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Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Apr;123(4):587-600. doi: 10.1007/s00401-012-0968-6. Epub 2012 Mar 11.

Hedgehog-mediated regulation of PPARγ controls metabolic patterns in neural precursors and shh-driven medulloblastoma.

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Department of Cancer Biology and Genetics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA.


Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling is critical during development and its aberration is common across the spectrum of human malignancies. In the cerebellum, excessive activity of the Shh signaling pathway is associated with the devastating pediatric brain tumor medulloblastoma. We previously demonstrated that exaggerated de novo lipid synthesis is a hallmark of Shh-driven medulloblastoma and that hedgehog signaling inactivates the Rb/E2F tumor suppressor complex to promote lipogenesis. Indeed, such Shh-mediated metabolic reprogramming fuels tumor progression, in an E2F1- and FASN-dependent manner. Here, we show that the nutrient sensor PPARγ is a key component of the Shh metabolic network, particularly its regulation of glycolysis. Our data show that in primary cerebellar granule neural precursors (CGNPs), proposed medulloblastoma cells-of-origin, Shh stimulation elicits a marked induction of PPARγ alongside major glycolytic markers. This is also documented in the actively proliferating Shh-responsive CGNPs in the developing cerebellum, and PPARγ expression is strikingly elevated in Shh-driven medulloblastoma in vivo. Importantly, pharmacological blockade of PPARγ and/or Rb inactivation inhibits CGNP proliferation, drives medulloblastoma cell death and extends survival of medulloblastoma-bearing animals in vivo. This coupling of mitogenic Shh signaling to a major nutrient sensor and metabolic transcriptional regulator define a novel mechanism through which Shh signaling engages the nutrient sensing machinery in brain cancer, controls the cell cycle, and regulates the glycolytic index. This also reveals a dominant role of Shh in the etiology of glucose metabolism in medulloblastoma and underscores the function of the Shh → E2F1 → PPARγ axis in altering substrate utilization patterns in brain cancers in favor of tumor growth. These findings emphasize the value of PPARγ downstream of Shh as a global therapeutic target in hedgehog-dependent and/or Rb-inactivated tumors.

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