A role for activated Cdc42 in glioblastoma multiforme invasion

Oncotarget. 2016 Aug 30;7(35):56958-56975. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.10925.


Cdc42 is a Rho-GTPase which plays a major role in regulating cell polarity and migration by specifying the localization of filopodia. However, the role of Cdc42 in GBM invasion has not been thoroughly investigated. We generated stable doxycycline-inducible clones expressing wild type (WT)-, constitutively active (CA)-, and dominant negative (DN)-Cdc42 in three different human glioma cell lines. Expression of CA-Cdc42 significantly increased the migration and invasive properties of malignant glioma cells compared to WT and DN-Cdc42 cell clones, and this was accompanied by a greater number of filopodia and focal adhesion structures which co-localize with phosphorylated focal adhesion kinase (FAK). By mass spectrometry and immunoprecipitation studies, we demonstrated that activated Cdc42 binds to IQGAP1. When implanted orthotopically in mice, the CA-Cdc42 expressing glioma cells exhibited enhanced local migration and invasion, and led to larger tumors, which significantly reduced survival. Using the Cancer Genome Atlas dataset, we determined that high Cdc42 expression is associated with poorer progression free survival, and that Cdc42 expression is highest in the proneural and neural subgroups of GBM. In summary, our studies demonstrate that activated Cdc42 is a critical determinant of the migratory and invasive phenotype of malignant gliomas, and that its effect may be mediated, at least in part, through its interaction with IQGAP1 and phosphorylated FAK.

Keywords: IQGAP1 and pFAK; cdc42; glioblastoma; invasion; migration.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Survival
  • Disease Progression
  • Disease-Free Survival
  • Doxycycline / chemistry
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1 / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, Dominant
  • Glioblastoma / metabolism*
  • Glioblastoma / pathology
  • Glioma / metabolism
  • Glioma / pathology
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness*
  • Neoplasm Transplantation
  • Phenotype
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pseudopodia / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein / metabolism*
  • ras GTPase-Activating Proteins / metabolism


  • IQ motif containing GTPase activating protein 1
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • ras GTPase-Activating Proteins
  • Focal Adhesion Kinase 1
  • PTK2 protein, human
  • cdc42 GTP-Binding Protein
  • Doxycycline