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J Biol Chem. 2001 Sep 7;276(36):33762-72. Epub 2001 Jul 11.

Transendothelial migration of colon carcinoma cells requires expression of E-selectin by endothelial cells and activation of stress-activated protein kinase-2 (SAPK2/p38) in the tumor cells.

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Le Centre de Recherche en Cancérologie de l'Université Laval, L'Hôtel-Dieu de Québec, Québec G1R-2J6, Canada.


Adhesion and migration of tumor cells on and through the vascular endothelium are critical steps of the metastatic invasion. We investigated the roles of E-selectin and of stress-activated protein kinase-2 (SAPK2/p38) in modulating endothelial adhesion and transendothelial migration of HT-29 colon carcinoma cells. Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) strongly increased the expression of E-selectin in human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). This effect was independent of the activation of SAPK2/p38 induced by TNF alpha. Adhesion of HT-29 cells on a monolayer of HUVEC pretreated with TNF alpha was dependent on E-selectin expression but was independent of SAPK2/p38 activity of both HUVEC and tumor cells. The adhesion of HT-29 cells to E-selectin-expressing HUVEC led to the activation of SAPK2/p38 in the tumor cells as reflected by the increased phosphorylation of the actin-polymerizing factor HSP27 by mitogen-activated protein kinase 2/3, a direct target of SAPK2/p38. Moreover, a recombinant E-selectin/Fc chimera quickly increased the activation of SAPK2/p38 in HT-29 cells. Blocking the increased activity of SAPK2/p38 of HT-29 cells by SB203580 or by expressing a dominant negative form of SAPK2/p38 inhibited their transendothelial migration. Similarly, HeLa cells stably expressing a kinase-inactive mutant of SAPK2/p38 showed a decreased capacity to cross a layer of HUVEC. Overall, our results suggest that the regulation of transendothelial migration of tumor cells involves two essential steps as follows: adhesion to the endothelium through adhesion molecules, such as E-selectin, and increased motogenic potential through adhesion-mediated activation of the SAPK2/p38 pathway.

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