Role of high molecular weight extracellular matrix proteins in glioma cell migration

R. Mahesparan*, B. B. Tysnes, K. Edvardsen, H. K. Haugeland, I. Garcia Cabrera, M. Lund-Johansen, O. Engebraaten, R. Bjerkvig

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Malignant human gliomas are characterized by an uncontrolled cell proliferation and infiltrative growth within the brain. Complete surgical removal is difficult due to disseminated tumour cells, and the fundamental mechanisms responsible for this spread are poorly understood. An extensive tumour cell movement along blood vessels is frequently observed and this may be due to specific interactions between tumour cell surface receptors and specific extracellular matrix (ECM) components present in conjunction with vascular elements. In order to investigate the influence of ECM on glioma cell migration, three different human glioma cell lines (U-373 MG, A-172 MG and HF-66) were exposed to known ECM components of the basement membrane (laminin, fibronectin and collagen type IV). Cell migration from multicellular spheroids was studied, using a custom-made medium which was prepared by removing the high molecular weight protein fraction (> 100 kDa) from newborn calf serum by ultrafiltration. To this medium, the specific ECM components were added. For two of the cell lines (A-172 MG and U-373 MG), laminin was the most potent stimulator of glioma cell migration; the effect of laminin exceeded that evoked by ordinary serum-supplemented medium. For the HF-66 cell line, fibronectin was the most potent stimulator of migration. Western blot analysis showed that the A-172 MG and HF-66 cell lines expressed low amounts of laminin compared with U-373 MG, which showed extensive intrinsic synthesis of this ligand. U-373 MG was the only cell line that migrated in pure filtered medium. The cells stimulated by fibronectin expressed a different morphology from those stimulated by laminin suggesting that specific ECM-receptor binding may activate different cytoskeletal components within the cells. Furthermore, it was shown that there was no difference in the amount of protein synthesis between cells grown in filtered medium and in filtered medium supplemented with different ECM components. This suggests that ECM-induced cell migration is not dependent on a high level of protein synthesis. It is also shown that α3 integrin, which is a receptor-subunit for laminin, fibronectin and collagen type IV, was highly expressed in all cell lines. This study indicates that glioma cells need serum proteins with a molecular weight > 100 kDa to migrate in vitro, and that laminin and fibronectin play an important role in this process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-112
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes


  • Adhesion
  • Brain
  • Extracellular matrix
  • Filtered medium
  • Glioma
  • Invasion
  • Migration
  • Spheroids


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