Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Cancer Biology


Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology

First Thesis Advisor

Alonzo Ross, PhD


Glioblastoma, Dacarbazine, Drug Resistance, Neoplasm


Dissertations, UMMS; Glioblastoma; Dacarbazine; Drug Resistance, Neoplasm


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) tumors are highly malignant in nature and despite an aggressive therapy regimen, long–term survival for glioma patients is uncommon as cells with intrinsic or acquired resistance to treatment repopulate the tumor. This creates the need to investigate new therapies for enhancing GBM treatment outside of the standard of care, which includes Temozolomide (TMZ). Our lab focused on two novel strategies to overcome resistance in GBMs. In our first approach, the cellular responses of GBM cell lines to two new TMZ analogues, DP68 and DP86, are reported. The efficacy of these compounds was independent of DNA repair mediated by Methyl Guanine Methyl Transferase (MGMT) and the mismatch repair (MMR) pathway. DP68 or DP86 treated cells do not give rise to secondary spheres, demonstrating that they are no longer capable of self-renewal. DP68-induced damage includes interstrand DNA crosslinks and exhibits a distinct S-phase accumulation before G2/M arrest; a profile that is not observed for TMZ-treated cells. DP68 induces a strong DNA damage response and suppression of FANCD2 expression or ATR expression/kinase activity enhanced the anti-GBM effects of DP68. Collectively, these data demonstrate that DP68, and to a lesser extent DP86, are potent anti-GBM compounds that circumvent TMZ resistance and inhibit recovery of cultures. Our second approach stems from a previous discovery in our lab which demonstrated that the combination of TMZ with Notch inhibition, using a gamma secretase inhibitor (GSI), enhances GBM therapy. Efficacy of TMZ + GSI treatment is partially due to GBM cells shifting into a permanent senescent state. We sought to identify a miR signature that mimics the effects of TMZ + GSI as an alternative vi approach to enhance GBM therapy. MiR-34a expression was highly upregulated in response to TMZ or TMZ + GSI treatment. Exogenous expression of miR-34a revealed that it functions as a tumor suppressor and mimicked the in vitro effects of TMZ + GSI treatment. Additionaly, miR-34a overexpression leads to the downregulation of Notch family members. Together these two studies contribute to our understanding of the complex mechanisms driving resistance in GBM tumors and suggest strategies to develop more effective therapies.



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