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J Clin Invest. 1999 Oct;104(8):1061-9.

Expression of functional CXCR4 chemokine receptors on human colonic epithelial cells.

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School of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom.


In addition to their role as regulators of leukocyte migration and activation, chemokines and their receptors also function in angiogenesis, growth regulation, and HIV-1 pathogenesis--effects that involve the action of chemokines on nonhematopoietic cells. To determine whether chemokine receptors are expressed in human colonic epithelium, HT-29 cells were examined by RT-PCR for the expression of the chemokine receptors for lymphotactin, fractalkine, CCR1-10, and CXCR1-5. The only receptor consistently detected was CXCR4 (fusin/LESTR), although HT-29 cells did not express mRNA for its ligand, stromal cell-derived factor (SDF-1alpha). Flow cytometric analysis with anti-CXCR4 antibody indicated that the CXCR4 protein was expressed on the surface of roughly half of HT-29 cells. CXCR4 was also expressed in colonic epithelial cells in vivo as shown by immunohistochemistry on biopsies from normal and inflamed human colonic mucosa. The mRNA for SDF-1alpha and other CC and CXC chemokines was present in normal colonic biopsies. The CXCR4 receptor in HT-29 cells was functionally coupled, as demonstrated by the elevation in [Ca2+]i, which occurred in response to 25 nM SDF-1alpha and by the SDF-1alpha-induced upregulation of ICAM-1 mRNA. Sodium butyrate downregulated CXCR4 expression and induced differentiation of HT-29 cells, suggesting a role for CXCR4 in maintenance and renewal of the colonic epithelium. This receptor, which also serves as a coreceptor for HIV, may mediate viral infection of colonic epithelial cells.

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