In the present study, we searched for mutant PTEN
transcripts in aggressive rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF) and
studied the expression of PTEN in RA. By automated sequencing, no evidence for
the presence of mutant PTEN transcripts was found. However, in
situ hybridization on RA synovium revealed a distinct expression pattern
of PTEN, with negligible staining in the lining layer but abundant expression
in the sublining. Normal synovial tissue exhibited homogeneous staining for
PTEN. In cultured RA-SF, only 40% expressed PTEN. Co-implantation of RA-SF and
normal human cartilage into severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mice showed
only limited expression of PTEN, with no staining in those cells
aggressively invading the cartilage. Although PTEN is not genetically altered
in RA, these findings suggest that a lack of PTEN expression may constitute a
characteristic feature of activated RA-SF in the lining, and may thereby
contribute to the invasive behaviour of RA-SF by maintaining their aggressive
phenotype at sites of cartilage destruction.
PTEN is a novel tumour suppressor which exhibits
tyrosine phosphatase activity as well as homology to the cytoskeletal proteins
tensin and auxilin. Mutations of PTEN have been described in several human
cancers and associated with their invasiveness and metastatic properties.
Although not malignant, rheumatoid arthritis synovial fibroblasts (RA-SF)
exhibit certain tumour-like features such as attachment to cartilage and
invasive growth. In the present study, we analyzed whether mutant transcripts
of PTEN were present in RA-SF. In addition, we used in situ
hybridization to study the expression of PTEN messenger (m)RNA in tissue
samples of RA and normal individuals as well as in cultured RA-SF and in the
severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model of RA.
Synovial tissue specimens were obtained from seven
patients with RA and from two nonarthritic individuals. Total RNA was isolated
from synovial fibroblasts and after first strand complementary (c)DNA
synthesis, polymerase chain reaction (PCR) was performed to amplify a 1063 base
pair PTEN fragment that encompassed the coding sequence of PTEN including the
phosphatase domain and all mutation sites described so far. The PCR products
were subcloned in Escherichia coli, and up to four clones were picked
from each plate for automated sequencing. For in situ hybridization,
digoxigenin-labelled PTEN-specific RNA probes were generated by in
vitro transcription. For control in situ hybridization, a matrix
metalloproteinase (MMP)-2-specific probe was prepared. To investigate the
expression of PTEN in the absence of human macrophage or lymphocyte derived
factors, we implanted RA-SF from three patients together with normal human
cartilage under the renal capsule of SCID mice. After 60 days, mice were
sacrificed, the implants removed and embedded into paraffin.
PCR revealed the presence of the expected 1063 base
pair PTEN fragment in all (9/9) cell cultures (Fig. 1).
No additional bands that could account for mutant PTEN variants were detected.
Sequence analysis revealed 100% homology of all RA-derived PTEN fragments to
those from normal SF as well as to the published GenBank sequence (accession
number U93051). However, in situ hybridization demonstrated
considerable differences in the expression of PTEN mRNA within the lining and
the sublining layers of RA synovial membranes. As shown in Figure
2a, no staining was observed within the lining layer
which has been demonstrated to mediate degradation of cartilage and bone in RA.
In contrast, abundant expression of PTEN mRNA was found in the sublining of all
RA synovial tissues (Figs 2a and b). Normal synovial specimens showed homogeneous staining for
PTEN within the thin synovial membrane (Fig. 2c). In
situ hybridization using the sense probe gave no specific staining (Fig.
2d). We also performed in situ hybridization on
four of the seven cultured RA-SF and followed one cell line from the first to
the sixth passage. Interestingly, only 40% of cultured RA-SF expressed PTEN
mRNA (Fig. 3a), and the proportion of PTEN expressing
cells did not change throughout the passages. In contrast, control experiments
using a specific RNA probe for MMP-2 revealed mRNA expression by nearly all
cultured cells (Fig. 3b). As seen before, implantation of
RA-SF into the SCID mice showed considerable cartilage degradation.
Interestingly, only negligible PTEN expression was found in those RA-SF
aggressively invading the cartilage (Fig. 3c). In
situ hybridization for MMP-2 showed abundant staining in these cells (Fig.
