EphrinB2 drives perivascular invasion and proliferation of glioblastoma stem-like cells

27 Sep 2017

Glioblastomas (GBM) are aggressive and therapy-resistant brain tumours, which contain a subpopulation of tumour-propagating glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSC) thought to drive progression and recurrence. Diffuse invasion of the brain parenchyma, including along preexisting blood vessels, is a leading cause of therapeutic resistance, but the mechanisms remain unclear. Here, we show that ephrin-B2 mediates GSC perivascular invasion. Intravital imaging, coupled with mechanistic studies in murine GBM models and patient-derived GSC, revealed that endothelial ephrin-B2 compartmentalises non-tumourigenic cells. In contrast, upregulation of the same ephrin-B2 ligand in GSC enabled perivascular migration through homotypic forward signalling. Surprisingly, ephrin-B2 reverse signalling also promoted tumourigenesis cell-autonomously, by mediating anchorage-independent cytokinesis via RhoA. In human GSC-derived orthotopic xenografts, EFNB2 knock-down blocked tumour initiation and treatment of established tumours with ephrin-B2-blocking antibodies suppressed progression. Thus, our results indicate that targeting ephrin-B2 may be an effective strategy for the simultaneous inhibition of invasion and proliferation in GBM.