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Neoplasia. 2005 Sep;7(9):824-37.

TWIST is expressed in human gliomas and promotes invasion.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA.


TWIST, a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor that regulates mesodermal development, has been shown to promote tumor cell metastasis and to enhance survival in response to cytotoxic stress. Our analysis of rat C6 glioma cell-derived cDNA revealed TWIST expression, suggesting that the gene may play a role in the genesis and physiology of primary brain tumors. To further delineate a possible oncogenic role for TWIST in the central nervous system (CNS), we analyzed TWIST expression in human gliomas and normal brain by using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, Northern blot analysis, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry. TWIST expression was detected in the large majority of human glioma-derived cell lines and human gliomas examined. Levels of TWIST mRNA were associated with the highest grade gliomas, and increased TWIST expression accompanied transition from low grade to high grade in vivo, suggesting a role for TWIST in promoting malignant progression. In accord, elevated TWIST mRNA abundance preceded the spontaneous malignant transformation of cultured mouse astrocytes hemizygous for p53. Overexpression of TWIST protein in a human glioma cell line significantly enhanced tumor cell invasion, a hallmark of high-grade gliomas. These findings support roles for TWIST both in early glial tumorigenesis and subsequent malignant progression. TWIST was also expressed in embryonic and fetal human brain, and in neurons, but not glia, of mature brain, indicating that, in gliomas, TWIST may promote the functions also critical for CNS development or normal neuronal physiology.

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