The neurofibromin-1 tumor suppressor gene (NF1) is altered in approximately 20% of sporadic glioblastoma (GBM) cases. NF1 deficient GBM frequently shows a mesenchymal gene expression signature, suggesting a relationship between NF1 status and the tumor microenvironment. To identify changes in the production of secreted cytokines/chemokines in NF1 deficient glioma, we applied cytokine arrays to conditioned media from a panel of three GBM cell lines after siRNA-mediated NF1 knockdown. We identified increased secretion of platelet-derived growth factor AA (PDGF-AA), chitinase-3-like protein 1 (CHI3L1), interleukin-8 (IL-8), and endoglin (ENG) in different subsets of these cell lines. Secretion was associated with induction of the corresponding messenger RNA, suggesting a mechanism involving transcriptional upregulation. By contrast, in non-transformed immortalized normal human astrocytes, PDGF-AA secretion was increased upon NF1 knockdown, while secreted CHI3L1, ENG, and IL-8 were reduced or unchanged. Analysis of The Cancer Genome Atlas confirmed a relationship between glioma NF1 status and ENG and CHI3L1 in tumor samples. Overall, this study identifies candidate changes in secreted proteins from NF1 deficient glioma cells that could influence the tumor microenvironment, and suggests a direct link between NF1 loss and increased tumor cell production of CHI3L1 and endoglin, two factors implicated in mesenchymal identity in glioblastoma.
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