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Cancer Res. 2004 Mar 1;64(5):1730-6.

Inhibition of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2) expression decreases the survival and myogenic differentiation of human rhabdomyosarcoma cells.

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Cancer Research Section, Department of Experimental Pathology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN2), a cysteine-rich protein of the CCN (Cyr61, CTGF, Nov) family of genes, emerged from a microarray screen of genes expressed by human rhabdomyosarcoma cells. Rhabdomyosarcoma is a soft tissue sarcoma of childhood deriving from skeletal muscle cells. In this study, we investigated the role of CTGF in rhabdomyosarcoma. Human rhabdomyosarcoma cells of the embryonal (RD/12, RD/18, CCA) and the alveolar histotype (RMZ-RC2, SJ-RH4, SJ-RH30), rhabdomyosarcoma tumor specimens, and normal skeletal muscle cells expressed CTGF. To determine the function of CTGF, we treated rhabdomyosarcoma cells with a CTGF antisense oligonucleotide or with a CTGF small interfering RNA (siRNA). Both treatments inhibited rhabdomyosarcoma cell growth, suggesting the existence of a new autocrine loop based on CTGF. CTGF antisense oligonucleotide-mediated growth inhibition was specifically due to a significant increase in apoptosis, whereas cell proliferation was unchanged. CTGF antisense oligonucleotide induced a strong decrease in the level of myogenic differentiation of rhabdomyosarcoma cells, whereas the addition of recombinant CTGF significantly increased the proportion of myosin-positive cells. CTGF emerges as a survival and differentiation factor and could be a new therapeutic target in human rhabdomyosarcoma.

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