Glioblastoma multiforme is an aggressive primary brain tumor that is characterized by local invasive growth and resistance to therapy. The role of the microenvironment in glioblastoma invasiveness remains unclear. While carcinomas release CD147, a protein that signals for increased matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) release by fibroblasts, glioblastoma does not have a significant fibroblast component. We hypothesized that astrocytes release MMPs in response to CD147 contained in glioblastoma-derived extracellular vesicles (EVs) and that ionizing radiation, part of the standard treatment for glioblastoma, enhances this release.
Astrocytes were incubated with EVs released by irradiated or non-irradiated human glioblastoma cells wild-type, knockdown, or knockout for CD147. Levels of CD147 in glioblastoma EVs and MMPs secreted by astrocytes were quantified. Levels of proteins in the mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway, which can be regulated by CD147, were measured in astrocytes incubated with EVs from glioblastoma cells wild-type or knockdown for CD147. Immunofluorescence was performed on the glioblastoma cells to identify changes in CD147 localization in response to irradiation, and to confirm uptake of the EVs by astrocytes.
Immunoblotting and mass spectrometry analyses showed that CD147 levels in EVs were transiently increased when the EVs were from glioblastoma cells that were irradiated with γ rays. Specifically, the highly-glycosylated 45 kDa form of CD147 was preferentially present in the EVs relative to the cells themselves. Immunofluorescence demonstrated that astrocytes incorporate glioblastoma EVs and subsequently increase their secretion of active MMP9. The increase was greater if the EVs were from irradiated glioblastoma cells. Testing MAPK pathway activation, which also regulates MMP expression, showed that JNK signaling, but not ERK1/2 or p38, was increased in astrocytes incubated with EVs from irradiated compared to non-irradiated glioblastoma cells. Knockout of CD147 in glioblastoma cells blocked the increased JNK signaling and the rise in secreted active MMP9 levels.
The results support a tumor microenvironment-mediated role of CD147 in glioblastoma invasiveness, and reveal a prominent role for ionizing radiation in enhancing the effect. They provide an improved understanding of glioblastoma intercellular signaling in the context of radiotherapy, and identify pathways that can be targeted to reduce tumor invasiveness. Video abstract.