A Lentiviral CXCR4 overexpression and knockdown model in colorectal cancer cell lines reveals plerixafor-dependent suppression of SDF-1α-induced migration and invasion

Onkologie. 2011;34(10):502-8. doi: 10.1159/000332390. Epub 2011 Sep 20.


Background: The development of distant metastasis is associated with poor outcome in patients with colorectal cancer (CRC). The stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its receptor CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) have pivotal roles in the chemotaxis of migrating tumor cells during metastasis. Thus, hampering the SDF-1/CXCR4 cross-talk is a promising strategy to suppress metastasis.

Methods: We investigated the invasive behavior of the lentivirally CXCR4 overexpressing CRC cell lines SW480, SW620 and RKO in chemotaxis and invasion assays toward an SDF-1α gradient. Low endogenous CXCR4 expression levels were determined by quantitative realtime polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) analyses.

Results: A lentiviral CXCR4 overexpression and knockdown model was established in these CRC cells. In transwell migration assays, CXCR4 overexpression favored chemotaxis and invasion of cells in all 3 lines depending on an SDF-1α gradient (p < 0.001 vs. untransduced cells). Functional CXCR4 knockdown using lentiviral short hairpin RNA (shRNA) vectors significantly decreased the migration behavior in CRC cell lines (p < 0.001), confirming a CXCR4-specific effect. Pharmacologic inhibition of the SDF-1α/CXCR4 interaction by the bicyclam Plerixafor(TM) at 100 μM significantly abrogated CXCR4-dependent migration and invasion through Matrigel(TM) (SW480, SW620, RKO; p < 0.05).

Conclusion: Our results indicate that a CXCR4-antagonistic therapy might prevent tumor cell dissemination and metastasis in CRC patients, consequently improving survival.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • Benzylamines
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Chemokine CXCL12 / genetics*
  • Chemotaxis / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cyclams
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / drug effects
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • Genetic Vectors / genetics*
  • Heterocyclic Compounds / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Lentivirus / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • Receptor Cross-Talk / drug effects
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / genetics*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Benzylamines
  • CXCL12 protein, human
  • CXCR4 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL12
  • Cyclams
  • Heterocyclic Compounds
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • plerixafor