About 30 percent of all brain tumors and central nervous system tumors are gliomas. They also comprise 80 percent of all malignant brain tumors. Glioma is a heterogeneous disease with multiple subtypes. The neuropathological evaluation and diagnostics of brain tumor specimens are performed according to WHO Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System: grades I, II, III and IV. Grade I biologically benign gliomas are comparatively low risk and can be removed surgically depending on their location. Grade II low- grade gliomas (LGGs) tend to exhibit benign tendencies, but they also have a uniform rate of recurrence and increase in grade over time. Grade III-IV high-grade gliomas (including glioblastoma; GBM) are malignant and carry the worst prognosis. Despite vast amounts of research, high-grade gliomas can be very difficult to treat and most often not curative. The multimodal treatments available, like tumor excision, radiation or chemotherapy, TTF (tumor treating fields), targeted drug therapy and immunotherapy, may slow cancer progression and reduce signs and symptoms in order to maximize a patient?s quality of life. Still, the median survival time of patients with high-grade gliomas is only 12?14 months. In the F99 phase of this project, I propose structure ? function studies of two lncRNAs involved in glioma/GBM progression: oncogenic LINC00152 and tumor suppressive DRAIC. The working hypothesis is that lncRNAs, like proteins, have specific functional domains responsible for their activities. To investigate the relationship between lncRNA structure and function, I propose to determine (1) the secondary structure of LINC00152 and DRAIC using SHAPE-MaP technique and (2) the functionality of DRAIC lncRNA domains in the context of suppression of migration and invasion, and inhibition of the NF-kB pathway. The proposed work will open a new field of lncRNA secondary structure-function studies, which will allow faster functional description of novel cancer-related lncRNAs and define minimal functional domains that can be used in the future for therapy. In parallel, by interacting with scientists who are experts in those fields, I will familiarize myself with animal models and histopathology of gliomas to prepare for the K00 phase of work. In the K00 phase, I will focus on how to target oncogenic long and short non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) in gliomas, and explore novel methods to deliver the minimal functional domains of the tumor suppressor ncRNAs for glioma therapy. I will also examine how manipulating noncoding RNA structure affects an organism?s immune response to the RNA delivery. Work performed in the F99 phase to understand key regulatory pathways impacted by lncRNAs in gliomas will allow me in the K00 phase to design screens for chemicals that will target these pathways, and thus help to develop novel approaches for treating gliomas.
This project will study two long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs), that affect cellular function directly as RNAs, without being translated into proteins, and are known to regulate progression of gliomas: an oncogene LINC00152 and a tumor suppressor DRAIC. In the F99 phase, I will focus on structure-function studies of the lncRNAs that will identify the minimal regions of these RNAs important for their action and thus identify how these lncRNAs regulate glioma progression, while in parallel familiarizing myself with animal models and histopathology of gliomas. In the K00 phase, I will focus on two strategies for therapy of gliomas based on the knowledge obtained during the F99: methods of targeting/delivering lncRNAs in gliomas and screening for small chemicals that will reverse the actions of the lncRNAs.