Tumor Lymphatic Interactions Induce CXCR2-CXCL5 Axis and Alter Cellular Metabolism and Lymphangiogenic Pathways to Promote Cholangiocarcinoma.
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Cholangiocarcinoma (CCA), or cancer of bile duct epithelial cells, is a very aggressive malignancy characterized by early lymphangiogenesis in the tumor microenvironment (TME) and lymph node (LN) metastasis which correlate with adverse patient outcome. However, the specific roles of lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) that promote LN metastasis remains unexplored. Here we aimed to identify the dynamic molecular crosstalk between LECs and CCA cells that activate tumor-promoting pathways and enhances lymphangiogenic mechanisms. Our studies show that inflamed LECs produced high levels of chemokine CXCL5 that signals through its receptor CXCR2 on CCA cells. The CXCR2-CXCL5 signaling axis in turn activates EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) inducing MMP (matrix metalloproteinase) genes such as GLI, PTCHD, and MMP2 in CCA cells that promote CCA migration and invasion. Further, rate of mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis of CCA cells was significantly upregulated by inflamed LECs and CXCL5 activation, indicating metabolic reprogramming. CXCL5 also induced lactate production, glucose uptake, and mitoROS. CXCL5 also induced LEC tube formation and increased metabolic gene expression in LECs. In vivo studies using CCA orthotopic models confirmed several of these mechanisms. Our data points to a key finding that LECs upregulate critical tumor-promoting pathways in CCA via CXCR2-CXCL5 axis, which further augments CCA metastasis.