CXCR4 chemokine receptor and integrin signaling co-operate in mediating adhesion and chemoresistance in small cell lung cancer (SCLC) cells

Oncogene. 2005 Jun 23;24(27):4462-71. doi: 10.1038/sj.onc.1208621.


Small cell lung cancer (SCLC) is an aggressive, rapidly metastazising neoplasm with a high propensity for marrow involvement. SCLC cells express high levels of functional CXCR4 receptors for the chemokine stromal-cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1/CXCL12). Adhesion of SCLC cells to extracellular matrix or accessory cells within the tumor microenvironment confers resistance to chemotherapy via integrin signaling and thus may be responsible for residual disease and relapses commonly seen in SCLC. We examined the signaling mechanisms that regulate CXCL12-induced adhesion of SCLC cells to fibronectin, collagen, and stromal cells and the effects on SCLC cell chemoresistance. We found that CXCL12-induced integrin activation which resulted in an increased adhesion of SCLC cells to fibronectin and collagen. This was mediated by alpha2, alpha4, alpha5, and beta1 integrins along with CXCR4 activation, which could be inhibited by CXCR4 antagonists. Stromal cells protected SCLC cells from chemotherapy-induced apoptosis, and this protection could also be antagonized by CXCR4 inhibitors. We conclude that activation of integrins and CXCR4 chemokine receptors co-operate in mediating adhesion and survival signals from the tumor microenvironment to SCLC cells. Therefore, CXCR4 antagonists in combination with cytotoxic drugs should be explored in SCLC to overcome CXCL12-mediated adhesion and survival signals in the tumor microenvironment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Small Cell / pathology*
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC / metabolism
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Neoplasm
  • Etoposide / pharmacology
  • Fibronectins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Integrins / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Peptides / pharmacology
  • Phosphotyrosine / metabolism
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Chemokines, CXC
  • Fibronectins
  • Integrins
  • Peptides
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • TN14003
  • Phosphotyrosine
  • Etoposide
  • Collagen
  • rho GTP-Binding Proteins