Gliomas are the most frequently diagnosed adult primary brain malignancy. These tumors have a tendency to invade diffusely into the surrounding healthy brain tissue, thereby precluding their successful surgical removal. In this report, we examine the potential for the neuregulin-1/erbB receptor signaling network to contribute to this process by modulating glioma cell motility. Neuregulin-1 is expressed throughout the immature and adult central nervous system and has been demonstrated to influence the migration of a variety of cell types in the developing brain. In addition, erbB2, an integral member of the heterodimeric neuregulin-1 receptor, has been shown to be overexpressed in human glioma biopsies. Using antibodies specific for erbB2 and erbB3, we show that these receptors localize preferentially in regions of the plasma membrane which are involved in facilitating cellular movement. Here, erbB2 colocalizes and coimmunoprecipitates with members of the focal complex including beta1-integrin and focal adhesion kinase. Further, erbB receptor activation by neuregulin-1 enhances cell motility in two-dimensional scratch motility assays and stimulates cell invasion in three-dimensional Transwell migration assays. These effects of neuregulin-1 appear to involve the activation of focal adhesion kinase, which occurs downstream from erbB2 receptor stimulation. Taken together these data suggest that neuregulin-1 plays an important modulatory role in glioma cell invasion.
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