The IL-8–Regulated Chemokine Receptor CXCR7 Stimulates EGFR Signaling to Promote Prostate Cancer Growth

Cancer Research, 2011


The proinflammatory chemokine receptor CXCR7 that binds the ligands CXCL11 and CXCL12 (SDF-1a) is elevated in a variety of human cancers, but its functions are not understood as it does not elicit classical chemokine receptor signaling. Here we report that the procancerous cytokine IL-8 (interleukin-8) upregulates CXCR7 expression along with ligand-independent functions of CXCR7 that promote the growth and proliferation of human prostate cancer cells (CaP cells). In cell culture, ectopic expression or addition of IL-8 selectively increased expression of CXCR7 at the level of mRNA and protein production. Conversely, suppressing IL-8 signaling abolished the ability of IL-8 to upregulate CXCR7. RNAi-mediated knockdown of CXCR7 in CaP cells caused multiple antitumor effects, including decreased cell proliferation, cell-cycle arrest in G1 phase, and decreased expression of proteins involved in G1 to S phase progression. In contrast, addition of the CXCR7 ligand SDF-1a and CXCL11 to CaP cells did not affect cell proliferation. Over expression of CXCR7 in normal prostate cells increased their proliferation in a manner associated with increased levels of phospho-EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor; pY1110) and phospho-ERK1/2. Notably, coimmunoprecipitation studies established a physical association of CXCR7 with EGFR, linking CXCR7-mediated cell proliferation to EGFR activation. Consistent with these findings, CXCR7-depleted CaP tumors grew more slowly than control tumors, expressing decreased tumor-associated expression of VEGF, cyclin D1, and p-EGFR. Together, these results reveal a novel mechanism of ligand-independent growth promotion by CXCR7 and its coregulation by the proinflammatory factor IL-8 in prostate cancer.

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