Slit and Robo proteins are evolutionarily conserved molecules whose interaction underlies axon guidance and neuronal precursor cell migration. During development secreted Slit proteins mediate chemorepulsive signals on cells expressing Robo receptors. Because similar molecular mechanisms may be utilized in glioma cell invasion and neuroblast migration, we studied the expression of Slit2 and its transmembrane receptor Robo1 as well as their functional role in migration in glioma cells. qRTPCR and immunohistochemistry of human specimens revealed that Slit2 was distinctly expressed by non-neoplastic neurons, but at only very low levels in fibrillary astrocytoma and glioblastoma. Robo1 also was mainly restricted to neurons in the normal brain, whereas astrocytic tumor cells in situ as well as glioblastoma cell lines overexpressed Robo1 at mRNA and protein levels.
Recombinant human Slit2 in a concentration of 0.45 nM was repulsive for glioma cell lines in a modified Boyden chamber assay. RNAi-mediated knockdown of Robo1 in glioma cell lines neutralized the repulsive effect of Slit2, demonstrating that Robo1 served as the major Slit2
receptor. Our findings suggest that a chemorepulsive effect mediated by interaction of Slit2 and Robo1 participates in glioma cell guidance in the brain.
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