CXCL1 derived from tumor-associated macrophages promotes breast cancer metastasis via activating NF-κB/SOX4 signaling

Cell Death Dis. 2018 Aug 29;9(9):880. doi: 10.1038/s41419-018-0876-3.


Tumor-associated macrophages (TAMs) have been implicated in the promotion of breast cancer growth and metastasis, and multiple TAM-secreted cytokines have been identified associating with poor clinical outcomes. However, the therapeutic targets existing in the loop between TAMs and cancer cells are still required for further investigation. Here in, cytokine array validated that C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 1 (CXCL1) is the most abundant chemokine secreted by TAMs, and CXCL1 can promote breast cancer migration and invasion ability, as well as epithelial-mesenchymal transition in both mouse and human breast cancer cells. QPCR screening further validated SOX4 as the highest responsive gene following CXCL1 administration. Mechanistic study revealed that CXCL1 binds to SOX4 promoter and activates its transcription via NF-κB pathway. In vivo breast cancer xenografts demonstrated that CXCL1 silencing in TAMs results in a significant reduction in breast cancer growth and metastatic burden. Bioinformatic analysis and clinical investigation finally suggested that high CXCL1 expression is significantly correlated with breast cancer lymph node metastasis, poor overall survival and basal-like subtype. Taken together, our results indicated that TAMs/CXCL1 promotes breast cancer metastasis via NF-κB/SOX4 activation, and CXCL1-based therapy might become a novel strategy for breast cancer metastasis prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Breast Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Movement / physiology
  • Chemokine CXCL1 / metabolism*
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis / pathology*
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • Mice, SCID
  • Middle Aged
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness / pathology
  • RAW 264.7 Cells
  • SOXC Transcription Factors / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • THP-1 Cells
  • Tumor Microenvironment / physiology


  • CXCL1 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL1
  • NF-kappa B
  • SOX4 protein, human
  • SOXC Transcription Factors