Molecular cancer research : MCR

CXCR4, but not CXCR7, discriminates metastatic behavior in non-small cell lung cancer cells.

PMID 24025971


Chemokines have been implicated as key contributors of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) metastasis. However, the role of CXCR7, a recently discovered receptor for CXCL12 ligand, in the pathogenesis of NSCLC is unknown. To define the relative contribution of chemokine receptors to migration and metastasis, we generated human lung A549 and H157 cell lines with stable knockdown of CXCR4, CXCR7, or both. Cancer cells exhibited chemotaxis to CXCL12 that was enhanced under hypoxic conditions, associated with a parallel induction of CXCR4, but not CXCR7. Interestingly, neither knockdown cell line differed in the rate of proliferation, apoptosis, or cell adherence; however, in both cell lines, CXCL12-induced migration was abolished when CXCR4 signaling was abrogated. In contrast, inhibition of CXCR7 signaling did not alter cellular migration to CXCL12. In an in vivo heterotropic xenograft model using A549 cells, expression of CXCR4, but not CXCR7, on cancer cells was necessary for the development of metastases. In addition, cancer cells knocked down for CXCR4 (or both CXCR4 and CXCR7) produced larger and more vascular tumors as compared with wild-type or CXCR7 knockdown tumors, an effect that was attributable to cancer cell-derived CXCR4 out competing endothelial cells for available CXCL12 in the tumor microenvironment. These results indicate that CXCR4, not CXCR7, expression engages CXCL12 to mediate NSCLC metastatic behavior. Targeting CXCR4-mediated migration and metastasis may be a viable therapeutic option in NSCLC.