The product of Snail1 gene is a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin expression and an inductor of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition in several epithelial tumour cell lines. Transcription of Snail1 is induced when epithelial cells are forced to acquire a mesenchymal phenotype. In this work we demonstrate that Snail1 protein limits its own expression: Snail1 binds to an E-box present in its promoter (at −146 with respect to the transcription start) and represses its activity. Therefore, mutation of the E-box increases Snail1 transcription in epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Evidence of binding of ectopic or endogenous Snail1 to its own promoter was obtained by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments. Studies performed expressing different forms of Snail1 under the control of its own promoter demonstrate that disruption of the regulatory loop increases the cellular levels of Snail protein. These results indicate that expression of Snail1 gene can be regulated by its product and evidence the existence of a fine-tuning feed-back mechanism of regulation of Snail1 transcription.
The transcriptional factor Snail1 is a repressor of E-cadherin (CDH1) gene expression essential for triggering epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Snail1 represses CDH1, directly binding its promoter and inducing the synthesis of the Zeb1 repressor. In this article, we show that repression of CDH1 by Snail1, but not by Zeb1, is dependent on the activity of Polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2). Embryonic stem (ES) cells null for Suz12, one of the components of PRC2, show higher levels of Cdh1 mRNA than control ES cells. In tumor cells, interference of PRC2 activity prevents the ability of Snail1 to downregulate CDH1 and partially derepresses CDH1. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays demonstrated that Snail1 increases the binding of Suz12 to the CDH1 promoter and the trimethylation of lysine 27 in histone H3. Moreover, Snail1 interacts with Suz12 and Ezh2, as shown by coimmunoprecipitation experiments. In conclusion, these results demonstrate that Snail1 recruits PRC2 to the CDH1 promoter and requires the activity of this complex to repress E-cadherin expression.
Expression of the essential EMT inducer Snail1 is inhibited by miR-34 through a p53-dependent regulatory pathway.
Snail1 is a zinc finger transcriptional repressor whose pathological expression has been linked to cancer cell epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) programs and the induction of tissue-invasive activity, but pro-oncogenic events capable of regulating Snail1 activity remain largely uncharacterized. Herein, we demonstrate that p53 loss-of-function or mutation promotes cancer cell EMT by de-repressing Snail1 protein expression and activity. In the absence of wild-type p53 function, Snail1-dependent EMT is activated in colon, breast, and lung carcinoma cells as a consequence of a decrease in miRNA-34 levels, which suppress Snail1 activity by binding to highly conserved 3′ untranslated regions in Snail1 itself as well as those of key Snail1 regulatory molecules, including β-catenin, LEF1, and Axin2. Although p53 activity can impact cell cycle regulation, apoptosis, and DNA repair pathways, the EMT and invasion programs initiated by p53 loss of function or mutation are completely dependent on Snail1 expression. These results identify a new link between p53, miR-34, and Snail1 in the regulation of cancer cell EMT programs.
Snail family transcriptional repressors regulate epithelial mesenchymal transitions during physiological and pathological processes. A conserved SNAG repression domain present in all vertebrate Snail proteins is necessary for repressor complex assembly. Here, we identify the Ajuba family of LIM proteins as functional corepressors of the Snail family via an interaction with the SNAG domain. Ajuba LIM proteins interact with Snail in the nucleus on endogenous E-cadherin promoters and contribute to Snail-dependent repression of E-cadherin. Using Xenopus neural crest as a model of in vivo Snail- or Slug-induced EMT, we demonstrate that Ajuba LIM proteins contribute to neural crest development as Snail/Slug corepressors and are required for in vivo Snail/Slug function. Because Ajuba LIM proteins are also components of adherens junction and contribute to their assembly or stability, their functional interaction with Snail proteins in the nucleus suggests that Ajuba LIM proteins are important regulators of epithelia dynamics communicating surface events with nuclear responses.
