Journal of neuroinflammation

A MT1-MMP/NF-kappaB signaling axis as a checkpoint controller of COX-2 expression in CD133+ U87 glioblastoma cells.

PMID 19272160


The CD133(+) stem cell population in recurrent gliomas is associated with clinical features such as therapy resistance, blood-brain barrier disruption and, hence, tumor infiltration. Screening of a large panel of glioma samples increasing histological grade demonstrated frequencies of CD133(+) cells which correlated with high expression of cyclooxygenase (COX)-2 and of membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP). We used qRT-PCR and immunoblotting to examine the molecular interplay between MT1-MMP and COX-2 gene and protein expression in parental, CD133(+), and neurospheres U87 glioma cell cultures. We found that CD133, COX-2 and MT1-MMP expression were enhanced when glioma cells were cultured in neurosphere conditions. A CD133(+)-enriched U87 glioma cell population, isolated from parental U87 cells with magnetic cell sorting technology, also grew as neurospheres and showed enhanced COX-2 expression. MT1-MMP gene silencing antagonized COX-2 expression in neurospheres, while overexpression of recombinant MT1-MMP directly triggered COX-2 expression in U87 cells independent from MT1-MMP's catalytic function. COX-2 induction by MT1-MMP was also validated in wild-type and in NF-kappaB p65-/- mutant mouse embryonic fibroblasts, but was abrogated in NF-kappaB 1 (p50-/-) mutant cells. We provide evidence for enhanced COX-2 expression in CD133(+) glioma cells, and direct cell-based evidence of NF-kappaB-mediated COX-2 regulation by MT1-MMP. The biological significance of such checkpoint control may account for COX-2-dependent mechanisms of inflammatory balance responsible of therapy resistance phenotype of cancer stem cells.