The role of CX3CR1 in pancreatic cancer
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Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is the fourth leading cause of cancer death in Western countries. The PDAC tumour microenvironment (TME) is characterized by a dense stromal reaction, consisting of many cell types including fibroblasts and immune cells. The chemokine receptor, CX3CR1 forms a high-affinity axis with its unique ligand CX3CL1 and is expressed on monocytes, macrophages and T cells. CX3CR1 is also present on pancreatic malignant cells, where it has been associated with metastasis formation. The aim of my project is to investigate the role of CX3CR1 in the progression and development of pancreatic cancer in a genetically engineered mouse model of PDAC, the CX3CR1GFP/GFPLSL-KRASG12D/+LSL-Trp53R172H/+Pdx1-Cre (CKPC) mouse. In these mice, the CX3CR1 protein is not functional but they express GFP. I have found that the absence of CX3CR1 in KPC mice has no effect in their lifespan and response to chemotherapy. Comparison of the immune infiltrate of the tumours revealed that the lack of CX3CR1 causes a significant decrease in T cells and a possible increase in myeloid cells in CKPC mice compared to KPC mice. Expression analysis of several inflammatory cytokines in the TME showed a significant difference in IL-10 between KPC and CKPC mice. There was also a significant increase in levels of, CX3CL1, both locally and in the plasma. Finally, we performed RNA-seq on KPC and CKPC tumours. My analysis revealed 607 differentially-expressed genes, some of which encoded other chemokines or protein regulating the immune system. In particular, I observed the upregulation of Cxcl10 and Cxcl12, and the downregulation of Gata3 and S100a4, which could explain the decrease in T cells in the TME of CKPC mice. In conclusion, although the lack of CX3CR1 modifies the TME in this genetic model of PDAC, these changes do not affect the lifespan or the response to chemotherapy.
AuthorsLi Causi, Eleanor
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