Integrin alphaV modulates the cellular pharmacology of copper and cisplatin by regulating expression of the influx transporter CTR1

Xinjian Lin1,*, Xiying Shang1,*, Gerald Manorek1, Mariama Fofana1, and Stephen B. Howell1

1 Department of Medicine and UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center, University of California, San Diego, 3855 Health Sciences Drive, La Jolla, CA.

* These authors contributed equally to this work.


Stephen B. Howell, email:

Keywords: Integrin αV, copper, cisplatin, CTR1, Sp1, cellular pharmacology

Received: February 22, 2014 Accepted: March 23, 2014 Published: March 24, 2014


The αV integrin is expressed in most cancer cells where it regulates a diverse array of cellular functions essential to the initiation, progression and metastasis of solid tumors. However, little is known about how αV integrin modulates cellular sensitivity to chemotherapeutic agents, particularly the platinum drugs. In this study, we found that down-regulation of αV sensitized human M21 cells to cisplatin (cDDP) through up-regulation of the copper influx transporter CTR1. Cells selected for low αV integrin expression (M21L) were more sensitive to cDDP, accompanied by increase in CTR1 mRNA and CTR1 protein levels, more intracellular cDDP accumulation and cDDP DNA adduct formation. Basal copper (Cu) content, Cu uptake, and Cu cytotoxicity were also increased. Transfection of a luciferase reporter construct containing the hCTR1 promoter sequence revealed an increase of the hCTR1 transcription activity in M21L cells. The basis for the increased hCTR1 transcription was related to an increase in the steady-state level of Sp1, a transcription factor known to drive hCTR1 expression. These results indicate that the αV integrin modulates sensitivity of human cells to the cytotoxic effect of cDDP by regulating expression of the Cu transporter CTR1, and introduce the concept that αV expression is linked to Cu homeostasis.

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