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Abstract

Objective:

Glioblastomas (GBMs) are lethal cancers that display cellular hierarchies parallel to normal brain. At the apex are GBM stem cells (GSCs), which are relatively resistant to conventional therapy. Interactions with the adjacent perivascular niche are an important driver of malignancy and self-renewal in GSCs. Extracellular matrix (ECM) cues instruct neural stem/progenitor cell–niche interactions, and the objective of our study was to elucidate its composition and contribution to GSC maintenance in the perivascular niche.

Methods:

We interrogated human tumor tissue for immunofluorescence analysis and derived GSCs from tumor tissues for functional studies. Bioinformatics analyses were conducted by mining publicly available databases.

Results:

We find that laminin ECM proteins are localized to the perivascular GBM niche and inform negative patient prognosis. To identify the source of laminins, we characterized cellular elements within the niche and found that laminin α chains were expressed by nonstem tumor cells and tumor-associated endothelial cells (ECs). RNA interference targeting laminin α2 inhibited GSC growth and self-renewal. In co-culture studies of GSCs and ECs, laminin α2 knockdown in ECs resulted in decreased tumor growth.

Interpretation:

Our studies highlight the contribution of nonstem tumor cell-derived laminin juxtracrine signaling. As laminin α2 has recently been identified as a molecular marker of aggressive ependymoma, we propose that the brain vascular ECM promotes tumor malignancy through maintenance of the GSC compartment, providing not only a molecular fingerprint but also a possible therapeutic target. ANN NEUROL 2012;72:766–778