Temozolomide (TMZ)-based therapy is the standard of care for patients with glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), and resistance to this drug in GBM is modulated by the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyl-transferase (MGMT). Expression of MGMT is silenced by promoter methylation in approximately half of GBM tumors, and clinical studies have shown that elevated MGMT protein levels or lack of MGMT promoter methylation is associated with TMZ resistance in some, but not all, GBM tumors. In this study, the relationship between MGMT protein expression and tumor response to TMZ was evaluated in four GBM xenograft lines that had been established from patient specimens and maintained by serial subcutaneous passaging in nude mice. Three MGMT unmethylated tumors displayed elevated basal MGMT protein expression, but only two of these were resistant to TMZ therapy (tumors GBM43 and GBM44), while the other (GBM14) displayed a level of TMZ sensitivity that was similar in extent to that seen in a single MGMT hypermethylated line (GBM12). In tissue culture and animal studies, TMZ treatment resulted in robust and prolonged induction of MGMT expression in the resistant GBM43 and GBM44 xenograft lines, while MGMT induction was blunted and abbreviated in GBM14. Consistent with a functional significance of MGMT induction, treatment of GBM43 with a protracted low-dose TMZ regimen was significantly less effective than a shorter high-dose regimen, while survival for GBM14 was improved with the protracted dosing regimen. In conclusion, MGMT expression is dynamically regulated in some MGMT nonmethylated tumors, and in these tumors, protracted dosing regimens may not be effective.
glioblastoma xenografts; MGMT induction; promoter methylation; temozolomide
The DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) can cause resistance to the alkylating drug temozolomide (TMZ). The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between the MGMT status, determined by means of several techniques and methods, and the cytotoxic response to TMZ in 11 glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) cell lines and 5 human tumour cell lines of other origins.
Cell survival was analysed by clonogenic assay. The MGMT protein levels were assessed by western blot analysis. The MGMT promoter methylation levels were determined using methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) and quantitative real-time methylation-specific PCR (qMSP). On the basis of the results of these techniques, six GBM cell lines were selected and subjected to bisulphite sequencing.
The MGMT protein was detected in all TMZ-resistant cell lines, whereas no MGMT protein could be detected in cell lines that were TMZ sensitive. The MS-MLPA results were able to predict TMZ sensitivity in 9 out of 16 cell lines (56%). The qMSP results matched well with TMZ sensitivity in 11 out of 12 (92%) glioma cell lines. In addition, methylation as detected by bisulphite sequencing seemed to be predictive of TMZ sensitivity in all six cell lines analysed (100%).
The MGMT protein expression more than MGMT promoter methylation status predicts the response to TMZ in human tumour cell lines.
MGMT; temozolomide; glioma; prediction
CpG methylation within the O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter is associated with enhanced survival of glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) patients treated with temozolomide (TMZ). Although MGMT promoter is methylated in ~50% of GBM, several studies have reported a lack of correlation between MGMT methylation and protein expression levels and consequently inaccurate discrimination of TMZ sensitive and resistant patients. To understand the limitations of currently used assays, TMZ responsiveness of 13 GBM xenograft lines was correlated with MGMT protein expression and MGMT promoter methylation determined by 1) standard methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MS-PCR), 2) quantitative MS-PCR (qMS-PCR) and 3) bisulfite sequencing. For each xenograft line, mice with established intracranial xenografts were treated with vehicle control or TMZ (66 mg/kg × 5 days), and TMZ response was defined as relative prolongation in median survival for TMZ-treated vs. control-treated mice. The relative survival benefit with TMZ was inversely related to MGMT protein expression (r= −0.75; p=0.003) and directly correlated with qMS-PCR (r=0.72; p=0.006). There was a direct correlation between MGMT methylation signal by qMS-PCR and the number of methylated CpG sites within the region amplified by MS-PCR (r =0.78, p=0.002). However, bisulfite sequencing revealed heterogeneity in the extent of CpG methylation in those tumors with a robust qMS-PCR signal. Three of the 4 GBM lines with a qMS-PCR signal greater than 10% had at least 1 unmethylated CpG site, while only one line was fully methylated at all 12 CpG sites. These data highlight one potential limitation of the evaluation of MGMT methylation by MS-PCR assay and suggest that more detailed evaluation of methylation at individual CpG sites relative to TMZ response may be worth pursuing.
