Despite recent advances in molecular classification, surgery, radiotherapy, and targeted therapies, the clinical outcome of patients with malignant brain tumors remains extremely poor. In this study, we have identified the tetra span protein epithelial membrane protein-2 (EMP2) as a potential target for glioblastoma (GBM) killing. EMP2 had low or undetectable expression in normal brain but was highly expressed in GBM as 95% of patients showed some expression of the protein. In GBM cells, EMP2 enhanced tumor growth in vivo in part by up-regulating αvβ3 integrin surface expression, activating focal adhesion kinase and Src kinases, and promoting cell migration and invasion. Consistent with these findings, EMP2 expression significantly correlated with activated Src kinase in patient samples and promoted tumor cell invasion using intracranial mouse models. As a proof of principle to determine whether EMP2 could serve as a target for therapy, cells were treated using specific anti-EMP2 antibody reagents. These reagents were effective in killing GBM cells in vitro and in reducing tumor load in subcutaneous mouse models. These results support the role of EMP2 in the pathogenesis of GBM and suggest that anti-EMP2 treatment may be a novel therapeutic treatment.
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