Although this study found no evidence for
mutations of PTEN in RA synovium, the observation that PTEN expression is
lacking in the lining layer of RA synovium as well as in more than half of
cultured RA-SF is of interest. It suggests that loss of PTEN function may not
exclusively be caused by genetic alterations, yet at the same time links the
low expression of PTEN to a phenotype of cells that have been shown to invade
It has been proposed that the tyrosine phosphatase activity of PTEN
is responsible for its tumour suppressor activity by counteracting the actions
of protein tyrosine kinases. As some studies have demonstrated an upregulation
of tyrosine kinase activity in RA synovial cells, it might be speculated that
the lack of PTEN expression in aggressive RA-SF contributes to the imbalance of
tyrosine kinases and phosphatases in this disease. However, the extensive
amino-terminal homology of the predicted protein to the cytoskeletal proteins
tensin and auxilin suggests a complex regulatory function involving cellular
adhesion molecules and phosphatase-mediated signalling. The tyrosine
phosphatase TEP1 has been shown to be identical to the protein encoded by PTEN,
and gene transcription of TEP1 has been demonstrated to be downregulated by
transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Therefore, it could be hypothesized
that TGF-β might be responsible for the downregulation of PTEN. However,
the expression of TGF-β is not restricted to the lining but found
throughout the synovial tissue in RA. Moreover, in our study the percentage of
PTEN expressing RA-SF remained stable for six passages in culture, whereas
molecules that are cytokine-regulated in vivo frequently change their
expression levels when cultured over several passages. Also, cultured RA-SF
that were implanted into SCID mice and deeply invaded the cartilage did not
show significant expression of PTEN after 60 days. The drop in the percentage
of PTEN expressing cells from the original cell cultures to the SCID mouse
implants is of interest as this observation goes along with data from previous
studies that have shown the prominent expression of activation-related
molecules in the SCID mice implants that in vivo are found
predominantly in the lining layer. Therefore, our data point to endogenous
mechanisms rather than to the influence of exogenous human cytokines or factors
in the downregulation of PTEN. Low expression of PTEN may belong to the
features that distinguish between the activated phenotype of RA-SF and the
sublining, proliferating but nondestructive cells.
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
Transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) derived from the tumor microenvironment induces malignant phenotypes such as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and aberrant cell motility in lung cancers. TGFβ-induced translocation of β-catenin from E-cadherin complexes into the cytoplasm is involved in the transcription of EMT target genes. PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homologue deleted from chromosome 10) is known to exert phosphatase activity by binding to E-cadherin complexes via β-catenin, and recent studies suggest that phosphorylation of the PTEN C-terminus tail might cause loss of this PTEN phosphatase activity. However, whether TGFβ can modulate both β-catenin translocation and PTEN phosphatase activity via phosphorylation of the PTEN C-terminus remains elusive. Furthermore, the role of phosphorylation of the PTEN C-terminus in TGFβ-induced malignant phenotypes has not been evaluated. To investigate whether modulation of phosphorylation of the PTEN C-terminus can regulate malignant phenotypes, here we established lung cancer cells expressing PTEN protein with mutation of phosphorylation sites in the PTEN C-terminus (PTEN4A). We found that TGFβ stimulation yielded a two-fold increase in the phosphorylated -PTEN/PTEN ratio. Expression of PTEN4A repressed TGFβ-induced EMT and cell motility even after snail expression. Our data showed that PTEN4A might repress EMT through complete blockade of β-catenin translocation into the cytoplasm, besides the inhibitory effect of PTEN4A on TGFβ-induced activation of smad-independent signaling pathways. In a xenograft model, the tumor growth ratio was repressed in cells expressing PTEN4A. Taken together, these data suggest that phosphorylation sites in the PTEN C-terminus might be a therapeutic target for TGFβ-induced malignant phenotypes in lung cancer cells.
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.
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.
