Vitronectin, a glioma-derived extracellular matrix protein, protects tumor cells from apoptotic death

Joon H. Uhm, Nora P. Dooley, Athanassios P. Kyritsis, Jasti S. Rao, Candece L. Gladson

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143 Scopus citations


Vitronectin (VN) is an extracellular matrix (ECM) protein, the synthesis of which in vivo by glioma cells correlates with tumor grade. Although the role of VN as a permissive substrate for glioma migration has been well characterized, its role in conferring a survival advantage for tumor cells has not been addressed previously. By using an in vitro assay of DNA fragmentation as a quantitative measure of apoptotic cell death, we sought to determine whether the sensitivity of two human glioma cell lines (D54 and U251) to drug-induced apoptosis could be inhibited by VN. As well, the extent to which apoptosis could be inhibited was correlated with the levels of the Bcl-2 family of proteins that are known to modulate apoptosis and chemoresistance. Results of the study were: (a) VN coatings, in a dose- dependent manner, inhibited topoisomerase (Topo)-induced apoptosis by up to 50% (optimal coating density, 500 ng/cm2); in contrast, fibronectin (FN), an ECM protein present in abundance in the brain, demonstrated no protection; (b) in a dose-response study, VN clearly conferred a survival advantage (LD50 of Topo: on VN, 120 ng/ml; on FN, 35 ng/ml); (c) the protective effect of VN was not due to enhanced cell adhesion or alterations in the cell cycle distribution; (d) both of the classic integrin receptors that bind VN (α(v)β3, α(v)β5) were capable of mediating this protective effect, because ligation of either of the two classic integrins conferred chemoresistance to Topo; and (e) chemoresistance observed with VN was associated with an increase in expression of two antiapoptotic proteins, Bcl- 2 and Bcl-X(L), with a consequent increase in the ratios for Bcl-2:Bax and Bcl-X(L):Bax. VN, an ECM protein preferentially expressed at the tumor-brain interface in vivo, may confer a survival advantage to glioma cells at the advancing tumor margin and may thus, in part, underlie the high level of tumor recurrence at this interface.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1587-1594
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1999

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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