Divergent roles of CD44 and carcinoembryonic antigen in colon cancer metastasis

Matthew R. Dallas, Guosheng Liu, Wei Chiang Chen, Susan N. Thomas, Denis Wirtz, David L. Huso, Konstantinos Konstantopoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


After separating from a primary tumor, metastasizing cells enter the circulatory system and interact with host cells before lodging in secondary organs. Previous studies have implicated the surface glycoproteins CD44 and carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA) in adhesion, migration, and invasion, suggesting that they may influence metastatic progression. To elucidate the role of these multifunctional molecules while avoiding the potential drawbacks of ectopic expression or monoclonal antibody treatments, we silenced the expression of CD44 and/or CEA in LS174T colon carcinoma cells and analyzed their ability to metastasize in 2 independent mouse models. Quantitative PCR revealed that CD44 knockdown increased lung and liver metastasis >10-fold, while metastasis was decreased by >50% following CEA knockdown. These findings were corroborated by in vitro experiments assessing the metastatic potential of LS174T cells. Cell migration was decreased as a result of silencing CEA but was enhanced in CD44-knockdown cells. In addition, CD44 silencing promoted homotypic aggregation of LS147T cells, a phenotype that was reversed by additional CEA knockdown. Finally, CD44-knockdown cells exhibited greater mechanical compliance than control cells, a property that correlates with increased metastatic potential. Collectively, these data indicate that CEA, but not CD44, is a viable target for therapeutics aimed at curbing colon carcinoma metastasis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2648-2656
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • CEA
  • Cytoplasmic compliance
  • Migration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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