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Cancer Res. 2007 Mar 1;67(5):2131-40.

Leukemia inhibitory factor: a newly identified metastatic factor in rhabdomyosarcomas.

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James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, 580 South Preston Street, Louisville, KY 40202, USA.


Rhabdomyosarcoma frequently infiltrates bone marrow and this process involves the stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1)-CXCR4 axis. Because leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF), like SDF-1, is secreted by bone marrow stroma and directs the regeneration of skeletal muscles, we examined whether the LIF-LIF receptor (LIF-R) axis affects the biology of rhabdomyosarcoma cells. We found that in rhabdomyosarcoma cells, LIF stimulates the following: (a) phosphorylation of mitogen-activated protein kinase p42/44, AKT, and signal transducers and activators of transcription 3, (b) adhesion and chemotaxis, and (c) increased resistance to cytostatics. To compare the biological effects of LIF versus SDF-1, we examined the RH30 cell line, which is highly responsive to both ligands, and found that the chemotaxis of these cells is significantly reduced when the inhibitors of both receptors (T140 for CXCR4 and gp190 blocking antibody for LIF-R) are added simultaneously. Subsequently, by using repetitive chemotaxis to LIF or SDF-1, we selected from the RH30 line subpopulations of cells that respond to LIF but not SDF-1 (RH30-L) or to SDF-1 but not LIF (RH30-S). We found that (a) RH30-L cells seed better to the bone marrow, liver, and lymph nodes of immunodeficient mice than RH30-S cells and (b) mice inoculated i.m. with the RH30-L cells had more rhabdomyosarcoma cells in the bone marrow and lung after 6 weeks. Thus, we present the first evidence that the LIF-LIF-R axis may direct rhabdomyosarcoma metastasis. Further, because we showed that the in vivo metastasis of RH30 cells is inhibited by small interfering RNA against LIF-R, molecular targeting of this axis could become a new strategy to control the metastasis of rhabdomyosarcoma.

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