Research Papers:

Arsenic trioxide disrupts glioma stem cells via promoting PML degradation to inhibit tumor growth

Wenchao Zhou _, Lin Cheng, Yu Shi, Susan Q. Ke, Zhi Huang, Xiaoguang Fang, Cheng-wei Chu, Qi Xie, Xiu-wu Bian, Jeremy N. Rich and Shideng Bao

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:37300-37315. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5836

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Wenchao Zhou1, Lin Cheng2, Yu Shi1,3, Susan Q. Ke1, Zhi Huang1, Xiaoguang Fang1, Cheng-wei Chu1, Qi Xie1, Xiu-wu Bian3, Jeremy N. Rich1, Shideng Bao1

1Department of Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA

2State Key Laboratory of Medical Genomics, Shanghai Institute of Hematology, Rui Jin Hospital, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai 200025, China

3Institute of Pathology and Southwest Cancer Center, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China

Correspondence to:

Shideng Bao, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: glioblastoma, glioma stem cell, arsenic trioxide, PML, c-Myc

Received: July 23, 2015     Accepted: October 01, 2015     Published: October 14, 2015


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most lethal brain tumor. Tumor relapse in GBM is inevitable despite maximal therapeutic interventions. Glioma stem cells (GSCs) have been found to be critical players in therapeutic resistance and tumor recurrence. Therapeutic drugs targeting GSCs may significantly improve GBM treatment. In this study, we demonstrated that arsenic trioxide (As2O3) effectively disrupted GSCs and inhibited tumor growth in the GSC-derived orthotopic xenografts by targeting the promyelocytic leukaemia (PML). As2O3 treatment induced rapid degradation of PML protein along with severe apoptosis in GSCs. Disruption of the endogenous PML recapitulated the inhibitory effects of As2O3 treatment on GSCs both in vitro and in orthotopic tumors. Importantly, As2O3 treatment dramatically reduced GSC population in the intracranial GBM xenografts and increased the survival of mice bearing the tumors. In addition, As2O3 treatment preferentially inhibited cell growth of GSCs but not matched non-stem tumor cells (NSTCs). Furthermore, As2O3 treatment or PML disruption potently diminished c-Myc protein levels through increased poly-ubiquitination and proteasome degradation of c-Myc. Our study indicated a potential implication of As2O3 in GBM treatment and highlighted the important role of PML/c-Myc axis in the maintenance of GSCs.

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