Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common malignant brain tumor in adults, with a median survival of 15 months. These poor clinical outcomes have prompted the development of drugs that block neoplastic cancer cell growth; however, non-neoplastic cell-derived signals (chemokines and cytokines) in the tumor microenvironment may also represent viable treatment targets. One such chemokine, Ccl5, produced by lowgrade tumor-associated microglia, is responsible for maintaining neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) mouse optic glioma growth in vivo. Since malignant gliomas may achieve partial independence from growth regulatory factors produced by non-neoplastic cells in the tumor microenvironment by producing the same cytokines secreted by the stromal cells in their low-grade counterparts, we tested the hypothesis that CCL5/CCL5-receptor signaling in glioblastoma creates an autocrine circuit important for high-grade glioma growth. Herein, we demonstrate that increased CCL5 expression was restricted to both human and mouse mesenchymal GBM (M-GBM), a molecular subtype characterized by NF1 loss. We further show that the NF1 protein, neurofibromin, negatively regulates Ccl5 expression through suppression of AKT/ mTOR signaling. Consistent with its role as a glioblastoma growth regulator, Ccl5 knockdown in M-GBM cells reduces M-GBM cell survival in vitro, and increases mouse glioblastoma survival in vivo. Finally, we demonstrate that Ccl5 operates through an unconventional CCL5 receptor, CD44, to inhibit M-GBM apoptosis. Collectively, these findings reveal an NF1-dependent CCL5-mediated pathway that regulates M-GBM cell survival, and support the concept that paracrine factors important for low-grade glioma growth can be usurped by high-grade tumors to create autocrine regulatory circuits that maintain malignant glioma survival.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32977-32989
Number of pages13
Issue number20
StatePublished - 2017


  • CD44
  • Chemokine
  • Glioma
  • MTOR
  • Neurofibromin


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