Cancer research

Human Brat ortholog TRIM3 is a tumor suppressor that regulates asymmetric cell division in glioblastoma.

PMID 24947043


Cancer stem cells, capable of self-renewal and multipotent differentiation, influence tumor behavior through a complex balance of symmetric and asymmetric cell divisions. Mechanisms regulating the dynamics of stem cells and their progeny in human cancer are poorly understood. In Drosophila, mutation of brain tumor (brat) leads to loss of normal asymmetric cell division by developing neural cells and results in a massively enlarged brain composed of neuroblasts with neoplastic properties. Brat promotes asymmetric cell division and directs neural differentiation at least partially through its suppression on Myc. We identified TRIM3 (11p15.5) as a human ortholog of Drosophila brat and demonstrate its regulation of asymmetric cell division and stem cell properties of glioblastoma (GBM), a highly malignant human brain tumor. TRIM3 gene expression is markedly reduced in human GBM samples, neurosphere cultures, and cell lines and its reconstitution impairs growth properties in vitro and in vivo. TRIM3 expression attenuates stem-like qualities of primary GBM cultures, including neurosphere formation and the expression of stem cell markers CD133, Nestin, and Nanog. In GBM stem cells, TRIM3 expression leads to a greater percentage dividing asymmetrically rather than symmetrically. As with Brat in Drosophila, TRIM3 suppresses c-Myc expression and activity in human glioma cell lines. We also demonstrate a strong regulation of Musashi-Notch signaling by TRIM3 in GBM neurospheres and neural stem cells that may better explain its effect on stem cell dynamics. We conclude that TRIM3 acts as a tumor suppressor in GBM by restoring asymmetric cell division.