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We recently discovered that truncated glioma-associated oncogene homolog 1 (TGLI1) is highly expressed in glioblastoma (GBM) and linked to increased GBM vascularity. The mechanisms underlying TGLI1-mediated angiogenesis are unclear. In this study, we compared TGLI1- with GLI1-expressing GBM xenografts for the expression profile of 84 angiogenesis-associated genes. The results showed that expression of six genes were upregulated and five were down-regulated in TGLI1-carrying tumors compared to those with GLI1. Vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) and tumor endothelial marker 7 (TEM7) were selected for further investigations because of their significant correlations with high vascularity in 135 patient GBMs. TGLI1 bound to both VEGF-C and TEM7 gene promoters. Conditioned medium from TGLI1-expressing GBM cells strongly induced tubule formation of brain microvascular endothelial cells, and the induction was prevented by VEGF-C/TEM7 knockdown. Immunohistochemical analysis of 122 gliomas showed that TGLI1 expression was positively correlated with VEGF-C, TEM7 and microvessel density. Analysis of NCBI Gene Expression Omnibus datasets with 161 malignant gliomas showed an inverse relationship between tumoral VEGF-C, TEM7 or microvessel density and patient survival. Together, our findings support an important role that TGLI1 plays in GBM angiogenesis and identify VEGF-C and TEM7 as novel TGLI1 target genes of importance to GBM vascularity.


Richard L Carpenter, Ivy Paw, Hu Zhu, Sherona Sirkisoon, Fei Xing, Kounosuke Watabe, Waldemar Debinski, Hui-Wen Lo. The gain-of-function GLI1 transcription factor TGLI1 enhances expression of VEGF-C and TEM7 to promote glioblastoma angiogenesis. Oncotarget. 2015 Sep 8;6(26):22653-65

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PMID: 26093087

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