Tumor cell-activated CARD9 signaling contributes to metastasis-associated macrophage polarization

Cell Death Differ. 2014 Aug;21(8):1290-302. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2014.45. Epub 2014 Apr 11.


Macrophages are critical immune effector cells of the tumor microenvironment that promote seeding, extravasation and persistent growth of tumor cells in primary tumors and metastatic sites. Tumor progression and metastasis are affected by dynamic changes in the specific phenotypes of macrophage subpopulations; however, the mechanisms by which tumor cells modulate macrophage polarization remain incompletely understood. Caspase recruitment domain-containing protein 9 (CARD9) is a central adaptor protein of innate immune responses to extracellular pathogens. We report that increased CARD9 expression is primarily localized in infiltrated macrophages and significantly associated with advanced histopathologic stage and the presence of metastasis. Using CARD9-deficient (CARD9(-/-)) mice, we show that bone marrow-derived CARD9 promotes liver metastasis of colon carcinoma cells. Mechanistic studies reveal that CARD9 contributes to tumor metastasis by promoting metastasis-associated macrophage polarization through activation of the nuclear factor-kappa B signaling pathway. We further demonstrate that tumor cell-secreted vascular endothelial growth factor facilitates spleen tyrosine kinase activation in macrophages, which is necessary for formation of the CARD9-B-cell lymphoma/leukemia 10-mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue lymphoma translocation protein 1 complex. Taken together, our results indicating that CARD9 is a regulator of metastasis-associated macrophages will lead to new insights into evolution of the microenvironments supporting tumor metastasis, thereby providing targets for anticancer therapies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cell Communication
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Signal Transduction
  • Tumor Microenvironment


  • CARD Signaling Adaptor Proteins
  • CARD9 protein, human
  • Card9 protein, mouse