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Mol Cancer Ther. 2018 Nov;17(11):2451-2461. doi: 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-17-1223. Epub 2018 Aug 22.

Mutual Influence of ROS, pH, and CLIC1 Membrane Protein in the Regulation of G1-S Phase Progression in Human Glioblastoma Stem Cells.

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Dipartimento di Bioscienze, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Fondazione Istituto FIRC di Oncologia Molecolare, Milan, Italy and Cogentech S.c.a.r.l., IFOM Via Adamello, Milan, Italy.
Sezione di Farmacologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Interna & Centro di Eccellenza per la Ricerca Biomedica (CEBR), Università di Genova, Genova, Italy.
IRCCS Policlinico San Martino and Dipartimento delle Terapie Oncologiche Integrate, Ospedale San Martino, Genova, Italy.
Dipartimento di Bioscienze, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy.
Contributed equally


Glioblastoma (GB) is the most lethal, aggressive, and diffuse brain tumor. The main challenge for successful treatment is targeting the cancer stem cell (CSC) subpopulation responsible for tumor origin, progression, and recurrence. Chloride Intracellular Channel 1 (CLIC1), highly expressed in CSCs, is constitutively present in the plasma membrane where it is associated with chloride ion permeability. In vitro, CLIC1 inhibition leads to a significant arrest of GB CSCs in G1 phase of the cell cycle. Furthermore, CLIC1 knockdown impairs tumor growth in vivo Here, we demonstrate that CLIC1 membrane localization and function is specific for GB CSCs. Mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) do not show CLIC1-associated chloride permeability, and inhibition of CLIC1 protein function has no influence on MSC cell-cycle progression. Investigation of the basic functions of GB CSCs reveals a constitutive state of oxidative stress and cytoplasmic alkalinization compared with MSCs. Both intracellular oxidation and cytoplasmic pH changes have been reported to affect CLIC1 membrane functional expression. We now report that in CSCs these three elements are temporally linked during CSC G1-S transition. Impeding CLIC1-mediated chloride current prevents both intracellular ROS accumulation and pH changes. CLIC1 membrane functional impairment results in GB CSCs resetting from an allostatic tumorigenic condition to a homeostatic steady state. In contrast, inhibiting NADPH oxidase and NHE1 proton pump results in cell death of both GB CSCs and MSCs. Our results show that CLIC1 membrane protein is crucial and specific for GB CSC proliferation, and is a promising pharmacologic target for successful brain tumor therapies. Mol Cancer Ther; 17(11); 2451-61. ©2018 AACR.

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