Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a significant role in tumor progression and invasion. Snail is a known regulator of EMT in various malignant tumors. This study investigated the role of Snail in gastric cancer.
We examined the effects of silenced or overexpressed Snail using lenti-viral constructs in gastric cancer cells. Immunohistochemical analysis of tissue microarrays from 314 patients with gastric adenocarcinoma (GC) was used to determine Snail’s clinicopathological and prognostic significance. Differential gene expression in 45 GC specimens with Snail overexpression was investigated using cDNA microarray analysis.
Silencing of Snail by shRNA decreased invasion and migration in GC cell lines. Conversely, Snail overexpression increased invasion and migration of gastric cancer cells, in line with increased VEGF and MMP11. Snail overexpression (≥75% positive nuclear staining) was also significantly associated with tumor progression (P < 0.001), lymph node metastases (P = 0.002), lymphovascular invasion (P = 0.002), and perineural invasion (P = 0.002) in the 314 GC patients, and with shorter survival (P = 0.023). cDNA microarray analysis revealed 213 differentially expressed genes in GC tissues with Snail overexpression, including genes related to metastasis and invasion.
Snail significantly affects invasiveness/migratory ability of GCs, and may also be used as a predictive biomarker for prognosis or aggressiveness of GCs.
Stomach; Adenocarcinoma; Snail; Lymph node metastasis; Survival
The reprogramming of somatic cells to inducible pluripotent stem cells requires a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition. While differentiating ESCs can undergo the reverse process or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), little is known about the role of EMT in ESC differentiation and fate commitment. Here, we show that Snail homolog 1 (Snail) is expressed during ESC differentiation and is capable of inducing EMT on day 2 of ESC differentiation. Induction of EMT by Snail promotes mesoderm commitment while repressing markers of the primitive ectoderm and epiblast. Snail's impact on differentiation can be partly explained through its regulation of a number of ESC-associated microRNAs, including the microRNA-200 (miR-200) family. The miR-200 family is normally expressed in ESCs but is downregulated in a Wnt-dependent manner during EMT. Maintenance of miR-200 expression stalls differentiating ESCs at the epiblast-like stem cell (EpiSC) stage. Consistent with a role for activin in maintaining the EpiSC state, we find that inhibition of activin signaling decreases miR-200 expression and allows EMT to proceed with a bias toward neuroectoderm commitment. Furthermore, miR-200 requires activin to efficiently maintain cells at the epiblast stage. Together, these findings demonstrate that Snail and miR-200 act in opposition to regulate EMT and exit from the EpiSC stage toward induction of germ layer fates. By modulating expression levels of Snail, activin, and miR-200, we are able to control the order in which cells undergo EMT and transition out of the EpiSC state. Stem Cells 2011;29:764–776
Cell differentiation; Cell lineage; Embryonic stem cells; Mesoderm; Transcription factors; MicroRNAs
The reprogramming of somatic cells to iPS cells requires a mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET). While differentiating ES cells can undergo the reverse process or epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), little is known about the role of EMT in ES cell differentiation and fate commitment. Here, we show that Snail homolog 1 (Snail) is expressed during ES cell differentiation and is capable of inducing EMT on day 2 of ES cell differentiation. Induction of EMT by Snail promotes mesoderm commitment while repressing markers of the primitive ectoderm and epiblast. Snail’s impact on differentiation can be partly explained through it’s regulation of a number of ES cell-associated microRNAs (miRNAs), including the miR-200 family. The miR-200 family is normally expressed in ES cells but is down-regulated in a Wnt-dependent manner during EMT. Maintenance of miR-200 expression stalls differentiating ES cells at the epiblast-like stem cell (EpiSC) stage. Consistent with a role for Activin in maintaining the EpiSC state, we find that inhibition of Activin signaling decreases miR-200 expression and allows EMT to proceed with a bias toward neuroectoderm commitment. Furthermore, miR-200 requires Activin to efficiently maintain cells at the epiblast stage. Together, these findings demonstrate that Snail and miR-200 act in opposition to regulate EMT and exit from the EpiSC stage towards induction of germ layer fates. By modulating expression levels of Snail, Activin, and miR-200, we are able to control the order in which cells undergo EMT and transition out of the EpiSC state.