MGMT; methylation; Glioblastoma; orthotopic xenografts
A combined therapy of the alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) and radiotherapy is standard treatment, and it improves the survival of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (GBM). The DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) removes the most cytotoxic lesions generated by TMZ, O6-methylguanine, establishing MGMT as one of the most important DNA repair mechanisms of TMZ-induced DNA damage. Thus, the expression of MGMT, its activity, and its promoter methylation status are associated with the response of GBM to TMZ, confirming that MGMT promotes clinical resistance to TMZ. Previous studies have shown that a variety of drugs such as interferon-β (IFN-β), levetiracetam (LEV), resveratrol, and valproic acid (VAP) increased the sensitivity of TMZ through MGMT-dependent or MGMT-independent mechanisms. In this review, we describe drugs and promising molecules that influence the responsiveness of GBM to TMZ and discuss their putative mechanism of action. In MGMT-positive GBMs, drugs that modulate MGMT activity could enhance the therapeutic activity of TMZ. Thus, administration of these drugs as an adjunct to TMZ chemotherapy may have clinical applications in patients with malignant gliomas to improve the outcome.
temozolomide; glioma; MGMT; chemosensitivity; interferon-β; levetiracetam; resveratrol; valproic acid
Gliomas are the most frequently occurring primary brain tumor in the central nervous system of adults. Glioblastoma multiformes (GBMs, WHO grade 4) have a dismal prognosis despite the use of the alkylating agent, temozolomide (TMZ), and even low grade gliomas (LGGs, WHO grade 2) eventually transform to malignant secondary GBMs. Although GBM patients benefit from promoter hypermethylation of the O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) that is the main determinant of resistance to TMZ, recent studies suggested that MGMT promoter methylation is of prognostic as well as predictive significance for the efficacy of TMZ. Glioma-CpG island methylator phenotype (G-CIMP) in the global genome was shown to be a significant predictor of improved survival in patients with GBM. Collectively, we hypothesized that MGMT promoter methylation might reflect global DNA methylation. Additionally in LGGs, the significance of MGMT promoter methylation is still undetermined. In the current study, we aimed to determine the correlation between clinical, genetic, and epigenetic profiles including LINE-1 and different cancer-related genes and the clinical outcome in newly diagnosed 57 LGG and 54 GBM patients. Here, we demonstrated that (1) IDH1/2 mutation is closely correlated with MGMT promoter methylation and 1p/19q codeletion in LGGs, (2) LINE-1 methylation levels in primary and secondary GBMs are lower than those in LGGs and normal brain tissues, (3) LINE-1 methylation is proportional to MGMT promoter methylation in gliomas, and (4) higher LINE-1 methylation is a favorable prognostic factor in primary GBMs, even compared to MGMT promoter methylation. As a global DNA methylation marker, LINE-1 may be a promising marker in gliomas.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and lethal of all gliomas. The current standard of care includes surgery followed by concomitant radiation and chemotherapy with the DNA alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ). O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) repairs the most cytotoxic of lesions generated by TMZ, O6-methylguanine. Methylation of the MGMT promoter in GBM correlates with increased therapeutic sensitivity to alkylating agent therapy. However, several aspects of TMZ sensitivity are not explained by MGMT promoter methylation. Here, we investigated our hypothesis that the base excision repair enzyme alkylpurine–DNA–N-glycosylase (APNG), which repairs the cytotoxic lesions N3-methyladenine and N7-methylguanine, may contribute to TMZ resistance. Silencing of APNG in established and primary TMZ-resistant GBM cell lines endogenously expressing MGMT and APNG attenuated repair of TMZ-induced DNA damage and enhanced apoptosis. Reintroducing expression of APNG in TMZ-sensitive GBM lines conferred resistance to TMZ in vitro and in orthotopic xenograft mouse models. In addition, resistance was enhanced with coexpression of MGMT. Evaluation of APNG protein levels in several clinical datasets demonstrated that in patients, high nuclear APNG expression correlated with poorer overall survival compared with patients lacking APNG expression. Loss of APNG expression in a subset of patients was also associated with increased APNG promoter methylation. Collectively, our data demonstrate that APNG contributes to TMZ resistance in GBM and may be useful in the diagnosis and treatment of the disease.
The CD133 antigen is a marker of radio- and chemo-resistant stem cell populations in glioblastoma (GBM). The O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) enzyme is related with temozolomide (TMZ) resistance. Our propose is to analyze the prognostic significance of the CD133 antigen and promoter methylation and protein expression of MGMT in a homogenous group of GBM patients uniformly treated with radiotherapy and TMZ. The possible connection between these GBM markers was also investigated.
Seventy-eight patients with GBM treated with radiotherapy combined with concomitant and adjuvant TMZ were analyzed for MGMT and CD133. MGMT gene promoter methylation was determined by methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction after bisulfite treatment. MGMT and CD133 expression was assessed immunohistochemically using an automatic quantification system. Overall and progression-free survival was calculated according to the Kaplan–Meier method.
