An investigation of metastatic markers in models of paediatric medulloblastoma

Nasir, Aishah (2017) An investigation of metastatic markers in models of paediatric medulloblastoma. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Introduction Medulloblastoma is an aggressive malignant neuro-ectodermal tumour of the cerebellum which accounts for 15-20% of childhood central nervous system tumours and frequently disseminates to the leptomeningeal spaces of the brain and spinal cord. Patients with disseminated disease respond poorly to post-surgical multimodal treatment which is thought to be explained by the intrinsic drug-resistant nature of these tumours. Here, we hypothesized that cells gain migratory and invasive capabilities by undergoing an Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT)-like process whereby cells alter phenotypically and acquire stem cell-like properties during tumour dissemination. In this study, metastatic genes were identified and tested using 3D in vitro model systems which incorporated important components of the extracellular matrix. Using these markers, evidence for an EMT-like process and the role of the multi-drug transporter, ABCB1, was investigated in metastatic medulloblastomas. Small molecule inhibitors were also used to investigate whether metastatic processes could be targeted and drug resistance mechanisms could be circumvented in both in vitro and/or in vivo settings.

Materials and Methods Growth, morphology and biological processes (e.g. cell migration) were assessed in a panel of non-metastatic and metastatic medulloblastoma cell lines, as well as in non-tumourigenic neural stem cells cultured in a 3D basement membrane extract (BME) using the alamar blue assay (measure of metabolic activity) and time-lapse imaging. Putative metastatic markers were identified through literature review analysis of gene expression datasets or immunohistochemistry of tissue micro-arrays (TMA). These markers were then assessed in samples obtained from medulloblastoma cell lines cultured as 2D monolayers and grown in BME (for 3 and 6 days) by QRT-PCR analysis. Protein expression of selected markers were also assessed in mouse orthotopic xenograft samples by immunohistochemistry or in cell lines using immunofluorescence analysis. Finally, small molecule inhibitors (WIP1 and ABCB1 inhibitors) were used in 3D culture systems (3D spheroid and 3D BME assays) and in an orthotopic metastatic mouse model.

Results Medulloblastoma cell lines demonstrated different growth patterns in 3D. Metastatic cell lines formed metabolically active aggregates which sustained continual cell migration for at least 6 days; whilst non-metastatic and non-tumourigenic cells showed low metabolic activity and rapidly differentiated. Metastatic cell lines which were sustained longest in BME (D283 Med and MED1) demonstrated upregulation of the EMT transcription factor, TWIST1, along with several other EMT and TWIST1-related factors. Further analysis included overexpressing TWIST1 in a non-metastatic cell line (MED6 TWIST1) which induced a dispersed phenotype in 2D and cell aggregation in the 3D BME model which phenotypically resembled metastatic cell lines. TWIST1 and ABCB1 expression correlated with metastasis in patients and was upregulated in the invasive edge of primary tumours and in spinal metastases in an orthotopic metastatic mouse model. Small molecule inhibitors targeting WIP1 (a published metastatic marker) and ABCB1 inhibited cell migration of metastatic cell lines grown in 3D including the MED6 TWIST1 cell line. ABCB1 inhibition also increased sensitivity to etoposide treatment in 3D spheroid models and an orthotopic metastatic in vivo model.

Conclusion The 3D BME model utilised in this study can be used to distinguish metastatic capacity and transcriptional changes of medulloblastoma cell lines. Furthermore, data from this study supports a role for a TWIST1 driven EMT-like process in metastatic medulloblastoma and supports the use of ABCB1 inhibition to overcome chemoresistance.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Coyle, B.
Grabowska, A.M.
Keywords: Medulloblastoma, TWIST1, ABCB1
Subjects: W Medicine and related subjects (NLM Classification) > WL Nervous system
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine
Item ID: 42405
Depositing User: Nasir, Aishah
Date Deposited: 13 Oct 2017 13:51
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 11:49

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