Secreted frizzled-related protein 4 inhibits glioma stem-like cells by reversing epithelial to mesenchymal transition, inducing apoptosis and decreasing cancer stem cell properties

G. Bhuvanalakshmi, Frank Arfuso, Michael Millward, Arun Dharmarajan, Sudha Warrier

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35 Citations (Scopus)


The Wnt pathway is integrally involved in regulating self-renewal, proliferation, and maintenance of cancer stem cells (CSCs). We explored the effect of the Wnt antagonist, secreted frizzled-related protein 4 (sFRP4), in modulating epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in CSCs from human glioblastoma cells lines, U87 and U373. sFRP4 chemo-sensitized CSC-enriched cells to the most commonly used anti-glioblastoma drug, temozolomide (TMZ), by the reversal of EMT. Cell movement, colony formation, and invasion in vitro were suppressed by sFRP4+TMZ treatment, which correlated with the switch of expression of markers from mesenchymal (Twist, Snail, N-cadherin) to epithelial (E-cadherin). sFRP4 treatment elicited activation of the +2 pathway, which antagonizes the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. Significantly, the chemo-sensitization effect of sFRP4 was correlated with the reduction in the expression of drug resistance markers ABCG2, ABCC2, and ABCC4. The efficacy of sFRP4+TMZ treatment was demonstrated in vivo using nude mice, which showed minimum tumor engraftment using CSCs pretreated with sFRP4+TMZ. These studies indicate that sFRP4 treatment would help to improve response to commonly used chemotherapeutics in gliomas by modulating EMT via the Wnt/β-catenin pathway. These findings could be exploited for designing better targeted strategies to improve chemo-response and eventually eliminate glioblastoma CSCs.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0127517
JournalPLoS One
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 01-06-2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)

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