Definition of the molecular pathogenesis of lung cancer allows investigators an enhanced understanding of the natural history of the disease, thus fostering development of new prevention strategies. In addition to regulating epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), the transcription factor Snail exerts global effects on gene expression. Our recent studies reveal that Snail is upregulated in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is associated with poor prognosis, and promotes tumor progression in vivo. Herein, we demonstrate that overexpression of Snail leads to upregulation of Secreted Protein, Acidic and Rich in Cysteine (SPARC) in models of premalignancy and established disease, as well as in lung carcinoma tissues in situ. Snail overexpression leads to increased SPARC-dependent invasion in vitro, indicating that SPARC may play a role in lung cancer progression. Bioinformatic analysis implicates TGF-β, ERK1/2, and miR-29b as potential intermediaries in Snail-mediated upregulation of SPARC. Both the TGF-β1 ligand and TGF-βR2 are upregulated following Snail overexpression. Treatment of human bronchial epithelial cell (HBEC) lines with TGF-β1 and inhibition of TGF-β1 mRNA expression modulated SPARC expression. Inhibition of MEK phosphorylation downregulated SPARC. MiR-29b is downregulated in Snail overexpressing cell lines, while overexpression of miR-29b inhibited SPARC expression. In addition, miR-29b was upregulated following ERK inhibition, suggesting a Snail-dependent pathway by which Snail activation of TGF-β and ERK signaling results in downregulation of miR-29b and subsequent upregulation of SPARC. Our discovery of pathways responsible for Snail-induced SPARC expression contributes to the definition of NSCLC pathogenesis.
NSCLC; Snail; SPARC; invasion; parallel progression
Snail1 is the founding member of the Snail superfamily of zinc-finger transcription factors, which also includes Snail2 (Slug) and Snail3 (Smuc). The superfamily is involved in cell differentiation and survival, two processes central in cancer research. Encoded by the SNAI1 gene located on human chromosome 20q13.2, Snail1 is composed of 264 amino acids and usually acts as a transcriptional repressor. Phosphorylation and nuclear localization of Snail1, governed by PI3K and Wnt signaling pathways crosstalk, are critical in Snail1’s regulation. Snail1 has a pivotal role in the regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), the process by which epithelial cells acquire a migratory, mesenchymal phenotype, as a result of its repression of E-cadherin. Snail1-induced EMT involves the loss of E-cadherin and claudins with concomitant upregulation of vimentin and fibronectin, among other biomarkers. While essential to normal developmental processes such as gastrulation, EMT is associated with metastasis, the cancer stem cell phenotype, and the regulation of chemo and immune resistance in cancer. Snail1 expression is a common sign of poor prognosis in metastatic cancer, and tumors with elevated Snail1 expression are disproportionately difficult to eradicate by current therapeutic treatments. The significance of Snail1 as a prognostic indicator, its involvement in the regulation of EMT and metastasis, and its roles in both drug and immune resistance point out that Snail1 is an attractive target for tumor growth inhibition and a target for sensitization to cytotoxic drugs.
Cancer; EMT; Metastasis; Resistance; Snail; Stem cells
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.
Chronic alcohol use results in many pathological effects including alcoholic liver disease (ALD). ALD pathogenesis requires endotoxemia. Our previous studies showed that increased intestinal permeability is the major cause of endotoxemia and that this gut leakiness is dependent on alcohol stimulation of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in both alcoholic subjects and rodent models of alcoholic steatohepatitis (ASH). The mechanism of the alcohol-induced, iNOS-mediated disruption of the intestinal barrier function is not known. We have recently shown that alcohol stimulates activation of the transcription factor Snail and biomarkers of epithelial mesenchymal transition. Since activated Snail disrupts tight junctional proteins , we hypothesized that activation of Snail by iNOS might be one of the key signaling pathways mediating alcohol stimulated intestinal epithelial cell hyperpermeability.
We measured intestinal permeability in alcohol-fed C57BL/6 control and iNOS KO mice and measured Snail protein expression in the intestines of these mice. We then examined intestinal epithelial permeability using the Caco-2 cell model of the intestinal barrier ± siRNA inhibition of Snail. We assessed Snail activation by alcohol in Caco-2 cells ± inhibition of iNOS with L-NIL or siRNA. Finally, we assessed Snail activation by alcohol ± inhibition with siRNA for p21-activated kinase (PAK1).
Our data show that chronic alcohol feeding promotes intestinal hyperpermeability in wild type BL/6 but not in iNOS KO mice. Snail protein expression was increased in the intestines of alcohol-treated wild type mice but not in iNOS KO mice. SiRNA inhibition of Snail significantly inhibited alcohol-induced hyperpermeability in Caco-2 cell monolayers. Alcohol stimulation of SnailpS246 activation was blocked by inhibition of iNOS with L-NIL or with siRNA. SiRNA inhibition of PAK1 significantly inhibited alcohol-mediated activation of Snail in Caco-2 cells.
