Background: We previously demonstrated that the CC-chemokine Regulated upon Activation, Normal T cell Expressed and Secreted (RANTES)/CCL5 exerts pro-tumoral effects on human hepatoma Huh7 cells through its G protein-coupled receptor, CCR1. Glycosaminoglycans play major roles in these biological events.
Methods: In the present study, we explored 1/ the signalling pathways underlying RANTES/CCL5-mediated hepatoma cell migration or invasion by the use of specific pharmacological inhibitors, 2/ the role of RANTES/CCL5 oligomerization in these effects by using a dimeric RANTES/CCL5, 3/ the possible involvement of two membrane heparan sulfate proteoglycans, syndecan-1 (SDC-1) and syndecan-4 (SDC-4) in RANTES/CCL5-induced cell chemotaxis and spreading by pre-incubating cells with specific antibodies or by reducing SDC-1 or -4 expression by RNA interference.
Results and conclusion: The present data suggest that focal adhesion kinase phosphorylation, phosphoinositide 3-kinase-, mitogen-activated protein kinase- and Rho kinase activations are involved in RANTES/CCL5 pro-tumoral effects on Huh7 cells. Interference with oligomerization of the chemokine reduced RANTES/CCL5-mediated cell chemotaxis. This study also indicates that SDC-1 and -4 may be required for HepG2, Hep3B and Huh7 human hepatoma cell migration, invasion or spreading induced by the chemokine. These results also further demonstrate the involvement of glycosaminoglycans as the glycosaminoglycan-binding deficient RANTES/CCL5 variant, in which arginine 47 was replaced by lysine, was devoid of effect.
General significance: The modulation of RANTES/CCL5-mediated cellular effects by targeting the chemokine-syndecan interaction could represent a new therapeutic approach for hepatocellular carcinoma.