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1.  Snail1 transcriptional repressor binds to its own promoter and controls its expression 
Nucleic Acids Research  2006;34(7):2077-2084.
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.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkl141
PMCID: PMC1440880  PMID: 16617148
2.  Polycomb Complex 2 Is Required for E-cadherin Repression by the Snail1 Transcription Factor▿ †  
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2008;28(15):4772-4781.
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.
doi:10.1128/MCB.00323-08
PMCID: PMC2493371  PMID: 18519590
3.  Snail1 Protein in the Stroma as a New Putative Prognosis Marker for Colon Tumours 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5595.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005595
PMCID: PMC2680015  PMID: 19440385
4.  Characterization of the SNAG and SLUG Domains of Snail2 in the Repression of E-Cadherin and EMT Induction: Modulation by Serine 4 Phosphorylation 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36132.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036132
PMCID: PMC3342263  PMID: 22567133
5.  A p53/miRNA-34 axis regulates Snail1-dependent cancer cell epithelial–mesenchymal transition 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2011;195(3):417-433.
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.
doi:10.1083/jcb.201103097
PMCID: PMC3206336  PMID: 22024162
6.  A SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 transcriptional repressor complex promotes TGF-β mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition 
Nature cell biology  2009;11(8):943-950.
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.
doi:10.1038/ncb1905
PMCID: PMC3769970  PMID: 19597490
7.  14-3-3 binding sites in the Snail protein are essential for Snail-mediated transcriptional repression and epithelial-mesenchymal differentiation 
Cancer research  2010;70(11):4385-4393.
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.
doi:10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-0070
PMCID: PMC2894621  PMID: 20501852
Snail; 14-3-3; Ajuba; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; transcriptional repression
8.  Aberrant Expression of the Transcription Factors Snail and Slug Alters the Response to Genotoxic Stress 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(17):7559-7566.
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.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.17.7559-7566.2004
PMCID: PMC506998  PMID: 15314165
9.  Nuclear ubiquitination by FBXL5 modulates Snail1 DNA binding and stability 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(2):1079-1094.
The zinc finger transcription factor Snail1 regulates epithelial to mesenchymal transition, repressing epithelial markers and activating mesenchymal genes. Snail1 is an extremely labile protein degraded by the cytoplasmic ubiquitin-ligases β-TrCP1/FBXW1 and Ppa/FBXL14. Using a short hairpin RNA screening, we have identified FBXL5 as a novel Snail1 ubiquitin ligase. FBXL5 is located in the nucleus where it interacts with Snail1 promoting its polyubiquitination and affecting Snail1 protein stability and function by impairing DNA binding. Snail1 downregulation by FBXL5 is prevented by Lats2, a protein kinase that phosphorylates Snail1 precluding its nuclear export but not its polyubiquitination. Actually, although polyubiquitination by FBXL5 takes place in the nucleus, Snail1 is degraded in the cytosol. Finally, FBXL5 is highly sensitive to stress conditions and is downregulated by iron depletion and γ-irradiation, explaining Snail1 stabilization in these conditions. These results characterize a novel nuclear ubiquitin ligase controlling Snail1 protein stability and provide the molecular basis for understanding how radiotherapy upregulates the epithelial to mesenchymal transition-inducer Snail1.
doi:10.1093/nar/gkt935
PMCID: PMC3902928  PMID: 24157836
10.  Phosphorylation of Serine 11 and Serine 92 as New Positive Regulators of Human Snail1 Function: Potential Involvement of Casein Kinase-2 and the cAMP-activated Kinase Protein Kinase A 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(2):244-253.
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.
doi:10.1091/mbc.E09-06-0504
PMCID: PMC2808231  PMID: 19923321
11.  The Transcription Factors Snail and Slug Activate the Transforming Growth Factor-Beta Signaling Pathway in Breast Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26514.
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.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0026514
PMCID: PMC3197668  PMID: 22028892
12.  Nuclear Snail1 and nuclear ZEB1 protein expression in invasive and intraductal human breast carcinomas 
Human Pathology  2011;42(8):1125-1131.
Summary
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.
doi:10.1016/j.humpath.2010.11.004
PMCID: PMC3315281  PMID: 21315410
Snail1; ZEB1; Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor; Ductal carcinoma in situ
13.  The Role of DDX3 in Regulating Snail 
Biochimica et biophysica acta  2011;1813(3):438-447.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.bbamcr.2011.01.003
PMCID: PMC3046234  PMID: 21237216
DDX3; Snail; HDAC; camptothecin; metastasis
14.  Repression of Puma by Scratch2 is required for neuronal survival during embryonic development 
Cell Death and Differentiation  2011;18(7):1196-1207.
Although Snail factors promote cell survival in development and cancer, the tumor-suppressor p53 promotes apoptosis in response to stress. p53 and Snail2 act antagonistically to regulate p53 upregulated modulator of apoptosis (Puma) and cell death in hematopoietic progenitors following DNA damage. Here, we show that this relationship is conserved in the developing nervous system in which Snail genes are excluded from vertebrate neurons and they are substituted by Scratch, a related but independent neural-specific factor. The transcription of scratch2 is induced directly by p53 after DNA damage to repress puma, thereby antagonizing p53-mediated apoptosis. In addition, we show that scratch2 is required for newly differentiated neurons to survive by maintaining Puma levels low during normal embryonic development in the absence of damage. scratch2 knockdown in zebrafish embryos leads to neuronal death through the activation of the intrinsic and extrinsic apoptotic pathways. To compensate for neuronal loss, the proliferation of neuronal precursors increases in scratch2-deficient embryos, reminiscent of the activation of progenitor/stem cell proliferation after damage-induced apoptosis. Our data indicate that the regulatory loop linking p53/Puma with Scratch is active in the vertebrate nervous system, not only controlling cell death in response to damage but also during normal embryonic development.
doi:10.1038/cdd.2010.190
PMCID: PMC3131948  PMID: 21252910
scratch; p53; puma; spinal cord; neuronal death; compensatory proliferation
15.  Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition Is a Critical Step in Tumorgenesis of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors  
Cancers  2012;4(1):281-294.
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.
doi:10.3390/cancers4010281
PMCID: PMC3712679  PMID: 24213240
EMT; E-cadherin; snail; slug; twist; Rip1Tag2; PEG
16.  Ajuba LIM proteins are Snail/Slug corepressors required for neural crest development in Xenopus 
Developmental cell  2008;14(3):424-436.
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.
doi:10.1016/j.devcel.2008.01.005
PMCID: PMC2279146  PMID: 18331720
LIM proteins; Snail; Slug; Neural crest development; Epithelial Mesenchymal Transitions; E-cadherin; Xenopus
17.  Expression of the zinc-finger transcription factor Snail in adrenocortical carcinoma is associated with decreased survival 
British Journal of Cancer  2008;99(11):1900-1907.
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.
doi:10.1038/sj.bjc.6604755
PMCID: PMC2600683  PMID: 19018264
adrenocortical carcinomas; Snail; survival
18.  Analysis of Snail1 function and regulation by Twist1 in palatal fusion 
Palatal fusion is a tightly controlled process which comprises multiple cellular events, including cell movement and differentiation. Midline epithelial seam (MES) degradation is essential to palatal fusion. In this study, we analyzed the function of Snail1 during the degradation of the MES. We also analyzed the mechanism regulating the expression of the Snail1 gene in palatal shelves. Palatal explants treated with Snail1 siRNA did not degrade the MES and E-cadherin was not repressed leading to failure of palatal fusion. Transforming growth factor beta 3 (Tgfβ3) regulated Snail1 mRNA, as Snail1 expression decreased in response to Tgfβ3 neutralizing antibody and a PI-3 kinase (PI3K) inhibitor. Twist1, in collaboration with E2A factors, regulated the expression of Snail1. Twist1/E47 dimers bond to the Snail1 promoter to activate expression. Without E47, Twist1 repressed Snail1 expression. These results support the hypothesis that Tgfβ3 may signal through Twist1 and then Snail1 to downregulate E-cadherin expression during palatal fusion.
doi:10.3389/fphys.2013.00012
PMCID: PMC3575576  PMID: 23424071
palatal fusion; Snail1; Twist1; E-cadherin; Tgfβ3; E-proteins; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
19.  Phosphorylation Regulates the Subcellular Location and Activity of the Snail Transcriptional Repressor 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2003;23(14):5078-5089.
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.
doi:10.1128/MCB.23.14.5078-5089.2003
PMCID: PMC162233  PMID: 12832491
20.  Systems analysis reveals a transcriptional reversal of the mesenchymal phenotype induced by SNAIL-inhibitor GN-25 
BMC Systems Biology  2013;7:85.
Background
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.
Results
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.
Conclusions
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.
doi:10.1186/1752-0509-7-85
PMCID: PMC3848843  PMID: 24004452
SNAIL; EMT; MET; Snail inhibitor; Systems biology; Network analysis; Pathway analysis
21.  Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor-A stimulates Snail expression in breast tumor cells: Implications for tumor progression 
Experimental cell research  2008;314(13):2448-2453.
The E-cadherin transcriptional repressor Snail is a prognostic marker for metastatic breast carcinoma, as well as a critical determinant of tumor growth and recurrence. We define a non-angiogenic, autocrine function for the vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) in regulating Snail expression in breast tumor cells. The transfection of well-differentiated breast tumor cells with VEGF-A increases Snail mRNA and protein levels, resulting in reduced E-cadherin expression. Conversely, reducing endogenous VEGF-A expression in poorly-differentiated breast tumor cells by siRNA transfection decreases Snail levels. Our studies demonstrate that VEGF and the VEGF receptor Neuropilin-1 increase Snail expression by suppressing the Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3), an established inhibitor of Snail transcription and protein stability. The VEGF-A neutralizing antibody Avastin® was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. We present the provocative finding that beyond its anti-angiogenic activity, Avastin® can reduce Snail expression in breast tumor cells. Collectively, this work describes a novel autocrine function for VEGF in breast tumor cells in driving the expression of Snail, a breast tumor progression factor. Based on our demonstration that Avastin® reduces Snail expression in breast tumor cells, we propose that the treatment of early stage breast cancer patients with Avastin® may impede tumor progression.
doi:10.1016/j.yexcr.2008.05.004
PMCID: PMC2762866  PMID: 18554584
VEGF; autocrine; Neuropilin; Snail; Avastin
22.  Snail1 controls TGF-β responsiveness and differentiation of Mesenchymal Stem Cells 
Oncogene  2012;32(28):3381-3389.
The Snail1 transcriptional repressor plays a key role in triggering epithelial to mesenchymal transition. Although Snail1 is widely expressed in early development, in adult animals it is limited to a subset of mesenchymal cells where it has a largely unknown function. Using a mouse model with inducible depletion of Snail1, here we demonstrate that Snail1 is required to maintain mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). This effect is associated to the responsiveness to TGF-β1 which shows a strong Snail1 dependence. Snail1-depletion in conditional knock-out adult animals causes a significant decrease in the number of bone marrow-derived MSCs. In culture, Snail1-deficient MSCs prematurely differentiate to osteoblasts or adipocytes and, in contrast to controls, are resistant to the TGF-β1-induced differentiation block. These results demonstrate a new role for Snail1 in TGF-β response and MSC maintenance.
doi:10.1038/onc.2012.342
PMCID: PMC3494751  PMID: 22869142
Snail1; mesenchymal stem cells; TGF-β; Akt
23.  Muscadine grape skin extract reverts snail-mediated epithelial mesenchymal transition via superoxide species in human prostate cancer cells 
Background
Snail transcription factor can induce epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), associated with decreased cell adhesion-associated molecules like E-cadherin, increased mesenchymal markers like vimentin, leading to increased motility, invasion and metastasis. Muscadine grape skin extract (MSKE) has been shown to inhibit prostate cancer cell growth and induce apoptosis without affecting normal prostate epithelial cells. We investigated novel molecular mechanisms by which Snail promotes EMT in prostate cancer cells via Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and whether it can be antagonized by MSKE.
Methods
ARCaP and LNCaP cells overexpressing Snail were utilized to examine levels of reactive oxygen species (ROS), specifically, superoxide, in vitro using Dihydroethidium (DHE) or HydroCy3 dyes. Mitosox staining was performed to determine whether the source of ROS was mitochondrial in origin. We also investigated the effect of Muscadine grape skin extract (MSKE) on EMT marker expression by western blot analysis. Migration and cell viability using MTS proliferation assay was performed following MSKE treatments.
Results
Snail overexpression in ARCaP and LNCaP cells was associated with increased concentration of mitochondrial superoxide, in vitro. Interestingly, MSKE decreased superoxide levels in ARCaP and LNCaP cells. Additionally, MSKE and Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) reverted EMT as evidenced by decreased vimentin levels and re-induction of E-cadherin expression in ARCaP-Snail cells after 3 days, concomitant with reduced cell migration. MSKE also decreased Stat-3 activity in ARCaP-Snail cells.
Conclusions
This study shows that superoxide species may play a role in Snail transcription factor-mediated EMT. Therefore, therapeutic targeting of Snail with various antioxidants such as MSKE may prove beneficial in abrogating EMT and ROS-mediated tumor progression in human prostate cancer.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-97
PMCID: PMC3984701  PMID: 24617993
Muscadine grape skin extract; Snail; EMT; Reactive oxygen species; Superoxide; Prostate cancer
24.  Ethanol differentially regulates Snail family of transcription factors and invasion of premalignant and malignant pancreatic ductal cells 
Journal of cellular biochemistry  2011;112(10):2966-2973.
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.
doi:10.1002/jcb.23215
PMCID: PMC3181041  PMID: 21678462
Ethanol; Snail; Slug; ERK1/2; integrins; collagen; adhesion
25.  Snail Mediates E-Cadherin Repression by the Recruitment of the Sin3A/Histone Deacetylase 1 (HDAC1)/HDAC2 Complex 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2004;24(1):306-319.
The transcription factor Snail has been described as a direct repressor of E-cadherin expression during development and carcinogenesis; however, the specific mechanisms involved in this process remain largely unknown. Here we show that mammalian Snail requires histone deacetylase (HDAC) activity to repress E-cadherin promoter and that treatment with trichostatin A (TSA) is sufficient to block the repressor effect of Snail. Moreover, overexpression of Snail is correlated with deacetylation of histones H3 and H4 at the E-cadherin promoter, and TSA treatment in Snail-expressing cells reverses the acetylation status of histones. Additionally, we demonstrate that Snail interacts in vivo with the E-cadherin promoter and recruits HDAC activity. Most importantly, we demonstrate an interaction between Snail, histone deacetylase 1 (HDAC1) and HDAC2, and the corepressor mSin3A. This interaction is dependent on the SNAG domain of Snail, indicating that the Snail transcription factor mediates the repression by recruitment of chromatin-modifying activities, forming a multimolecular complex to repress E-cadherin expression. Our results establish a direct causal relationship between Snail-dependent repression of E-cadherin and the modification of chromatin at its promoter.
doi:10.1128/MCB.24.1.306-319.2004
PMCID: PMC303344  PMID: 14673164

Results 1-25 (1021125)