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Open Access Research

Fra-1 governs cell migration via modulation of CD44 expression in human mesotheliomas

Maria E Ramos-Nino1*, Steven R Blumen1, Harvey Pass2 and Brooke T Mossman1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pathology, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Burlington VT 05405, USA

2 Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

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Molecular Cancer 2007, 6:81  doi:10.1186/1476-4598-6-81

Published: 21 December 2007


Silencing of Fra-1, a component of the dimeric transcription factor, activator protein-1 (AP-1), inhibits mRNA expression of c-met and cd44 in rat mesothelioma cells and is causally linked to maintenance of the transformed phenotype. However, the mechanisms of Fra-1 regulation and Fra-1 regulated gene expression in human malignant mesothelioma (MM) are unclear. We first show in a panel of human MM cells that Fra-1 mRNA expression in MM is complex and regulated by extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK1, ERK2), Src, and phosphatidyl-inositol-3-kinase (PI3K) pathways in a tumor-specific fashion. Cell lines with PI3K-dependent Fra-1 expression were SV40 positive and expressed the lowest basal Fra-1 levels. Levels of Fra-1 expression correlated with amounts of CD44 expression that were greater in simian virus 40 negative (SV40-) MM cells. Using dominant negative (dn), short hairpin (sh) and small interference (si) RNA constructs, we next demonstrate that expression of CD44, the principal hyaluronic receptor in MMs, correlates with Fra-expression in both simian virus 40 positive (SV40+) and SV40- MMs. Moreover, both Fra-1 and CD44 expression are linked to cell migration in SV40- MM cells. Lastly, in contrast to normal lung tissue, tissue microarrays revealed that Fra-1 was expressed in 33 of 34 human MMs, and that all CD44+ tumors were SV40-. These results suggest that Fra-1 is associated with cell migration in human MMs and that Fra-1 modulation of CD44 may govern migration of selected MMs.