Myeloid zinc finger 1 (MZF1), also known as zinc finger protein 42, is a zinc finger transcription factor, belonging to the Krüppel-like family that has been implicated in several types of malignancies, including glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). MZF1 is reportedly an oncogenic gene that promotes tumor progression. Moreover, higher expression of MZF1 has been associated with a worse overall survival rate among patients with GBM. Thus, MZF1 may be a promising target for therapeutic interventions. Cantharidin (CTD) has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine to induce apoptosis and inhibit cancer cell proliferation; however, the mechanism by which CTD inhibits cell proliferation remains unclear. In this study, we found that the expression of MZF1 was higher in GBM tissues than in adjacent normal tissues and low-grade gliomas. Additionally, the patient-derived GBM cells and GBM cell lines presented higher levels of MZF1 than normal human astrocytes. We demonstrated that CTD had greater anti-proliferative effects on GBM than a derivative of CTD, norcantharidin (NCTD). MZF1 expression was strongly suppressed by CTD treatment. Furthermore, MZF1 enhanced the proliferation of GBM cells and upregulated the expression of c-MYC, whereas these effects were reversed by CTD treatment. The results of our study suggest that CTD may be a promising therapeutic agent for patients with GBM and suggest a promising direction for further investigation.
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