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J Biol Chem. 2001 Jun 15;276(24):20809-12. Epub 2001 Apr 24.

Non-small cell lung cancer cyclooxygenase-2-dependent invasion is mediated by CD44.

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  • 1Lung Cancer Research Program of the UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Division of Pulmonary Medicine, Department of Medicine, UCLA, School of Medicine, Los Angeles California 90095-1690, USA.


Elevated tumor cyclooxygenase (COX-2) expression is associated with increased angiogenesis, tumor invasion, and suppression of host immunity. We have previously shown that genetic inhibition of tumor COX-2 expression reverses the immunosuppression induced by non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). To assess the impact of COX-2 expression in lung cancer invasiveness, NSCLC cell lines were transduced with a retroviral vector expressing the human COX-2 cDNA in the sense (COX-2-S) and antisense (COX-2-AS) orientations. COX-2-S clones expressed significantly more COX-2 protein, produced 10-fold more prostaglandin E(2), and demonstrated an enhanced invasive capacity compared with control vector-transduced or parental cells. CD44, the cell surface receptor for hyaluronate, was overexpressed in COX-2-S cells, and specific blockade of CD44 significantly decreased tumor cell invasion. In contrast, COX-2-AS clones had a very limited capacity for invasion and showed diminished expression of CD44. These findings suggest that a COX-2-mediated, CD44-dependent pathway is operative in NSCLC invasion. Because tumor COX-2 expression appears to have a multifaceted role in conferring the malignant phenotype, COX-2 may be an important target for gene or pharmacologic therapy in NSCLC.

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