Our data confirmed our prior results and further demonstrated that alcohol-induced gut leakiness in rodents and intestinal epithelial cell monolayers is iNOS dependent. Our data also support a novel role for Snail activation in alcohol-induced, iNOS mediated intestinal hyperpermeability and that PAK1 is responsible for activation of Snail at Ser246 with alcohol stimulation. Identification of these mechanisms for alcohol-induced intestinal hyperpermeability may provide new therapeutic targets for prevention and treatment of alcohol-induced leaky gut, endotoxemia and endotoxin- associated complications of alcoholism such as ALD.
alcohol; iNOS; intestinal permeability; Snail; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
The aim of this study was to explore the molecular mechanism of the bone morphogenetic protein-7 (BMP-7) downregulation of Snail-mediated E-cadherin repression and mesenchymal-epithelial transition (MET) induction, since little is presently known about this issue. In this study, our aim was to elucidate the underlying mechanism by which cells acquire liver fibrosis characteristics after epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Cell cultures were exposed to Snail alone or in the presence of BMP-7; control cultures were exposed to medium only. The expression of the mRNA encoding α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), Snail and E-cadherin in rat liver epithelial cells was determined by real-time quantitative PCR (RT-PCR) and the main results were confirmed by ELISA. Cell differentiation was determined by analysis of the expression of α-SMA, Snail and E-cadherin by western blotting and co-immunoprecipitation. We demonstrated Snail-induced upregulation of mRNAs encoding α-SMA and downregulation of mRNAs encoding E-cadherin in rat liver epithelial cells when compared with unstimulated cells, and confirmed these results at the protein level. BMP-7 downregulated Snail-induced α-SMA and upregulated E-cadherin release compared with untreated and Snail-treated cells. In summary, we demonstrated that BMP-7 induces MET through decreased downregulation of Snail. In addition, Snail1 directly regulates Nanog promoter activity. Notch signaling is also involved in this process.
bone morphogenetic protein-7; Snail; mesenchymal-epithelial transition; liver fibrosis
Chronic inflammation-promoted metastasis has been considered as a major challenge in cancer therapy. Pro-inflammatory cytokine TNFα can induce cancer invasion and metastasis associated with epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, the underlying mechanisms are not entirely clear. In this study, we showed that TNFα induces EMT in human HCT116 cells and thereby promotes colorectal cancer (CRC) invasion and metastasis. TNFα-induced EMT was characterized by acquiring mesenchymal spindle-like morphology and increasing the expression of N-cadherin and fibronectin with a concomitant decrease of E-cadherin and Zona occludin-1(ZO-1). TNFα treatment also increased the expression of transcription factor Snail, but not Slug, ZEB1 and Twist. Overexpression of Snail induced a switch from E-cadherin to N-cadherin expression in HCT116 cells, which is a characteristic of EMT. Conversely, knockdown of Snail significantly attenuated TNFα-induced EMT in HCT116 cells, suggesting that Snail plays a crucial role in TNFα-induced EMT. Interestingly, exposure to TNFα rapidly increased Snail protein expression and Snail nuclear localization but not mRNA level upregulation. Finally, we demonstrated that TNFα elevated Snail stability by activating AKT pathway and subsequently repressing GSK-3β activity and decreasing the association of Snail with GSK-3β. Knockdown of GSK-3β further verified our finding. Taken together, these results revealed that AKT/GSK-3β-mediated stabilization of Snail is required for TNFα-induced EMT in CRC cells. Our study provides a better understanding of inflammation-induced CRC metastasis.
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
As a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin, Snail has predominantly been associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), invasion, and metastasis. However, other important Snail-dependent malignant phenotypes have not been fully explored. Here, we investigate the contributions of Snail to the progression of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Immunohistochemistry was performed to quantify and localize Snail in human lung cancer tissues, and tissue microarray analysis (TMA) was utilized to correlate these findings with survival. NSCLC cell lines gene-modified to stably over-express Snail were evaluated in vivo in two severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) murine tumor models. Differential gene expression between Snail over-expressing and control cell lines was evaluated using gene expression microarray analysis.
Snail is up-regulated in human NSCLC tissue, and high levels of Snail expression correlate with decreased survival (p<0.026). In a heterotopic model, mice bearing Snail over-expressing tumors developed increased primary tumor burden (p=0.008). In an orthotopic model, mice bearing Snail over-expressing tumors also demonstrated a trend toward increased metastases. In addition, Snail over-expression led to increased angiogenesis in primary tumors as measured by MECA-32 (p<0.05) positivity and CXCL8 (p=0.002) and CXCL5 (p=0.0003) concentrations in tumor homogenates. Demonstrating the importance of these pro-angiogenic chemokines, the Snail-mediated increase in tumor burden was abrogated with CXCR2 blockade. Gene expression analysis also revealed Snail-associated differential gene expression with the potential to affect angiogenesis and diverse aspects of lung cancer progression.
