Genetic deletion of receptor for hyaluronan-mediated motility (Rhamm) attenuates the formation of aggressive fibromatosis (desmoid tumor)

Oncogene. 2003 Oct 9;22(44):6873-82. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1206811.


Aggressive fibromatosis (desmoid tumor) is a locally invasive soft tissue neoplasm associated with mutations resulting in beta-catenin-mediated transcriptional activation. This tumor is composed of cells with histological and molecular characteristics common to proliferating mesenchymal cells of dermal wounds. Using immunohistochemistry and RT-PCR, we show that Rhamm, a protein with an important role in wound healing and neoplastic progression, is also expressed at high levels in aggressive fibromatosis. A mouse harboring a targeted deletion in Rhamm was generated, resulting in viable Rhamm-/- animals. Rhamm-/- mice were crossed with Apc/Apc1638N mice, which harbor a targeted mutation in the Apc gene predisposing animals to gastrointestinal and aggressive fibromatosis tumors. Rhamm deficiency significantly decreased the number of aggressive fibromatosis tumors formed, but did not alter the number of gastrointestinal polyps. Cell culture studies show that Rhamm regulates cell proliferation in both fibroblasts and fibromatosis cells under conditions of low density, but not high density. These results suggest that Rhamm regulates proliferation of cells with sparse cell-cell contacts, such as occurs in aggressive fibromatosis; provides the first genetic evidence implicating Rhamm in tumor pathology; and suggest Rhamm blockade as a potential therapeutic target for this otherwise difficult-to-treat neoplasm.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli / genetics
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / genetics
  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / genetics*
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibromatosis, Aggressive / genetics*
  • Fibromatosis, Aggressive / metabolism*
  • Fibromatosis, Aggressive / pathology
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / genetics
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Gene Targeting
  • Genes, APC
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Hyaluronan Receptors / genetics*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Tumor Cells, Cultured


  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Hyaluronan Receptors
  • hyaluronan-mediated motility receptor