Gliomas are mostly incurable secondary to their diffuse infiltrative nature. Thus, specific therapeutic targeting of invasive glioma cells is an attractive concept. As cells exit the tumor mass and infiltrate brain parenchyma, they closely interact with a changing micro-environmental landscape that sustains tumor cell invasion.
In this study, we used a unique microarray profiling approach on a human glioma stem cell (GSC) xenograft model to explore gene expression changes in situ in Invading Glioma Cells (IGCs) compared to tumor core, as well as changes in host cells residing within the infiltrated microenvironment relative to the unaffected cortex. IGCs were found to have reduced expression of genes within the extracellular matrix compartment, and genes involved in cell adhesion, cell polarity and epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) processes. The infiltrated microenvironment showed activation of wound repair and tissue remodeling networks. We confirmed by protein analysis the downregulation of EMT and polarity related genes such as CD44 and PARD3 in IGCs, and EFNB3, a tissue-remodeling agent enriched at the infiltrated microenvironment. OLIG2, a proliferation regulator and glioma progenitor cell marker upregulated in IGCs was found to function in enhancing migration and stemness of GSCs. Overall, our results unveiled a more comprehensive picture of the complex and dynamic cell autonomous and tumor-host interactive pathways of glioma invasion than has been previously demonstrated. This suggests targeting of multiple pathways at the junction of invading tumor and microenvironment as a viable option for glioma therapy.