Research Papers:

The gain-of-function GLI1 transcription factor TGLI1 enhances expression of VEGF-C and TEM7 to promote glioblastoma angiogenesis

Richard L. Carpenter _, Ivy Paw, Hu Zhu, Sherona Sirkisoon, Fei Xing, Kounosuke Watabe, Waldemar Debinski and Hui-Wen Lo

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:22653-22665. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.4248

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Richard L. Carpenter1, Ivy Paw1, Hu Zhu4, Sherona Sirkisoon1, Fei Xing1, Kounosuke Watabe1,3, Waldemar Debinski1,2,3, Hui-Wen Lo1,2,3

1Department of Cancer Biology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA

2Brain Tumor Center of Excellence, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA

3Comprehensive Cancer Center, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA

4Department of Pharmacology, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

Correspondence to:

Hui-Wen Lo, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: glioblastoma, TGLI1, GLI1, angiogenesis, VEGF-C

Received: March 23, 2015     Accepted: May 21, 2015     Published: June 04, 2015


We recently discovered that truncated glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (TGLI1) is highly expressed in glioblastoma (GBM) and linked to increased GBM vascularity. The mechanisms underlying TGLI1-mediated angiogenesis are unclear. In this study, we compared TGLI1- with GLI1-expressing GBM xenografts for the expression profile of 84 angiogenesis-associated genes. The results showed that expression of six genes were upregulated and five were down-regulated in TGLI1-carrying tumors compared to those with GLI1. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) and tumor endothelial marker 7 (TEM7) were selected for further investigations because of their significant correlations with high vascularity in 135 patient GBMs. TGLI1 bound to both VEGF-C and TEM7 gene promoters. Conditioned medium from TGLI1-expressing GBM cells strongly induced tubule formation of brain microvascular endothelial cells, and the induction was prevented by VEGF-C/TEM7 knockdown. Immunohistochemical analysis of 122 gliomas showed that TGLI1 expression was positively correlated with VEGF-C, TEM7 and microvessel density. Analysis of NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus datasets with 161 malignant gliomas showed an inverse relationship between tumoral VEGF-C, TEM7 or microvessel density and patient survival. Together, our findings support an important role that TGLI1 plays in GBM angiogenesis and identify VEGF-C and TEM7 as novel TGLI1 target genes of importance to GBM vascularity.

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