Malignant gliomas, the most common solid tumors in the central nervous system, are essentially incurable due to their rapid growth and very invasive nature. One potential approach to eradicating glioma cells is to force these cells to undergo terminal differentiation and, in the process, to irreversible postmitotic arrest. Here, we show that neurogenin 2 (NGN2, also known as NEUROG2) synergizes with sex-determining region Y-box 11 (SOX11) to very efficiently convert human glioma cells to terminally differentiated neuron-like cells in both cell culture and adult mouse brains. These cells exhibit neuronal morphology, marker expression, and electrophysiological properties. The conversion process is accompanied by cell cycle exit, which dramatically inhibits glioma cell proliferation and tumor development after orthotopic transplantation. Most importantly, intracranial injection of NGN2- and SOX11-expressing virus into the tumor mass also curtails glioma growth and significantly improves survival of tumor-bearing mice. Taken together, this study shows a simple and highly efficient strategy for reprogramming malignant glioma cells into postmitotic cells, which might be a promising therapeutic approach for brain tumors.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
- Cell Biology
- Cancer Research