Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Joseph McCarty, PhD

Committee Member

Gary Gallick, PhD

Committee Member

Candelaria Gomez-Manzano, MD

Committee Member

Pierre McCrea, PhD

Committee Member

Anshu Mathur, PhD


As an interface between the circulatory and central nervous systems, the neurovascular unit is vital to the development and survival of tumors. The malignant brain cancer glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) displays invasive growth behaviors that are major impediments to surgical resection and targeted therapies. Adhesion and signaling pathways that drive GBM cell invasion remain largely uncharacterized. Here we have utilized human GBM cell lines, primary patient samples, and pre-clinical mouse models to demonstrate that integrin αvβ8 is a major driver of GBM cell invasion. β8 integrin is overexpressed in many human GBM cells, with higher integrin expression correlating with increased invasion and diminished patient survival. Silencing β8 integrin in human GBM cells leads to impaired tumor cell invasion due to hyperactivation of the Rho GTPases Rac1 and Cdc42. β8 integrin associates with Rho GDP Dissociation Inhibitor 1 (RhoGDI1), an intracellular signaling effector that sequesters Rho GTPases in their inactive GDP-bound states. Silencing RhoGDI1 expression or uncoupling αvβ8 integrin-RhoGDI1 protein interactions blocks GBM cell invasion due to Rho GTPase hyperactivation. These data reveal for the first time that αvβ8 integrin, via interactions with RhoGDI1, suppresses activation of Rho proteins to promote GBM cell invasiveness. Hence, targeting the αvβ8 integrin-RhoGDI1 signaling axis may be an effective strategy for blocking GBM cell invasion.


integrin, itgb8, glioma, invasion, migration, glioblastoma, cancer, rac1, cdc42, gtpase



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