Interleukin-8/CXCR2 signaling regulates therapy-induced plasticity and enhances tumorigenicity in glioblastoma

Tanwir Hasan, Seamus P. Caragher, Jack M. Shireman, Cheol H. Park, Fatemeh Atashi, Shivani Baisiwala, Gina Lee, Donna Guo, Jennifer Y. Wang, Mahua Dey, Meijing Wu, Maciej S. Lesniak, Craig M. Horbinski, C. David James, Atique U. Ahmed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Emerging evidence reveals enrichment of glioma-initiating cells (GICs) following therapeutic intervention. One factor known to contribute to this enrichment is cellular plasticity—the ability of glioma cells to attain multiple phenotypes. To elucidate the molecular mechanisms governing therapy-induced cellular plasticity, we performed genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-Seq) and gene expression analysis (gene microarray analysis) during treatment with standard of care temozolomide (TMZ) chemotherapy. Analysis revealed significant enhancement of open-chromatin marks in known astrocytic enhancers for interleukin-8 (IL-8) loci as well as elevated expression during anti-glioma chemotherapy. The Cancer Genome Atlas and Ivy Glioblastoma Atlas Project data demonstrated that IL-8 transcript expression is negatively correlated with GBM patient survival (p = 0.001) and positively correlated with that of genes associated with the GIC phenotypes, such as KLF4, c-Myc, and HIF2α (p < 0.001). Immunohistochemical analysis of patient samples demonstrated elevated IL-8 expression in about 60% of recurrent GBM tumors relative to matched primary tumors and this expression also positively correlates with time to recurrence. Exposure to IL-8 significantly enhanced the self-renewing capacity of PDX GBM (average threefold, p < 0.0005), as well as increasing the expression of GIC markers in the CXCR2 population. Furthermore, IL-8 knockdown significantly delayed PDX GBM tumor growth in vivo (p < 0.0005). Finally, guided by in silico analysis of TCGA data, we examined the effect of therapy-induced IL-8 expression on the epigenomic landscape of GBM cells and observed increased trimethylation of H3K9 and H3K27. Our results show that autocrine IL-8 alters cellular plasticity and mediates alterations in histone status. These findings suggest that IL-8 signaling participates in regulating GBM adaptation to therapeutic stress and therefore represents a promising target for combination with conventional chemotherapy in order to limit GBM recurrence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number292
JournalCell Death and Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cancer Research
  • Cell Biology
  • Immunology


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