Search tips
Search criteria

Results 1-25 (1326079)

Clipboard (0)

Related Articles

1.  Activation of synovial fibroblasts in rheumatoid arthritis: lack of expression of the tumour suppressor PTEN at sites of invasive growth and destruction 
Arthritis Research  1999;2(1):59-64.
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. 3d).
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 cartilage aggressively.
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.
PMCID: PMC17804  PMID: 11219390
rheumatoid arthritis; synovial membrane; fibroblasts; PTEN tumour suppressor; severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID) mouse model; cartilage destruction; in situ hybridization
2.  Involvement of TGFβ-Induced Phosphorylation of the PTEN C-Terminus on TGFβ-Induced Acquisition of Malignant Phenotypes in Lung Cancer Cells 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81133.
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.
PMCID: PMC3838341  PMID: 24278390
3.  Central role of Snail1 in the regulation of EMT and resistance in cancer: a target for therapeutic intervention 
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.
PMCID: PMC4237825  PMID: 25084828
Cancer; EMT; Metastasis; Resistance; Snail; Stem cells
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC3206336  PMID: 22024162
5.  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.
PMCID: PMC1440880  PMID: 16617148
6.  A novel molecular pathway for Snail-dependent, SPARC-mediated invasion in non-small cell lung cancer pathogenesis 
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.
PMCID: PMC3919444  PMID: 24253315
NSCLC; Snail; SPARC; invasion; parallel progression
7.  Snail transcription factor negatively regulates maspin tumor suppressor in human prostate cancer cells 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:336.
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.
PMCID: PMC3437215  PMID: 22857708
Snail; Maspin; Prostate cancer
8.  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.
PMCID: PMC3197668  PMID: 22028892
9.  Snail Recruits Ring1B to Mediate Transcriptional Repression and Cell Migration in Pancreatic Cancer Cells 
Cancer research  2014;74(16):4353-4363.
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
PMCID: PMC4285394  PMID: 24903147
10.  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.
PMCID: PMC2493371  PMID: 18519590
11.  Role of Snail Activation in Alcohol-induced iNOS-mediated Disruption of Intestinal Epithelial Cell Permeability 
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.
PMCID: PMC3698619  PMID: 21535025
alcohol; iNOS; intestinal permeability; Snail; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
12.  Alcohol Stimulates Activation of Snail, Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Signaling, and Biomarkers of Epithelial-mesenchymal Transition in Colon and Breast Cancer Cells 
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.
PMCID: PMC3689303  PMID: 19860811
Snail; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; epidermal growth factor receptor; alcohol; cancer
13.  Bone morphogenetic protein-7 regulates Snail signaling in carbon tetrachloride-induced fibrosis in the rat liver 
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.
PMCID: PMC3494124  PMID: 23226767
bone morphogenetic protein-7; Snail; mesenchymal-epithelial transition; liver fibrosis
14.  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.
PMCID: PMC3712679  PMID: 24213240
EMT; E-cadherin; snail; slug; twist; Rip1Tag2; PEG
15.  Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) Induced by TNF-α Requires AKT/GSK-3β-Mediated Stabilization of Snail in Colorectal Cancer 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56664.
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.
PMCID: PMC3576347  PMID: 23431386
16.  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.
PMCID: PMC3902928  PMID: 24157836
17.  Snail promotes CXCR2 ligand dependent tumor progression in NSCLC 
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).
Experimental Design
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.
PMCID: PMC2783274  PMID: 19887480
Snail; lung cancer; angiogenesis; CXCL8; CXCL5
18.  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.
PMCID: PMC2894621  PMID: 20501852
Snail; 14-3-3; Ajuba; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; transcriptional repression
19.  Staurosporine augments EGF-mediated EMT in PMC42-LA cells through actin depolymerisation, focal contact size reduction and Snail1 induction – A model for cross-modulation 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:235.
A feature of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) relevant to tumour dissemination is the reorganization of actin cytoskeleton/focal contacts, influencing cellular ECM adherence and motility. This is coupled with the transcriptional repression of E-cadherin, often mediated by Snail1, Snail2 and Zeb1/δEF1. These genes, overexpressed in breast carcinomas, are known targets of growth factor-initiated pathways, however it is less clear how alterations in ECM attachment cross-modulate to regulate these pathways. EGF induces EMT in the breast cancer cell line PMC42-LA and the kinase inhibitor staurosporine (ST) induces EMT in embryonic neural epithelial cells, with F-actin de-bundling and disruption of cell-cell adhesion, via inhibition of aPKC.
PMC42-LA cells were treated for 72 h with 10 ng/ml EGF, 40 nM ST, or both, and assessed for expression of E-cadherin repressor genes (Snail1, Snail2, Zeb1/δEF1) and EMT-related genes by QRT-PCR, multiplex tandem PCR (MT-PCR) and immunofluorescence +/- cycloheximide. Actin and focal contacts (paxillin) were visualized by confocal microscopy. A public database of human breast cancers was assessed for expression of Snail1 and Snail2 in relation to outcome.
When PMC42-LA were treated with EGF, Snail2 was the principal E-cadherin repressor induced. With ST or ST+EGF this shifted to Snail1, with more extreme EMT and Zeb1/δEF1 induction seen with ST+EGF. ST reduced stress fibres and focal contact size rapidly and independently of gene transcription. Gene expression analysis by MT-PCR indicated that ST repressed many genes which were induced by EGF (EGFR, CAV1, CTGF, CYR61, CD44, S100A4) and induced genes which alter the actin cytoskeleton (NLF1, NLF2, EPHB4). Examination of the public database of breast cancers revealed tumours exhibiting higher Snail1 expression have an increased risk of disease-recurrence. This was not seen for Snail2, and Zeb1/δEF1 showed a reverse correlation with lower expression values being predictive of increased risk.
ST in combination with EGF directed a greater EMT via actin depolymerisation and focal contact size reduction, resulting in a loosening of cell-ECM attachment along with Snail1-Zeb1/δEF1 induction. This appeared fundamentally different to the EGF-induced EMT, highlighting the multiple pathways which can regulate EMT. Our findings add support for a functional role for Snail1 in invasive breast cancer.
PMCID: PMC2717979  PMID: 19604397
20.  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.
PMCID: PMC2680015  PMID: 19440385
21.  Suppression of SCARA5 by Snail1 is essential for EMT-associated cell migration of A549 cells 
Oncogenesis  2013;2(9):e73-.
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.
PMCID: PMC3816226  PMID: 24061576
Snail1; TGF-β1; EMT; migration; SCARA5; lung cancer
22.  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.
PMCID: PMC2808231  PMID: 19923321
23.  Potentiation of Inflammatory CXCL8 Signalling Sustains Cell Survival in PTEN-deficient Prostate Carcinoma 
European urology  2012;64(2):177-188.
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.
PMCID: PMC4185293  PMID: 22939387
Inflammation; Apoptosis; CXCL8; CXCR2; Hypoxia; Prostate cancer; PTEN
24.  Loss of 4E-BP1 function induces EMT and promotes cancer cell migration and invasion via cap-dependent translational activation of snail 
Oncotarget  2014;5(15):6015-6027.
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.
PMCID: PMC4171609  PMID: 24970798
4E-BP1; mTORC1; Snail; EMT; migration; invasion
25.  Snail controls the mesenchymal phenotype and drives erlotinib resistance in Oral epithelial and HNSCC cells 
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.
PMCID: PMC4167686  PMID: 22568942

Results 1-25 (1326079)