Colon cancer cells expressing cell surface GRP78 as a marker for reduced tumorigenicity

Britta Hardy, Annat Raiter, Maxim Yakimov, Alexander Vilkin, Yaron Niv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background The glucose regulated heat shock protein 78 (GRP78) is a central regulator of ER (endoplasmic reticulum) stress due to its pro-survival property. Up regulated GRP78 expression in tumor cells has been correlated with aggressive malignancies whereas some reports have predicted an improved prognosis. Over-expression of GRP78 in the ER promotes its localization to the cell surface on several cell types including tumor cells. Methods In order to elucidate whether GRP78 receptor positive and negative tumor cells manifest different properties in colorectal cancer, we first artificially separated GRP78 positive and negative sub-populations from HM7 and HCT116 cell lines using anti GRP78 antibody coated magnetic beads. Results Only GRP78 negative cells were highly proliferative, induced significant growth in tumor size in nude mice and metastasized to the liver in a human metastatic colorectal carcinoma model in mice. In contrast, GRP78 positive cells manifested reduced proliferation, colony formation, tumor growth and liver metastases. The reduced tumorigenicity of GRP78 positive subpopulation was abrogated by silencing GRP78 expression using siRNA oligomers. In our efforts to induce cell surface GRP78, we subjected the cells to doxorubicin and taxol that increased significantly the percent of GRP78 positive population. Cells pre-incubated with doxorubicin exhibited reduced proliferation and tumor growth in mice. Conclusion This study demonstrates the significance of cell surface GRP78 in colon cancer, which may be used as a marker for reduced tumorigenicity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-354
Number of pages10
JournalCellular oncology (Dordrecht)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell surface GRP78
  • Colon carcinoma
  • Doxorubicin
  • Taxol
  • Tumorigenicity


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