The MGMT gene promoter was found to be methylated in 34 patients (44.7%) and unmethylated in 42 patients (55.3%). A significant correlation was observed between MGMT promoter methylation and patients’ survival. Among the unmethylated tumors, 52.4% showed low expression of MGMT and 47.6% showed high-expression. Among methylated tumors, 58.8% showed low-expression of MGMT and 41.2% showed high-expression. No correlation was found between MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT expression, or MGMT expression and survival. In contrast with recent results, CD133 expression was not a predictive marker in GBM patients. Analyses of possible correlation between CD133 expression and MGMT protein expression or MGMT promoter methylation were negative.
Our results support the hypothesis that MGMT promoter methylation status but not MGMT expression may be a predictive biomarker in the treatment of patients with GBM. In addition, CD133 should not be used for prognostic evaluation of these patients. Future studies will be necessary to determine its clinical utility.
Glioblastoma; Radiotherapy; Temozolomide; MGMT; Methylation; CD133
Gene silencing of O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) by promoter methylation improves the outcome of glioblastoma patients after combined therapy of alkylating chemotherapeutic agents and radiation. The purpose of this study was to assess the frequency of MGMT promoter methylation in soft tissue sarcoma to identify patients eligible for alkylating agent chemotherapy such as temozolomide.
Paraffin tumor blocks of 75 patients with representative STS subtypes were evaluated. The methylation status of the MGMT promoter was assessed by methylation-specific polymerase-chain-reaction analysis (PCR). Furthermore, immunohistochemistry was applied to verify expression of MGMT. MGMT gene silencing was assumed if MGMT promoter methylation was present and the fraction of tumor cells expressing MGMT was 20% or less. Methylation specific PCR detected methylated MGMT promoter in 10/75 cases. Immunohistochemical staining of nuclear MGMT was negative in 15/75 cases. 6/75 tumor samples showed MGMT promoter methylation and negative immunohistochemical nuclear staining of MGMT. In none of the tested STS subtypes we found a fraction of tumors with MGMT silencing exceeding 22%.
MGMT gene silencing is a rare event in soft tissue sarcoma and cannot be recommended as a selection criterion for the therapy of STS patients with alkylating agents such as temozolomide.
Soft tissue sarcoma; O6-methylguanine–DNA methyltransferase; Promoter methylation; Temozolomide; Epigenetic gene silencing; Radiation therapy
Temozolomide (TMZ) is the most effective chemotherapeutic agent for glioblastoma (GBM). Resistance to this methylating agent is linked to DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT). However, in recent studies MGMT status was not completely accurate as a predictor of TMZ response in GBM, suggesting other mechanisms of resistance. As part of an effort aimed at discovery of genes involved in TMZ resistance in GBM, the expression of CD74 was evaluated in GBM patient samples and the influence of CD74 on TMZ response was evaluated in GBM tumor models. Reverse transcription-polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR) demonstrated differential expression of CD74 mRNA among the GBM xenografts; 8 of 20 (40%) expressed CD74 mRNA. In a preliminary evaluation of whether CD74 expression might influence TMZ response, CD74 mRNA expression levels were inversely associated with in vivo TMZ resistance in 20 GBM xenograft lines (median survival 122 vs. 62.5 days; r=−0.48 p = 0.032). In follow up to this observation, CD74 shRNA knock down in U87 cells significantly suppressed in vitro proliferation and increased TMZ sensitivity as compared to a non-specific control shRNA. Consistent with an effect on proliferation and survival, silencing of CD74 by shRNA was associated with reduced Akt and Erk1/2 activation in response to stimulation by CD74 ligand macrophage-migration inhibition factor (MIF). Lastly, expression of CD74 protein was assessed in patient samples (9 anaplastic astrocytoma [AA], and 62 GBM) by immunohistochemistry, and appreciable expression was observed in 28% of samples. Collectively, these findings suggest that CD74 is expressed in a subset of high grade gliomas and may contribute to TMZ resistance.
CD74; glioblastoma xenografts; temozolomide; resistance
Alkylating agents have long played a central role in the adjuvant therapy of glioblastoma (GBM). More recently, inclusion of temozolomide (TMZ), an orally administered methylating agent with low systemic toxicity, during and after radiotherapy has markedly improved survival. Extensive in vitro and in vivo evidence has shown that TMZ-induced O6-methylguanine (O6-meG) mediates GBM cell killing. Moreover, low or absent expression of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT), the sole human repair protein that removes O6-meG from DNA, is frequently associated with longer survival in GBMs treated with TMZ, promoting interest in developing inhibitors of MGMT to counter resistance. However, the clinical efficacy of TMZ is unlikely to be due solely to O6-meG, as the agent produces approximately a dozen additional DNA adducts, including cytotoxic N3-methyladenine (3-meA) and abasic sites. Repair of 3-meA and abasic sites, both of which are produced in greater abundance than O6-meG, is mediated by the base excision repair (BER) pathway, and occurs independently of removal of O6-meG. These observations indicate that BER activities are also potential targets for strategies to potentiate TMZ cytotoxicity. Here we review the evidence that 3-meA and abasic sites mediate killing of GBM cells. We also present in vitro and in vivo evidence that alkyladenine-DNA glycosylase, the sole repair activity that excises 3-meA from DNA, and Ape1, the major human abasic site endonuclease, mediate TMZ resistance in GBMs and represent potential anti-resistance targets.
