Glioma stem cells (GSCs) drive propagation and therapeutic resistance of glioblastomas, the most aggressive diffuse brain tumors. However, the molecular mechanisms that maintain the stemness and promote therapy resistance remain poorly understood. Here we report CD109/STAT3 axis as crucial for the maintenance of stemness and tumorigenicity of GSCs and as a mediator of chemoresistance. Mechanistically, CD109 physically interacts with glycoprotein 130 to promote activation of the IL-6/STAT3 pathway in GSCs. Genetic depletion of CD109 abolished the stemness and self-renewal of GSCs and impaired tumorigenicity. Loss of stemness was accompanied with a phenotypic shift of GSCs to more differentiated astrocytic-like cells. Importantly, genetic or pharmacologic targeting of CD109/STAT3 axis sensitized the GSCs to chemotherapy, suggesting that targeting CD109/STAT3 axis has potential to overcome therapy resistance in glioblastoma.
Pauliina Filppu, Jayendrakishore Tanjore Ramanathan, Kirsi J. Granberg, Erika Gucciardo, Hannu Haapasalo, Kaisa Lehti, Matti Nykter, Vadim Le Joncour, Pirjo Laakkonen