Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most malignant primary adult brain tumor. Despite efforts at surgical resection of the glioma mass, invasive cells are always left behind and the tumor will inevitably recur and kill the patient. As such, novel therapeutics targeting pro-invasive factors could improve neurological outcomes and survival for these patients. This requires a detailed understanding of the mechanisms driving glioma migration and invasion. We have been investigating whether the multifunctional cytokine tumor necrosis factor-like weak inducer of apoptosis (TWEAK) and its receptor fibroblast growth factor-inducible 14 (Fn14) regulate glioma cell invasive activity. We have previously demonstrated that Fn14 expression was elevated in the invasive rim of GBM specimens and migrating glioma cells in vitro. The Fn14 signaling axis is known to drive glioma invasion via Rac1. We have previously reported that Ect2, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor (GEF) for Rho family GTPases, including Rac1 and Cdc42, is overexpressed in GBM, and that overexpression of Ect2 correlates directly with tumor grade and inversely with patient survival. In this study we show that Ect2 regulates Rac1 activation downstream of Fn14. Depletion of Ect2 by siRNA duplexes abrogates Fn14-induced Rac1 activation and subsequent glioma cell migration and invasion. We also found that Cdc42 activation by TWEAK is directly mediated by Ect2. Interestingly, depletion of Cdc42 expression impairs TWEAK-induced Rac1 activation and also results in a significant reduction of glioma cell migration and invasion. This suggests that Cdc42 is, in part, important for Rac1 activation downstream of the TWEAK-Fn14 signaling pathway and argues that another GEF(s) may be involved in the Fn14-Rac1 signaling axis. Recently, we have identified Trio as an additional GEF that activates Rac1 downstream of Cdc42. It is also known that Trio expression correlates directly with brain tumor grade and inversely with patient survival. siRNA-mediated depletion of Trio inhibits TWEAK-induced Rac1 activation but not TWEAK-induced Cdc42 activation. Therefore, delineating the mechanisms of Fn14-RhoGEF-RhoGTPase signaling pathway, may lead to identification of novel targets that can serve as possible points of therapeutic intervention. (Supported by NIH R01-CA130940)

Citation Format: {Authors}. {Abstract title} [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the 101st Annual Meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research; 2010 Apr 17-21; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2010;70(8 Suppl):Abstract nr 5128.