fréderic Bihel, Emmanuel Boutant, Eléonore Réal, Pascal Villa, Marie-Pierre Junier, Hervé Chneiweiss, Marcel Hibert, Jacques Haiech, Marie-Claude Kilhoffer and Maria Zeniou _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:27197-27219. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.25509

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Wanyin Chen1, Leonel Nguekeu Zebaze1, Jihu Dong1, Laëtitia Chézeau1, Perrine Inquimbert2, Sylvain Hugel2, Songlin Niu1, Fréderic Bihel1, Emmanuel Boutant3, Eléonore Réal3, Pascal Villa4, Marie-Pierre Junier5, Hervé Chneiweiss5, Marcel Hibert1, Jacques Haiech1, Marie-Claude Kilhoffer1 and Maria Zeniou1

1Laboratoire d’Innovation Thérapeutique, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Université de Strasbourg, UMR7200, Laboratoire d’Excellence Medalis, Faculté de Pharmacie, Illkirch 67401, France

2Institut des Neurosciences Cellulaires et Intégratives, UPR3212, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, 67084 Strasbourg, France; Université de Strasbourg, Strasbourg 67084, France

3Laboratoire de Bioimagerie et Pathologies - LBP, UMR7021, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique/Université de Strasbourg, Faculté de Pharmacie, Illkirch 67401, France

4Plateforme de Chimie Biologie Intégrative (PCBIS), Université de Strasbourg/CNRS UMS 3286, Laboratoire d’Excellence Medalis, ESBS Pôle API-Bld Sébastien Brant, Illkirch 67401, France

5Neuroscience Paris Seine-IBPS, CNRS UMR 8246/Inserm U1130/UPMC UMCR18, Paris 75005, France

Correspondence to:

Maria Zeniou, email: [email protected]

Keywords: Bisacodyl/DDPM; glioblastoma cancer stem-like cells; WNK1; Akt/SGK1; NBC Na+/HCO3 cotransporters

Received: December 06, 2017     Accepted: May 10, 2018     Published: June 05, 2018


Glioblastoma is a highly heterogeneous brain tumor. The presence of cancer cells with stem-like and tumor initiation/propagation properties contributes to poor prognosis. Glioblastoma cancer stem-like cells (GSC) reside in hypoxic and acidic niches favoring cell quiescence and drug resistance. A high throughput screening recently identified the laxative Bisacodyl as a cytotoxic compound targeting quiescent GSC placed in acidic microenvironments. Bisacodyl activity requires its hydrolysis into DDPM, its pharmacologically active derivative. Bisacodyl was further shown to induce tumor shrinking and increase survival in in vivo glioblastoma models. Here we explored the cellular mechanism underlying Bisacodyl cytotoxic effects using quiescent GSC in an acidic microenvironment and GSC-derived 3D macro-spheres. These spheres mimic many aspects of glioblastoma tumors in vivo, including hypoxic/acidic areas containing quiescent cells. Phosphokinase protein arrays combined with pharmacological and genetic modulation of signaling pathways point to the WNK1 serine/threonine protein kinase as a mediator of Bisacodyl cytotoxic effect in both cell models. WNK1 partners including the Akt and SGK1 protein kinases and NBC-family Na+/HCO3 cotransporters were shown to participate in the compound’s effect on GSC. Overall, our findings uncover novel potential therapeutic targets for combatting glioblastoma which is presently an incurable disease.

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