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Cell Signal. 2001 May;13(5):311-9.

Loss of chemokine SDF-1alpha-mediated CXCR4 signalling and receptor internalization in human hepatoma cell line HepG2.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA 01655, USA.


Expression of the chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1alpha (SDF-1alpha) is absent from many carcinomas, including hepatomas. We note an early signalling defect in the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell line HepG2 that expresses the CXCR4 receptor and binds biotin-labelled SDF, but fails to stimulate downstream signalling events after engagement with SDF. In HepG2, the SDF/CXCR4 interaction did not result in calcium influx, phosphorylation and internalization of CXCR4, nor in a rapid phosphorylation of p44/42 MAP kinase. There were no CXCR4 mutations in the second chemokine binding loop or C terminal phosphorylation and internalization domains. The downstream signalling machinery in HepG2 appears to be intact since transfection of wild-type CXCR4 restored functional responsiveness. We conclude that HepG2 is unresponsive to SDF stimulation because of a defect located after receptor binding but before the activation of the signalling cascade. A hypothetical blocking molecule could hinder receptor internalization or CXCR4 signalling.

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