Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most commonly diagnosed brain tumor that exhibit high mortality rate and chemotherapy resistance is a major clinical problem. Recent studies suggest that estrogen receptor beta (ERβ), may function as a tumor suppressor in GBM. However, the mechanism(s) by which ERβ contributes to GBM suppression and chemotherapy response remains unknown. We examined the role of ERβ in the DNA damage response of GBM cells, and tested whether ERβ sensitizes GBM cells to chemotherapy. Cell viability and survival assays using multiple epitope tagged ERβ expressing established and primary GBM cells demonstrated that ERβ sensitizes GBM cells to DNA damaging agents including temozolomide (TMZ). RNA-seq studies using ERβ overexpression models revealed downregulation of number of genes involved in DNA recombination and repair, ATM signaling and cell cycle check point control. Gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) suggested that ERβ–modulated genes were correlated negatively with homologous recombination, mismatch repair and G2M checkpoint genes. Further, RT-qPCR analysis revealed that chemotherapy induced activation of cell cycle arrest and apoptosis genes were attenuated in ERβKO cells. Additionally, ERβ overexpressing cells had a higher number of γH2AX foci following TMZ treatment. Mechanistic studies showed that ERβ plays an important role in homologous recombination (HR) mediated repair and ERβ reduced expression and activation of ATM upon DNA damage. More importantly, GBM cells expressing ERβ had increased survival when compared to control GBM cells in orthotopic GBM models. ERβ overexpression further enhanced the survival of mice to TMZ therapy in both TMZ sensitive and TMZ resistant GBM models. Additionally, IHC analysis revealed that ERβ tumors had increased expression of γH2AX and cleaved caspase-3. Using ERβ-overexpression and ERβ-KO GBM model cells, we have provided the evidence that ERβ is required for optimal chemotherapy induced DNA damage response and apoptosis in GBM cells.
ASJC Scopus subject areas