alkyladenine-DNA glycosylase; Ape1; apurinic endonuclease; DNA repair; treatment outcome; predictive marker
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is a devastating brain tumor with poor prognosis and low median survival time. Standard treatment includes radiation and chemotherapy with the DNA alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ). However, a large percentage of tumors are resistant to the cytotoxic effects of the TMZ-induced DNA lesion O6-methylguanine (O6-MeG) due to elevated expression of the repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) or a defect in the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. Although a majority of the TMZ induced lesions (N7-methylguanine and N3-methyladenine) are base excision repair (BER) substrates, these DNA lesions are also readily repaired. However, blocking BER can enhance response to TMZ and therefore the BER pathway has emerged as an attractive target for reversing TMZ resistance. Our lab has recently reported that inhibition of BER leads to the accumulation of repair intermediates that induce energy depletion-mediated cell death via hyperactivation of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase. Based on our observation that TMZ-induced cell death via BER inhibition is dependent on the availability of NAD+, we have hypothesized that combined BER and NAD+ biosynthesis inhibition will increase TMZ efficacy in glioblastoma cell lines greater than BER inhibition alone. Importantly, we find that the combination of BER and NAD+ biosynthesis inhibition significantly sensitizes glioma cells with elevated expression of MGMT and those deficient in MMR, two genotypes normally associated with TMZ resistance. Dual targeting of these two interacting pathways (DNA repair and NAD+ biosynthesis) may prove to be an effective treatment combination for patients with resistant and recurrent GBM.
Glioblastoma multiforme; FK866; Base excision repair; temozolomide; methoxyamine
1) To correlate the methylation status of the O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter to its gene and protein expression levels in glioblastoma and 2) to determine the most reliable method for using MGMT to predict the response to adjuvant therapy in patients with glioblastoma.
The MGMT gene is epigenetically silenced by promoter hypermethylation in gliomas, and this modification has emerged as a relevant predictor of therapeutic response.
Fifty-one cases of glioblastoma were analyzed for MGMT promoter methylation by methylation-specific PCR and pyrosequencing, gene expression by real time polymerase chain reaction, and protein expression by immunohistochemistry.
MGMT promoter methylation was found in 43.1% of glioblastoma by methylation-specific PCR and 38.8% by pyrosequencing. A low level of MGMT gene expression was correlated with positive MGMT promoter methylation (p = 0.001). However, no correlation was found between promoter methylation and MGMT protein expression (p = 0.297). The mean survival time of glioblastoma patients submitted to adjuvant therapy was significantly higher among patients with MGMT promoter methylation (log rank = 0.025 by methylation-specific PCR and 0.004 by pyrosequencing), and methylation was an independent predictive factor that was associated with improved prognosis by multivariate analysis.
DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSION:
MGMT promoter methylation status was a more reliable predictor of susceptibility to adjuvant therapy and prognosis of glioblastoma than were MGMT protein or gene expression levels. Methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction and pyrosequencing methods were both sensitive methods for determining MGMT promoter methylation status using DNA extracted from frozen tissue.
Glioblastoma; MGMT promoter methylation; MGMT gene; MGMT protein; Prognosis
Molecular alterations in glioblastoma have the potential to guide treatment. Here, we explore the relationship between temozolomide (TMZ) response and O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) status in brain tumor initiating cells (BTICs). Methylation, expression, and sensitivity were assessed in 20 lines; associations were evaluated by Fisher's exact test. Some BTICs were sensitive. Sensitivity to TMZ was only associated with protein expression (P = .001). There were atypical BTICs including TMZ-resistant lines in which the methylation-specific PCR reaction revealed both methylated and unmethylated bands. BTICs are not uniformly resistant to TMZ; some are sensitive. MGMT status does not predict TMZ response with high precision.
