Tumor hypoxia modulates podoplanin/CCL21 interactions in CCR7+ NK cell recruitment and CCR7+ tumor cell mobilization
Podoplanin (PDPN), an O-glycosylated, transmembrane, mucin-type glycoprotein, is expressed by cancer associated fibroblasts (CAFs). In malignant transformation, PDPN is subjected to changes and its role is yet to be established. Here we show that it is involved in modulating the activity of the CCL21/CCR7 chemokine/receptor axis in a hypoxia-dependent manner. In the present model, breast cancer MDA-MB-231 cells and NKL3 cells express the surface CCR7 receptor for CCL21 chemokine which is a potent chemoattractant able to bind to PDPN. The impact of the CCL21/CCR7 axis in the molecular mechanism of the adhesion of NKL3 cells and of MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells was reduced in a hypoxic tumor environment. In addition to its known effect on migration, CCL21/CCR7 interaction was shown to allow NK cell adhesion to endothelial cells (ECs) and its reduction by hypoxia. A PDPN expressing model of CAFs made it possible to demonstrate the same CCL21/CCR7 axis involvement in the tumor cells to CAFs recognition mechanism through PDPN binding of CCL21. PDPN was induced by hypoxia and its overexpression undergoes a reduction of adhesion, making it an anti-adhesion molecule in the absence of CCL21, in the tumor. CCL21/CCR7 modulated NK cells/ECs and MDA-MB-231 cells/CAF PDPN-dependent interactions were further shown to be linked to hypoxia-dependent microRNAs as miRs: miR-210 and specifically miR-21, miR-29b which influence PDPN expression.