Role of chemokine receptor CXCR2 expression in mammary tumor growth, angiogenesis and metastasis

Kalyan C Nannuru, Bhawna Sharma, Michelle L Varney, Rakesh K Singh
Department of Pathology and Microbiology, The University of Nebraska Medical Center, 985900 Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, 68198-5900, USA.
DOI: 10.4103/1477-3163.92308


Background: Chemokines and their receptors have long been known to regulate metastasis in various cancers. Previous studies have shown that CXCR2 expression is upregulated in malignant breast cancer tissues but not in benign ductal epithelial samples. The functional role of CXCR2 in the metastatic phenotype of breast cancer still remains unclear. We hypothesize that the chemokine receptor, CXCR2, mediates tumor cell invasion and migration and promotes metastasis in breast cancer. The objective of this study is to investigate the potential role of CXCR2 in the metastatic phenotype of mouse mammary tumor cells. Materials and Methods: We evaluated the functional role of CXCR2 in breast cancer by stably downregulating the expression of CXCR2 in metastatic mammary tumor cell lines Cl66 and 4T1, using short hairpin RNA (shRNA). The effects of CXCR2 downregulation on tumor growth, invasion and metastatic potential were analyzed in vitro and in vivo. Results: We demonstrated knock down of CXCR2 in Cl66 and 4T1 cells (Cl66-shCXCR2 and 4T1-shCXCR2) cells by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) at the transcriptional level and by immunohistochemistry at the protein level. We did not observe a significant difference in in vitro cell proliferation between vector control and CXCR2 knock-down Cl66 or 4T1 cells. Next, we examined the invasive potential of Cl66-shCXCR2 cells by in vitro Matrigel invasion assay. We observed a significantly lower number (52 ± 5) of Cl66-shCXCR2 cells invading through Matrigel compared to control cells (Cl66-control) (182 ± 3) (P < 0.05). We analyzed the in vivo metastatic potential of Cl66-shCXCR2 using a spontaneous metastasis model by orthotopically implanting cells into the mammary fat pad of female BALB/c mice. Animals were sacrificed 12 weeks post tumor implantation and tissue samples were analyzed for metastatic nodules. CXCR2 downregulation significantly inhibited tumor cell metastasis. All the mice (n = 10) implanted with control Cl66 cells spontaneously developed lung metastasis, whereas a significantly lower number of mice (40%) implanted with Cl66-shCXCR2 cells exhibited lung metastases. Conclusions: Together, these results suggest that CXCR2 may play a critical role in breast cancer invasion and metastasis.

Keywords: CXC chemokines, CXCR2, metastasis, tumor growth