GFAPδ/GFAPα ratio directs astrocytoma gene expression towards a more malignant profile

A1 Journal article (refereed)

Internal Authors/Editors

Publication Details

List of Authors: Stassen OMJA, van Bodegraven EJ, Giuliani F, Moeton M, Kanski R, Sluijs JA, van Strien ME, Kamphuis W, Robe PAJ, Hol EM
Publication year: 2017
Journal: Oncotarget
Journal acronym: ONCOTARGET
Volume number: 8
Issue number: 50
Start page: 88104
End page: 88121
Number of pages: 18
ISSN: 1949-2553


Astrocytomas are the most common malignant brain tumours and are to date incurable. It is unclear how astrocytomas progress into higher malignant grades. The intermediate filament cytoskeleton is emerging as an important regulator of malignancy in several tumours. The majority of the astrocytomas express the intermediate filament protein Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein (GFAP). Several GFAP splice variants have been identified and the main variants expressed in human astrocytoma are the GFAP alpha and GFAP delta isoforms. Here we show a significant downregulation of GFAP alpha in grade IV astrocytoma compared to grade II and III, resulting in an increased GFAP delta/alpha ratio. Mimicking this increase in GFAP delta/alpha ratio in astrocytoma cell lines and comparing the subsequent transcriptomic changes with the changes in the patient tumours, we have identified a set of GFAP delta/alpha ratio-regulated high-malignant and low-malignant genes. These genes are involved in cell proliferation and protein phosphorylation, and their expression correlated with patient survival. We additionally show that changing the ratio of GFAP delta/alpha, by targeting GFAP expression, affected expression of high-malignant genes. Our data imply that regulating GFAP expression and splicing are novel therapeutic targets that need to be considered as a treatment for astrocytoma.


astrocytoma, GFAP-isoforms, glioma, intermediate filaments

Last updated on 2020-02-06 at 02:23