Retention of CXCR4 in the endoplasmic reticulum blocks dissemination of a T cell hybridoma

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The dissemination of T cell hybridomas to multiple nonhematopoietic tissues is blocked by pertussis toxin, suggesting the involvement of a chemokine. To study whether this chemokine is SDF-1, we employed a strategy proposed previously for gene therapy of AIDS, whereby the SDF-1 receptor CXCR4 (also a coreceptor for HIV) is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and fails to reach the cell surface. We transfected SDF-1, carrying an ER retention sequence, into a T cell hybridoma. This altered chemokine is retained in the ER, where it binds CXCR4 and prevents the latter protein from reaching the surface. These cells failed to migrate toward SDF-1 or to invade fibroblast monolayers, although they could still migrate toward thymus and activation-regulated chemokine (TARC) and invade TARC-treated monolayers. Furthermore, the ability of the transfected cells to disseminate to multiple organs upon intravenous injection into mice was abolished. This dissemination reflects the in vivo migration patterns of activated and memory T cells into nonhematopoietic tissues, which is thus likely to depend on CXCR4. Attempts to block CXCR4 function as a therapy for AIDS may affect this migration with consequences for T cell function. Our results also suggest a decisive role for CXCR4 in the dissemination of hematopoietic malignancies expressing this receptor.

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