Background: The stromal cell derived factor (SDF)-1/chemokine receptor (CXCR)-4 signaling pathway plays a key role in lung cancer metastasis and is molecular target for therapy. In the present study we investigated whether interleukin (IL)-24 can inhibit the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis and suppress lung cancer cell migration and invasion in vitro. Further, the efficacy of IL-24 in combination with CXCR4 antagonists was investigated.
Methods: Human H1299, A549, H460 and HCC827 lung cancer cell lines were used in the present study. The H1299 lung cancer cell line was stably transfected with doxycycline-inducible plasmid expression vector carrying the human IL-24 cDNA and used in the present study to determine the inhibitory effects of IL-24 on SDF-1/CXCR4 axis. H1299 and A549 cell lines were used in transient transfection studies. The inhibitory effects of IL-24 on SDF1/CXCR4 and its downstream targets were analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR, western blot, luciferase reporter assay, flow cytometry and immunocytochemistry. Functional studies included cell migration and invasion assays.
Principal findings: Endogenous CXCR4 protein expression levels varied among the four human lung cancer cell lines. Doxycycline-induced IL-24 expression in the H1299-IL24 cell line resulted in reduced CXCR4 mRNA and protein expression. IL-24 post-transcriptionally regulated CXCR4 mRNA expression by decreasing the half-life of CXCR4 mRNA (>40%). Functional studies showed IL-24 inhibited tumor cell migration and invasion concomitant with reduction in CXCR4 and its downstream targets (pAKTS473, pmTORS2448, pPRAS40T246 and HIF-1α). Additionally, IL-24 inhibited tumor cell migration both in the presence and absence of the CXCR4 agonist, SDF-1. Finally, IL-24 when combined with CXCR4 inhibitors (AMD3100, SJA5) or with CXCR4 siRNA demonstrated enhanced inhibitory activity on tumor cell migration.
Conclusions: IL-24 disrupts the SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling pathway and inhibits lung tumor cell migration and invasion. Additionally, IL-24, when combined with CXCR4 inhibitors exhibited enhanced anti-metastatic activity and is an attractive therapeutic strategy for lung metastasis.