New insights on the emerging genomic landscape of cxcr4 in cancer: A lesson from whim

Stefania Scala, Crescenzo D’alterio, Samantha Milanesi, Alessandra Castagna, Roberta Carriero, Floriana Maria Farina, Massimo Locati, Elena Monica Borroni

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Deciphering the molecular alterations leading to disease initiation and progression is currently crucial to identify the most relevant targets for precision therapy in cancer patients. Cancers express a complex chemokine network influencing leucocyte infiltration and angiogenesis. Moreover, malignant cells also express a selective repertoire of chemokine receptors that sustain their growth and spread. At present, different cancer types have been shown to overexpress C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) and to respond to its ligand C-X-C motif chemokine 12 (CXCL12). The CXCL12/CXCR4 axis influences cancer biology, promoting survival, proliferation, and angiogenesis, and plays a pivotal role in directing migration of cancer cells to sites of metastases, making it a prognostic marker and a therapeutic target. More recently, mutations in the C-terminus of CXCR4 have been identified in the genomic landscape of patients affected by Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia, a rare B cell neoplasm. These mutations closely resemble those occurring in Warts, Hypogammaglobulinemia, Immunodeficiency, and Myelokathexis (WHIM) syndrome, an immunodeficiency associated with CXCR4 aberrant expression and activity and with chemotherapy resistance in clinical trials. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge on the relevance of CXCR4 mutations in cancer biology, focusing on its importance as predictors of clinical presentation and response to therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number164
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


  • Cancer
  • CXCR4
  • Mutations
  • WHIM

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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