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Int J Oncol. 2014 Feb;44(2):514-20. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2013.2186. Epub 2013 Nov 22.

Adult, embryonic and fetal hemoglobin are expressed in human glioblastoma cells.

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Department of Oncology, University of Alberta and Alberta Health Services, Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, AB T6G 1Z2, Canada.


Hemoglobin is a hemoprotein, produced mainly in erythrocytes circulating in the blood. However, non-erythroid hemoglobins have been previously reported in other cell types including human and rodent neurons of embryonic and adult brain, but not astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Human glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive tumor among gliomas. However, despite extensive basic and clinical research studies on GBM cells, little is known about glial defence mechanisms that allow these cells to survive and resist various types of treatment. We have shown previously that the newest members of vertebrate globin family, neuroglobin (Ngb) and cytoglobin (Cygb), are expressed in human GBM cells. In this study, we sought to determine whether hemoglobin is also expressed in GBM cells. Conventional RT-PCR, DNA sequencing, western blot analysis, mass spectrometry and fluorescence microscopy were used to investigate globin expression in GBM cell lines (M006x, M059J, M059K, M010b, U87R and U87T) that have unique characteristics in terms of tumor invasion and response to radiotherapy and hypoxia. The data showed that α, β, γ, δ, ζ and ε globins are expressed in all tested GBM cell lines. To our knowledge, we are the first to report expression of fetal, embryonic and adult hemoglobin in GBM cells under normal physiological conditions that may suggest an undefined function of those expressed hemoglobins. Together with our previous reports on globins (Ngb and Cygb) expression in GBM cells, the expression of different hemoglobins may constitute a part of series of active defence mechanisms supporting these cells to resist various types of treatments including chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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