LIM proteins; Snail; Slug; Neural crest development; Epithelial Mesenchymal Transitions; E-cadherin; Xenopus
Over-expression of Snail1 gene transcriptional repressor promotes an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in epithelial tumour cell lines. Expression of Snail1 RNA has been associated to the pathogenesis of a number of malignancies; however, the lack of good monoclonal antibodies against this protein has precluded a definitive analysis of Snail1 protein. In this study, we aimed to determine the expression of this transcriptional factor in colorectal tumours. Using a Snail1 well-characterized monoclonal antibody developed in our laboratories we have analyzed by immunohistochemistry a cohort of 162 human colorectal tumours. Ninety tumours (56%) showed nuclear expression in the tumoral tissue and the adjacent stroma; in 34 (21%), Snail1 was detected just in the stroma, whereas in only 4 the expression of Snail1 was detected in the tumoral tissue and the stroma was negative. No correlation was found between the presence of Snail1 in the tumour and tumour stage; however, a trend (p = 0.054) was detected when the expression of this factor in the stroma was considered. Snail1 immunoreactivity in this compartment was associated with presence of distant metastasis (p = 0.006). Moreover, expression of Snail1 in the tumor stroma correlated with lower specific survival of cancer patients (p = 0.011). Interestingly, this correlation was also detected in stage I and II tumors. Therefore, our results indicate that the presence of nuclear Snail1 immunoreactive cells in the stroma may be an informative indicator of prognosis of colon tumours especially useful in those corresponding to lower stages and identify a new marker suitable to label activated stroma in colon tumours.
HMLEs (HMLE-SNAIL and Kras-HMLE, Kras-HMLE-SNAIL pairs) serve as excellent model system to interrogate the effect of SNAIL targeted agents that reverse epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We had earlier developed a SNAIL-p53 interaction inhibitor (GN-25) that was shown to suppress SNAIL function. In this report, using systems biology and pathway network analysis, we show that GN-25 could cause reversal of EMT leading to mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) in a well-recognized HMLE-SNAIL and Kras-HMLE-SNAIL models.
GN-25 induced MET was found to be consistent with growth inhibition, suppression of spheroid forming capacity and induction of apoptosis. Pathway network analysis of mRNA expression using microarrays from GN-25 treated Kras-HMLE-SNAIL cells showed an orchestrated global re-organization of EMT network genes. The expression signatures were validated at the protein level (down-regulation of mesenchymal markers such as TWIST1 and TWIST2 that was concurrent with up-regulation of epithelial marker E-Cadherin), and RNAi studies validated SNAIL dependent mechanism of action of the drug. Most importantly, GN-25 modulated many major transcription factors (TFs) such as inhibition of oncogenic TFs Myc, TBX2, NR3C1 and led to enhancement in the expression of tumor suppressor TFs such as SMAD7, DD1T3, CEBPA, HOXA5, TFEB, IRF1, IRF7 and XBP1, resulting in MET as well as cell death.
Our systems and network investigations provide convincing pre-clinical evidence in support of the clinical application of GN-25 for the reversal of EMT and thereby reducing cancer cell aggressiveness.
SNAIL; EMT; MET; Snail inhibitor; Systems biology; Network analysis; Pathway analysis
The transcriptional repressors Snail and Slug are situated at the core of several signaling pathways proposed to mediate epithelial to mesenchymal transition or EMT, which has been implicated in tumor metastasis. EMT involves an alteration from an organized, epithelial cell structure to a mesenchymal, invasive and migratory phenotype. In order to obtain a global view of the impact of Snail and Slug expression, we performed a microarray experiment using the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line, which does not express detectable levels of Snail or Slug. MCF-7 cells were infected with Snail, Slug or control adenovirus, and RNA samples isolated at various time points were analyzed across all transcripts. Our analyses indicated that Snail and Slug regulate many genes in common, but also have distinct sets of gene targets. Gene set enrichment analyses indicated that Snail and Slug directed the transcriptome of MCF-7 cells from a luminal towards a more complex pattern that includes many features of the claudin-low breast cancer signature. Of particular interest, genes involved in the TGF-beta signaling pathway are upregulated, while genes responsible for a differentiated morphology are downregulated following Snail or Slug expression. Further we noticed increased histone acetylation at the promoter region of the transforming growth factor beta-receptor II (TGFBR2) gene following Snail or Slug expression. Inhibition of the TGF-beta signaling pathway using selective small-molecule inhibitors following Snail or Slug addition resulted in decreased cell migration with no impact on the repression of cell junction molecules by Snail and Slug. We propose that there are two regulatory modules embedded within EMT: one that involves repression of cell junction molecules, and the other involving cell migration via TGF-beta and/or other pathways.
