Molecular biology and biochemistry of brain tumours
Elucidating some molecular mechanisms and biochemistry of brain tumours is an important step towards the development of adjuvant medical therapies. The present study concentrates on cholecystokinin (CCK), a gut-brain peptide that has been described to be able to induce mitosis of rat gliomas as well as hormone secretion by the anterior pituitary, via the CCK-B receptor. The significance of a polymorphism in the growth hormone releasing hormone (GHRH) receptor (GHRH-R) gene was also determined. Finally, defects in the b-catenin gene, an important component of the developmental pathway, in a sub-set of craniopharyngiomas were investigated. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), restriction digestion analysis and direct sequencing demonstrated expression of CCK peptide itself and its A and B receptors by human gliomas, meningiomas and pituitary tumours. CCK peptides stimulated growth of cultured gliomas and meningiomas as well as in vitro hormone secretion [growth hormone (GH), luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)] by human pituitary tumours. These biological effects were reduced or abolished by CCK antagonists. In addition, an antibody to CCK reduced mitosis by gliomas and meningiomas, and the same antibody inhibited hormone secretion by cultured human pituitary tumours. CCK peptides stimulated phosphatidylinositol (PI) hydrolysis, indicating coupling of the CCK receptors to phopsholipase C. Cyclic AMP was unaffected. In addition, caspase-3 activity was significantly and markedly increased, whilst proteasome activity was decreased. Taken together, these results may indicate an autocrine/paracrine role of CCK in the control of growth and/or functioning of gliomas, meningiomas and pituitary tumours. Further findings of this study, using PCR and direct sequencing, were the demonstration of an association between b-catenin gene alterations and craniopharyngiomas of the adamantinomatous type.