Research ArticleCancer Biology

A Synthetic Biology Approach Reveals a CXCR4-G13-Rho Signaling Axis Driving Transendothelial Migration of Metastatic Breast Cancer Cells

Sci. Signal.  20 Sep 2011:
Vol. 4, Issue 191, pp. ra60
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.2002221

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Tumor cells can co-opt the promigratory activity of chemokines and their cognate G protein–coupled receptors (GPCRs) to metastasize to regional lymph nodes or distant organs. Indeed, the migration toward SDF-1 (stromal cell–derived factor 1) of tumor cells bearing CXCR4 [chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor 4] has been implicated in the lymphatic and organ-specific metastasis of various human malignancies. Here, we used chimeric G proteins and GPCRs activated solely by artificial ligands to selectively activate the signaling pathways downstream of specific G proteins and showed that CXCR4-mediated chemotaxis and transendothelial migration of metastatic basal-like breast cancer cells required activation of Gα13, a member of the Gα12/13 G protein family, and of the small guanosine triphosphatase Rho. Multiple complementary experimental strategies, including synthetic biology approaches, indicated that signaling-selective inhibition of the CXCR4-Gα13-Rho axis prevents the metastatic spread of basal-like breast cancer cells.

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