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J Biol Chem. 2002 Dec 20;277(51):49481-7. Epub 2002 Oct 17.

CXCR4 is a major chemokine receptor on glioma cells and mediates their survival.

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  • 1Departments of Oncology and Clinical Neurosciences, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada.


Chemokines were described originally in the context of providing migrational cues for leukocytes. They are now known to have broader activities, including those that favor tumor growth. We addressed whether and which chemokines may be important promoters of the growth of the incurable brain neoplasm, malignant gliomas. Analyses of 16 human glioma lines for the expression of chemokine receptors belonging to the CXCR and CCR series revealed low to negligible levels of all receptors, with the exception of CXCR4 that was expressed by 13 of 16 lines. All six resected human glioma specimens showed similarly high CXCR4 expression. The CXCR4 on glioma lines is a signaling receptor in that its agonist, stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1; CXCL12), produced rapid phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinases. Furthermore, SDF-1 induced the phosphorylation of Akt (protein kinase B), a kinase associated with survival, and prevented the apoptosis of glioma cells when serum was withdrawn from the culture medium. SDF-1 also mediated glioma chemotaxis, in accordance with this better known role of chemokines. We conclude that glioma cells express a predominant chemokine receptor, CXCR4, and that this functions to regulate survival in part through activating pathways such as Akt.

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