Send to

Choose Destination
Glia. 2002 Aug;39(2):162-73.

Chlorotoxin, a scorpion-derived peptide, specifically binds to gliomas and tumors of neuroectodermal origin.

Author information

TransMolecular, Inc., Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


Highly migratory neuroectodermal cells share a common embryonic origin with cells of the central nervous system (CNS). They include enteric, parasympathetic, sympathoadrenal, and sensory neurons of the peripheral nervous system, Schwann cells, melanocytes, endocrine cells, and cells forming connective tissue of the face and neck. Because of their common embryologic origin, these cells and the tumors that derive from them can share genetic and antigenic phenotypes with gliomas, tumors derived from CNS glia. We recently discovered that chlorotoxin (ClTx), a 4-kD peptide purified from Leiurus quinquestriatus scorpion, is a highly specific marker for glioma cells in biopsy tissues (Soroceanu et al. Cancer Res 58:4871-4879, 1998) that can target tumors in animal models. We report on the specificity of ClTx as a marker for tumors of neuroectodermal origin that include peripheral neuroectodermal tumors (PNET) and gliomas. Specifically, we histochemically stained frozen and paraffin tissue sections of human biopsy tissues from 262 patients with a synthetically manufactured and biologically active ClTx bearing an N-terminal biotin. The vast majority (74 of 79) of primary human brain tumors investigated showed abundant binding of ClTx with greater than 90% ClTx-positive cells in each section. By comparison, 32 biopsies of uninvolved brain used for comparison were largely ClTx-negative, with only a few isolated reactive astrocytes showing some ClTx binding. However, as with gliomas, the vast majority of PNETs examined showed specific ClTx binding (31 of 34). These include medulloblastomas (4 of 4), neuroblastomas (6 of 7), ganglioneuromas (4 of 4), melanomas (7 of 7), adrenal pheochromocytomas (5 of 6), primitive PNET (1), small cell lung carcinoma (2 of 3), and Ewing's sarcoma (2 of 2). Under identical staining conditions, normal tissues from brain, skin, kidney, and lung were consistently negative for ClTx. These results suggest that chlorotoxin is a reliable and specific histopathological marker for tumors of neuroectodermal origin and that chlorotoxin derivatives with cytolytic activity may have therapeutic potential for these cancers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center