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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

GAPDH is not regulated in human glioblastoma under hypoxic conditions

Harun M Said1*, Carsten Hagemann2, Jelena Stojic2, Beate Schoemig2, Giles H Vince2, Michael Flentje1, Klaus Roosen2 and Dirk Vordermark1

Author Affiliations

1 University of Würzburg, Dept. of Radiation Oncology, Germany

2 University of Würzburg, Dept. of Neurosurgery, Tumorbiology Laboratory, Germany

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:55  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-55

Published: 27 June 2007



Gene expression studies related to cancer diagnosis and treatment are becoming more important. Housekeeping genes that are absolutely reliable are essential for these studies to normalize gene expression. An incorrect choice of housekeeping genes leads to interpretation errors of experimental results including evaluation and quantification of pathological gene expression. Here, we examined (a) the degree of regulation of GAPDH expression in human glioblastoma cells under hypoxic conditions in vitro in comparison to other housekeeping genes like β-actin, serving as experimental loading controls, (b) the potential use of GAPDH as a target for tumor therapeutic approaches and (c) differences in GAPDH expression between low-grade astrocytomas and glioblastomas, for which modest and severe hypoxia, respectively, have been previously demonstrated. GAPDH and β-actin expression was comparatively examined in vivo in human low-grade astrocytoma and glioblastoma on both protein and mRNA level, by Western blot and semiquantitative RT-PCR, respectively. Furthermore, the same proteins were determined in vitro in U373, U251 and GaMG human glioblastoma cells using the same methods. HIF-1α protein regulation under hypoxia was also determined on mRNA level in vitro in GaMG and on protein level in U251, U373 and GaMG cells.


We observed no hypoxia-induced regulatory effect on GAPDH expression in the three glioblastoma cell lines studied in vitro. In addition, GAPDH expression was similar in patient tumor samples of low-grade astrocytoma and glioblastoma, suggesting a lack of hypoxic regulation in vivo.


GAPDH represents an optimal choice of a housekeeping gene and/or loading control to determine the expression of hypoxia induced genes at least in glioblastoma. Because of the lack of GAPDH regulation under hypoxia, this gene is not an attractive target for tumor therapeutic approaches in human glioblastoma.