The RNA Binding Protein IMP2 Preserves Glioblastoma Stem Cells by Preventing let-7 Target Gene Silencing
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) can drive tumor growth, and their maintenance may rely on post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression, including that mediated by microRNAs (miRNAs). The let-7 miRNA family has been shown to induce differentiation by silencing stem cell programs. Let-7-mediated target gene suppression is prevented by LIN28A/B, which reduce let-7 biogenesis in normal embryonic and some cancer stem cells and ensure maintenance of stemness. Here, we find that glioblastoma stem cells (GSCs) lack LIN28 and express both let-7 and their target genes, suggesting LIN28-independent protection from let-7 silencing. Using photoactivatable-ribonucleoside-enhanced crosslinking and immunoprecipitation (PAR-CLIP), we show that insulin-like growth factor 2 mRNA-binding protein 2 (IMP2) binds to let-7 miRNA recognition elements (MREs) and prevents let-7 target gene silencing. Our observations define the RNA-binding repertoire of IMP2 and identify a mechanism whereby it supports GSC and neural stem cell specification.