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J Immunol. 2006 Mar 1;176(5):2902-14.

Murine B16 melanomas expressing high levels of the chemokine stromal-derived factor-1/CXCL12 induce tumor-specific T cell chemorepulsion and escape from immune control.

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  • 1Partners AIDS Research Center, Infectious Diseases Division, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Immunol. 2006 May 1;176(9):5683.


The chemokine, stromal-derived factor-1/CXCL12, is expressed by normal and neoplastic tissues and is involved in tumor growth, metastasis, and modulation of tumor immunity. T cell-mediated tumor immunity depends on the migration and colocalization of CTL with tumor cells, a process regulated by chemokines and adhesion molecules. It has been demonstrated that T cells are repelled by high concentrations of the chemokine CXCL12 via a concentration-dependent and CXCR4 receptor-mediated mechanism, termed chemorepulsion or fugetaxis. We proposed that repulsion of tumor Ag-specific T cells from a tumor expressing high levels of CXCL12 allows the tumor to evade immune control. Murine B16/OVA melanoma cells (H2b) were engineered to constitutively express CXCL12. Immunization of C57BL/6 mice with B16/OVA cells lead to destruction of B16/OVA tumors expressing no or low levels of CXCL12 but not tumors expressing high levels of the chemokine. Early recruitment of adoptively transferred OVA-specific CTL into B16/OVA tumors expressing high levels of CXCL12 was significantly reduced in comparison to B16/OVA tumors, and this reduction was reversed when tumor-specific CTLs were pretreated with the specific CXCR4 antagonist, AMD3100. Memory OVA-specific CD8+ T cells demonstrated antitumor activity against B16/OVA tumors but not B16/OVA.CXCL12-high tumors. Expression of high levels of CXCL12 by B16/OVA cells significantly reduced CTL colocalization with and killing of target cells in vitro in a CXCR4-dependent manner. The repulsion of tumor Ag-specific T cells away from melanomas expressing CXCL12 confirms the chemorepellent activity of high concentrations of CXCL12 and may represent a novel mechanism by which certain tumors evade the immune system.

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