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J Cell Biochem. 2003 Apr 1;88(5):1038-47.

Alpha 4 integrin increases anoikis of human osteosarcoma cells.

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Department of Surgical Oncology, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.


Cell motility, growth, and proliferation are regulated by adhesion to the extracellular matrix. Detachment of adherent cells from extracellular matrix results in induction of apoptosis ("anoikis"). Transformed cells often show an anchorage-independent growth that enables them to acquire a motile, invasive phenotype. This phenotype has been associated with the altered expression and function of the integrin family of transmembrane proteins that mediate cell adhesion to the extracellular matrix. Although alpha4 integrin is normally expressed on leukocyte subpopulations, a number of metastatic melanomas and sarcomas express it as well. In this study, we demonstrated the expression of alpha4 integrins on the human osteosarcoma cell line SAOS and on metastatic osteosarcoma lesions from the lung and pericardium. We further demonstrated that alpha4 integrin is coupled to the beta1 subunit by biochemical analysis and by using a mAb directed against a combinatorial epitope unique to the alpha4beta1 molecule. SAOS cells undergo anoikis when adherence is denied. Anoikis involved the activation of caspase 3 and the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria. Treatment of non-adherent SAOS with an anti-alpha4 mAb increased anoikis while anti-beta1 integrin mAbs did not alter anoikis, thus indicating a novel function for the alpha4 subunit in the control of cell death. Since integrins can control cell migration, proliferation, and apoptosis these results demonstrate a potential role for alpha4 integrin during multiple aspects of osteosarcoma metastasis.

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