Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the main type of RCC, which is the most common type of malignant kidney tumor in adults. A subpopulation (>30%) of ccRCC patients develop metastasis; however, the molecular mechanism remains largely unknown. Here, we found that LTF, the gene encoding lactotransferrin, is dramatically downregulated in primary tumors compared to normal tissues derived from ccRCC patients deposited in The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database and is a favorable prognostic marker. Moreover, LTF downregulation appears to be more dominant in metastatic ccRCC. LTF overexpression suppresses migration ability in A498 ccRCC cells with high metastatic potential, whereas LTF knockdown fosters cellular migration in poorly metastatic ccRCC cells. Gene set enrichment analysis demonstrated that LTF expression inversely correlates with the progression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in ccRCC, which was further confirmed by RT-PCR experiments. Therapeutically, the administration of recombinant LTF protein significantly suppresses the cell migration ability and lung metastatic potential of ACHN cells, as well as LTF-silenced A498 cells. The gene knockdown of lipoprotein receptor-related protein 1 (LRP1) robustly blocked recombinant LTF protein-induced inhibition of cellular migration and gene expression of EMT markers in ACHN cells. LTF downregulation and LRP1 upregulation combined predicted a poor overall survival rate in ccRCC patients compared to that with either factor alone. Our findings uncover a new mechanism by which LTF may interact with LRP1 to inhibit metastatic progression in ccRCC and also reveal the therapeutic value of recombinant LTF protein in treating metastatic ccRCC.
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