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PloS one

AEG-1 promotes anoikis resistance and orientation chemotaxis in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.


PMID 24941119

Abstract

Metastasis contributes to the poor prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Anoikis resistance and orientation chemotaxis are two important and sequential events in tumor cell metastasis. The process of tumor metastasis is known to be regulated by AEG-1, an important oncogene that plays a critical role in tumor metastasis, though the effects of this oncogene on anoikis resistance and orientation chemotaxis in HCC cells are currently unknown. To directly assess the role of AEG-1 in these processes, we up-regulated AEG-1 expression via exogenous transfection in SMMC-7721 cells, which express low endogenous levels of AEG-1; and down-regulated AEG-1 expression via siRNA-mediated knockdown in MHCC-97H and HCC-LM3 cells, which express high endogenous levels of AEG-1. Our data directly demonstrate that AEG-1 promotes cell growth as assessed by cell proliferation/viability and cell cycle analysis. Furthermore, the prevention of anoikis by AEG-1 correlates with decreased activation of caspase-3. AEG-1-dependent anoikis resistance is activated via the PI3K/Akt pathway and is characterized by the regulation of Bcl-2 and Bad. The PI3K inhibitor LY294002 reverses the AEG-1 dependent effects on Akt phosphorylation, Bcl-2 expression and anoikis resistance. AEG-1 also promotes orientation chemotaxis of suspension-cultured cells towards supernatant from Human Pulmonary Microvascular Endothelial Cells (HPMECs). Our results show that AEG-1 activates the expression of the metastasis-associated chemokine receptor CXCR4, and that its ligand, CXCL12, is secreted by HPMECs. Furthermore, the CXCR4 antoagonist AMD3100 decreases AEG-1-induced orientation chemotaxis. These results define a pathway by which AEG-1 regulates anoikis resistance and orientation chemotaxis during HCC cell metastasis.