Expression of vascular endothelial growth factor-A and mRNA stability factor HuR in human astrocytic tumors

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High-grade astrocytic tumors, such as glioblastoma, possess rich vascular components, which are necessary for their growth. VEGF-A is considered to be the major mediator of angiogenesis in malignant neoplasms including high-grade astrocytic tumors. The upregulation of VEGF-A expression in tumor cells is induced by two mechanisms: the transcriptional activation and the post-transcriptional stabilization of VEGF-A mRNA. While the former mechanism mediated by hypoxia inducible factor-1 alpha (HIF-1α) has been revealed, the latter mediated by mRNA stability factor HuR remains unclear in astrocytic tumors. In the present study, we investigated the expression of VEGF-A and mRNA stability factor HuR in supratentorial astrocytic tumors of 27 adults using RT-PCR, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry. Furthermore, we studied the involvement of HuR in the upregulation of VEGF-A expression using malignant astrocytoma cell lines. In higher-grade astrocytic tumors, the level of VEGF-A and microvascular density were elevated, cytoplasmic expression of HuR, which potentially means the protection of VEGF-A mRNA from degradation by ribonucleases, appeared, and they were correlated positively. In in vitro experiments, the inhibition of the cytoplasmic translocation of HuR protein by leptomycin B (LMB) reduced the upregulation of VEGF-A expression in malignant astrocytic tumor cells under hypoxic conditions. These findings suggest that the expression of VEGF-A and cytoplasmic translocation of HuR relates to the histological grade, and that HuR is involved in the upregulation of VEGF-A expression, in human astrocytic tumors.

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