Modulation of TGF-β activity by latent TGF-β-binding protein 1 in human malignant glioma cells

Isabel Tritschler, Dorothee Gramatzki, David Capper, Michel Mittelbronn, Richard Meyermann, Juha Saharinen, Wolfgang Wick, Jorma Keski-Oja, Michael Weller*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


High biological activity of the transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-Smad pathway characterizes the malignant phenotype of malignant gliomas and confers poor prognosis to glioma patients. Accordingly, TGF-β has become a novel target for the experimental treatment of these tumors. TGF-β is processed by furin-like proteases (FLP) and secreted from cells in a latent complex with its processed propeptide, the latency-associated peptide (LAP). Latent TGF-β-binding protein 1 (LTBP-1) covalently binds to this small latent TGF-β complex (SLC) and regulates its function, presumably via interaction with the extracellular matrix (ECM). We report here that the levels of LTBP-1 protein in vivo increase with the grade of malignancy in gliomas. LTBP-1 is associated with the ECM as well as secreted into the medium in cultured malignant glioma cells. The release of LTBP-1 into the medium is decreased by the inhibition of FLP activity. Gene-transfer mediated overexpression of LTBP-1 in glioma cell lines results in an increase in TGF-β activity. Accordingly, Smad2 phosphorylation as an intracellular marker of TGF-β activity is enhanced. Conversely, LTBP-1 gene silencing reduces TGF-β activity and Smad2 phosphorylation without affecting TGF-δ protein levels. Collectively, we identify LTBP-1 as an important modulator of TGF-β activation in glioma cells, which may contribute to the malignant phenotype of these tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-540
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2009
Externally publishedYes


  • Glioma
  • Latent TGF-β
  • Smad signaling
  • TGF-β1


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