Temozolomide (TMZ) is a chemotherapeutic agent that has been the first-line standard of care for the aggressive brain cancer glioblastoma (GBM) since 2005. Although initially beneficial, TMZ resistance is universal and second-line interventions are an unmet clinical need. Here, we took advantage of the known mechanism of action of TMZ to target guanines (G) and investigated G-rich G-quadruplex (G4) and splice site changes that occur upon TMZ resistance. We report that TMZ-resistant GBM has guanine mutations that disrupt the G-rich DNA G4s and splice sites that lead to deregulated alternative splicing. These alterations create vulnerabilities, which are selectively targeted by either the G4-stabilizing drug TMPyP4 or a novel splicing kinase inhibitor of cdc2-like kinase. Last, we show that the G4 and RNA binding protein EWSR1 aggregates in the cytoplasm in TMZ-resistant GBM cells and patient samples. Together, our findings provide insight into targetable vulnerabilities of TMZ-resistant GBM and present cytoplasmic EWSR1 as a putative biomarker.
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