Snail up-regulation plays a role in human NSCLC by promoting tumor progression mediated by CXCR2 ligands.
Snail; lung cancer; angiogenesis; CXCL8; CXCL5
Transcriptional repressor Snail is a master regulator of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), yet the epigenetic mechanism governing Snail to induce EMT is not well understood. Here, we report that in pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC), elevated levels of the ubiquitin E3 ligase Ring1B and Snail, along with elevated monoubiquitination of H2A at K119 (H2AK119Ub1), are highly correlated with poor survival. Mechanistic investigations identified Ring1B as a Snail-interacting protein and showed that the carboxyl zinc fingers of Snail recruit Ring1B and its paralog Ring1A to repress its target promoters. Simultaneous depletion of Ring1A and Ring1B in pancreatic cancer cells decreased Snail binding to the target chromatin, abolished H2AK119Ub1 modification, and thereby compromised Snail-mediated transcriptional repression and cell migration. We found that Ring1B and the SNAG-associated chromatin modifier EZH2 formed distinct protein complexes with Snail and that EZH2 was required for Snail-Ring1A/B recruitment to the target promoter. Collectively, our results unravel an epigenetic mechanism underlying transcriptional repression by Snail, suggest Ring1A/B as a candidate therapeutic target, and identify H2AK119Ub1 as a potential biomarker for PDAC diagnosis and prognosis. Cancer Res; 74(16); 4353-63. ©2014 AACR
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.
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
Accumulating evidence indicates that epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) might be a key event for cancer progression. The upregulation of Snail1, one of the most extensively studied EMT regulators, has been implicated in cancer metastasis, but the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. This study aims to identify that Snail1 targets regulating EMT-associated cancer cell migration. Human lung carcinoma A549 cells were treated with transforming growth factor beta 1 (TGF-β1), and EMT-associated phenotypic and functional alterations were monitored. TGF-β1 induced typical EMT-like morphological changes, ‘cadherin switching' and cell migration in A549 cells. TGF-β1 stimulation induced rapid and persistent upregulation of Snail1. Moreover, Snail1 upregulation was required for EMT-associated cell migration. Several metastasis suppressors with putative Snail1-binding sites in their promoters were dramatically repressed in A549 cells during TGF-β1-induced EMT. Gain- and loss-of Snail1 function experiments demonstrated that scavenger receptor class A member 5 (SCARA5) was negatively regulated by Snail1. Importantly, SCARA5 downregulation was essential for EMT-induced migration in A549 cells. The chromatin immunoprecipitation assay revealed that Snail1 could bind to the E-box elements in SCARA5 promoter, implying that SCARA5 is a direct Snail1 target modulating cancer cell mobility during EMT. In addition, we showed that DNA methyltransferase 1 was physically associated with Snail1 to silence SCARA5 expression with an unidentified DNA methylation-independent mechanism, suggesting the complexity of Snail1-mediated epigenetic regulation. Collectively, our data demonstrated that EMT-regulator Snail1 suppresses the expression of SCARA5 to promote cancer progression, highlighting the possibility to target Snail1 and SCARA5 for cancer treatment.
Snail1; TGF-β1; EMT; migration; SCARA5; lung cancer
Snail family genes are conserved among species during evolution and encode transcription factors expressed at different stages of development in different tissues. These genes are involved in a broad spectrum of biological functions; cell differentiation, cell motility, cell cycle regulation, and apoptosis. However, little is known about the target genes involved in these functions. Here we show that mouse Snail family members, Snail (Sna) and Slug (Slugh), are involved in chondrocyte differentiation by controlling the expression of type II collagen (Col2a1) and aggrecan. In situ hybridization analysis of developing mouse limb demonstrated that Snail and Slug mRNAs were highly expressed in hypertrophic chondrocytes. Inversely, the expression of collagen type II mRNA disappeared during hypertrophic differentiation. Snail and Slug mRNA expression was downregulated during differentiation of the mouse chondrogenic cell line ATDC5 and overexpression of exogenous Snail or Slug in ATDC5 cells inhibited expression of collagen type II and aggrecan mRNA. Reporter analysis revealed Snail and Slug suppressed the promoter activity of Col2a1, and the E-boxes in the promoter region were the responsible element. Gel shift assay demonstrated the binding of Snail to the E-box. Since type II collagen and aggrecan are major functional components of extracellular matrix in cartilage, these results suggest an important role for Snail-related transcription repressors during chondrocyte differentiation.
