Inherent plasticity and various survival cues allow glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) to survive and proliferate under intrinsic and extrinsic stress conditions. Here, we report that GSCs depend on the adaptive activation of ER stress and subsequent activation of lipogenesis and particularly stearoyl CoA desaturase (SCD1), which promotes ER homeostasis, cytoprotection, and tumor initiation. Pharmacological targeting of SCD1 is particularly toxic due to the accumulation of saturated fatty acids, which exacerbates ER stress, triggers apoptosis, impairs RAD51-mediated DNA repair, and achieves a remarkable therapeutic outcome with 25%-100% cure rate in xenograft mouse models. Mechanistically, divergent cell fates under varying levels of ER stress are primarily controlled by the ER sensor IRE1, which either promotes SCD1 transcriptional activation or converts to apoptotic signaling when SCD1 activity is impaired. Taken together, the dependence of GSCs on fatty acid desaturation presents an exploitable vulnerability to target glioblastoma.
The relationship between diabetes and endothelial dysfunction remains unclear, particularly the association with pathological activation of calpain, an intracellular cysteine protease. Here, we used human induced pluripotent stem cells-derived endothelial cells (iPSC-ECs) to investigate the effects of diabetes on vascular health. Our results indicate that iPSC-ECs exposed to hyperglycemia had impaired autophagy, increased mitochondria fragmentation, and was associated with increased calpain activity. In addition, hyperglycemic iPSC-ECs had increased susceptibility to cell death when subjected to a secondary insult-simulated ischemia-reperfusion injury (sIRI). Importantly, calpain inhibition restored autophagy and reduced mitochondrial fragmentation, concurrent with maintenance of ATP production, normalized reactive oxygen species levels and reduced susceptibility to sIRI. Using a human iPSC model of diabetic endotheliopathy, we demonstrated that restoration of autophagy and prevention of mitochondrial fragmentation via calpain inhibition improves vascular integrity. Our human iPSC-EC model thus represents a valuable platform to explore biological mechanisms and new treatments for diabetes-induced endothelial dysfunction.