Coordination of self-renewal in glioblastoma by integration of adhesion and microRNA signaling

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Cancer stem cells (CSCs) provide an additional layer of complexity for tumor models and targets for therapeutic development. The balance between CSC self-renewal and differentiation is driven by niche components including adhesion, which is a hallmark of stemness. While studies have demonstrated that the reduction of adhesion molecules, such as integrins and junctional adhesion molecule-A (JAM-A), decreases CSC maintenance. The molecular circuitry underlying these interactions has yet to be resolved.


MicroRNA screening predicted that microRNA-145 (miR-145) would bind to JAM-A. JAM-A overexpression in CSCs was evaluated both in vitro (proliferation and self-renewal) and in vivo (intracranial tumor initiation). miR-145 introduction into CSCs was similarly assessed in vitro. Additionally, The Cancer Genome Atlas dataset was evaluated for expression levels of miR-145 and overall survival of the different molecular groups.


Using patient-derived glioblastoma CSCs, we confirmed that JAM-A is suppressed by miR-145. CSCs expressed low levels of miR-145, and its introduction decreased self-renewal through reductions in AKT signaling and stem cell marker (SOX2, OCT4, and NANOG) expression; JAM-A overexpression rescued these effects. These findings were predictive of patient survival, with a JAM-A/miR-145 signature robustly predicting poor patient prognosis.


Our results link CSC-specific niche signaling to a microRNA regulatory network that is altered in glioblastoma and can be targeted to attenuate CSC self-renewal.

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