Previous studies have shown that tumor-driving glioma stem cells (GSC) may promote radio-resistance by constitutive activation of the DNA damage response started by the ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM) protein. We have investigated whether GSC may be specifically sensitized to ionizing radiation by inhibiting the DNA damage response. Two grade IV glioma cell lines (BORRU and DR177) were characterized for a number of immunocytochemical, karyotypic, proliferative and differentiative parameters. In particular, the expression of a panel of nine stem cell markers was quantified by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and flow cytometry. Overall, BORRU and DR177 displayed pronounced and poor stem phenotypes, respectively. In order to improve the therapeutic efficacy of radiation on GSC, the cells were preincubated with a nontoxic concentration of the ATM inhibitors KU-55933 and KU-60019 and then irradiated. BORRU cells were sensitized to radiation and radio-mimetic chemicals by ATM inhibitors whereas DR177 were protected under the same conditions. No sensitization was observed after cell differentiation or to drugs unable to induce double-strand breaks (DSB), indicating that ATM inhibitors specifically sensitize glioma cells possessing stem phenotype to DSB-inducing agents. In conclusion, pharmacological inhibition of ATM may specifically sensitize GSC to DSB-inducing agents while sparing nonstem cells.
- brain tumor
- cell cycle
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology