EMBO Mol Med. 2012 Oct 16. doi: 10.1002/emmm.201101164.
Marchiò S, Soster M, Cardaci S, Muratore A, Bartolini A, Barone V, Ribero D, Monti M, Bovino P, Sun J, Giavazzi R, Asioli S, Cassoni P, Capussotti L, Pucci P, Bugatti A, Rusnati M, Pasqualini R, Arap W, Bussolino F.
Homing of colorectal cancer (CRC) cells to the liver is a non-random process driven by a crosstalk between tumour cells and components of the host tissue. Here we report the isolation of a liver metastasis-specific peptide ligand (CGIYRLRSC) that binds a complex of E-cadherin and α(6) integrin on the surface of CRC cells. We identify angiopoietin-like 6 protein as a peptide-mimicked natural ligand enriched in hepatic blood vessels of CRC patients. We demonstrate that an interaction between hepatic angiopoietin-like 6 and tumoural α(6) integrin/E-cadherin drives liver homing and colonization by CRC cells, and that CGIYRLRSC inhibits liver metastasis through interference with this ligand/receptor system. Our results indicate a mechanism for metastasis whereby a soluble factor accumulated in normal vessels functions as a specific ligand for circulating cancer cells. Consistently, we show that high amounts of coexpressed α(6) integrin and E-cadherin in primary tumours represent a poor prognostic factor for patients with advanced CRC.