Krüppel-like factor 8 (KLF8) has been strongly implicated in breast cancer metastasis. However, the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. In this study we report a novel signaling from KLF8 to C-X-C cytokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) in breast cancer. Overexpression of KLF8 in MCF-10A cells induced CXCR4 expression at both mRNA and protein levels. This induction was well correlated with increased Boyden chamber migration, matrigel invasion and transendothelial migration (TEM) of the cells towards the ligand CXCL12. On the other hand, knockdown of KLF8 in MDA-MB-231 cells reduced CXCR4 expression associated with decreased cell migration, invasion and TEM towards CXCL12. Histological and database mining analyses of independent cohorts of patient tissue microarrays revealed a correlation of aberrant co-elevation of KLF8 and CXCR4 with metastatic potential. Promoter analysis indicated that KLF8 directly binds and activates the human CXCR4 gene promoter. Furthermore, CXCR4-CXCL12 engagement downstream of KLF8 leads to the feed-forward activation of FAK. Interestingly, KLF8 expression, through CXCR4 engagement, triggered the formation of filopodium-like protrusions (FLP) and thereby enhanced the proliferation rate of breast cancer cells in 3D Matrigel-on-Top culture, under prolonged treatment with CXCL12. This indicates that KLF8 plays a major role in promoting aggressive colonization of tumor cells in a CXCL12-enriched foreign tissue microenvironment, thereby aiding in secondary macrometastasis formation. Xenograft studies showed that overexpression of CXCR4, but not a dominant-negative mutant of it, in the MDA-MB-231 cells prevented the invasive growth of primary tumor and lung metastasis from inhibition by knockdown of KLF8. Apart from lung, KLF8 overexpression also induced spontaneous secondary metastasis to other CXCL12-rich organs through CXCR4 signaling. These results collectively suggest a critical role for KLF8 and the CXCR4-CXCL12 pathway in promoting breast cancer metastasis and shed new light on potentially more effective anti-cancer strategies.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Medicine
Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Mukherjee, Debarati, "Role of KLF8-CXCR4 signaling in Breast Cancer Metastasis" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4955.