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Endothelial Secreted Factors Suppress Mitogen Deprivation-Induced Autophagy and Apoptosis in Glioblastoma Stem-Like Cells

E. M. Galan Moya1,2,3,4, L. Treps1,2,3, J. Gavard1,2,3

1Inserm U1016, Cochin Institute,2CNRS UMR8104,3Univ Paris Descartes, Paris, France

4Anatomic Pathology Department, HGUCR, Ciudad Real, Spain

Rapidly growing and highly vascularized tumors, such as glioblastoma multiforme, contain heterogeneous areas within the tumor mass, some of which are inefficiently supplied with nutrients and oxygen. While the cell death rate is elevated in such zones, tumor cells are still suspected to grow and survive independently of extracellular growth factors. In line with this, glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) are found closely associated with brain vasculature in situ, and as such are most likely in a protected microenvironment. However, the behavior of GSCs under deprived conditions has not been explored in detail. Using a panel of 14 patient-derived GSCs, we report that “ex vivo” mitogen deprivation impaired self-renewal capability, abolished constitutive activation of the mTor pathway, and impinged on GSC survival via the engagement of autophagic and apoptotic cascades. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition of the mTor pathway recapitulated the mitogen deprivation scenario. In contrast, blocking either apoptosis or autophagy, or culturing GSCs with endothelial-secreted factors partly restored mTor pathway activation and rescued GSC survival. Overall, our data suggest that GSCs are addicted to mTor, as their survival and self-renewal are profoundly dependent on this signaling axis. Thus, as mTor governs the fate of GSCs under both deprivation conditions and in the presence of endothelial factors, it could be a key target for therapeutic purposes.

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