The membrane-cytoskeleton linker ezrin is necessary for osteosarcoma metastasis

Chand Khanna, Xiaolin Wan, Seuli Bose, Ryan Cassaday, Osarenoma Olomu, Arnulfo Mendoza, Choh Yeung, Richard Gorlick, Stephen M. Hewitt, Lee J. Helman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

577 Scopus citations


Metastatic cancers, once established, are the primary cause of mortality associated with cancer. Previously, we used a genomic approach to identify metastasis-associated genes in cancer. From this genomic data, we selected ezrin for further study based on its role in physically and functionally connecting the actin cytoskeleton to the cell membrane. In a mouse model of osteosarcoma, a highly metastatic pediatric cancer, we found ezrin to be necessary for metastasis. By imaging metastatic cells in the lungs of mice, we showed that ezrin expression provided an early survival advantage for cancer cells that reached the lung. AKT and MAPK phosphorylation and activity were reduced when ezrin protein was suppressed. Ezrin-mediated early metastatic survival was partially dependent on activation of MAPK, but not AKT. To define the relevance of ezrin in the biology of metastasis, beyond the founding mouse model, we examined ezrin expression in dogs that naturally developed osteosarcoma. High ezrin expression in dog tumors was associated with early development of metastases. Consistent with this data, we found a significant association between high ezrin expression and poor outcome in pediatric osteosarcoma patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)182-186
Number of pages5
JournalNature medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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