Aggrecans; Animals; Cell Differentiation; genetics; Cell Line; Chondrocytes; cytology; metabolism; Collagen Type II; genetics; DNA-Binding Proteins; physiology; E-Box Elements; Embryo, Mammalian; Extracellular Matrix; Extracellular Matrix Proteins; Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental; Lectins, C-Type; Mice; Promoter Regions (Genetics); Proteoglycans; RNA, Messenger; analysis; Repressor Proteins; physiology; Tibia; Transcription Factors; physiology; Snail; transcription factor; chondrocyte; collagen type II; aggrecan
Alcohol consumption is associated with the risk of progressive cancers including colon and breast cancer. The mechanisms for the alcohol-induced aggressive behavior of these epithelial cancer cells have not been fully identified. Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a developmental program recently shown to play a role in cancer progression and metastases. We hypothesized that alcohol might promote cancer progression by inducing EMT in cancer cells and tested this hypothesis by assessing alcohol-stimulated changes in phenotypic markers of EMT as well as the EMT transcription factor Snail and its related cell signaling.
Colon and breast cancer cell lines and a normal intestinal epithelial cell line were tested as well as colonic mucosal biopsy samples from alcoholic subjects. Cells were treated with alcohol and assessed for EMT-related changes using immunofluorescent microscopy, western blotting, reporter assays, RT-PCR, and knockdown of Snail with siRNA.
We show alcohol upregulated the signature EMT phenotypic marker vimentin as well as MMP-2, MMP-7, and MMP-9 and cell migration in colon and breast cancer cells -all characteristics of EMT. Alcohol also stimulated nuclear localization of Snail phosphorylated at Ser246, transcription from a Snail reporter plasmid, and Snail mRNA expression by RT-PCR. Snail siRNA knockdown prevented alcohol-stimulated vimentin expression. In vivo, Snail expression was significantly elevated in colonic mucosal biopsies from alcoholics. Also, we found alcohol stimulated activation of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling and an EGFR inhibitor blocked alcohol-induced cell migration and Snail mRNA expression.
Collectively, our data support a novel mechanism for alcohol promoting cancer progression through stimulating the EMT program in cancer cells via an EGFR-Snail mediated pathway. This study reveals new pathways for alcohol-mediated promotion of cancer that could be targeted for therapy or prevention of alcohol-related cancers.
Snail; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; epidermal growth factor receptor; alcohol; cancer
PTEN is the second most mutated tumor suppressor gene other than p53. It suppresses tumorigenesis by dephosphorylating phosphatidylinositol (3,4,5)-triphosphate (PIP3) to phosphatidylinositol (4,5)-biphosphate (PIP2), thereby directly inhibiting phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase (PI3K)-mediated tumorigenic activities. Consistent with this model of action, cytosolic PTEN is recruited to the plasma membrane to dephosphorylate PIP3. While nuclear PTEN has been shown to suppress tumorigenesis by governing genome integrity, additional mechanisms may also contribute to nuclear PTEN-mediated tumor suppression. The nuclear protein BMI1 promotes stem cell self-renewal and tumorigenesis and PTEN inhibits these events, suggesting that PTEN may suppress BMI1 function.
