TWIST is expressed in human gliomas and promotes invasion

Maria C. Elias, Kathleen R. Tozer, John R. Silber, Svetlana Mikheeva, Mei Deng, Richard S. Morrison, Thomas C. Manning, Daniel L. Silbergeld, Carlotta A. Glackin, Thomas A. Reh, Robert C. Rostomily

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

162 Scopus citations


TWIST is a basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factor that regulates mesodermal development, promotes tumor cell metastasis, and, in response to cytotoxic stress, enhances cell survival. Our screen for bHLH gene expression in rat C6 glioma revealed TWIST. To delineate a possible oncogenic role for TWIST in the human central nervous system (CNS), we analyzed TWIST message and protein expression in gliomas and normal brain. TWIST was detected in the large majority of human glioma-derived cell lines and human gliomas examined. Increased TWIST mRNA levels were associated with the highest grade gliomas, and increased TWIST expression accompanied transition from low grade to high grade in vivo, suggesting a role for TWIST in promoting malignant progression. In accord, elevated TWIST mRNA abundance preceded the spontaneous malignant transformation of cultured mouse astrocytes hemizygous for p53. Overexpression of TWIST protein in a human glioma cell line significantly enhanced tumor cell invasion, a hallmark of high-grade gliomas. These findings support roles for TWIST both in early glial tumorigenesis and subsequent malignant progression. TWIST was also expressed in embryonic and fetal human brain, and in neurons, but not glia, of mature brain, indicating that, in gliomas, TWIST may promote the functions also critical for CNS development or normal neuronal physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)824-837
Number of pages14
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2005


  • Brain tumor
  • Cancer
  • Invasion
  • Neuron
  • Oncogene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research


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