The deleted in colorectal cancer (DCC) gene, a candidate tumor suppressor gene on chromosome 18q21, encodes a neural cell adhesion molecule family protein that is most highly expressed in the nervous system. To address the hypothesis that DCC may play a role in glioma development and/or progression, we examined DCC expression by immunohistochemistry in 57 resected human astrocytic tumors. Overall, low-grade astrocytomas were predominantly DCC positive (15 of 16, or 94%), whereas high-grade tumors significantly less often expressed the DCC protein (27 of 41, or 66%; P = 0.03). We were able to directly assess the relationship between DCC expression and tumor progression in 15 patients who initially presented with a low-grade astrocytoma and subsequently recurred with a glioblastoma. Within this panel of paired lesions from the same patient, 14 of 15 (93%) low-grade tumors expressed the DCC protein, whereas only 7 of 15 (47%) corresponding glioblastomas were DCC positive. We also observed that secondary glioblastomas resulting from malignant progression of low-grade astrocytomas were more often DCC negative (8 of 15, or 53%) compared with primary or de novo glioblastomas (6 of 26, or 23%; P = 0.05). These findings implicate DCC inactivation in glioma progression and also demonstrate that DCC expression is preferentially, but not exclusively, lost in the genetic pathway to secondary glioblastoma multiforme.
This work was supported in part by a Brain Tumor Society Award (to M. A. R.), NIH Grants CA63297 (to M. A. R.) and CA70097 (to E. R. F.), and Yale Cancer Core Grant CA-16359.