New phosphorylation sites in Snail1 have been identified with functional implications. Serines 11 and 92 participate in the control of Snail1 stability and positively regulate Snail1 repressive function and its interaction with mSin3A co-repressor. Furthermore, serines 11 and 92 are required for Snail1-mediated EMT and cell viability, respectively.
Snail1 is a major factor for epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), an important event in tumor metastasis and in other pathologies. Snail1 is tightly regulated at transcriptional and posttranscriptional levels. Control of Snail1 protein stability and nuclear export by GSK3β phosphorylation is important for Snail1 functionality. Stabilization mechanisms independent of GSK3β have also been reported, including interaction with LOXL2 or regulation of the COP9 signalosome by inflammatory signals. To get further insights into the role of Snail1 phosphorylation, we have performed an in-depth analysis of in vivo human Snail1 phosphorylation combined with mutational studies. We identify new phosphorylation sites at serines 11, 82, and 92 and confirmed previously suggested phosphorylations at serine 104 and 107. Serines 11 and 92 participate in the control of Snail1 stability and positively regulate Snail1 repressive function and its interaction with mSin3A corepressor. Furthermore, serines 11 and 92 are required for Snail1-mediated EMT and cell viability, respectively. PKA and CK2 have been characterized as the main kinases responsible for in vitro Snail1 phosphorylation at serine 11 and 92, respectively. These results highlight serines 11 and 92 as new players in Snail1 regulation and suggest the participation of CK2 and PKA in the modulation of Snail1 functionality.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) are essential for organogenesis and triggered in carcinoma progression into an invasive state1. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) cooperates with signalling pathways, such as Ras and Wnt, to induce EMT2-5, but the molecular mechanisms are not clear. Here, we report that SMAD3 and SMAD4 interact and form a complex with SNAIL1, a transcriptional repressor and promoter of EMT6, 7. The SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 complex was targeted to the gene promoters of CAR, a tight junction protein, and E-cadherin during TGF-β-driven EMT in breast epithelial cells. SNAIL1 and SMAD3/4 acted as co-repressors of CAR, occludin, claudin-3 and E-cadherin promoters in transfected cells. Conversely, co-silencing of SNAIL1 and SMAD4 by siRNA inhibited the repression of CAR and occludin during EMT. Moreover, loss of CAR and E-cadherin correlated with nuclear co-expression of SNAIL1 and SMAD3/4 in a mouse model of breast carcinoma and at the invasive fronts of human breast cancer. We propose that activation of a SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 transcriptional complex represents a novel mechanism of gene repression during EMT.
The Snail transcription factor is a repressor and a master regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition events (EMT) in normal embryonic development and during tumor metastases. Snail directly regulates genes affecting cell adhesion, motility and polarity. Invasive tumor cells express high levels of Snail and it is a marker for aggressive disease and poor prognosis. Transcriptional repression and EMT induction by Snail requires binding to its obligate corepressor, the LIM protein Ajuba. It is unclear how this complex is assembled and maintained on Snail target genes. Here we define functional 14-3-3 binding motifs in Snail and Ajuba which selectively bind 14-3-3 protein isoforms. In Snail, a NH2-terminal motif in the repression domain cooperates with a COOH-terminal, high affinity motif for binding to 14-3-3 proteins. Coordinate mutation of both motifs abolishes 14-3-3 binding and inhibits Snail-mediated gene repression and EMT differentiation. Snail, 14-3-3 proteins, and Ajuba form a ternary complex which is readily detected via ChIP at the endogenous E-cadherin promoter. Collectively, these data show that 14-3-3 proteins are new components of the Snail transcriptional repression machinery and mediate its important biological functions.
