Purpose: The first step of metastasis is the detachment of cancer cells from the surrounding matrix and neighboring cells; however, how cancer cells accomplish this process remains unclear. Thus, we aimed to investigate the underlying mechanism that controls the early event of metastasis. Experimental Design: One hundred and thirty-seven paired colorectal carcinoma and normal colon tissues were examined by immunohistochemical staining and Western blot for the expression of CD151, a member of the tetraspanin family that plays important roles in cell adhesion and motility. The effect of CD151 on cancer cell adhesion was investigated under normoxia and hypoxia conditions. Results: The level of CD151 was down-regulated in colon cancer compared with the paired normalcounterparts. Expression of CD151 was negatively regulated by hypoxia inducible factor-1 - dependent hypoxic stress. Suppression of CD151 by hypoxia caused the detachment of cancer cells from the surrounding matrix and neighboring cells whereas restoration of CD151 expression during reoxygenation facilitated the adhesion capacity. Clinical examination further showed that metastasized cancer cells expressed a greater level of CD151 compared with that of primary tumor. Conclusion: Regulation of CD151 by oxygen tension may play an important role in cancer metastasis by regulating the detachment from the primary site and homing in the secondary site.
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