EGFRvIII upregulates DNA mismatch repair resulting in increased temozolomide sensitivity of MGMT promoter methylated glioblastoma

Nina Struve, Zev A Binder, Lucy F Stead, Tim Brend, Stephen J Bagley, Claire Faulkner, Leonie Ott, Justus Müller-Goebel, Anna-Sophie Weik, Konstantin Hoffer, Leonie Krug, Thorsten Rieckmann, Lara Bußmann, Marvin Henze, Jennifer J D Morrissette, Kathreena M Kurian, Ulrich Schüller, Cordula Petersen, Kai Rothkamm, Donald M O RourkeSusan C Short, Malte Kriegs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


The oncogene epidermal growth factor receptor variant III (EGFRvIII) is frequently expressed in glioblastomas (GBM) but its impact on therapy response is still under controversial debate. Here we wanted to test if EGFRvIII influences the sensitivity towards the alkylating agent temozolomide (TMZ). Therefore, we retrospectively analyzed the survival of 336 GBM patients, demonstrating that under standard treatment, which includes TMZ, EGFRvIII expression is associated with prolonged survival, but only in patients with O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) promoter methylated tumors. Using isogenic GBM cell lines with endogenous EGFRvIII expression we could demonstrate that EGFRvIII increases TMZ sensitivity and results in enhanced numbers of DNA double-strand breaks and a pronounced S/G2-phase arrest after TMZ treatment. We observed a higher expression of DNA mismatch repair (MMR) proteins in EGFRvIII+ cells and patient tumor samples, which was most pronounced for MSH2 and MSH6. EGFRvIII-specific knockdown reduced MMR protein expression thereby increasing TMZ resistance. Subsequent functional kinome profiling revealed an increased activation of p38- and ERK1/2-dependent signaling in EGFRvIII expressing cells, which regulates MMR protein expression downstream of EGFRvIII. In summary, our results demonstrate that the oncoprotein EGFRvIII sensitizes a fraction of GBM to current standard of care treatment through the upregulation of DNA MMR.

Original languageEnglish
Early online date17 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 17 Feb 2020


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