Snail; 14-3-3; Ajuba; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; transcriptional repression
In this study, we evaluate whether Snail is expressed in adrenocortical cancer (ACC) and if its expression is related to patient outcome. One of the best known functions of the zinc-finger transcription factor Snail is to induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Increasing evidence suggests that EMT plays a pivotal role in tumour progression and metastatic spread. Snail and E-cadherin expression were assessed by immunohistochemistry in 26 resected ACCs and real-time quantitative RT–PCR expression analysis was performed. Data were correlated with clinical outcome and in particular with overall patient survival. Seventeen of 26 (65%) ACC tumour samples expressed Snail when assessed by immunohistochemistry. Snail expression was neither detected in normal adrenocortical tissue, nor in benign adrenocortical adenomas. Expression levels were confirmed on the mRNA level by Real-Time–PCR. Survival rates were significantly decreased in Snail-positive tumours compared to Snail-negative tumours: 10 out of 16 vs one out of eight patients succumbed to disease after a median follow up of 14.5 and 28.5 months, respectively (P=0.03). Patients with Snail-expressing ACCs presented in advanced disease (11 out of 12 vs 6 out of 14, P=0.01) and tend to develop distant metastases more frequently than patients with negative staining (7 out of 11 vs two out of eight, P=0.19). In conclusion, we describe for the first time that Snail is expressed in a large subset of ACCs. Furthermore, Snail expression is associated with decreased survival, advanced disease and higher risk of developing distant metastases.
adrenocortical carcinomas; Snail; survival
The Snail gene product is a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin expression and an inducer of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in several epithelial tumor cell lines. This report presents data indicating that Snail function is controlled by its intracellular location. The cytosolic distribution of Snail depended on export from the nucleus by a CRM1-dependent mechanism, and a nuclear export sequence (NES) was located in the regulatory domain of this protein. Export of Snail was controlled by phosphorylation of a Ser-rich sequence adjacent to this NES. Modification of this sequence released the restriction created by the zinc finger domain and allowed nuclear export of the protein. The phosphorylation and subcellular distribution of Snail are controlled by cell attachment to the extracellular matrix. Suspended cells presented higher levels of phosphorylated Snail and an augmented extranuclear localization with respect to cells attached to the plate. These findings show the existence in tumor cells of an effective and fine-tuning nontranscriptional mechanism of regulation of Snail activity dependent on the extracellular environment.
DDX3, a DEAD box protein family member, appears to promote the progression of some cancers, which may partly result from its impedance of death receptor-mediated apoptosis. We found that another mechanism by which DDX3 may aid cancer progression is by promoting increased levels of the transcription factor Snail. Snail represses expression of cellular adhesion proteins, leading to increased cell migration and metastasis of many types of cancer. Knockdown of DDX3 levels by shRNA reduced basal levels of Snail in HeLa cells and MCF-7 cells, and this was associated with reduced cell proliferation and migration. Snail protein and mRNA levels were increased by treatment with the HDAC inhibitors sodium butyrate or trichostatin A, and these increases were attenuated in cells with DDX3 knocked down. Treatment of cells with camptothecin was discovered to increase Snail protein levels, and this increase was diminished in cells with DDX3 knocked down. Analysis of 31 patient glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) samples revealed a significant correlation between the levels of DDX3 and Snail. Thus, DDX3 is required for basal Snail expression and increases in Snail induced by HDAC inhibitors or camptothecin, indicating that this action of DDX3 may contribute to its promotion of the progression of some cancers.
