CXCR4/ACKR3/GRK2-governed networks in cancer cell migration and metastasis

Early stage researcher 13 (ESR13) project
Supervision: Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor Jr., Prof. Dr. Petronila Penela
Host: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid

I –  Project proposal:


  1. Investigate signalling network signatures (phosho-protein barcodes, signalling pathways, cell acetylome, secretome) upon CXCL12-induced migration and proliferation via CXCR4 and/or ACKR3 in model breast and colon cancer cell lines. Influence of GRK2 dosage and of co-stimulation of relevant RTK and modulation by small molecule inhibitors or CXCR4/ACKR3, RTK nanobodies.
  2. Analyse effects of CXCR4/ACKR3/GRK2 inhibition (via nanobodies, small molecule inhibitors) on in vivo metastatic potential of breast cancer cells or colon cancer Cell signalling techniques, Co-ip and confocal microscopy in cell models, 2D and 3D migration/invasion assays, XCell-based adhesion and proliferation assays, in vivo tumor models in mice

Cell signalling techniques, Co-ip and confocal microscopy in cell models, 2D and 3D migration/invasion assays, XCell-based adhesion and proliferation assays, in vivo tumor models in mice

Planned secondments:

Universitätsklinikum Jena – Use of sensors to investigate early events in GRK2 and beta-arrestin dynamics/recruitment upon CXCL12-induced CXCR4 and/or ACKR3 receptor activation in model HEK293 cells

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam – Validate use CXCR4/ACKR3 nanobodies for in vivo use


II – Requirement candidate:

Required diploma: MSc degree in molecular/biomedical Life Sciences, Pharmaceutical Sciences or related Life Sciences degree.

Required expertise: cell culture, cell-based assays, biochemistry, molecular biology.

Recommended expertise: GPCR signalling, confocal microscopy, migration and proliferation assays, in vivo murine cancer models

Key publications:

  1. Penela, P., Ribas, C., Sánchez­Madrid, F., Mayor, F.Jr. G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 (GRK2) as a multifunctional signaling hub. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2019 Aug 20. doi: 10.1007/s00018-019-03274-3. (Epub ahead of print)
  2. Neves M, Fumagalli A, van den Bor J, Marin P, Smit MJ, Mayor F Jr. The role of ACKR3 in breast, lung and brain cancer. Mol. Pharmacol 2019,  pii: mol.118.115279.
  3. Nogués L, Palacios-García J, Reglero C, Rivas V, Neves M, Ribas C, Penela P, Mayor F Jr. G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs) in tumorigenesis and cancer progression: GPCR regulators and signaling hubs. Semin Cancer Biol. 48:70-90 (2018)
  4. Nogués L, Reglero C, Rivas V, Salcedo A, Lafarga V, Neves M, Ramos P, Mendiola M, Berjón A, Stamatakis K, Zhou XZ, Lu KP, Hardisson D, Mayor F *, Penela P* (*, corresponding authors). G Protein-coupled Receptor Kinase 2 (GRK2) Promotes Breast Tumorigenesis Through a HDAC6-Pin1 Axis. EBioMedicine.13:132-145 (2016)
  5. Rivas V, Carmona R, Muñoz-Chápuli R, Mendiola M, Nogués L, Reglero C, Miguel-Martín M, García-Escudero R, Dorn GW 2nd, Hardisson D, Mayor F Jr *, Penela P * (*, corresponding authors). Developmental and tumoral vascularization is regulated by G protein-coupled receptor kinase 2. J Clin Invest. 123,4714-30 (2013)

For more information:
Prof. Dr. Federico Mayor –



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Great way to finish the week off with some #FCS measurements of CXCR4-expressing HEK cells at @UoNLifeSci 🔬 #FluorescenceFriday

Hello everyone!
I am Noemi Karsai and I’m the next in our #ESR introduction series. I’m #ESR11 and I’m originally from Hungary, currently doing my PhD at @UoNLifeSci @COMPARE_UoBUoN, UK.

The transatlantic ECI GPCR symposium #ECIGPCR is about to start, we are ready!! Thanks to the organizers for their excellent job gathering almost 500 people across the globe! @cyclic_Andreas @NicoleAPerry1 @BenderSci @DesislavaNeshe1

Hello 🙂
I am here to continue the series in which all #ESRs are presenting themselves. I am Viviana Marolda and I am in my first year of PhD. I am #ESR13, originally from Italy, and currently, I am working as a PhD student in @CBMSO_CSIC_UAM, at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid.

Hey twitter!
I am @DehanComez. I am taking over the Oncornet account for a while to start a series of all #ESRs writing about themselves and their projects. I am #ESR5, originally from Turkey and right now I am working as a PhD student in @COMPARE_UoBUoN , @UniofNottingham , UK.

New review on #gpcr structural dynamics out in COSB. Great teamwork with the @JanaSelent group. Thanks to @Lundbeckfonden and @novonordiskfond

ONCORNET2.0 is the successor to #ONCORNET. You can see some of the work of ESRs from the first ONCORNET in this special issue of @MolPharmJournal from 2019, with reviews on #CXCR4 and #ACKR3 structure and function:

Hi everyone – we’re on Twitter! ONCORNET2.0 is a #MarieCurie ITN of 16 ESRs across Europe studying #chemokine #GPCRs #CXCR4 and #ACKR3 in cancer. Our projects cover molecular dynamics, medchem, #pharmacology through to translational work. Follow us for updates from our ESRs!

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Contact details

Please contact us at:

ONCORNET Coordinator
VU University Amsterdam
The Netherlands