Tight regulation between cell survival and programmed cell death in GBM stem-like cells by EGFR/GSK3b/PP2A signaling

Demirkan B. Gürsel, Matei A. Banu, Nicholas Berry, Roberta Marongiu, Jan Karl Burkhardt, Keith Kobylarz, Michael G. Kaplitt, Shahin Rafii, John A. Boockvar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Malignant gliomas represent one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, displaying high mortality rates and limited treatment options. Specific subpopulations of cells residing in the tumor niche with stem-like characteristics have been postulated to initiate and maintain neoplasticity while resisting conventional therapies. The study presented here aims to define the role of glycogen synthase kinase 3 beta (GSK3b) in patient-derived glioblastoma (GBM) stem-like cell (GSC) proliferation, apoptosis and invasion. To evaluate the potential role of GSK3b in GBM, protein profiles from 68 GBM patients and 20 normal brain samples were analyzed for EGFR-mediated PI3kinase/Akt and GSK3b signaling molecules including protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A). To better understand the function of GSK3b in GBM, GSCs were isolated from GBM patient samples. Blocking GSK3b phosphorylation at Serine 9 attenuated cell proliferation while concomitantly stimulating apoptosis through activation of Caspase-3 in patient-derived GSCs. Increasing GSK3b protein content resulted in the inhibition of cell proliferation, colony formation and stimulated programmed cell death. Depleting GSK3b in GSCs down regulated PP2A. Furthermore, knocking down PP2A or blocking its activity by okadaic acid inactivated GSK3b by increasing GSK3b phosphorylation at Serine 9. Our data suggests that GSK3b may function as a regulator of apoptosis and tumorigenesis in GSCs. Therapeutic approaches targeting GSK3b in glioblastoma stem-like cells may be a useful addition to our current therapeutic armamentarium.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)19-29
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuro-Oncology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2015


  • Apoptosis
  • Cancer stem cells
  • EGFR
  • Glioblastoma
  • Glycogen synthase kinase 3
  • PP2A

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cancer Research


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