brain tumor stem cells; glioblastoma; MGMT methylation; temozolomide
Concurrent treatment with the methylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) during radiotherapy (RT) has yielded the first significant improvement in survival of adult glioblastomas (GBMs) in the last three decades. However, improved survival is observed in a minority of patients, most frequently those whose tumors display CpG methylation of the MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase) promoter, and adult GBMs remain invariably fatal. Some, though not all, pre-clinical studies have shown that TMZ can increase radiosensitivity in GBM cells that lack MGMT, the sole activity in human cells that removes O6-meG from DNA. Here, we systematically examined the TMZ dose dependence of radiation killing in established GBM cell lines that differ in ability to remove O6-meG or tolerate its lethality. Our results show that minimally cytotoxic doses of TMZ can produce dose-dependent radiosensitization in MGMT-deficient cells, MGMT-proficient cells, and MGMT-deficient cells that lack mismatch repair, a process that renders cells tolerant of the lethality of O6-meG. In cells that either possess or lack MGMT activity, radiosensitization requires exposure to TMZ before but not after radiation, and is accompanied by formation of double-strand breaks within 45 min of radiation. Moreover, suppressing alkyladenine-DNA glycosylase, the only activity in human cells that excises 3-meA from DNA, reduces the TMZ dose dependence of radiosensitization, indicating that radiosensitization is mediated by 3-meA as well as by O6-meG. These results provide novel information on which to base further mechanistic study of radiosensitization by TMZ in human GBM cells, and to develop strategies to improve the outcome of concurrent TMZ-RT.
Alkyladenine-DNA glycosylase; brain tumor; 3-methyladenine; O6-methylguanine
O6-methylguanine DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylation has been identified as a potential prognostic marker for glioblastoma patients. The relationship between the exact site of promoter methylation and its effect on gene silencing, and the patient's subsequent response to therapy, is still being defined. The aim of this study was to comprehensively characterize cytosine-guanine (CpG) dinucleotide methylation across the entire MGMT promoter and to correlate individual CpG site methylation patterns to mRNA expression, protein expression, and progression-free survival. To best identify the specific MGMT promoter region most predictive of gene silencing and response to therapy, we determined the methylation status of all 97 CpG sites in the MGMT promoter in tumor samples from 70 GBM patients using quantitative bisulfite sequencing. We next identified the CpG site specific and regional methylation patterns most predictive of gene silencing and improved progression-free survival. Using this data, we propose a new classification scheme utilizing methylation data from across the entire promoter and show that an analysis based on this approach, which we call 3R classification, is predictive of progression-free survival (HR = 5.23, 95% CI [2.089–13.097], p<0.0001). To adapt this approach to the clinical setting, we used a methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) test based on the 3R classification and show that this test is both feasible in the clinical setting and predictive of progression free survival (HR = 3.076, 95% CI [1.301–7.27], p = 0.007). We discuss the potential advantages of a test based on this promoter-wide analysis and compare it to the commonly used methylation-specific PCR test. Further prospective validation of these two methods in a large independent patient cohort will be needed to confirm the added value of promoter wide analysis of MGMT methylation in the clinical setting.
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common brain tumour, characterized by a central and partially necrotic (i.e., hypoxic) core enriched in cancer stem cells (CSCs). We previously showed that the most hypoxic and immature (i.e., CSCs) GBM cells were resistant to Temozolomide (TMZ) in vitro, owing to a particularly high expression of O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT), the most important factor associated to therapy resistance in GBM. Bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs), and in particular BMP2, are known to promote differentiation and growth inhibition in GBM cells. For this reason, we investigated whether a BMP2-based treatment would increase TMZ response in hypoxic drug-resistant GBM-derived cells. Here we show that BMP2 induced strong differentiation of GBM stem-like cells and subsequent addition of TMZ caused dramatic increase of apoptosis. Importantly, we correlated these effects to a BMP2-induced downregulation of both hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and MGMT. We report here a novel mechanism involving the HIF-1α-dependent regulation of MGMT, highlighting the existence of a HIF-1α/MGMT axis supporting GBM resistance to therapy. As confirmed from this evidence, over-stabilization of HIF-1α in TMZ-sensitive GBM cells abolished their responsiveness to it. In conclusion, we describe a HIF-1α-dependent regulation of MGMT and suggest that BMP2, by down-modulating the HIF-1α/MGMT axis, should increase GBM responsiveness to chemotherapy, thus opening the way to the development of future strategies for GBM treatment.
Glioblastoma; BMP2; temozolomide; hypoxia; HIF-1α; MGMT
We analyzed prospectively whether MGMT (O6-methylguanine-DNA
methyltransferase) mRNA expression gains prognostic/predictive impact
independent of MGMT promoter methylation in malignant
glioma patients undergoing radiotherapy with concomitant and adjuvant
temozolomide or temozolomide alone. As DNA-methyltransferases (DNMTs) are
the enzymes responsible for setting up and maintaining DNA methylation
patterns in eukaryotic cells, we analyzed further, whether
MGMT promoter methylation is associated with
upregulation of DNMT expression.
