The cell fate determinant NUMB orchestrates asymmetric cell division in flies and mammals and has lately been suggested to have a tumor suppressor function in breast and lung cancer. Here, we studied NUMB in the context of malignant gliomas. We used ectopic expression of NUMB in order to inhibit proliferation and induce differentiation in glioma cells by alteration of Notch, Hedgehog and p53 signaling. We found that NUMB is consistently expressed in glioma biopsies with predominance of NUMB2/4 isoforms as determined by isoform-specific real-time PCR and Western blotting. Upon lentiviral overexpression, in vitro proliferation rate and the grade of differentiation as assessed by morphology and expression of neural and glial markers remained unchanged. Orthotopic xenografts of NUMB-transduced human U87 glioma cells could be established in nude rats without impairing engraftment or causing significant changes in morphology based on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). The previously reported alteration of Hedgehog and p53 signaling by NUMB could not be recapitulated in glioma cells. We thus show that in experimental gliomas, NUMB overexpression most likely does not exert a tumor suppressor function such as seen in epithelial cancers.
- Cancer stem cell
- Malignant glioma