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J Biol Chem. 2010 Nov 19;285(47):37005-15. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.170076. Epub 2010 Sep 12.

Brain fatty acid-binding protein and omega-3/omega-6 fatty acids: mechanistic insight into malignant glioma cell migration.

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Department of Oncology, School of Cancer, Engineering and Imaging Sciences, Cross Cancer Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1Z2.


Malignant gliomas (MG) are highly infiltrative tumors that consistently recur despite aggressive treatment. Brain fatty acid-binding protein (FABP7), which binds docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (AA), localizes to sites of tumor infiltration and is associated with a poor prognosis in MG. Manipulation of FABP7 expression in MG cell lines affects cell migration, suggesting a role for FABP7 in tumor infiltration and recurrence. Here, we show that DHA inhibits and AA stimulates migration in an FABP7-dependent manner in U87 MG cells. We demonstrate that DHA binds to and sequesters FABP7 to the nucleus, resulting in decreased cell migration. This anti-migratory effect is partially dependent on peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ, a DHA-activated transcription factor. Conversely, AA-bound FABP7 stimulates cell migration by activating cyclooxygenase-2 and reducing peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ levels. Our data provide mechanistic insight as to why FABP7 is associated with a poor prognosis in MG and suggest that relative levels of DHA and AA in the tumor environment can make a profound impact on tumor growth properties. We propose that FABP7 and its fatty acid ligands may be key therapeutic targets for controlling the dissemination of MG cells within the brain.

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