Background: The Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) signaling pathway plays an important role in neural crest cell fate during embryonic development and has been implicated in the progression of multiple cancers that include neuroblastoma, a neural crest cell-derived disease. While most of the SHH signaling is mediated by the well-described canonical pathway leading to the activation of Smoothened and Gli, it has recently been shown that cell-adhesion molecule-related/downregulated by oncogenes (CDON) serves as a receptor for SHH and contributes to SHH-induced signaling. CDON has also been recently described as a dependence receptor, triggering apoptosis in the absence of SHH. This CDON proapoptotic activity has been suggested to constrain tumor progression.
Methods: CDON expression was analyzed by quantitative-reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in a panel of 226 neuroblastoma patients and associated with stages, overall survival, and expression of miR181 family members using Kaplan Meier and Pearson correlation methods. Cell death assays were performed in neuroblastoma cell lines and tumor growth was investigated in the chick chorioallantoic model. All statistical tests were two-sided.
Results: CDON expression was inversely associated with neuroblastoma aggressiveness (P < .001). Moreover, re-expression of CDON in neuroblastoma cell lines was associated with apoptosis in vitro and tumor growth inhibition in vivo. We show that CDON expression is regulated by the miR181 miRNA family, whose expression is directly associated with neuroblastoma aggressiveness (survival: high miR181-b 73.2% vs low miR181-b 54.6%; P = .03).
Conclusions: Together, these data support the view that CDON acts as a tumor suppressor in neuroblastomas, and that CDON is tightly regulated by miRNAs.
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