Neurotrophin receptors and heparanase: A functional axis in human medulloblastoma invasion

Dario Marchetti, R. E. Mrak, D. D. Paulsen, N. D. Sinnappah-Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Medulloblastoma (MB) is the most common malignant brain tumor of childhood. Although modern therapy has produced five-year survival rates as high as 70% for some MB patients, this resulted in significant long-term treatment-related morbidity. The cellular mechanisms involved in metastatic spread of medulloblastoma are largely unknown. Neurotrophins (NT) comprise a family of structurally and functionally related neurotrophic factors that are critical for central nervous system (CNS) development with nerve growth factor (NGF) being the prototypic NT. NT acts through two groups of structurally unrelated neurotrophin receptors (NTR): a family of receptor tyrosine kinases (Trks, mainly TrkA, TrkB, and TrkC) and a tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-like molecule called p75NTR TrkC expression is a good prognostic indicator for MB. TrkC binds only to neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) whereas p75 binds to all NT family members. Importantly, little is known about the biological functions of p75 in primitive neuroectodermal tumors such as MB. In contrast, NT-regulated heparanase (HPSE) is a unique extracellular matrix-degrading enzyme known to be associated with tumor progression in a wide variety of cancers. However, HPSE roles in MB invasive pathways have not been investigated. We provide evidence of a differential expression of HPSE in newly-developed medulloblastoma cell lines. Secondly, we show a correlation between HPSE expression and the invasive properties of these medulloblastoma lines. Thirdly, by performing investigations to elucidate prognostic implications of HPSE and TrkC/p75NTR expression in MB, we demonstrate a correlation between p75NTR and HPSE expression. Finally, by using antibodies specific to TrkC and immunohistochemistry (IHC) we prove that IHC scores reveal a significant expression of HPSE in 76% of MB tissues from children aged 3 years and older. Taken together, our data provide evidence that HPSE functionality, in a context linked to TrkC and p75NTR activation, may play critical roles in medulloblastoma tumor invasion and progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-23
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Cell invasion
  • Heparanase
  • Medulloblastoma
  • NT-3
  • Neurotrophin receptors
  • Neurotrophins
  • TrkC
  • p75

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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