A role for L-α-lysophosphatidylinositol and GPR55 in the modulation of migration, orientation and polarization of human breast cancer cells


Professor Ruth A Ross and Dr Ann M Rajnicek, School of Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB25 2ZD, UK. E-mail: r.ross@abdn.ac.uk; a.m.rajnicek@abdn.ac.uk


Background and purpose:  Increased circulating levels of L-α-lysophosphatidylinositol (LPI) are associated with cancer and LPI is a potent, ligand for the G-protein-coupled receptor GPR55. Here we have assessed the modulation of breast cancer cell migration, orientation and polarization by LPI and GPR55.

Experimental approach:  Quantitative RT-PCR was used to measure GPR55 expression in breast cancer cell lines. Cell migration and invasion were measured using a Boyden chamber chemotaxis assay and Cultrex® invasion assay, respectively. Cell polarization and orientation in response to the microenvironment were measured using slides containing nanometric grooves.

Key results:  GPR55 expression was detected in the highly metastatic MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cell line. In these cells, LPI stimulated binding of [35S]GTPγS to cell membranes (pEC50 6.47 ± 0.45) and significantly enhanced cell chemotaxis towards serum. MCF-7 cells expressed low levels of GPR55 and did not migrate or invade towards serum factors. When GPR55 was over-expressed in MCF-7 cells, serum induced a robust migratory and invasive response, which was further enhanced by LPI and prevented by siRNA to GPR55. The physical microenvironment has been identified as a key factor in determining breast tumour cell metastatic fate. LPI endowed MDA-MB-231 cells with the capacity to detect shallow (40 nm deep) grooved slides and induced marked cancer cell polarization on both flat and grooved surfaces.

Conclusions and implications:  LPI and GPR55 play a role in the modulation of migration, orientation and polarization of breast cancer cells in response to the tumour microenvironment.

This article is part of a themed issue on Cannabinoids. To view the editorial for this themed issue visit http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2010.00831.x