Adult patients with a histologically proven malignant astrocytoma
(glioblastoma: N = 53, anaplastic astrocytoma:
N = 10) were included. MGMT promoter
methylation was determined by methylation-specific PCR (MSP) and sequencing
analysis. Expression of MGMT and DNMTs mRNA were analysed by real-time qPCR.
Prognostic factors were obtained from proportional hazards models.
Correlation between MGMT mRNA expression and MGMT
methylation status was validated using data from the Cancer Genome Atlas
(TCGA) database (N = 229 glioblastomas). Low MGMT mRNA
expression was strongly predictive for prolonged time to progression,
treatment response, and length of survival in univariate and multivariate
models (p<0.0001); the degree of MGMT mRNA expression was highly
correlated with the MGMT promoter methylation status
(p<0.0001); however, discordant findings were seen in 12 glioblastoma
patients: Patients with methylated tumors with high MGMT mRNA expression
(N = 6) did significantly worse than those with low
transcriptional activity (p<0.01). Conversely, unmethylated tumors with
low MGMT mRNA expression (N = 6) did better than their
counterparts. A nearly identical frequency of concordant and discordant
findings was obtained by analyzing the TCGA database (p<0.0001).
Expression of DNMT1 and DNMT3b was strongly upregulated in tumor tissue, but
not correlated with MGMT promoter methylation and MGMT mRNA
MGMT mRNA expression plays a direct role for mediating tumor sensitivity to
alkylating agents. Discordant findings indicate methylation-independent
pathways of MGMT expression regulation. DNMT1 and DNMT3b are likely to be
involved in CGI methylation. However, their exact role yet has to be
Many conventional chemotherapeutic drugs exert their cytotoxic function by inducing DNA damage in the tumor cell. Therefore, a cell-inherent DNA repair pathway, which reverses the DNA-damaging effect of the cytotoxic drugs, can mediate therapeutic resistance to chemotherapy. The monofunctional DNA-alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ) is a commonly used chemotherapeutic drug and the gold standard treatment for glioblastoma (GBM). Although the activity of DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) has been described as the main modulator to determine the sensitivity of GBM to TMZ, a subset of GBM does not respond despite MGMT inactivation, suggesting that another DNA repair mechanism may also modulate the tolerance to TMZ. Considerable interest has focused on MGMT, mismatch repair (MMR), and the base excision repair (BER) pathway in the mechanism of mediating TMZ resistance, but emerging roles for the DNA strand-break repair pathway have been demonstrated. In the first part of this review article, we briefly review the significant role of MGMT, MMR, and the BER pathway in the tolerance to TMZ; in the last part, we review the recent publications that demonstrate possible roles of DNA strand-break repair pathways, such as single-strand break repair and double-strand break repair, as well as the Fanconi anemia pathway in the repair process after alkylating agent-based therapy. It is possible that all of these repair pathways have a potential to modulate the sensitivity to TMZ and aid in overcoming the therapeutic resistance in the clinic.
TMZ; DNA repair; PARP; homologous recombination; chemoresistance
Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) are lethal brain tumors that are highly resistant to therapy. The only meaningful improvement in therapeutic response came from use of the SN1-type alkylating agent, temozolomide, in combination with ionizing radiation (IR). However, no genetic markers that might predict a better response to DNA alkylating agents have been identified in GBMs, except for loss of O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) via promoter methylation. In this study, using genetically defined primary murine astrocytes as well as human glioma lines, we show that loss of phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome 10 (PTEN) confers sensitivity to N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG), a functional analog of temozolomide. We find that MNNG induces replication-associated DNA double-strand breaks (DSBs) that are inefficiently repaired in PTEN-deficient astrocytes and trigger apoptosis. Mechanistically, this is because PTEN-null astrocytes are compromised in homologous recombination (HR), which is important for the repair of replication-associated DSBs. Our results suggest that reduced levels of Rad51 paralogs in PTEN-null astrocytes might underlie the HR deficiency of these cells. Importantly, the HR deficiency of PTEN-null cells renders them sensitive to the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor ABT-888 due to synthetic lethality. In sum, our results tentatively suggest that patients with PTEN-null GBMs (about 36%) may especially benefit from treatment with DNA alkylating agents such as temozolomide. Significantly, our results also provide a rational basis for treating the sub-group of patients who are PTEN deficient with PARP inhibitors in addition to the current treatment regimen of radiation and temozolomide.