We investigated whether PTEN inhibits BMI1 function during prostate tumorigenesis. PTEN binds to BMI1 exclusively in the nucleus. This interaction does not require PTEN's phosphatase activity, as phosphatase-deficient PTEN mutants, PTEN/C124S (CS), PTEN/G129E (GE), and a C-terminal PTEN fragment (C-PTEN) excluding the catalytic domain, all associate with BMI1. Furthermore, the residues 186-286 of C-PTEN are sufficient for binding to BMI1. This interaction reduces BMI1's function. BMI1 enhances hTERT activity and reduces p16INK4A and p14ARF expression. These effects were attenuated by PTEN, PTEN(CS), PTEN(GE), and C-PTEN. Furthermore, knockdown of PTEN in DU145 cells increased hTERT promoter activity, which was reversed when BMI1 was concomitantly knocked-down, indicating that PTEN reduces hTERT promoter activity via inhibiting BMI1 function. Conversely, BMI1 reduces PTEN's ability to inhibit AKT activation, which can be attributed to its interaction with PTEN in the nucleus, making PTEN unavailable to dephosphorylate membrane-bound PIP3. Furthermore, BMI1 appears to co-localize with PTEN more frequently in clinical prostate tissue samples from patients diagnosed with PIN (prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia) and carcinoma compared to normal prostate epithelium. While PTEN co-localized with BMI1 in 2.4% of normal prostate epithelial cells, co-localization was observed in 37.6% and 18.5% of cells in PIN and carcinoma, respectively. Collectively, we demonstrate that PTEN inhibits BMI1 function via binding to BMI1 in a phosphatase independent manner.
We demonstrate that nuclear PTEN reduces BMI1 function independently of its phosphatase activity. It was recently observed that nuclear PTEN also suppresses tumorigenesis. Our results, therefore, provide a plausible mechanism by which nuclear PTEN prevents tumorigenesis.
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
Schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease, owes its continued success to freshwater snails that support production of prolific numbers of human-infective cercariae. Encounters between schistosomes and snails do not always result in the snail becoming infected, in part because snails can mount immune responses that prevent schistosome development. Fibrinogen-related protein 3 (FREP3) has been previously associated with snail defense against digenetic trematode infection. It is a member of a large family of immune molecules with a unique structure consisting of one or two immunoglobulin superfamily domains connected to a fibrinogen domain; to date fibrinogen containing proteins with this arrangement are found only in gastropod molluscs. Furthermore, specific gastropod FREPs have been shown to undergo somatic diversification. Here we demonstrate that siRNA mediated knockdown of FREP3 results in a phenotypic loss of resistance to Schistosoma mansoni infection in 15 of 70 (21.4%) snails of the resistant BS-90 strain of Biomphalaria glabrata. In contrast, none of the 64 control BS-90 snails receiving a GFP siRNA construct and then exposed to S. mansoni became infected. Furthermore, resistance to S. mansoni was overcome in 22 of 48 snails (46%) by pre-exposure to another digenetic trematode, Echinostoma paraensei. Loss of resistance in this case was shown by microarray analysis to be associated with strong down-regulation of FREP3, and other candidate immune molecules. Although many factors are certainly involved in snail defense from trematode infection, this study identifies for the first time the involvement of a specific snail gene, FREP3, in the phenotype of resistance to the medically important parasite, S. mansoni. The results have implications for revealing the underlying mechanisms involved in dictating the range of snail strains used by S. mansoni, and, more generally, for better understanding the phenomena of host specificity and host switching. It also highlights the role of a diversified invertebrate immune molecule in defense against a human pathogen. It suggests new lines of investigation for understanding how susceptibility of snails in areas endemic for S. mansoni could be manipulated and diminished.
Schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease, owes its continued success to freshwater snails that support production of prolific numbers of human-infective cercariae. Encounters between schistosomes and snails do not always result in the snail becoming infected, in part because snails can mount immune responses that prevent schistosome development. Understanding the factors important for snail resistance to schistosome infection will facilitate new lines of investigation to 1) understand the underlying basis of compatibility between schistosomes and snails in endemic areas and how this affects transmission dynamics and control efforts; and 2) to reveal ways to manipulate natural snail populations to enhance their resistance to schistosome infections. Here, we present the first evidence that a snail immune molecule, fibrinogen related protein 3 (FREP3), is important for successful defense against schistosome infections in Biomphalaria snails. In addition, we demonstrate that FREP3 is a target suppressed by trematode parasites to facilitate their establishment within the snail.
