The expression of heparan sulfate proteoglycans (HSPGs) by human glioma cells was examined by biochemical and immunological methods in vitro and in vivo. Chondroitin sulfate was shown to represent the major [3H]glucosamine-labeled glycosaminoglycan synthesized by cultured normal brain cells. However, high-grade glioma-derived cells were shown to express significantly increased quantities of hyaluronic acid and heparan sulfate and approximately equal amounts of chondroitin sulfate compared with normal glial cells. To investigate further the differential expression of HSPGs, proteoglycans were isolated from glioma cells and were used as an immunogen to generate monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). One of these MAbs, 39H (an IgM), was shown to bind more to high-grade glioma-derived cells then to low-grade glioma or normal brain cells in vitro. MAb 39H was also observed to bind to isolated HSPGs but not to heparan sulfate glycosaminoglycan chains or trypsin-treated cells. Immunofluorescence staining of the cultured high-grade glioma cells revealed an intense diffuse cell surface staining pattern over the entire cell and also isolated footpads. In contrast, the low-grade tumor or normal glial cells showed a distinctive punctated staining. A similar differential staining of MAb 39H was most prominent between tissue sections of glioblastoma multiforme and anaplastic astrocytomas versus low-grade astrocytomas and normal brain. The low grade gliomas exhibited a weak punctated staining, whereas the high-grade gliomas showed significantly more intense staining, particularly along the apical regions of the cells. These results suggest that altered expression of HSPGs may be related to the malignant transformation or growth potential of glial-derived cells.


Supported by grants from the J. S. Dunn Research Foundation and the Preuss Foundation, USPHS Grant RO1 CA42729 from the National Cancer Institute, and NIH Grant RR5511-23.

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