Glioblastoma (GBM) is a common and deadly form of brain tumor in adults. Dysregulated metabolism in GBM offers an opportunity to deploy metabolic interventions as precise therapeutic strategies. To identify the molecular drivers and the modalities by which different molecular subgroups of GBM exploit metabolic rewiring to sustain tumor progression, we interrogated the transcriptome, the metabolome, and the glycoproteome of human subgroup-specific GBM sphere-forming cells (GSC). L-fucose abundance and core fucosylation activation were elevated in mesenchymal (MES) compared with proneural GSCs; this pattern was retained in subgroup-specific xenografts and in subgroup-affiliated human patient samples. Genetic and pharmacological inhibition of core fucosylation significantly reduced tumor growth in MES GBM preclinical models. Liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS)–based glycoproteomic screening indicated that most MES-restricted core-fucosylated proteins are involved in therapeutically relevant GBM pathological processes, such as extracellular matrix interaction, cell adhesion, and integrin-mediated signaling. Selective L-fucose accumulation in MES GBMs was observed using preclinical minimally invasive PET, implicating this metabolite as a potential subgroup-restricted biomarker.
Overall, these findings indicate that L-fucose pathway activation in MES GBM is a subgroup-specific dependency that could provide diagnostic markers and actionable therapeutic targets.
Metabolic characterization of subgroup-specific glioblastoma (GBM) sphere-forming cells identifies the L-fucose pathway as a vulnerability restricted to mesenchymal GBM, disclosing a potential precision medicine strategy for targeting cancer metabolism.