Although metastasis accounts for >90% of cancer-related deaths, no therapeutic that targets this process has yet been approved. Because the chemokine receptor CXCR4 is one of the targets closely linked with tumor metastasis, inhibitors of this receptor have the potential to abrogate metastasis. In the current report, we demonstrate that celastrol can downregulate the CXCR4 expression on breast cancer MCF-7 cells stably transfected with HER2, an oncogene known to induce the chemokine receptor. Downregulation of CXCR4 by the triterpenoid was not cell type-specific as downregulation occurred in colon cancer, squamous cell carcinoma, and pancreatic cancer cells. Decrease in CXCR4 expression was not due to proteolysis as neither proteasome inhibitors nor lysosomal stabilization had any effect. Quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction analysis revealed that downregulation of CXCR4 messenger RNA (mRNA) by celastrol occurred at the translational level. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis revealed regulation at the transcriptional level as well. Abrogation of the chemokine receptor by celastrol or by gene-silencing was accompanied by suppression of invasiveness of colon cancer cells induced by CXCL12, the ligand for CXCR4. This effect was not cell type-specific as celastrol also abolished invasiveness of pancreatic tumor cells, and this effect again correlated with the disappearance of both the CXCR4 mRNA and CXCR4 protein. Other triterpenes, such as withaferin A and gedunin, which are known to inhibit Hsp90, did not downregulate CXCR4 expression, indicating that the effects were specific to celastrol. Overall, these results show that celastrol has potential in suppressing invasion and metastasis of cancer cells by down-modulation of CXCR4 expression.
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Dr. Aggarwal is the Ransom Horne, Jr., Professor of Cancer Research. This work was supported by a program project grant from National Institutes of Health (NIH CA-124787-01A2) and a grant from Clayton Foundation for Research, USA. We would like to thank Dr. J. L. Benovic, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA and Dr. M.C. Hung, Department of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center for HA-CXCR4 plasmid constructs and also Mr. Walter Pagel for his careful reading of the manuscript.
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
An erratum to this article can be found online at http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00109-012-0987-8.
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Yadav, V.R., Sung, B., Prasad, S. et al. Celastrol suppresses invasion of colon and pancreatic cancer cells through the downregulation of expression of CXCR4 chemokine receptor. J Mol Med 88, 1243–1253 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00109-010-0669-3
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