State Key Laboratory of Medical Molecular Biology, Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Medical Primate Research Center, Neuroscience Center, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, School of Basic Medicine Peking Union Medical College, 100005, Beijing, China. [Email]
Differentiation status significantly affects the properties of malignant glioma cells, with non-stem cells inducing tumor enlargement and stem-like cells driving tumor initiation and treatment resistance. It is not completely understood how the same protein can have a distinct role in these cell populations. Here, we report that four and a half LIM domain protein 3 (FHL3) has an inhibitory effect on proliferation in non-stem glioma cells and a non-proliferative effect in glioma stem cells (GSCs). In GSCs, we show that FHL3 interacts with the Smad2/3 protein complex at the SOX4 promoter region, inhibits SOX4 transcriptional activity by recruiting PPM1A phosphatase to Smad2/3, and then suppresses GSC tumor sphere formation and self-renewal in vitro and in vivo via downregulation of SOX2 expression. Altogether, these findings highlight the role of FHL3 as a stemness-suppressor in regulation of the Smad2/3-SOX4-SOX2 axis in glioma.