Disruption of xCT inhibits cancer cell metastasis via the caveolin-1/beta-catenin pathway

Oncogene. 2009 Jan 29;28(4):599-609. doi: 10.1038/onc.2008.414. Epub 2008 Nov 17.


xCT, the functional subunit of the cystine/glutamate transporter xc- system, plays a critical role in the maintenance of intracellular glutathione and redox balance. Disruption of xCT significantly inhibits the growth of a variety of carcinomas, including lymphoma, glioma, prostate and breast cancer. However, the role of xCT in tumor metastasis remains largely unknown. In this study, both xCT(+/+) and xCT(-/-) melanocytes were used to evaluate the role of xCT in adhesion. xCT activity was suppressed by an inhibitor, sulfasalazine (SASP), or by xCT siRNA in an esophageal cancer cell line, KYSE150. We found that disruption of xCT enhanced homotypic cell-cell adhesion and attenuated cell-extracellular matrix adhesion. SASP significantly inhibited both cell invasion of KYSE150 in vitro and its experimental metastasis in nude mice. Caveolin-1 was upregulated and beta-catenin was recruited to the plasma membrane when xCT was deficient, which were followed by the inhibition of beta-catenin transcriptional activity. Further study revealed that the upregulation of caveolin-1 and inhibition of tumor cell invasion were mediated by reactive oxygen species-induced p38 MAPK activation. These results first establish the role of xCT in tumor metastasis and implicate a potential target for cancer therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Transport System y+ / genetics
  • Amino Acid Transport System y+ / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / pharmacology
  • Caveolin 1 / genetics
  • Caveolin 1 / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Membrane / pathology
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Enzyme Activation / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanocytes / metabolism
  • Melanocytes / pathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sulfasalazine / pharmacology
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / drug effects
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • beta Catenin / genetics
  • beta Catenin / metabolism*
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism


  • Amino Acid Transport System y+
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • CAV1 protein, human
  • Caveolin 1
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • SLC7A11 protein, human
  • Slc7a11 protein, mouse
  • beta Catenin
  • Sulfasalazine
  • p38 Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases