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1.  HGF, SDF-1, and MMP-9 are involved in stress-induced human CD34+ stem cell recruitment to the liver 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2003;112(2):160-169.
Hematopoietic stem cells rarely contribute to hepatic regeneration, however, the mechanisms governing their homing to the liver, which is a crucial first step, are poorly understood. The chemokine stromal cell–derived factor-1 (SDF-1), which attracts human and murine progenitors, is expressed by liver bile duct epithelium. Neutralization of the SDF-1 receptor CXCR4 abolished homing and engraftment of the murine liver by human CD34+ hematopoietic progenitors, while local injection of human SDF-1 increased their homing. Engrafted human cells were localized in clusters surrounding the bile ducts, in close proximity to SDF-1–expressing epithelial cells, and differentiated into albumin-producing cells. Irradiation or inflammation increased SDF-1 levels and hepatic injury induced MMP-9 activity, leading to both increased CXCR4 expression and SDF-1–mediated recruitment of hematopoietic progenitors to the liver. Unexpectedly, HGF, which is increased following liver injury, promoted protrusion formation, CXCR4 upregulation, and SDF-1–mediated directional migration by human CD34+ progenitors, and synergized with stem cell factor. Thus, stress-induced signals, such as increased expression of SDF-1, MMP-9, and HGF, recruit human CD34+ progenitors with hematopoietic and/or hepatic-like potential to the liver of NOD/SCID mice. Our results suggest the potential of hematopoietic CD34+/CXCR4+cells to respond to stress signals from nonhematopoietic injured organs as an important mechanism for tissue targeting and repair.
PMCID: PMC164291  PMID: 12865405
2.  Stromal derived factor-1 regulates bone morphogenetic protein 2-induced osteogenic differentiation of primary mesenchymal stem cells 
Stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) is a chemokine signaling molecule that binds to its transmembrane receptor CXC chemokine receptor-4 (CXCR4). While we previously detected that SDF-1 was co-required with bone morphogenetic protein 2 (BMP2) for differentiating mesenchymal C2C12 cells into osteoblastic cells, it is unknown whether SDF-1 is similarly involved in the osteogenic differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). Therefore, here we examined the role of SDF-1 signaling during BMP2-induced osteogenic differentiation of primary MSCs that were derived from human and mouse bone marrow. Our data showed that blocking of the SDF-1/CXCR4 signal axis or adding SDF-1 protein to MSCs significantly affected BMP2-induced alkaline phosphatase (ALP) activity and osteocalcin (OCN) synthesis, markers of preosteoblasts and mature osteoblasts, respectively. Moreover, disrupting the SDF-1 signaling impaired bone nodule mineralization during terminal differentiation of MSCs. Furthermore, we detected that blocking of the SDF-1 signaling inhibited the BMP2-induced early expression of Runt-related factor-2 (Runx2) and osterix (Osx), two “master” regulators of osteogenesis, and the SDF-1 effect was mediated via intracellular Smad and Erk activation. In conclusion, our results demonstrated a regulatory role of SDF-1 in BMP2-induced osteogenic differentiation of MSCs, as perturbing the SDF-1 signaling affected the differentiation of MSCs towards osteoblastic cells in response to BMP2 stimulation. These data provide novel insights into molecular mechanisms underlying MSC osteogenesis, and will contribute to the development of MSC therapies for enhancing bone formation and regeneration in broad orthopaedic situations.
PMCID: PMC2992806  PMID: 20362069
Bone morphogenetic protein 2; CXC chemokine receptor-4; Mesenchymal stem cell; Osteogenic differentiation; Stromal derived factor-1
3.  The Expanding Family of Bone Marrow Homing Factors for Hematopoietic Stem Cells: Stromal Derived Factor 1 Is Not the Only Player in the Game 
The Scientific World Journal  2012;2012:758512.
The α-chemokine stromal derived factor 1 (SDF-1), which binds to the CXCR4 and CXCR7 receptors, directs migration and homing of CXCR4+ hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) to bone marrow (BM) and plays a crucial role in retention of these cells in stem cell niches. However, this unique role of SDF-1 has been recently challenged by several observations supporting SDF-1-CXCR4-independent BM homing. Specifically, it has been demonstrated that HSPCs respond robustly to some bioactive lipids, such as sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) and ceramide-1-phosphate (C1P), and migrate in response to gradients of certain extracellular nucleotides, including uridine triphosphate (UTP) and adenosine triphosphate (ATP). Moreover, the responsiveness of HSPCs to an SDF-1 gradient is enhanced by some elements of innate immunity (e.g., C3 complement cascade cleavage fragments and antimicrobial cationic peptides, such as cathelicidin/LL-37 or β2-defensin) as well as prostaglandin E2 (PGE2). Since all these factors are upregulated in BM after myeloblative conditioning for transplantation, a more complex picture of homing emerges that involves several factors supporting, and in some situations even replacing, the SDF-1-CXCR4 axis.
PMCID: PMC3373139  PMID: 22701372
4.  Atypical PKC-ζ regulates SDF-1–mediated migration and development of human CD34+ progenitor cells 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  2005;115(1):168-176.
The chemokine stromal cell–derived factor–1 (SDF-1) and its receptor, CXCR4, play a major role in migration, retention, and development of hematopoietic progenitors in the bone marrow. We report the direct involvement of atypical PKC-ζ in SDF-1 signaling in immature human CD34+-enriched cells and in leukemic pre-B acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) G2 cells. Chemotaxis, cell polarization, and adhesion of CD34+ cells to bone marrow stromal cells were found to be PKC-ζ dependent. Overexpression of PKC-ζ in G2 and U937 cells led to increased directional motility to SDF-1. Interestingly, impaired SDF-1–induced migration of the pre-B ALL cell line B1 correlated with reduced PKC-ζ expression. SDF-1 triggered PKC-ζ phosphorylation, translocation to the plasma membrane, and kinase activity. Furthermore we identified PI3K as an activator of PKC-ζ, and Pyk-2 and ERK1/2 as downstream targets of PKC-ζ. SDF-1–induced proliferation and MMP-9 secretion also required PKC-ζ activation. Finally, we showed that in vivo engraftment, but not homing, of human CD34+-enriched cells to the bone marrow of NOD/SCID mice was PKC-ζ dependent and that injection of mice with inhibitory PKC-ζ pseudosubstrate peptides resulted in mobilization of murine progenitors. Our results demonstrate a central role for PKC-ζ in SDF-1–dependent regulation of hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell motility and development.
PMCID: PMC539190  PMID: 15630457
5.  Bone-derived SDF-1 stimulates IL-6 release via CXCR4, ERK and NF-κB pathways and promotes osteoclastogenesis in human oral cancer cells 
Carcinogenesis  2008;29(8):1483-1492.
Oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) has a striking tendency to invade to bone. The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) is constitutively secreted by osteoblasts and plays a key role in homing of hematopoietic cells to the bone marrow. Interleukin (IL)-6 plays an important role in osteoclastogenesis. Herein, we found that SDF-1α increased the secretion of IL-6 in cultured human SCC cells, as shown by reverse transcriptase–polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. SDF-1α also increased the surface expression of chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) in SCC cells. CXCR4-neutralizing antibody, CXCR4-specific inhibitor (AMD3100) or small interfering RNA against CXCR4 inhibited SDF-1α-induced increase IL-6 production. The transcriptional regulation of IL-6 by SDF-1α was mediated by phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) and activation of the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) components p65 and p50. The binding of p65 and p50 to the NF-κB element on the IL-6 promoter was enhanced by SDF-1α. In addition, IL-6 antibody antagonized the SCC-conditioned medium-increased osteoclastogenesis. These results suggested that SDF-1α from osteoblasts could induce release of IL-6 in human SCC cells via activation of CXCR4, ERK and NF-κB pathway and thereby promote osteoclastogenesis.
PMCID: PMC2516485  PMID: 18310089
6.  Proteolytic processing of SDF-1α by matrix metalloproteinase-2 impairs CXCR4 signaling and reduces neural progenitor cell migration 
Protein & cell  2012;3(11):875-882.
Neural stem cells and neural progenitor cells (NPCs) exist throughout life and are mobilized to replace neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes after injury. Stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1, now named CXCL12) and its receptor CXCR4, an α-chemokine receptor, are critical for NPC migration into damaged areas of the brain. Our previous studies demonstrated that immune activated and/or HIV-1-infected human monocyte-derived- macrophages (MDMs) induced a substantial increase of SDF-1 production by human astrocytes. However, matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2, a protein up-regulated in HIV-1-infected macrophages, is able to cleave four amino acids from the N-terminus of SDF-1, resulting in a truncated SDF-1(5–67). In this study, we investigate the diverse signaling and function induced by SDF-1α and SDF-1(5–67) in human cortical NPCs. SDF-1(5–67) was generated by incubating human recombinant SDF-1α with MMP-2 followed by protein determination via mass spectrometry, Western blotting and ELISA. SDF-1α induced time-dependent phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) 1/2, Akt-1, and diminished cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). In contrast, SDF-1(5–67) failed to induce these signaling. SDF-1α activation of CXCR4 induced migration of NPCs, an effect that is dependent on ERK1/2 and Akt-1 pathways; whereas SDF-1(5–67) failed to induce NPC migration. This observation provides evidence that MMP-2 may affect NPC migration through post-translational processing of SDF-1α.
PMCID: PMC3973535  PMID: 23143873
proteolysis; chemokine; neurogenesis; migration
7.  The Chemokine Stromal Cell-Derived Factor-1 Regulates GABAergic Inputs to Neural Progenitors in the Postnatal Dentate Gyrus 
Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and its receptor CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) are important regulators of the development of the dentate gyrus (DG). Both SDF-1 and CXCR4 are also highly expressed in the adult DG. We observed that CXCR4 receptors were expressed by dividing neural progenitor cells located in the subgranular zone (SGZ) as well as their derivatives including doublecortin-expressing neuroblasts and immature granule cells. SDF-1 was located in DG neurons and in endothelial cells associated with DG blood vessels. SDF-1-expressing neurons included parvalbumin-containing GABAergic interneurons known as basket cells. Using transgenic mice expressing an SDF-1-mRFP1 (monomeric red fluorescence protein 1) fusion protein we observed that SDF-1 was localized in synaptic vesicles in the terminals of basket cells together with GABA-containing vesicles. These terminals were often observed to be in close proximity to dividing nestin-expressing neural progenitors in the SGZ. Electrophysiological recordings from slices of the DG demonstrated that neural progenitors received both tonic and phasic GABAergic inputs and that SDF-1 enhanced GABAergic transmission, probably by a postsynaptic mechanism. We also demonstrated that, like GABA, SDF-1 was tonically released in the DG and that GABAergic transmission was partially dependent on coreleased SDF-1. These data demonstrate that SDF-1 plays a novel role as a neurotransmitter in the DG and regulates the strength of GABAergic inputs to the pool of dividing neural progenitors. Hence, SDF-1/CXCR4 signaling is likely to be an important regulator of adult neurogenesis in the DG.
PMCID: PMC2720755  PMID: 18579746
cytokine; dentate gyrus; GABA; hippocampus; neurogenesis; transgenic; SDF-1/CXCL12; CXCR4
8.  Stromal cell derived factor-1: its influence on invasiveness and migration of breast cancer cells in vitro, and its association with prognosis and survival in human breast cancer 
Breast Cancer Research  2005;7(4):R402-R410.
Stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1 (CXC chemokine ligand-12) is a member of the CXC subfamily of chemokines, which, through its cognate receptor (CXC chemokine receptor [CXCR]4), plays an important role in chemotaxis of cancer cells and in tumour metastasis. We conducted the present study to evaluate the effect of SDF-1 on the invasiveness and migration of breast cancer cells, and we analyzed the expression of SDF-1 and its relation to clinicopathological features and clinical outcomes in human breast cancer.
Expression of SDF-1 mRNA in breast cancer, endothelial (HECV) and fibroblast (MRC5) cell lines and in human breast tissues were studied using RT-PCR. MDA-MB-231 cells were transfected with a SDF-1 expression vector, and their invasiveness and migration was tested in vitro. In addition, the expression of SDF-1 was investigated using immunohistochemistry and quantitative RT-PCR in samples of normal human mammary tissue (n = 32) and mammary tumour (n = 120).
SDF-1 expression was identified in MRC5, MDA-MB-435s and MDA-MB-436 cell lines, but CXCR4 expression was detected in all cell lines and breast tissues. An autocrine loop was created following transfection of MDA-MB-231 (which was CXCR4 positive and SDF-1 negative) with a mammalian expression cassette encoding SDF-1 (MDA-MB-231SDF1+/+) or with control plasmid pcDNA4/GFP (MDA-MB-231+/-). MDA-MB-231SDF1+/+ cells exhibited significantly greater invasion and migration potential (in transfected cells versus in wild type and empty MDA-MB-231+/-; P < 0.01). In mammary tissues SDF-1 staining was primarily seen in stromal cells and weakly in mammary epithelial cells. Significantly higher levels of SDF-1 were seen in node-positive than in node-negative tumours (P = 0.05), in tumours that metastasized (P = 0.05), and tumours from patients who died (P = 0.03) than in tumours from patients who were disease free. It was most notable that levels of SDF-1 correlated significantly with overall survival (P = 0.001) and incidence-free survival (P = 0.035).
SDF-1 can increase the invasiveness and migration of breast cancer cells. Its levels correlated with node involvement and long-term survival in patients with breast cancer. SDF-1 may therefore have potential value in assessing clinical outcomes of patients with breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC1175055  PMID: 15987445
9.  Changes in the Proliferative Activity of Human Hematopoietic Stem Cells in NOD/SCID Mice and Enhancement of Their Transplantability after In Vivo Treatment with Cell Cycle Inhibitors 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2002;196(9):1141-1150.
Human hematopoietic tissue contains rare stem cells with multilineage reconstituting ability demonstrable in receptive xenogeneic hosts. We now show that within 3 wk nonobese diabetic severe combined immunodeficiency (NOD/SCID) mice transplanted with human fetal liver cells regenerate near maximum levels of daughter human hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) able to repopulate secondary NOD/SCID mice. At this time, most of the human HSCs (and other primitive progenitors) are actively proliferating as shown by their sensitivity to treatments that kill cycling cells selectively (e.g., exposure to high specific-activity [3H]thymidine in vitro or 5-fluorouracil in vivo). Interestingly, the proliferating human HSCs were rapidly forced into quiescence by in vivo administration of stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) and this was accompanied by a marked increase in the numbers of human HSCs detectable. A similar result was obtained when transforming growth factor-β was injected, consistent with a reversible change in HSCs engrafting potential linked to changes in their cell cycle status. By 12 wk after transplant, most of the human HSCs had already entered Go and treatment with SDF-1 had no effect on their engrafting activity. These findings point to the existence of novel mechanisms by which inhibitors of HSC cycling can regulate the engrafting ability of human HSCs executing self-renewal divisions in vivo.
PMCID: PMC2194104  PMID: 12417625
TGF-β; SDF-1; cell cycle; stem cells; engraftment
10.  Stromal-Derived Factor-1 and Its Receptor, CXCR4, Are Constitutively Expressed by Mouse Liver Sinusoidal Endothelial Cells: Implications for the Regulation of Hematopoietic Cell Migration to the Liver During Extramedullary Hematopoiesis 
Stem Cells and Development  2011;21(12):2142-2151.
Stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1 is the main regulating factor for trafficking/homing of hematopoietic stem cells (HSC) to the bone marrow (BM). It is possible that this chemokine may also play a fundamental role in regulating the migration of HSC to several organs during extramedullary hematopoiesis. Because liver sinusoidal endothelial cells (LSEC) constitute an extramedullary niche for HSC, it is possible that these cells represent one of the main cellular sources of SDF-1 at the liver. Here, we show that LSEC express SDF-1 at the mRNA and protein level. Biological assays showed that conditioned medium from LSEC (LSEC-CM) stimulated the migration of BM progenitor lineage-negative (BM/Lin−) cells. This effect was significantly reduced by AMD3100, indicating that the SDF-1/CXCR4 axis is involved in the stimulatory migrating effect induced by LSEC-CM. Early localization of HSC in SDF-1–expressing LSEC microenvironment together with increased levels of this chemokine in hepatic homogenates was found in an experimental model of liver extramedullary hematopoiesis. Flow cytometry studies showed that LSEC express the CXCR4 receptor. Functional assays showed that activation of this receptor by SDF-1 stimulated the migration of LSEC and increased the expression of PECAM-1. Our findings suggest that LSEC through the production of SDF-1 may constitute a fundamental niche for regulation of HSC migration to the liver. To our knowledge, this is the first report showing that LSEC not only express and secrete SDF-1, but also its receptor CXCR4.
PMCID: PMC3411357  PMID: 22121892
11.  Essential but differential role for CXCR4 and CXCR7 in the therapeutic homingof human renal progenitor cells 
Recently, we have identified a population of renal progenitor cells in human kidneys showing regenerative potential for injured renal tissue of SCID mice. We demonstrate here that among all known chemokine receptors, human renal progenitor cells exhibit high expression of both stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) receptors, CXCR4 and CXCR7. In SCID mice with acute renal failure (ARF), SDF-1 was strongly up-regulated in resident cells surrounding necrotic areas. In the same mice, intravenously injected renal stem/progenitor cells engrafted into injured renal tissue decreased the severity of ARF and prevented renal fibrosis. These beneficial effects were abolished by blocking either CXCR4 or CXCR7, which dramatically reduced the number of engrafting renal progenitor cells. However, although SDF-1–induced migration of renal progenitor cells was only abolished by an anti-CXCR4 antibody, transendothelial migration required the activity of both CXCR4 and CXCR7, with CXCR7 being essential for renal progenitor cell adhesion to endothelial cells. Moreover, CXCR7 but not CXCR4 was responsible for the SDF-1–induced renal progenitor cell survival. Collectively, these findings suggest that CXCR4 and CXCR7 play an essential, but differential, role in the therapeutic homing of human renal progenitor cells in ARF, with important implications for the development of stem cell–based therapies.
PMCID: PMC2271008  PMID: 18268039
12.  Identification of E-Selectin as a Novel Target for the Regulation of Post-Natal Neovascularization: Implications for Diabetic Wound Healing 
Annals of Surgery  2010;252(4):625-634.
We previously reported that stromal cell-derived factor-1α (SDF-1α, a homing signal for recruiting endothelial progenitor cells (EPC) to areas of neovascularization), is down-regulated in diabetic wounds 1. We now investigate signals whereby mature endothelial cells (EC) and circulating EPC achieve SDF-1α-mediated EPC homing.
SDF-1α in diabetic wounds were therapeutically increased by injection of SDF-1α–engineered bone marrow-derived fibroblasts versus control cells (N= 48 (20, NOD), (28, STZ-C57)). PCR-array gene expression differences were validated by Western blotting and immunohistochemistry. The role of adhesion molecule(s) in mediating SDF-1α-induced EPC homing and wound healing was furthered studied using antagonists in vitro and in vivo.
Increasing wound SDF-1α via cell-base therapy promotes healing in diabetic mice (~20% increase in healing rates by day 3, p=0.006). SDF-1α increased EC-EPC adhesion and specifically upregulated E-selectin expression in human microvascular EC (2.3-fold increase, p<0.01). This effect was also significant in blood vessels of the experimental mice and resulted in increased wound neovascularization. The regulatory effects of SDF-1α on EC-EPC adhesion and EPC homing were specifically mediated by E-selectin, as the application of E-selectin antagonists significantly inhibited SDF-1α-induced EC-EPC adhesion, EPC homing, wound neovascularization, and wound healing.
SDF-1α–engineered cell-based therapy promotes diabetic wound healing in mice by specifically upregulating E-selectin expression in mature EC leading to increase EC-EPC adhesion, EPC homing and increased wound neovascularization. These findings provide novel insight into the signals underlying the biological effect of SDF-1α on EPC homing and point to E-selectin as a new potential target for therapeutic manipulation of EPC trafficking in diabetic wound healing.
PMCID: PMC3391745  PMID: 20881769
13.  Adult SVZ lineage cells home to and leave the vascular niche via differential responses to SDF1/CXCR4 signaling 
Cell stem cell  2010;7(2):163-173.
Neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in the adult subventricular zone (SVZ) are associated with ependymal and vasculature niches which regulate stem cell self-renewal and differentiation. Activated Type B stem cells and their progeny, the transit amplifying Type C cells, which express EGFR, are most highly associated with vascular cells, indicating that this niche supports lineage progression. Here we show that proliferative SVZ progenitor cells home to endothelial cells in a stromal-derived factor 1 (SDF1) and CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) dependent manner. We show that SDF1 strongly upregulates EGFR and α6 integrin in activated type B and type C cells, enhancing their activated state and their ability to bind laminin in the vascular niche. SDF1 increases the motility of Type A neuroblasts, which migrate from the SVZ towards the olfactory bulb. Thus, differential responses to SDF1 can regulate progenitor cell occupancy of and exit from the adult SVZ vascular niche.
PMCID: PMC2916873  PMID: 20682445
14.  Paracrine Modulation of CXCR4 by IGF-1 and VEGF: Implications for Choroidal Neovascularization 
Adult vascular maintenance and repair are mediated in part by endothelial progenitor cells, recruited by chemokines such as stromal-derived factor (SDF)-1. The authors examined the interaction between growth factors such as IGF and VEGF and the SDF-1 receptor CXCR4, and showed that localized inhibition of CXCR4 may prove beneficial in treating aberrant neovascular disease.
Modulators of angiogenesis typically work in an orchestrated manner. The authors examined the interaction between insulinlike growth factor (IGF)-1, vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), and stromal derived factor (SDF)-1 in vivo and in vitro using angiogenesis models.
The angiogenic effect of SDF-1, alone or in combination with IGF-1 and VEGF, was assessed in human lung microvascular endothelial cells using capillary tube formation and thymidine incorporation. Immunohistochemical analysis for CD31, SDF-1, and CXCR4 was performed on mouse eyes 2 weeks after the initiation of laser rupture of Bruch's membrane, a choroidal neovascularization (CNV) model. CXCR4 antagonist and CXCR4 blocking antibody were tested on inhibition of CNV lesion size in this model. Real-time PCR was used to determine mRNA levels for SDF-1, VEGF, IGF-1, and their cognate receptors in the retinal pigment epithelium/choroid complex of mice that underwent this CNV model.
IGF-1 and VEGF demonstrated an additive effect on SDF-1–induced in vitro angiogenesis. CXCR4 immunoreactivity was present in both normal and laser-injured mice at the laser burn site and at the ganglion cell layer, the anterior portion of the inner nuclear layer, photoreceptors, and choroidal stroma. SDF-1 was observed in identical locations but was not seen in photoreceptors. mRNA levels for SDF-1, VEGF, and IGF-1 and their receptors were increased after laser injury. CXCR4-neutralizing antibody reduced neovascularization when injected subretinally but not intraperitoneally or intravitreally.
The potent proangiogenic factors IGF-1 and VEGF both stimulate SDF-1–induced angiogenesis. Local inhibition of CXCR4 is required for an antiangiogenic effect in CNV lesions.
PMCID: PMC2868476  PMID: 20007826
15.  SDF1 Gene Variation Is Associated with Circulating SDF1α Level and Endothelial Progenitor Cell Number–The Bruneck Study 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(12):e4061.
Stromal cell-derived factor-1 (SDF1) and its receptor CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) play a critical role in progenitor cell homing, mobilization and differentiation. It would be interesting to assess the predictive value of SDF-1alpha level for EPC number, and to ascertain whether there is a relationship between SDF1 gene variation, plasma SDF-1alpha level, and the number and function of circulating EPCs. We also tested whether EPC number and function was related to CXCR4 gene variation.
Methodology and Principal Findings
We genotyped a cohort of individuals who participated in the Bruneck Study for single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the SDF1 and CXCR4 genes, and measured blood SDF1α level as well as EPC number and function. SDF1α levels were correlated with age, gender, alcohol consumption, circulating reticulocyte numbers, and concentrations of matrix metalloproteinase-9, C-reactive protein, cystatin C, fibrinogen and homocytein. In blood samples taken in 2005, EPC number was inversely associated with SDF1α level (p<0.001). EPC number in 2005 was also inversely associated with SDF1α level in 2000 (p = 0.009), suggesting a predictive value of plasma SDF1α level for EPC number. There was an association between the SDF1 gene rs2297630 SNP A/A genotype, increased SDF1α level (p = 0.002) and lower EPC number (p = 0.006).
Our data indicate that a SDF1 gene variation (rs2297630) has an influence on SDF1α level and circulating EPC number, and that plasma SDF1α level is a predictor of EPC number.
PMCID: PMC2605263  PMID: 19115008
16.  A novel chemokine receptor for SDF-1 and I-TAC involved in cell survival, cell adhesion, and tumor development 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2006;203(9):2201-2213.
The chemokine stromal cell–derived factor (SDF-1; also known as chemokine ligand 12 [CXCL12]) regulates many essential biological processes, including cardiac and neuronal development, stem cell motility, neovascularization, angiogenesis, apoptosis, and tumorigenesis. It is generally believed that SDF-1 mediates these many disparate processes via a single cell surface receptor known as chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4). This paper characterizes an alternate receptor, CXCR7, which binds with high affinity to SDF-1 and to a second chemokine, interferon-inducible T cell α chemoattractant (I-TAC; also known as CXCL11). Membrane-associated CXCR7 is expressed on many tumor cell lines, on activated endothelial cells, and on fetal liver cells, but on few other cell types. Unlike many other chemokine receptors, ligand activation of CXCR7 does not cause Ca2+ mobilization or cell migration. However, expression of CXCR7 provides cells with a growth and survival advantage and increased adhesion properties. Consistent with a role for CXCR7 in cell survival and adhesion, a specific, high affinity small molecule antagonist to CXCR7 impedes in vivo tumor growth in animal models, validating this new receptor as a target for development of novel cancer therapeutics.
PMCID: PMC2118398  PMID: 16940167
17.  Protective Effects of Mesenchymal Stem Cells with CXCR4 Up-Regulation in a Rat Renal Transplantation Model 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82949.
The homing of mesenchymal stem cells to injured tissue, which is important for the correction of conditions such as ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and immunolesions, has been performed previously, but with poor efficiency. Substantial improvements in engraftment are required to derive clinical benefits from MSC transplantation. Chemokines are the most important factors that control cellular migration. Stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1) is up-regulated during tissue/organ ischemia damage, and its cognate receptor, chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4), is involved in stem cell migration. The aim of our study was to investigate CXCR4 expression in MSCs and to validate both its role in mediating migration to transplanted kidneys and its immunoregulatory effects in renal protection. Specifically, the present study was designed to investigate the short-term tissue homing of MSCs carrying genetically modified CXCR4 in a rat renal transplantation model. We tested the hypothesis that MSCs with CXCR4 over-expression can more efficiently regulate immunological reactions. Lentiviral vectors were used to over-express CXCR4 or to introduce a short hairpin ribonucleic acid (shRNA) construct targeting endogenous CXCR4 in rat MSCs. MSCs were labeled with enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP). After cell sorting, recipient kidneys were regionally perfused; recipient animals were injected with transduced MSCs, native MSCs, or PBS via tail vein following renal transplantation; and the effects of MSC injection were observed.
PMCID: PMC3875425  PMID: 24386129
18.  Expression and role of SDF-1α-CXCR4 axis in Human Dental Pulp 
Journal of endodontics  2008;34(8):939-944.
Recent reports have suggested that SDF (Stromal cell-derived factor)-1α- CXCR4 axis has a direct effect on stem and progenitor cell recruitment in muscle and neural tissue repair after injury. No information is available about SDF-1α or CXCR4 in dental tissues. The aim of this study was to assess the expression of SDF-1α and its receptor, CXCR4, in healthy or inflamed human dental pulp and to evaluate the effects of SDF-1α on dental pulp cells (DPCs) in both proliferation and migration in vitro. Immunohistochemical staining and RT-PCR detected weak expression of SDF-1α and CXCR4 in healthy dental pulp and strong expression of SDF-1a and CXCR4 in inflamed dental pulp. An MTT assay demonstrated that SDF-1α could not promote DPCs proliferation. A transmigration assay, however, indicated that SDF-1α enhanced DPCs migration, and which could be abolished by anti-CXCR4 antibodies. Taken together, these results imply that the SDF-1α-CXCR4 axis may play a role in the recruitment of CXCR4-positive DPCs toward the damaged sites
PMCID: PMC3508770  PMID: 18634924
19.  Chemotaxis of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells 
This study examined the homing capacity of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived endothelial cells (iPSC-ECs) and their response to chemotactic gradients of stromal derived factor-1α (SDF). We have previously shown that EC derived from murine pluripotent stem cells can home to the ischemic hindlimb of the mouse. In the current study, we were interested to understand if ECs derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells are capable of homing. The homing capacity of iPSC-ECs was assessed after systemic delivery into immunodeficient mice with unilateral hindlimb ischemia. Furthermore, the iPSC-ECs were evaluated for their expression of CXCR4 and their ability to respond to SDF chemotactic gradients in vitro. Upon systemic delivery, the iPSC-ECs transiently localized to the lungs but did not home to the ischemic limb over the course of 14 days. To understand the mechanism of the lack of homing, the expression levels of the homing receptor, CXCR4, was examined at the transcriptional and protein levels. Furthermore, their ability to migrate in response to chemokines was assessed using microfluidic and scratch assays. Unlike ECs derived from syngeneic mouse pluripotent stem cells, human iPSC-ECs do not home to the ischemic mouse hindlimb. This lack of functional homing may represent an impairment of interspecies cellular communication or a difference in the differentiation state of the human iPSC-ECs. These results may have important implications in therapeutic delivery of iPSC-ECs.
PMCID: PMC3745438  PMID: 23977410
Induced pluripotent stem cells; endothelial cells; CXCR4; SDF-1; homing; hindlimb ischemia
European journal of pharmacology  2009;625(1-3):31-40.
Cancer metastasis is a major clinical problem that contributes to unsuccessful therapy. Augmenting evidence indicates that metastasizing cancer cells employ several mechanisms that are involved in developmental trafficking of normal stem cells. Stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) is an important α-chemokine that binds to the G-protein-coupled seven-transmembrane span CXCR4. The SDF-1-CXCR4 axis regulates trafficking of normal and malignant cells. SDF-1 is an important chemoattractant for a variety of cells including hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. For many years, it was believed that CXCR4 was the only receptor for SDF-1. However, several reports recently provided evidence that SDF-1 also binds to another seven-transmembrane span receptor called CXCR7, sharing this receptor with another chemokine family member called Interferon-inducible T-cell chemoattractant (I-TAC). Thus, with CXCR7 identified as a new receptor for SDF-1, the role of the SDF-1-CXCR4 axis in regulating several biological processes becomes more complex. Based on the available literature, this review addresses the biological significance of SDF-1’s interaction with CXCR7, which may act as a kind of decoy or signaling receptor depending on cell type. Augmenting evidence suggests that CXCR7 is involved in several aspects of tumorogenesis and could become an important target for new anti-metastatic and anti-cancer drugs.
PMCID: PMC2783873  PMID: 19835865
SDF-1; CXCR7; CXCR4; cancer metastasis
21.  Stromal Cell-derived Factor-1 and its Receptor CXCR4 are Upregulated Expression in Degenerated Intervertebral Discs 
Background: Although chemokine stromal cell-derived factor 1 (SDF-1) and its receptor CXCR4 induce degradation of articular cartilage in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA), the association between the SDF-1/CXCR4 pathway and degradation of the cartilaginous endplate and nucleus pulposus has not been thoroughly clarified. We investigated the expression of SDF-1 and CXCR4 in intervertebral discs (IVDs).
Methods: SDF-1 and CXCR4 levels in human IVDs and the rat L5/6 motion segment were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. SDF-1 staining was quantified using a microscope and Image-Pro Plus software. Integrated optical density (IOD) served as the measurement parameter. The number of CXCR4 immunoreactive cells was expressed as a percentage of the total number of cells.
Results: SDF-1 and CXCR4 were both expressed in IVDs, and the levels of SDF-1 and CXCR4 were both significantly higher in the degeneration group than in the normal group of human (or rat) discs. Both nucleus pulposus cells and cartilaginous endplate cells expressed the CXCR4 protein. Furthermore, a positive correlation was observed between the SDF-1 IOD value and the percentage of CXCR4-positive disc cells in the nucleus pulposus and cartilaginous endplate. The SDF-1 IOD values were significantly higher in the outer annular fibrosus and bone/endplate junction region than in the nucleus pulposus and cartilaginous endplate in the rat specimens.
Conclusions: Our findings suggest upregulated expression of SDF-1 and its receptor CXCR4 in degenerated IVD.
PMCID: PMC3917111  PMID: 24516346
SDF-1; CXCR4; intervertebral disc; nucleus pulposus; endplate
22.  Cationic Liposome-Mediated CXCR4 Gene Delivery into Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells: Implications for Clinical Transplantation and Gene Therapy 
Stem Cells and Development  2011;21(10):1587-1596.
The chemokine stromal cell-derived factor (SDF)-1α/CXCL12 and its receptor CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) play a crucial role in the homing/engraftment and retention of hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) in the bone marrow. It has been shown using the viral gene transfer technique that CXCR4 overexpression on human CD34+ HSPC significantly improves their engraftment in murine models. However, clinical trials with gene therapy have revealed safety concerns related to the immunogenicity of the viral carriers, due to the random integration of viral genes into the host genome. Therefore, a method for CXCR4 gene delivery into HSPC that is safe, nonviral, and highly efficient is needed to improve clinical transplantation and gene therapies. In this work, we investigated the nonviral CXCR4 gene delivery into HSPC using the cationic liposome agent IBAfect. We used CD34+ cells from cord blood and the models of immature hematopoietic cells expressing CD34 antigen, namely, leukemic cell lines KG-1a and KG-1. Transfection efficiency was determined by flow cytometric analysis 12, 24, 48, and 72 h after transfection, and the viability of cells analyzed by trypan blue exclusion and MTS assays. The functional response of CXCR4-transfected HSPC toward an SDF-1α gradient was determined by chemotaxis assay. We found that ∼25% transfection is achieved for KG-1a and KG-1 cells and 20% for HSPC, and that the viability of CXCR4-transfected HSPC is not significantly altered. More importantly, overexpression of CXCR4 using IBAfect significantly increased the chemotaxis of KG-1 cells and HSPC toward SDF-1α. However, we tested 2 other commercially available cationic liposomes (Lipofectamine 2000 and 1,2-dioleoyl-3-trimethylammonium-propane [DOTAP]) in parallel, and we found that they failed to deliver the CXCR4 gene into cells under the same conditions. These results suggest that IBAfect-mediated in vitro gene delivery to overexpress CXCR4 on HSPC is a safe and efficient technique with great potential for improving the efficacy of HSPC transplantation and gene therapy protocols.
PMCID: PMC3376461  PMID: 22047530
23.  T-Cell-Line-Tropic Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 That Is Made Resistant to Stromal Cell-Derived Factor 1α Contains Mutations in the Envelope gp120 but Does Not Show a Switch in Coreceptor Use 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(5):4032-4037.
The NL4.3 T-cell-line-tropic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 strain is sensitive to the CXC chemokine stromal cell-derived factor 1α (SDF-1α), the natural ligand for CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4); the 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) in MT-4 cells is 130 ng/ml. We generated resistant virus through passaging of the virus in the presence of increasing concentrations of SDF-1α. After 24 passages, the virus was no longer sensitive to SDF-1α (SDF-1αres virus) (IC50, >2 μg/ml) and became resistant to SDF-1β (IC50, >2 μg/ml) and to a specific CXCR4 monoclonal antibody (IC50, >20 μg/ml). The SDF-1αres virus was about 10-fold less sensitive than the wild-type virus to the bicyclam AMD3100, a specific CXCR4 antagonist. The SDF-1αres virus contained the following mutations in the gp120 molecule: N106K in the V1 loop; S134N and F145L in the V2 loop; F245I in the C2 loop; K269E, Q278H, I288V, and N293D in the V3 loop; a deletion of 5 amino acids (FNSTW) at positions 364 to 368 in the V4 loop; and R378T in the CD4 binding domain. Replication of the NL4.3 wild-type virus and the SDF-1αres virus was demonstrated in U87 cells that coexpressed CD4 and CXCR4 (U87.CD4.CXCR4) but not in U87.CD4.CCR5 cells. Thus, the resistant virus was not able to switch to the CC chemokine receptor 5 (CCR5) coreceptor (the main coreceptor for macrophage-tropic viruses). The SDF-1αres virus replicated in HOS.CD4 cells expressing CCR1, CCR2b, CCR3, CCR4, CCR5, and CXCR4 but also in HOS.CD4.pBABE cells. However, all HOS transfectant cells expressed a low level of CXCR4. Neither of the two virus strains was able to infect HOS.CXCR4 or HOS.CCR5 transfectants, demonstrating the necessity of the CD4 receptor. The T-cell-line-tropic SDF-1αres virus was thus able to overcome the inhibitory effect of SDF-1α through mutations in gp120 but still needed CXCR4 to enter the cells.
PMCID: PMC109631  PMID: 9557691
24.  The role of sialomucin CD164 (MGC-24v or endolyn) in prostate cancer metastasis 
BMC Cancer  2006;6:195.
The chemokine stromal derived factor-1 (SDF-1 or CXCL12) and its receptor CXCR4 have been demonstrated to be crucial for the homing of stem cells and prostate cancers to the marrow. While screening prostate cancers for CXCL12-responsive adhesion molecules, we identified CD164 (MGC-24) as a potential regulator of homing. CD164 is known to function as a receptor that regulates stem cell localization to the bone marrow.
Using prostate cancer cell lines, it was demonstrated that CXCL12 induced both the expression of CD164 mRNA and protein. Functional studies demonstrated that blocking CD164 on prostate cancer cell lines reduced the ability of these cells to adhere to human bone marrow endothelial cells, and invade into extracellular matrices. Human tissue microarrays stained for CD164 demonstrated a positive correlation with prostate-specific antigen levels, while its expression was negatively correlated with the expression of androgen receptor.
Our findings suggest that CD164 may participate in the localization of prostate cancer cells to the marrow and is further evidence that tumor metastasis and hematopoietic stem cell trafficking may involve similar processes.
PMCID: PMC1557671  PMID: 16859559
Leukemia  2011;26(4):736-745.
We report that the bone marrow stroma-released LL-37, a member of the cathelicidin family of antimicrobial peptides, primes/increases responsiveness of murine and human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells (HSPCs) to an α-chemokine stromal-derived factor-1 (SDF-1) gradient. Accordingly, LL-37 is upregulated in irradiated BM cells and enhances the chemotactic responsiveness of hematopoietic progenitors from all lineages to a low physiological SDF-1 gradient as well as increases their i) adhesiveness, ii) SDF-1-mediated actin polymerization, and iii) MAPKp42/44 phosphorylation. Mice transplanted with bone marrow (BM) cells ex vivo primed by LL-37 showed accelerated recovery of platelet and neutrophil counts by ~3–5 days compared to mice transplanted with unprimed control cells. These priming effects were not mediated by LL-37 binding to its receptor and depended instead on incorporation of the CXCR4 receptor into membrane lipid rafts. We propose that LL-37, which has primarily antimicrobial functions and is harmless to mammalian cells, could be clinically applied to accelerate engraftment as ex vivo priming agent for transplanted human HSPCs. This novel approach would be particularly important in cord blood transplantations, where the number of HSCs available is usually limited.
PMCID: PMC3244577  PMID: 21931324
LL-37; SDF-1; CXCR4; C1P; S1P; stem cell homing

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