CD44 attenuates activation of the Hippo signaling pathway and is a prime therapeutic target for glioblastoma

Yin Xu, Ivan Stamenkovic, Qin Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

180 Scopus citations


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most aggressive brain tumor that, by virtue of its resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy, is currently incurable. Identification of molecules whose targeting may eliminate GBM cells and/or sensitize glioblastoma cells to cytotoxic drugs is therefore urgently needed. CD44 is a major cell surface hyaluronan receptor and cancer stem cell marker that has been implicated in the progression of a variety of cancer types. However, the major downstream signaling pathways that mediate its protumor effects and the role of CD44 in the progression and chemoresponse of GBM have not been established. Here we show that CD44 is upregulated in GBM and that its depletion blocks GBM growth and sensitizes GBM cells to cytotoxic drugs in vivo. Consistent with this observation, CD44 antagonists potently inhibit glioma growth in preclinical mouse models. We provide the first evidence that CD44 functions upstream of the mammalian Hippo signaling pathway and that CD44 promotes tumor cell resistance to reactive oxygen species-induced and cytotoxic agent-induced stress by attenuating activation of the Hippo signaling pathway. Together, our results identify CD44 as a prime therapeutic target for GBM, establish potent antiglioma efficacy of CD44 antagonists, uncover a novel CD44 signaling pathway, and provide a first mechanistic explanation as to how upregulation of CD44 may constitute a key event in leading to cancer cell resistance to stresses of different origins. Finally, our results provide a rational explanation for the observation that functional inhibition of CD44 augments the efficacy of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2455-2464
Number of pages10
JournalCancer Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2010


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