MDPI: Musashi1 Contribution to Glioblastoma Development via Regulation of a Network of DNA Replication, Cell Cycle and Division Genes (Penalva Lab)

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Mirella Baroni 1,†,  OrcID,Caihong Yi 1,2,†,  Saket Choudhary 3,†,  Xiufen Lei 1,  Adam Kosti 1,4,   Denise Grieshober 1,  Mitzli Velasco 1,  Mei Qiao 1,  Suzanne S. Burns 1,‡,  Patricia R. Araujo 1,  Talia DeLambre 1,  Mi Young Son 5,  Michelina Plateroti 6,  Marco A. R. Ferreira 7,  Paul Hasty 5,  and. Luiz O. F. Penalva 1,4,*

Simple Summary

Glioblastoma (GBM) is one of the most aggressive tumor types with no effective treatment options. To create new routes for therapy, it is necessary to continue mapping new pathways contributing to gliomagenesis. In this regard, there is growing evidence that RNA binding proteins (RBPs) are major contributors to expression alterations affecting genes in signaling pathways critical to GBM growth and response to therapy. We have established Musashi1 (Msi1) as the main player in GBM and medulloblastoma and as a marker of clinical outcome and response to therapy. Our genomic and functional analyses established that Msi1, directly and indirectly, regulates the expression of a network of genes, promoting cell cycle progression and DNA replication. Ultimately, the Msi1 impact on this network has important consequences in tumor initiation, growth, and response to therapy.


RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) function as master regulators of gene expression. Alterations in their levels are often observed in tumors with numerous oncogenic RBPs identified in recent years. Musashi1 (Msi1) is an RBP and stem cell gene that controls the balance between self-renewal and differentiation. High Msi1 levels have been observed in multiple tumors including glioblastoma and are often associated with poor patient outcomes and tumor growth. A comprehensive genomic analysis identified a network of cell cycle/division and DNA replication genes and established these processes as Msi1’s core regulatory functions in glioblastoma. Msi1 controls this gene network via two mechanisms: direct interaction and indirect regulation mediated by the transcription factors E2F2 and E2F8. Moreover, glioblastoma lines with Msi1 knockout (KO) displayed increased sensitivity to cell cycle and DNA replication inhibitors. Our results suggest that a drug combination strategy (Msi1 + cell cycle/DNA replication inhibitors) could be a viable route to treat glioblastoma.


glioblastoma; Musashi1; cell cycle; DNA replication; cell division; E2F2; E2F8

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