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Jie Lu, Alexander Ksendzovsky, Chunzhang Yang, Gautam U. Mehta, Raymund L. Yong, Robert J. Weil, Deric M. Park, Harry M. Mushlin, Xueping Fang, Brian M. Balgley, Dae-Hee Lee, Cheng S. Lee, Russell R. Lonser, and Zhengping Zhuang

Object

Tumor-initiating cells are uniquely resilient to current treatment modalities and play an important role in tumor resistance and recurrence. The lack of specific tumor-initiating cell markers to identify and target these cells presents a major obstacle to effective directed therapy.

Methods

To identify tumor-initiating cell markers in primary brain tumors, the authors compared the proteomes of glioma tumor-initiating cells to their differentiated progeny using a novel, nongel/shotgun-based, multidimensional liquid-chromatography protein separation technique. An in vivo xenograft model was used to demonstrate the tumorigenic and stem cell properties of these cells. Western blot and immunofluorescence analyses were used to confirm findings of upregulated ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor subunit–α (CNTFRα) in undifferentiated tumor-initiating cells and gliomas of increasing tumor grade. Sequencing of the CNTFRα coding regions was performed for mutation analysis. Finally, antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity was used to establish the role of CNTFRα as a potential immunotherapeutic target.

Results

Ciliary neurotrophic factor receptor subunit–α expression was increased in tumor-initiating cells and was decreased in the cells' differentiated progeny, and expression levels increased with glioma grade. Mutations of CNTFRα are not common in gliomas. Functional studies using CNTF treatment in glioma tumor-initiating cells showed induction of differentiation through the CNTFRα pathway. Treatment with anti-CNTFRα antibody resulted in increased antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity in CNTFRα expressing DAOY cells but not in cell lines that lack CNTFRα.

Conclusions

These data indicate that CNTFRα plays a role in the formation or maintenance of tumor-initiating cells in gliomas, is a marker that correlates with histological grade, may underlie treatment resistance in some cases, and is a potential therapeutic target.

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Zhengping Zhuang, Meng Qi, Jie Li, Hiroaki Okamoto, David S. Xu, Rajiv R. Iyer, Jie Lu, Chunzhang Yang, Robert J. Weil, Alexander Vortmeyer, and Russell R. Lonser

Object

Astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas are primary CNS tumors that remain a challenge to differentiate histologically because of their morphological variability and because there is a lack of reliable differential diagnostic markers. To identify proteins that are differentially expressed between astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas, the authors analyzed the proteomic expression patterns and identified uniquely expressed proteins in these neoplasms.

Methods

Proteomes of astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas were analyzed using 2D gel electrophoresis and subsequent computerized gel analysis to detect differentially expressed proteins. The proteins were identified using high-performance liquid chromatography accompanied by tandem mass spectrometry. To determine the role of the differentially expressed proteins in astrocytes, undifferentiated glial cell cultures were treated with dibutyryl–cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP).

Results

Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis revealed that glutamine synthetase was differentially expressed in astrocytomas and oligodendrogliomas. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses confirmed the increased expression of glutamine synthetase in astrocytomas compared with oligodendrogliomas. Whereas glutamine synthetase expression was demonstrated across all grades of astrocytomas (Grade II–IV [15 tumors]) and oligoastrocytomas (4 tumors), it was expressed in only 1 oligodendroglioma (6% [16 tumors]). Treatment of undifferentiated glial cell cultures with dibutyryl-cAMP resulted in astrocyte differentiation that was associated with increased levels of glial fibrillary acidic protein and glutamine synthetase.

Conclusions

These data indicate that glutamine synthetase expression can be used to distinguish astrocytic from oligodendroglial tumors and may play a role in the pathogenesis of astrocytomas.