glioblastoma multiforme (GBM); DNA double-strand break (DSB); temozolomide (TMZ); N-methyl-N′-nitro-N-nitrosoguanidine (MNNG); PARP inhibitors; PTEN; homologous recombination (HR)
First-line therapy for patients with glioblastoma multiforme includes treatment with radiation and temozolomide (TMZ), an oral DNA alkylating chemotherapy. Sensitivity of glioma cells to TMZ is dependent on the level of cellular O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) repair activity. Several common coding- region polymorphisms in the MGMT gene (L84F and the linked pair I143V/K178R) modify functional characteristics of MGMT and cancer risk. To determine whether these polymorphic changes influence the ability of MGMT to protect glioma cells from TMZ, we stably overexpressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP)-tagged MGMT constructs in U87MG glioma cells. We confirmed that the wild-type (WT) eGFP-MGMT protein is properly localized within the nucleus and found that L84F, I143V/K178R, and L84F/I143V/K178R eGFP-MGMT variants exhibited nuclear localization patterns indistinguishable from WT. Using MTT [3-(4,5-dimethyl-2-thiazolyl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H- tetrazolium bromide] proliferation and clonogenic survival assays, we confirmed that WT cells expressing eGFP-MGMT are resistant to TMZ treatment compared with control U87MG cells, and that each of the polymorphic eGFP-MGMT variants confers similar resistance to TMZ. However, upon exposure to O6-benzylguanine (O6-BG), a synthetic MGMT inhibitor, the L84F and L84F/I143V/K178R variants were degraded more rapidly than WT or I143V/K178R in a proteasome-dependent manner. Despite the increased O6-BG–stimulated protein turnover caused by the L84F alteration, cells expressing L84F eGFP-MGMT did not exhibit altered sensitivity to the combination of O6-BG and TMZ compared with WT cells. In conclusion, we demonstrated that the L84F polymorphic variant has altered protein turnover without modifying sensitivity of U87MG cells to TMZ or combined TMZ and O6-BG. These findings may provide a clue to determining the clinical significance of MGMT coding-region polymorphisms.
glioma; O6-benzylguanine (O6-BG); O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT); polymorphism; temozolomide; U87MG
Hypermethylation of the O6-methylguanine-DNA-methyltransferase (MGMT) gene has been shown to be associated with improved outcome in glioblastoma (GBM) and may be a predictive marker of sensitivity to alkylating agents. However, the predictive utility of this marker has not been rigorously tested with regard to sensitivity to other therapies, namely radiation. To address this issue, we assessed MGMT methylation status in a cohort of patients with GBM who underwent radiation treatment but did not receive chemotherapy as a component of adjuvant treatment. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumor samples from 225 patients with newly diagnosed GBM were analyzed via methylation-specific, quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction following bisulfite treatment on isolated DNA to assess MGMT promoter methylation status. In patients who received radiotherapy alone following resection, methylation of the MGMT promoter correlated with an improved response to radiotherapy. Unmethylated tumors were twice as likely to progress during radiation treatment. The median time interval between resection and tumor progression of unmethylated tumors was also nearly half that of methylated tumors. Promoter methylation was also found to confer improved overall survival in patients who did not receive adjuvant alkylating chemotherapy. Multivariable analysis demonstrated that methylation status was independent of age, Karnofsky performance score, and extent of resection as a predictor of time to progression and overall survival. Our data suggest that MGMT promoter methylation appears to be a predictive biomarker of radiation response. Since this biomarker has also been shown to predict response to alkylating agents, perhaps MGMT promoter methylation represents a general, favorable prognostic factor in GBM.
glioblastoma; methylation; MGMT; prognostic marker; radiotherapy
This phase II trial evaluated efficacy and safety of temozolomide (TMZ) in combination with irinotecan (CPT-11) before radiotherapy in patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). Prior to radiotherapy, patients were treated with a maximum of three 6-week cycles of TMZ and CPT-11. Patients received TMZ at a dose of 200 mg/m2/day on days 1–5 and CPT-11 on days 1, 8, 22, and 29, with a dose adjustment for enzyme-inducing antiepileptic drug use. The primary end point was objective response rate (ORR). Secondary end points included progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), safety, and tumor O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) expression. Of the 42 patients treated, 8 (19%) patients achieved a partial response. Median PFS and median OS were 3.1 and 13.8 months, respectively. Grade 3 or 4 AEs were documented in 36% of patients, most of which were hematologic (29%). Twenty-four percent of patients had grade 3 or 4 non-hematologic AEs, with gastrointestinal AEs being the most common (12%) Two patients died, one of intracranial hemorrhage and one of treatment-related renal failure. Low MGMT expression, compared with high MGMT expression, showed no significant difference in ORR (25 vs. 8%), median PFS (14 vs. 5 months) or OS (21 vs. 15 months). Although TMZ plus CPT-11 is at least comparable in efficacy to TMZ alone, this combination appears more toxic and poorly tolerated. The lack of correlation of activity with MGMT expression is intriguing, but needs further evaluation in subsequent trials.
