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Transl Oncol. 2010 Dec 1;3(6):354-61.

Expression of the C-C chemokine receptor 7 mediates metastasis of breast cancer to the lymph nodes in mice.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS, USA.


C-C chemokine receptor 7 (CCR7) controls lymphocyte migration to secondary lymphoid organs. Although CCR7 has been implicated in targeting the metastasis of cancers to lymph nodes, the role of CCR7 in the metastasis of breast cancer, along with the molecular mechanisms that are controlled by CCR7 that target breast cancer metastasis to the lymph nodes, has yet to be defined. To explore the cellular and molecular mechanisms of breast cancer cell migration to the lymph nodes, we used the mouse MMTV-PyVmT mammary tumor cells (PyVmT) transfected with CCR7 and the human CCR7-expressing MCF10A and MCF7 mammary cell lines. We found that the CCR7 ligands CCL19 and CCL21, controlled cell migration using the β(1)-integrin heterodimeric adhesion molecules. To define a physiological significance for CCR7 regulation of migration, we used the FVB syngeneic mouse model of metastatic breast cancer. When CCR7-negative PyVmT cells transfected with control vector were orthotopically transferred to the mammary fat pad of FVB mice, tumors metastasized to the lungs (10/10 mice) but not to the lymph nodes (0/10). In contrast, CCR7-expressing PyVmT (CCR7-PyVmT) cells metastasized to the lymph nodes (6/10 mice) and had a reduced rate of metastasis to the lungs (4/10 mice). CCR7-PyVmT tumors grew significantly faster than PyVmT tumors, which mirrored the growth in vitro, of CCR7-PyVmT, MCF7, and MCF10A mammospheres. This model provides tools for studying lymph node metastasis, CCR7 regulation of tumor cell growth, and targeting of breast cancer cells to the lymph nodes.

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