Novel Prognostic Markers and Therapeutic Targets for Glioblastoma


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Virginia Tech


Glioblastoma is the most common and lethal malignant brain tumor with a survival rate of 14.6 months and a tumor recurrence rate of ninety percent. Two key causes for glioblastomas grim outcome derive from the lack of applicable prognostic markers and effective therapeutic targets. By employing a loss of function RNAi screen in glioblastoma cells we found a list of 20 kinases that can be considered glioblastoma survival kinases. These survival kinases which we term as survival kinase genes, (SKGs) were investigated to find prognostic markers as well as therapeutic targets for glioblastoma. Analyzing these survival kinases in The Cancer Genome Atlas patient database, we found that CDCP1, CDKL5, CSNK1𝜀, IRAK3, LATS2, PRKAA1, STK3, TBRG4, and ULK4 genes could be used as prognostic markers for glioblastoma with or without temozolomide chemotherapeutic treatment as a covariate. For the first time, we found that patients with increased levels of NEK9 and PIK3CB mRNA expression had a higher probability of recurrent tumors. We also discovered that expression of CDCP1, IGF2R, IRAK3, LATS2, PIK3CB, ULK4, or VRK1 in primary glioblastoma tumors was associated with tumor recurrence prognosis. To note, of these recurrent prognostic candidates, PIK3CB expression in recurrent tumor tissue had much higher expression compared to primary tissue. Further investigation in the PI3K pathway showed a strong correlation with recurrence rate, days to recurrence and survival emphasizing the role of PIK3CB in tumor recurrence in glioblastoma. In efforts to find effective therapeutic targets for glioblastoma we used SKGs as potential candidates. We chose the serine/threonine kinase, Casein Kinase 1 Epsilon (CSNK1𝜀) as a target for glioblastoma because multiple shRNAs targeted this gene in our loss of function screen and multiple commercially available inhibitors of this gene are available. Casein kinase 1 epsilon protein and mRNA expression were investigated using computational tools. It was revealed that CSNK1𝜀 expression has higher expression in glioblastoma than normal tissue. To further examine this gene we knocked down (KD) or inhibited CSNK1𝜀 in glioblastoma cells lines and noticed a significant increase in cell death without any significant effect on normal cell lines. KD and inhibition of CSNK1𝜀 in cancer stem cells, a culprit of tumor recurrence, also revealed limited self-renewal and proliferation in cancer stem cells and a significant decrease in cell survival without affecting normal stem cells. Further analysis of downstream effects of CSNK1𝜀 knockdown and inhibition indicate a significant increase in the protein expression of β-catenin (CTNNB1). We found that CSNK1𝜀 KD activated β-catenin, which increased GBM cell death, but can be rescued using CTNNB1 shRNA. Our survival kinase screen, computational analyses, patient database analyses and experimental methods contributed to the discovery of novel prognostic markers and therapeutic targets for glioblastoma.



Glioblastoma, Tumor Recurrence, GBM, Prognostic Markers, CSNK1E, PIK3CB