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Brain Tumor Pathol. 2003;20(2):53-8.

Expression of fascin, an actin-bundling protein, in astrocytomas of varying grades.

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  • 1Arthur and Sonia Labatt Brain Tumour Research Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Malignant astrocytomas are highly infiltrative neoplasms that invade readily into regions of normal brain. On a cellular basis, the motility and invasiveness of human cancers can be ascribed in part to complex rearrangements of the actin cytoskeleton that are governed by several actinbinding proteins. One such actin-binding protein that has been linked to the invasive behavior of carcinomas is fascin, which serves to aggregate F actin into bundles. In this study, we examined the expression of fascin in a series of human malignant astrocytomas (WHO grades I-IV). Five grade I, 5 grade II, 10 grade III, and 26 grade IV human astrocytomas were examined for fascin and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) expression by double immunofluorescence confocal microscopy. Expression of fascin and GFAP was also determined by Western blot analysis. Fascin expression increased with increasing WHO grade of astrocytoma. This is in marked contrast to GFAP expression, which decreased with increasing WHO grade. In grades I and II neoplasms, and within non-neoplastic brain, fascin and GFAP were expressed diffusely within regions examined. However, in the higher-grade astrocytomas (grades III and IV), fascin and GFAP were expressed regionally in distinctly separate tumor cell populations. This is the first study to demonstrate the expression of fascin in human astrocytic neoplasms. The role that fascin plays in contributing to the invasive phenotype of anaplastic astrocytomas awaits further study and investigation.

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