The tumor suppressor genes EXT1 and EXT2 are involved in the formation of multiple osteochondromas, which can progress to become secondary peripheral chondrosarcomas. The most common chondrosarcoma subtype is primary central chondrosarcoma, which occurs in the medullar cavity of bone. The EXT1/EXT2 protein complex is involved in heparan sulfate proteoglycan (HSPG) biosynthesis, which is important for signal transduction of Indian hedgehog (IHH), WNT, and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. The role of EXT and its downstream targets in central chondrosarcomas is currently unknown. EXT1 and EXT2 were therefore evaluated in central chondrosarcomas at both the DNA and mRNA levels. Immunohistochemistry was used to assess HSPG (CD44v3 and SDC2), WNT (β-catenin), and TGF-β (PAI-1 and phosphorylated Smad2) signaling, whereas IHH signaling was studied both by quantitative polymerase chain reaction and in vitro. mRNA levels of both EXT1 and EXT2 were normal in central chondrosarcomas; genomic alterations were absent in these regions and in 30 other HSPG-related genes. Although HSPGs were aberrantly located (CD44v3 in the Golgi and SDC2 in cytoplasm and nucleus), this was not caused by mutation. WNT signaling negatively correlated with increasing histological grade, whereas TGF-β positively correlated with increasing histological grade. IHH signaling was active, and inhibition decreased cell viability in one of six cell lines. Our data suggest that, despite normal EXT in central chondrosarcomas, HSPGs and HSPG-dependent signaling are affected in both central and peripheral chondrosarcomas
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