DDX3; Snail; HDAC; camptothecin; metastasis
Snail2 and the adaptor protein PHD12 are recruited to the Cad6b promoter by Sin3A and result in promoter deacetylation, revealing the nature of the in vivo Snail repressive complex that regulates neural crest EMT.
Neural crest cells form within the neural tube and then undergo an epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) to initiate migration to distant locations. The transcriptional repressor Snail2 has been implicated in neural crest EMT via an as of yet unknown mechanism. We report that the adaptor protein PHD12 is highly expressed before neural crest EMT. At cranial levels, loss of PHD12 phenocopies Snail2 knockdown, preventing transcriptional shutdown of the adhesion molecule Cad6b (Cadherin6b), thereby inhibiting neural crest emigration. Although not directly binding to each other, PHD12 and Snail2 both directly interact with Sin3A in vivo, which in turn complexes with histone deacetylase (HDAC). Chromatin immunoprecipitation revealed that PHD12 is recruited to the Cad6b promoter during neural crest EMT. Consistent with this, lysines on histone 3 at the Cad6b promoter are hyperacetylated before neural crest emigration, correlating with active transcription, but deacetylated during EMT, reflecting the repressive state. Knockdown of either PHD12 or Snail2 prevents Cad6b promoter deacetylation. Collectively, the results show that PHD12 interacts directly with Sin3A/HDAC, which in turn interacts with Snail2, forming a complex at the Cad6b promoter and thus revealing the nature of the in vivo Snail repressive complex that regulates neural crest EMT.
Diminished expression of the metastasis suppressor protein RKIP was previously reported in a number of cancers. The underlying mechanism remains unknown. Here we show that the expression of RKIP negatively correlates with that of Snail zinc-transcriptional repressor, a key modulator of normal and neoplastic epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program. With a combination of loss-of-function and gain-of-function approaches we showed that Snail repressed the expression of RKIP in metastatic prostate cancer cell lines. The effect of Snail on RKIP was on the level of transcriptional initiation and mediated by a proximal E-box on the RKIP promoter. Our results therefore suggest that RKIP is a novel component of the Snail transcriptional regulatory network important for the progression and metastasis of cancer.
The transcription factors Snail, Slug and Twist repress E-cadherin and induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process exploited by invasive cancer cells. In this study, we evaluated the role of EMT in the tumorgenesis of neuroendocrine tumors of the pancreas (PNETs) in vitro, in vivo and human tumor specimen. Expression of EMT markers was analyzed using immunohistochemistry and real-time PCR. For in vitro studies, BON-1 cells were analyzed regarding expression of EMT markers before and after transfection with siRNA against Slug or Snail, and cell aggregation assays were performed. To asses in vivo effects, Rip1Tag2 mice were treated with vehicle or the snail-inhibitor polythlylenglykol from week 5-10 of age. The resected pancreata were evaluated by weight, tumor cell proliferation and apoptosis. Snail and Twist was expressed in 61 % and 64% of PNETs. This was associated with loss of E-cadherin. RT-PCR revealed conservation of the EMT markers Slug and Snail in BON-1 cells. Transfection with siRNA against Slug was associated with upregulation of E-cadherin, enhanced cell-cell adhesion and inhibition of cell proliferation. Snail-inhibition in vivo by PEG was associated with increased apoptosis, decreased tumor cell proliferation and dramatic reduced tumor volume in Rip1Tag2 mice. The presented data show that EMT plays a key role in tumorgenesis of PNETs. The activation of Snail in a considerable subset of human PNETs and the successful effect of Snail inhibition by PEG in islet cell tumors of transgenic mice provides first evidence of Snail as a drug target in PNETs.
