Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Cancer Biology

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Dennis P. M. Hughes, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Gary E. Gallick, PhD

Committee Member

Joya Chandra, PhD

Committee Member

Varsha Gandhi, PhD

Committee Member

Patrick A. Zweidler-McKay, MD, PhD

Committee Member

Candelaria Gomez-Manzano, MD


Osteosarcoma is a highly invasive bone malignancy in which metastasis accounts for the vast majority of death and morbidity in patients. Understanding the mechanisms controlling metastasis is essential for improving patient survival in this disease. In order to improve the clinical outcomes for patients with poor prognosis, it is urgent to find new therapeutic targets to block metastasis in this disease. Recent studies have shown that Metadherin (MTDH) plays an essential role in mediating tumorigenesis and metastasis in a variety of human cancers. Our study assessed the role of MTDH in osteosarcoma metastasis and elucidated the mechanisms underlying its metastasis-promoting activity.

To evaluate the expression of MTDH in primary and metastatic lesions of osteosarcoma, two tissue microarrays containing patient-derived primary and metastatic tumor specimens were examined by immunohistochemical staining with anti-MTDH antibody. We also examined MTDH in a cDNA array expression database made from pretreatment diagnostic biopsies of high-grade osteosarcoma patients to further assess the correlation between MTDH expression and clinical outcome. We used western blot, qPCR, and flow cytometry to measure the expression of MTDH in a panel of osteosarcoma cell lines. In parallel experiments we used MTDH-specific shRNA to reduce endogenous MTDH expression, and blocked cell surface MTDH by anti-MTDH antibodies. The impact of MTDH inhibition was assessed in vitro using transwell migration assays and matrigel invasion assays. In addition, we developed an orthotopic xenograft mouse model to study the relationship between MTDH expression and osteosarcoma pulmonary metastasis. To investigate the role of MTDH in cell-extracellular matrix (ECM) interaction and to identify the extracellular binding partner for cell surface MTDH, a series of adhesion assays were performed, followed by bidirectional co-immunoprecipitation.

We have demonstrated that MTDH is up-regulated in human osteosarcoma cell lines and patient-derived specimens compared with normal human osteoblasts. Overexpression of MTDH is more profound in metastatic lesions compared to primary tumors and is correlated with poor clinical outcomes in osteosarcoma patients. MTDH knockdown and blockade of cell surface MTDH significantly reduced migration and invasion in osteosarcoma cells. In the in vivo experiments, down-regulation of MTDH in osteosarcoma cells delayed primary tumor growth and prohibited pulmonary metastasis. Both in vitro and in vivo studies confirmed the critical role of MTDH in the invasive and metastatic capacity of osteosarcoma cells. More importantly, we have identified the significance of cell surface localization of MTDH in mediating osteosarcoma motility and invasiveness. We showed that MTDH exists as a type II membrane protein in osteosarcoma cells and its expression on cell surface is facilitating cell invasion by means of modulating cell adhesion to the ECM through interaction with Laminin. In total, these observations establish MTDH as a promising target for therapeutic interventions in metastatic osteosarcoma. The novel connection between MTDH and extracellular laminin also establishes a new paradigm for the function of MTDH in mediating tumor cell metastasis.


Metastasis, Osteosarcoma, Metadherin