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STAT3 Blockade Inhibits Radiation-Induced Malignant Progression in Glioma


High grade gliomas (HGG) are classified into four subgroups based on transcriptional signatures and phenotypic characteristics. In particular, the proneural-to-mesenchymal transition (PMT) is associated with increased malignancy, poor prognosis, and disease recurrence, but the underlying causes of PMT are still unclear. In this study, we investigated whether radiotherapy promotes PMT using a genetically engineered mouse model of proneural HGG. We found that cranial ionizing radiation induced robust and durable PMT in tumors. Additionally, we isolated primary proneural HGG cells from mouse and human tumors and demonstrate that radiation induced a sustained cell-intrinsic mesenchymal transition associated with increased invasiveness and resistance to the alkylating agent temozolomide. Expectedly, irradiation-induced PMT was also associated with activation of the STAT3 transcription factor, and the combination of STAT3 blockade using JAK2 inhibitors with radiation abrogated the mesenchymal transition and extended survival of mice. Taken together, our data suggest that clinical JAK2 inhibitors should be tested in conjunction with radiation in patients with proneural HGG as a new strategy for blocking the emergence of therapy-resistant mesenchymal tumors at relapse.

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