EMT; E-cadherin; snail; slug; twist; Rip1Tag2; PEG
Snail1 and ZEB1 are transcriptional repressors that drive tumor initiation and metastasis in animal models. Snail1 and ZEB1 are frequently coexpressed in tumor cell lines, suggesting that these factors may cooperate to promote tumor progression. However, coexpression of these transcriptional repressors in primary human cancer specimens has not been investigated. Previous studies assessed expression in primary breast cancers of Snail1 messenger RNA, which does not reflect Snail1 activity because Snail1 is subject to posttranslational modifications that inhibit its nuclear localization/activity. In the current study, using breast tumor cell lines of known Snail1 and ZEB1 expression status, we developed immunohistochemistry protocols for detecting nuclear Snail1 and nuclear ZEB1 proteins. Using these protocols, we assessed nuclear Snail1 and nuclear ZEB1 expressions in primary human breast cancers of varying subtypes (n = 78). Nuclear Snail1 and estrogen receptor α expression were inversely associated in primary breast cancers, and nuclear Snail1 was expressed in approximately 80% of triple-negative breast cancers (lacking estrogen receptor α, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpression). In contrast, nuclear ZEB1 was expressed at a significantly lower frequency in these breast cancers. Notably, nuclear Snail1 protein was detected in 45% of ductal carcinoma in situ specimens (n = 29), raising the important possibility that nuclear Snail1 expression in early stage breast lesions may predict future development of invasive breast cancer. Collectively, our studies demonstrate frequent expression of nuclear Snail1, but not nuclear ZEB1, in invasive, triple-negative breast cancers as well as in intraductal carcinomas.
Snail1; ZEB1; Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor; Ductal carcinoma in situ
Snail and Slug are closely related transcriptional repressors involved in embryonic patterning during metazoan development. In human cancer, aberrant expression of Snail and/or Slug has been correlated with invasive growth potential, a property primarily attributed to their ability to directly repress transcription of genes whose products are involved in cell-cell adhesion, such as E-cadherin, occludin, and claudins. To investigate the molecular mechanisms of alterations in epithelial cell fate mediated by aberrant expression of Snail or Slug, we analyzed the consequences of exogenous expression of these factors in human cancer cells. Aberrant expression of either Snail or Slug led to changes in cell morphology, the loss of normal cell-cell contacts, and the acquisition of invasive growth properties. Snail or Slug expression also promoted resistance to programmed cell death elicited by DNA damage. Detailed molecular analysis revealed direct transcriptional repression of multiple factors with well-documented roles in programmed cell death. Depletion of endogenous Snail by RNA interference led to increased sensitivity to DNA damage accompanied by increased expression of the proapoptotic factors identified as targets of Snail. Thus, aberrant expression of Snail or Slug may promote tumorigenesis through increased resistance to programmed cell death.
Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest of cancers with a dismal 5-year survival rate. Epidemiological studies have identified chronic pancreatitis as a risk factor for pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer cells also demonstrate increased expression of the transcription factor Snail, a key regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. As ethanol is one of the major causes of pancreatitis, we examined the effect of ethanol on Snail family members in immortalized human pancreatic ductal epithelial (HPDE) cells and in pancreatic cancer cells. Ethanol induced Snail mRNA levels 2.5-fold in HPDE cells, with only 1.5-fold mRNA induction of the Snail-related protein Slug. In contrast, ethanol increased Slug mRNA levels 1.5-2-fold in pancreatic cancer cells, with minimal effect on Snail. Because Snail increases invasion of cancer cells, we examined the effect of ethanol on invasion of HPDE and pancreatic cancer cells. Surprisingly, ethanol decreased invasion of HPDE cells, but had no effect on invasion of pancreatic cancer cells. Mechanistically, ethanol increased adhesion of HPDE cells to collagen and increased expression of the collagen binding α2- and β1-integrins. In contrast, ethanol did not affect collagen adhesion or integrin expression in pancreatic cancer cells. Also in contrast to HPDE cells, ethanol did not attenuate ERK1/2 phosphorylation in pancreatic cancer cells; however, inhibiting ERK1/2 decreased pancreatic cancer cell invasion. Overall, our results identify the differential effects of ethanol on premalignant and malignant pancreatic cells, and demonstrate the pleiotropic effects of ethanol on pancreatic cancer progression.
