Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Tomasz Kordula


This dissertation elucidates several independent molecular mechanisms that function in astrocytes and glial tumor cells, and suggest that developmental and inflammatory signals may contribute to the development of brain tumors. First, we analyzed the mechanism of TIMP-1 activation in astrocytes and glioblastoma cells. TIMP-1 expression is activated by IL-1, which is the major neuroinflammatory cytokine, via simultaneous activation of IKK/NF-kB and MEK3/6/p38/ATF-2 pathways in primary human astrocytes. In contrast to astrocytes, TIMP-1 is expressed at lower levels in glioblastomas, and is not regulated by IL-1 due to either dysfunctional IKK/NF-kB or MEK3/6/p38/ATF-2 activation. Thus, we propose a novel mechanism of TIMP-1 regulation, which ensures an increased supply of the inhibitor after tissue injury to limit the ECM degradation. This mechanism does not operate in gliomas, and may in part explain the increased invasiveness of glioma cells.Inflammation has been associated with the development of several cancers, including glioblastoma multiforme. However, it has not been linked to other brain tumors. Here we show for the first time that inflammation is associated with oligodendroglioma tumors as pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as OSM, IL-6, MCP1, MIP1α, and MIP1β and inflammatory markers, such as ACT and COX-2, were expressed at higher levels in oligodendroglioma samples. In addition, cytokine-induced STAT3 signaling, but not NF-kB, is highly activated in the oligodendroglioma patients. Moreover, OSM promotes oligodendroglioma cell proliferation in vitro, and this effect is mediated through STAT3. In summary, oligodendroglioma tumors secrete and respond to inflammatory mediators, with OSM being the major cytokine that activates STAT3 to promote the growth of tumor cells, and express ACT and COX-2 as a hallmark of ongoing inflammation. Since STAT3 promotes the growth of oligodendroglioma, as well as glioblastoma cells, and also regulates gliogenesis, we studied molecular mechanisms of this process in an in vitro differentiation model. We turn our attention to the NFI family of transcription factors since they have recently emerged as novel regulators of the development of vertebral neocortex. We developed a stem cell-neural progenitor-astrocyte differentiation model, in which the generated astrocytes were characterized by proper morphology, increased glutamate uptake, and expression of early and late astrocyte markers. Moreover, we found that NFI-X and NFI-C but not NFI-A or NFI-B, control the expression of GFAP and SPARCL1, the markers of terminal differentiation of astrocytes.In summary, the three mechanisms of gene regulation we studied, provided new insights into astrocyte biology, with the important implications for understanding the basis leading to the development and progression of brain tumors.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008