Genome-wide analysis of glioblastoma (GBM) reveals pervasive aberrations in apoptotic signaling pathways that collectively contribute to therapeutic resistance. Inhibitors of apoptosis proteins (IAP) exert critical control on the terminal segment of apoptosis leading to apoptosis evasion. In this study, we uncover a unique role for BIRC3, as an IAP that is critical in GBM in response to therapy. Using the TCGA dataset of 524 unique samples, we identify BIRC3 is the only IAP whose differential expression is associated with long-term survival in GBM patients. Using patient tissue samples we further show that BIRC3 expression increases with recurrence. When extrapolated to a preclinical model of a human GBM cell line, we find an increase in BIRC3 expression in response to irradiation (RT) and temozolomide (TMZ) treatment. More importantly, we mechanistically implicate STAT3 and PI3K signaling pathways as drivers of RT-induced up-regulation of BIRC3 expression. Lastly, we demonstrate that both in-vivo and in-vitro BIRC3 up-regulation results in apoptosis evasion and therapeutic resistance in GBM. Collectively, our study identifies a novel translational and targetable role for BIRC3 expression as a predictor of aggressiveness and therapeutic resistance to TMZ and RT mediated by STAT3 and PI3K signaling in GBM.
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