Ethanol; Snail; Slug; ERK1/2; integrins; collagen; adhesion
Snail1 and Snail2, two highly related members of the Snail superfamily, are direct transcriptional repressors of E-cadherin and EMT inducers. Previous comparative gene profiling analyses have revealed important differences in the gene expression pattern regulated by Snail1 and Snail2, indicating functional differences between both factors. The molecular mechanism of Snail1-mediated repression has been elucidated to some extent, but very little is presently known on the repression mediated by Snail2. In the present work, we report on the characterization of Snail2 repression of E-cadherin and its regulation by phosphorylation. Both the N-terminal SNAG and the central SLUG domains of Snail2 are required for efficient repression of the E-cadherin promoter. The co-repressor NCoR interacts with Snail2 through the SNAG domain, while CtBP1 is recruited through the SLUG domain. Interestingly, the SNAG domain is absolutely required for EMT induction while the SLUG domain plays a negative modulation of Snail2 mediated EMT. Additionally, we identify here novel in vivo phosphorylation sites at serine 4 and serine 88 of Snail2 and demonstrate the functional implication of serine 4 in the regulation of Snail2-mediated repressor activity of E-cadherin and in Snail2 induction of EMT.
Maspin, a putative tumor suppressor that is down-regulated in breast and prostate cancer, has been associated with decreased cell motility. Snail transcription factor is a zinc finger protein that is increased in breast cancer and is associated with increased tumor motility and invasion by induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). We investigated the molecular mechanisms by which Snail increases tumor motility and invasion utilizing prostate cancer cells.
Expression levels were analyzed by RT-PCR and western blot analyses. Cell motility and invasion assays were performed, while Snail regulation and binding to maspin promoter was analyzed by luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) assays.
Snail protein expression was higher in different prostate cancer cells lines as compared to normal prostate epithelial cells, which correlated inversely with maspin expression. Snail overexpression in 22Rv1 prostate cancer cells inhibited maspin expression and led to increased migration and invasion. Knockdown of Snail in DU145 and C4-2 cancer cells resulted in up-regulation of maspin expression, concomitant with decreased migration. Transfection of Snail into 22Rv1 or LNCaP cells inhibited maspin promoter activity, while stable knockdown of Snail in C4-2 cells increased promoter activity. ChIP analysis showed that Snail is recruited to the maspin promoter in 22Rv1 cells.
Overall, this is the first report showing that Snail can negatively regulate maspin expression by directly repressing maspin promoter activity, leading to increased cell migration and invasion. Therefore, therapeutic targeting of Snail may be useful to re-induce expression of maspin tumor suppressor and prevent prostate cancer tumor progression.
Snail; Maspin; Prostate cancer
The reprogramming of somatic cells to iPS cells requires a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). While differentiating ES cells can undergo the reverse process or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), little is known about the role of EMT in ES cell differentiation and fate commitment. Here, we show that Snail homolog 1 (Snail) is expressed during ES cell differentiation and is capable of inducing EMT on day 2 of ES cell differentiation. Induction of EMT by Snail promotes mesoderm commitment while repressing markers of the primitive ectoderm and epiblast. Snail’s impact on differentiation can be partly explained through it’s regulation of a number of ES cell-associated microRNAs (miRNAs), including the miR-200 family. The miR-200 family is normally expressed in ES cells but is down-regulated in a Wnt-dependent manner during EMT. Maintenance of miR-200 expression stalls differentiating ES cells at the epiblast-like stem cell (EpiSC) stage. Consistent with a role for Activin in maintaining the EpiSC state, we find that inhibition of Activin signaling decreases miR-200 expression and allows EMT to proceed with a bias toward neuroectoderm commitment. Furthermore, miR-200 requires Activin to efficiently maintain cells at the epiblast stage. Together, these findings demonstrate that Snail and miR-200 act in opposition to regulate EMT and exit from the EpiSC stage towards induction of germ layer fates. By modulating expression levels of Snail, Activin, and miR-200, we are able to control the order in which cells undergo EMT and transition out of the EpiSC state.
