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Chemokine Physiology in Cancer

Published date

November 1, 2022


Chemokines are chemotactic cytokines whose canonical functions govern movement of receptor expressing cells along chemical gradients. Chemokines are a physiologic system that is finely tuned by ligand and receptor expression, ligand or receptor oligomerization, redundancy, expression of atypical receptors and non-GPCR binding partners that cumulatively influence discrete pharmacological signaling responses and cellular functions. In cancer, chemokines play paradoxical roles in both the directed emigration of metastatic, receptor-expressing cancer cells out of the tumor as well as immigration of tumor infiltrating immune cells that culminate in a tumor unique immune microenvironment. In the age of precision oncology strategies to effectively harness the power of immunotherapy requires consideration of chemokine gradients within the unique spatial topography and temporal influences within heterogenous tumors. In this article we review current literature on the diversity of chemokine ligands and their cellular receptors that detect and process chemotactic gradients and illustrate how differences between ligand recognition and receptor activation influence the signaling machinery that drive cellular movement into and out of the tumor microenvironment. Facets of chemokine physiology across discrete cancer immune phenotypes are contrasted to existing chemokine-centered therapies in cancer.


Donovan Drouillard, Brian T Craig, Michael B Dwinell


Chemokine receptor; cell migration; immuno-oncology; metastasis; tumorigenesis.

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