Temozolomide; Glioblastoma multiforme; Irinotecan; Radiotherapy; Newly diagnosed
Angiogenesis inhibitors, such as sunitinib, represent a promising strategy to improve glioblastoma (GBM) tumor response. In this study, we used the O6-methylguanine methyltransferase (MGMT)-negative GBM cell line U87MG stably transfected with MGMT (U87/MGMT) to assess whether MGMT expression affects the response to sunitinib. We showed that the addition of sunitinib to standard therapy (temozolomide [TMZ] and radiation therapy [RT]) significantly improved the response of MGMT-positive but not of MGMT-negative cells. Gene expression profiling revealed alterations in the angiogenic profile, as well as differential expression of several receptor tyrosine kinases targeted by sunitinib. MGMT-positive cells displayed higher levels of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 1 (VEGFR-1) compared with U87/EV cells, whereas they displayed decreased levels of VEGFR-2. Depleting MGMT using O6-benzylguanine suggested that the expression of these receptors was directly related to the MGMT status. Also, we showed that MGMT expression was associated with a dramatic increase in the soluble VEGFR-1/VEGFA ratio, thereby suggesting a decrease in bioactive VEGFA and a shift towards an antiangiogenic profile. The reduced angiogenic potential of MGMT-positive cells is supported by: (i) the decreased ability of their secreted factors to induce endothelial tube formation in vitro and (ii) their low tumorigenicity in vivo compared with the MGMT-negative cells. Our study is the first to show a direct link between MGMT expression and decreased angiogenicity and tumorigenicity of GBM cells and suggests the combination of sunitinib and standard therapy as an alternative strategy for GBM patients with MGMT-positive tumors.
GBM; MGMT; tumor angiogenesis; tyrosine kinase inhibitor
Hypermethylation in the promoter region of the MGMT gene encoding the DNA repair protein O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase is among the most important prognostic factors for patients with glioblastoma and predicts response to treatment with alkylating agents like temozolomide. Hence, the MGMT status is widely determined in most clinical trials and frequently requested in routine diagnostics of glioblastoma. Since various different techniques are available for MGMT promoter methylation analysis, a generally accepted consensus as to the most suitable diagnostic method remains an unmet need. Here, we assessed methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP) as a qualitative and semi-quantitative method, pyrosequencing (PSQ) as a quantitative method, and methylation-specific multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MS-MLPA) as a semi-quantitative method in a series of 35 formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded glioblastoma tissues derived from patients treated in a prospective clinical phase II trial that tested up-front chemoradiotherapy with dose-intensified temozolomide (UKT-05). Our goal was to determine which of these three diagnostic methods provides the most accurate prediction of progression-free survival (PFS). The MGMT promoter methylation status was assessable by each method in almost all cases (n = 33/35 for MSP; n = 35/35 for PSQ; n = 34/35 for MS-MLPA). We were able to calculate significant cut-points for the continuous methylation signals at each CpG site analysed by PSQ (range, 11.5 to 44.9%) and at one CpG site assessed by MS-MLPA (3.6%) indicating that a dichotomisation of continuous methylation data as a prerequisite for comparative survival analyses is feasible. Our results show that, unlike MS-MLPA, MSP and PSQ provide a significant improvement of predicting PFS compared with established clinical prognostic factors alone (likelihood ratio tests: p<0.001). Conclusively, taking into consideration prognostic value, cost effectiveness and ease of use, we recommend pyrosequencing for analyses of MGMT promoter methylation in high-throughput settings and MSP for clinical routine diagnostics with low sample numbers.
To evaluate the mechanism of the development of therapeutic resistance after temozolomide treatment, we focused on changes in O6-methylguanine DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and mismatch repair (MMR) between initial and recurrent glioblastomas. Tissue samples obtained from 24 paired histologically confirmed initial and recurrent adult glioblastoma patients who were initially treated with temozolomide were used for MGMT and MMR gene promoter methylation status and protein expression analysis using methylation-specific multiplex ligation probe amplification (MS-MLPA), methylation-specific polymerase chain reaction (MSP), and immunohistochemical staining. There was a significant decrease in the methylation ratio of the MGMT promoter determined by MS-MLPA, which was not detectable with MSP, and MGMT protein expression changes were not remarkable. However, there was no epigenetic variability in MMR genes, and a relatively homogeneous expression of MMR proteins was observed in initial and recurrent tumors. We conclude that the development of reduced methylation in the MGMT promoter is one of the mechanisms for acquiring therapeutic resistance after temozolomide treatment in glioblastomas.