Expression of CD74 in high grade gliomas: A potential role in temozolomide resistance

Gaspar J. Kitange, Brett L. Carlson, Mark A. Schroeder, Paul A. Decker, Bruce W. Morlan, Wenting Wu, Karla V. Ballman, Caterina Giannini, Jann N. Sarkaria

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41 Scopus citations


Temozolomide (TMZ) is the most effective chemotherapeutic agent for glioblastoma (GBM). Resistance to this methylating agent is linked to DNA repair enzyme O6-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT). However, in recent studies MGMT status was not completely accurate as a predictor of TMZ response in GBM, suggesting other mechanisms of resistance. As part of an effort aimed at discovery of genes involved in TMZ resistance in GBM, the expression of CD74 was evaluated in GBM patient samples and the influence of CD74 on TMZ response was evaluated in GBM tumor models. Reverse transcription-polymerase-chain reaction (RT-PCR) demonstrated differential expression of CD74 mRNA among the GBM xenografts; 8 of 20 (40%) expressed CD74 mRNA. In a preliminary evaluation of whether CD74 expression might influence TMZ response, CD74 mRNA expression levels were inversely associated with in vivo TMZ resistance in 20 GBM xenograft lines (median survival 122 vs. 62.5 days; r = -0.48, P = 0.032). In follow up to this observation, CD74 shRNA knock down in U87 cells significantly suppressed in vitro proliferation and increased TMZ sensitivity as compared to a non-specific control shRNA. Consistent with an effect on proliferation and survival, silencing of CD74 by shRNA was associated with reduced Akt and Erk1/2 activation in response to stimulation by CD74 ligand macrophage-migration inhibition factor (MIF). Lastly, expression of CD74 protein was assessed in patient samples [nine anaplastic astrocytoma (AA), and 62 GBM] by immunohistochemistry, and appreciable expression was observed in 28% of samples. Collectively, these findings suggest that CD74 is expressed in a subset of high grade gliomas and may contribute to TMZ resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of neuro-oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 2010
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgements This work was supported by NIH grant to J.N.S. (RO1 CA127716, P50 CA 108961) and Mayo Brain SPORE Career Development award to G.J.K. (P50 CA 108961).


  • CD74
  • Glioblastoma xenografts
  • Resistance
  • Temozolomide


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