Scientific reports 2018 02 148(1) 2982 doi 10.1038/s41598-018-21358-1
PLAUR encodes the urokinase receptor (uPAR), which promotes cell survival, migration, and resistance to targeted cancer therapeutics in glioblastoma cells in culture and in mouse model systems. Herein, we show that patient survival correlates inversely with PLAUR mRNA expression in gliomas of all grades, in glioblastomas, and in the subset of glioblastomas that demonstrate the mesenchymal gene expression signature. PLAUR clusters with genes that define the more aggressive mesenchymal subtype in transcriptome profiles of glioblastoma tissue and glioblastoma cells in neurospheres, which are enriched for multipotent cells with stem cell-like qualities. When PLAUR was over-expressed or silenced in glioblastoma cells, neurosphere growth and expression of mesenchymal subtype biomarkers correlated with uPAR abundance. uPAR also promoted glioblastoma cell survival in neurospheres. Constitutively-active EGF Receptor (EGFRvIII) promoted neurosphere growth; however, unlike uPAR, EGFRvIII did not induce the mesenchymal gene expression signature. Immunohistochemical analysis of human glioblastomas showed that uPAR is typically expressed by a small sub-population of the cancer cells; it is thus reasonable to conclude that this subpopulation of cells is responsible for the effects of PLAUR on patient survival. We propose that uPAR-expressing glioblastoma cells demonstrate a mesenchymal gene signature, an increased capacity for cell survival, and stem cell-like properties.