Glioblastoma multiforme remains the deadliest malignant brain tumor, with glioma stem cells (GSC) contributing to treatment resistance and tumor recurrence. We have identified MAPK-interacting kinases (MNK) as potential targets for the GSC population in glioblastoma multiforme. Isoform-level subtyping using The Cancer Genome Atlas revealed that both MNK genes (MKNK1 and MKNK2) are upregulated in mesenchymal glioblastoma multiforme as compared with other subtypes. Expression of MKNK1 is associated with increased glioma grade and correlated with the mesenchymal GSC marker, CD44, and coexpression of MKNK1 and CD44 predicts poor survival in glioblastoma multiforme. In established and patient-derived cell lines, pharmacologic MNK inhibition using LY2801653 (merestinib) inhibited phosphorylation of the eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4E, a crucial effector for MNK-induced mRNA translation in cancer cells and a marker of transformation. Importantly, merestinib inhibited growth of GSCs grown as neurospheres as determined by extreme limiting dilution analysis. When the effects of merestinib were assessed in vivo using an intracranial xenograft mouse model, improved overall survival was observed in merestinib-treated mice. Taken together, these data provide strong preclinical evidence that pharmacologic MNK inhibition targets mesenchymal glioblastoma multiforme and its GSC population.
Implications: These findings raise the possibility of MNK inhibition as a viable therapeutic approach to target the mesenchymal subtype of glioblastoma multiforme. Mol Cancer Res; 14(10); 984–93. ©2016 AACR.
This article is featured in Highlights of This Issue, p. 893
Note: Supplementary data for this article are available at Molecular Cancer Research Online (http://mcr.aacrjournals.org/).
- Received May 12, 2016.
- Accepted June 11, 2016.
- ©2016 American Association for Cancer Research.