Cell Differentiation; Cell Lineage; Embryonic Stem Cells; Mesoderm; Transcription Factors; MicroRNAs
The polycomb group protein B lymphoma Mo-MLV insertion region 1 homolog (Bmi-1) is dysregulated in various cancers, and its upregulation strongly correlates with an invasive phenotype and poor prognosis in patients with nasopharyngeal carcinomas. However, the underlying mechanism of Bmi-1–mediated invasiveness remains unknown. In the current study, we found that upregulation of Bmi-1 induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and enhanced the motility and invasiveness of human nasopharyngeal epithelial cells, whereas silencing endogenous Bmi-1 expression reversed EMT and reduced motility. Furthermore, upregulation of Bmi-1 led to the stabilization of Snail, a transcriptional repressor associated with EMT, via modulation of PI3K/Akt/GSK-3β signaling. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays revealed that Bmi-1 transcriptionally downregulated expression of the tumor suppressor PTEN in tumor cells through direct association with the PTEN locus. This in vitro analysis was consistent with the statistical inverse correlation detected between Bmi-1 and PTEN expression in a cohort of human nasopharyngeal carcinoma biopsies. Moreover, ablation of PTEN expression partially rescued the migratory/invasive phenotype of Bmi-1–silenced cells, indicating that PTEN might be a major mediator of Bmi-1–induced EMT. Our results provide functional and mechanistic links between the oncoprotein Bmi-1 and the tumor suppressor PTEN in the development and progression of cancer.
Snail family proteins are core EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) regulatory factors that play essential roles in both development and disease processes and have been associated with metastasis in carcinomas. Snail factors are required for the formation of neural crest stem cells in most vertebrate embryos, as well as for the migratory invasive behavior of these cells. Snail factors have recently been linked to the formation of cancer stem cells, and expression of Snail proteins may be associated with tumor recurrence and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We report that Co(III)-Ebox is a potent inhibitor of Snail- mediated transcriptional repression in breast cancer cells and in the neural crest of Xenopus. We further show that the activity of Co(III)-Ebox can be modulated by temperature, increasing the utility of this conjugate as a Snail inhibitor in model organisms. We exploit this feature to further delineate the requirements for Snail function during neural crest development, showing that in addition to the roles that Snail factors play in neural crest precursor formation and neural crest EMT/migration, inhibition of Snail function after the onset of neural crest migration leads to a loss of neural crest derived melanocytes. Co(III)-Ebox-mediated inhibition therefore provides a powerful tool for analysing the function of these core EMT factors with unparalleled temporal resolution. Moreover, the potency of Co(III)-Ebox as a Snail inhibitor in breast cancer cells suggests its potential as a therapeutic inhibitor of tumor progression and metastasis.
The E-box binding zinc finger transcription factors Slug and ZEB1 are important repressors of E-cadherin, contributing to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in primary epithelial cancers. Activator or repressor status of EMT transcription factors defines consequences for tumorigenesis. We show that changes in expression levels of Slug in melanoma cell lines lead to concomitant alterations of ZEB1 expression. Electrophoretic mobility shift, luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays identified Slug as a direct transcriptional activator at E-boxes of the ZEB1 promoter. Transcriptional activation of ZEB1 was demonstrated to be specific for Slug, since EMT regulators Snail and Twist failed to influence ZEB1 expression. Slug and ZEB1 cooperatively repressed E-cadherin expression resulting in decreased adhesion to human keratinocytes, but promoted migration of melanoma cells. Our results show that the transcriptional activity of ZEB1 is increased by Slug, suggesting a hierarchical organized expression of EMT transcription factors through directed activation, triggering an EMT-like process in melanoma.