Background: Na+/H+ exchanger regulatory factor 1 (NHERF1) has been implicated in the tumorigenesis of several cancer types and is a potential therapeutic target. The current study evaluated the relationship between NHERF1 expression and clinical outcome in colorectal cancer (CRC). Methods: NHERF1 expression was evaluated by immunohistochemistry in 167 patients with CRC primary tumors, 37 patients with no disease, and 27 patients with metastatic CRC (mCRC); and in the orthotopically implanted tumors in mice. NHERF1 expression was manipulated in CRC cells using inducible short hairpin RNAs to determine its biological functions. Results: High expression of NHERF1 correlated with CRC progression and metastasis, as well as significantly worse overall survival, recurrence-free survival, and disease-specific survival. Orthotopic implantation studies demonstrated increased NHERF1 expression in liver metastases. Treatment of CRC xenografts with insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor (IGF1R) inhibitors downregulated NHERF1 expression, indicating NHERF1 is downstream of IGF1R signaling. Knockdown of NHERF1 increased apoptosis and reduced X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP) and survivin expression, indicating NHERF1 is critical for CRC cell survival. Conclusion: NHERF1 expression levels correlated with worse prognosis in patients with CRC and plays a critical role in CRC cell survival. Together, our findings establish NHERF1 as a novel potential marker for increased risk of CRC-specific mortality and identify NHERF1 as an attractive therapeutic target for mCRC treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-560
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Surgical Oncology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • IGF1R
  • NHERF1
  • apoptosis
  • cell survival
  • metastasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Oncology

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