BMC cancer

Androgen receptor and chemokine receptors 4 and 7 form a signaling axis to regulate CXCL12-dependent cellular motility.

PMID 25884570


Identifying cellular signaling pathways that become corrupted in the presence of androgens that increase the metastatic potential of organ-confined tumor cells is critical to devising strategies capable of attenuating the metastatic progression of hormone-naïve, organ-confined tumors. In localized prostate cancers, gene fusions that place ETS-family transcription factors under the control of androgens drive gene expression programs that increase the invasiveness of organ-confined tumor cells. C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) is a downstream target of ERG, whose upregulation in prostate-tumor cells contributes to their migration from the prostate gland. Recent evidence suggests that CXCR4-mediated proliferation and metastasis of tumor cells is regulated by CXCR7 through its scavenging of chemokine CXCL12. However, the role of androgens in regulating CXCR4-mediated motility with respect to CXCR7 function in prostate-cancer cells remains unclear. Immunocytochemistry, western blot, and affinity-purification analyses were used to study how androgens influenced the expression, subcellular localization, and function of CXCR7, CXCR4, and androgen receptor (AR) in LNCaP prostate-tumor cells. Moreover, luciferase assays and quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) were used to study how chemokines CXCL11 and CXCL12 regulate androgen-regulated genes (ARGs) in LNCaP prostate-tumor cells. Lastly, cell motility assays were carried out to determine how androgens influenced CXCR4-dependent motility through CXCL12. Here we show that, in the LNCaP prostate-tumor cell line, androgens coordinate the expression of CXCR4 and CXCR7, thereby promoting CXCL12/CXCR4-mediated cell motility. RNA interference experiments revealed functional interactions between AR and CXCR7 in these cells. Co-localization and affinity-purification experiments support a physical interaction between AR and CXCR7 in LNCaP cells. Unexpectedly, CXCR7 resided in the nuclear compartment and modulated AR-mediated transcription. Moreover, androgen-mediated cell motility correlated positively with the co-localization of CXCR4 and CXCR7 receptors, suggesting that cell migration may be linked to functional CXCR4/CXCR7 heterodimers. Lastly, CXCL12-mediated cell motility was CXCR7-dependent, with CXCR7 expression required for optimal expression of CXCR4 protein. Overall, our results suggest that inhibition of CXCR7 function might decrease the metastatic potential of organ-confined prostate cancers.