The cap-dependent translation is frequently deregulated in a variety of cancers associated with tumor progression. However, the molecular basis of the translation activation for metastatic progression of cancer remains largely elusive. Here, we demonstrate that activation of cap-dependent translation by silencing the translational repressor 4E-BP1 causes cancer epithelial cells to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is associated with selective upregulation of the EMT inducer Snail followed by repression of E-cadherin expression and promotion of cell migratory and invasive capabilities as well as metastasis. Conversely, inhibition of cap-dependent translation by a dominant active mutant 4E-BP1 effectively downregulates Snail expression and suppresses cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, dephosphorylation of 4E-BP1 by mTORC1 inhibition or directly targeting the translation initiation also profoundly attenuates Snail expression and cell motility, whereas knockdown of 4E-BP1 or overexpression of Snail significantly rescues the inhibitory effects. Importantly, 4E-BP1-regulated Snail expression is not associated with its changes in the level of transcription or protein stability. Together, these findings indicate a novel role of 4E-BP1 in the regulation of EMT and cell motility through translational control of Snail expression and activity, and suggest that targeting cap-dependent translation may provide a promising approach for blocking Snail-mediated metastatic potential of cancer.
4E-BP1; mTORC1; Snail; EMT; migration; invasion
Inflammation and genetic instability are enabling characteristics of prostate carcinoma (PCa). Inactivation of the tumour suppressor gene phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) is prevalent in early PCa. The relationship of PTEN deficiency to inflammatory signalling remains to be characterised.
To determine how loss of PTEN functionality modulates expression and efficacy of clinically relevant, proinflammatory chemokines in PCa.
Design, setting, and participants:
Experiments were performed in established cell-based PCa models, supported by pathologic analysis of chemokine expression in prostate tissue harvested from PTEN heterozygous (Pten+/−) mice harbouring inactivation of one PTEN allele.
Small interfering RNA (siRNA)–or small hairpin RNA (shRNA)–directed strategies were used to repress PTEN expression and resultant interleukin-8 (CXCL8) signalling, determined under normal and hypoxic culture conditions.
Outcome measurements and statistical analysis:
Changes in chemokine expression in PCa cells and tissue were analysed by real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR), immunoblotting, enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and immunohistochemistry; effects of chemokine signalling on cell function were assessed by cell cycle analysis, apoptosis, and survival assays.
Results and limitations:
Transient (siRNA) or prolonged (shRNA) PTEN repression increased expression of CXCL8 and its receptors, chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor (CXCR) 1 and CXCR2, in PCa cells. Hypoxia-induced increases in CXCL8, CXCR1, and CXCR2 expression were greater in magnitude and duration in PTEN-depleted cells. Autocrine CXCL8 signalling was more efficacious in PTEN-depleted cells, inducing hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1) and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) transcription and regulating genes involved in survival and angiogenesis. Increased expression of the orthologous chemokine KC was observed in regions displaying atypical cytologic features in Pten+/− murine prostate tissue relative to normal epithelium in wild-type PTEN (PtenWT) glands. Attenuation of CXCL8 signalling decreased viability of PCa cells harbouring partial or complete PTEN loss through promotion of G1 cell cycle arrest and apoptosis. The current absence of clinical validation is a limitation of the study.
PTEN loss induces a selective upregulation of CXCL8 signalling that sustains the growth and survival of PTEN-deficient prostate epithelium.
Inflammation; Apoptosis; CXCL8; CXCR2; Hypoxia; Prostate cancer; PTEN
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.
The presence of regional metastases in HNSCC patients is a common and adverse event associated with poor prognosis. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate HNSCC metastasis may enable identification of novel therapeutic targets. Our recent work on human HNSCC tissues underlies Snail’s role as a molecular prognostic marker for HNSCC. Snail positivity is significantly predictive of poorly differentiated, lymphovascular invasive, as well as regionally metastatic tumors. We recently reported the role of Snail in the inflammation-induced promotion of EMT in HNSCC. However, other important Snail-dependent malignant phenotypes have not been fully explored. Here, we investigate the capacity of Snail to drive EMT in human oral epithelial cell lines, and its ability to confer drug resistance.
Snail was overexpressed HNSCC and oral epithelial cell lines. AIG assays, wound healing assays, invasion & migration assays, spheroid modeling, and cell survival assays were performed.
The overexpression of Snail in human HNSCC and oral epithelial cell lines drives EMT. The sole transfection of Snail confers the expression of a mesenchymal molecular signature including down-regulation of the epithelial adherens, such as E-cadherin and β-catenin, and induction of mesenchymal markers, Snail overexpressing cell lines demonstrate rapid growth in Anchorage-independent growth assays; a decreased capacity to form tight spheroids; increased resistance to erlotinib; and have an increased capacity for invasion.
Snail controls the mesenchymal phenotype and drives erlotinib resistance in HNSCC cells. Snail may prove to be a useful marker in predicting EGFR inhibitor responsiveness.