SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling induces pancreatic cancer cell invasion and epithelial-mesenchymal transition in vitro through non-canonical activation of Hedgehog pathway

Xuqi Li, Qingyong Ma, Qinhong Xu, Han Liu, Jianjun Lei, Wanxing Duan, Kruttika Bhat, Fengfei Wang, Erxi Wu, Zheng Wang
Cancer Letters 2012 September 28, 322 (2): 169-76
In our previous study, we found that blockade of SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling inhibits pancreatic cancer cell migration and invasion in vitro. However, the mechanism governing the downstream regulation of SDF-1/CXCR4-mediated invasion remains unclear. Here we report the role of SDF-1/CXCR4 in pancreatic cancer and the possible mechanism of SDF-1/CXCR4-mediated pancreatic cancer invasion. We show that there is a cross-talk between SDF-1/CXCR4 axis and non-canonical Hedgehog (Hh) pathway in pancreatic cancer. Furthermore, our data demonstrate that the ligand of CXCR4, SDF-1 induces CXCR4-positive pancreatic cancer invasion, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process and activates the non-canonical Hh pathway. Moreover, we also demonstrate that the invasion of a pancreatic cancer and EMT resulting from the activation of SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is effectively inhibited by Smoothened (SMO) inhibitor cyclopamine and siRNA specific to Gli-1. Collectively, these data demonstrate that SDF-1/CXCR4 modulates the non-canonical Hh pathway by increasing the transcription of SMO in a ligand-independent manner. Taken together, SDF-1/CXCR4 axis may represent a promising therapeutic target to prevent pancreatic cancer progression.

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