A Proinvasive Role for the Ca2+-Activated K+ Channel KCa3.1 in Malignant Glioma

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Glioblastoma multiforme are highly motile primary brain tumors. Diffuse tissue invasion hampers surgical resection leading to poor patient prognosis. Recent studies suggest that intracellular Ca2+ acts as a master regulator for cell motility and engages a number of downstream signals including Ca2+-activated ion channels. Querying the REepository of Molecular BRAin Neoplasia DaTa (REMBRANDT), an annotated patient gene database maintained by the National Cancer Institute, we identified the intermediate conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels, KCa3.1, being overexpressed in 32% of glioma patients where protein expression significantly correlated with poor patient survival. To mechanistically link KCa3.1 expression to glioma invasion, we selected patient gliomas that, when propagated as xenolines in vivo, present with either high or low KCa3.1 expression. In addition, we generated U251 glioma cells that stably express an inducible knockdown shRNA to experimentally eliminate KCa3.1 expression. Subjecting these cells to a combination of in vitro and in situ invasion assays, we demonstrate that KCa3.1 expression significantly enhances glioma invasion and that either specific pharmacological inhibition with TRAM-34 or elimination of the channel impairs invasion. Importantly, after intracranial implantation into SCID mice, ablation of KCa3.1 with inducible shRNA resulted in a significant reduction in tumor invasion into surrounding brain in vivo. These results show that KCa3.1 confers an invasive phenotype that significantly worsens a patient's outlook, and suggests that KCa3.1 represents a viable therapeutic target to reduce glioma invasion. GLIA 2014;62:971–981

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