Cell Differentiation; Cell Lineage; Embryonic Stem Cells; Mesoderm; Transcription Factors; MicroRNAs
We report the expression of Snail-1, E-cadherin and claudin-1 by indirect immunohistochemistry in colonic neoplasia. Snail-1 is a zinc finger transcription factor expressed in cells that already have undergone almost complete epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and have already evaded from the tumor. The main mechanism by which Snail induces EMT is downregulation of E-cadherin, of which expression was shown to be frequently downregulated in many different types of tumors, where it accompanies the invasiveness and metastatic behavior of malignant cells. Moreover, Snail-1 may downregulate the expression of claudin-1, a cell-cell adhesion protein which plays a likely role in progression and dissemination during tumorigenesis. Snail-1 was expressed in both carcinoma and adenoma cells with histologically normal epithelium in the mucosa, adjacent to the tumors, without significant differences, and predominant strong intensity of staining. Statistically significant differences were revealed between normal and tumorous epithelium (p = 0.003) at the subcellular level, where the shift of the protein to the cytoplasm with combined cytoplasmic/nuclear or pure cytoplasmic expression was observed. E-cadherin expression was present in 100% of cases of both adenocarcinomas and adenomas, with prevailing strong membranous immunoreactivity and no differences between protein expression in tumors and normal mucosa. Predominating strong positivity of claudin-1 was detected in tumor cells of adenocarcinomas and adenomas. Marked differences were seen in protein localization, where membranous staining, typical for nontumorous epithelium, changed to combined membranous/cytoplasmic expression in adenocarcinomas (p = 0.0001) and adenomas (0.0002), in which cytoplasmic shift was associated with a higher degree of dysplasia. Furthermore, membranous/cytoplasmic localization was more frequent in the carcinoma group (87%) in comparison with adenomas (51%) (p = 0.0001). We conclude that dystopic subcellular localizations of Snail-1 and claudin-1 may participate in changes of cellular morphology and behavior which might be associated with altered effectory pathways of proteins and thus substantially contribute to the cancer development.
Snail-1; E-cadherin; claudin-1; adenocarcinoma; adenoma; immunohistochemistry
Epicardial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is hypothesized to generate cardiovascular progenitor cells that differentiate into various cell types, including coronary smooth muscle and endothelial cells, perivascular and cardiac interstitial fibroblasts and cardiomyocytes. Here we show that an epicardial-specific knockout of Wt1 leads to a reduction of mesenchymal progenitor cells and their derivatives. We demonstrate that Wt1 is essential for repression of the epithelial phenotype in epicardial cells and during Embryonic Stem (ES) cell differentiation, through direct transcriptional regulation of Snail (Snai1) and E-cadherin (Cdh1), two of the major mediators of EMT. Some mesodermal lineages fail to form in Wt1 null embryoid bodies but this effect is rescued by the expression of Snai1, underlining the importance of EMT in generating these differentiated cells. These new insights into the molecular mechanisms regulating cardiovascular progenitor cells and EMT will shed light on the pathogenesis of heart diseases and may help the development of cell based therapies.
EMT; Wt1; epicardium; progenitor cells; Snail; stem 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.
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
The Snail transcription factor is a repressor and a master regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition events (EMT) in normal embryonic development and during tumor metastases. Snail directly regulates genes affecting cell adhesion, motility and polarity. Invasive tumor cells express high levels of Snail and it is a marker for aggressive disease and poor prognosis. Transcriptional repression and EMT induction by Snail requires binding to its obligate corepressor, the LIM protein Ajuba. It is unclear how this complex is assembled and maintained on Snail target genes. Here we define functional 14-3-3 binding motifs in Snail and Ajuba which selectively bind 14-3-3 protein isoforms. In Snail, a NH2-terminal motif in the repression domain cooperates with a COOH-terminal, high affinity motif for binding to 14-3-3 proteins. Coordinate mutation of both motifs abolishes 14-3-3 binding and inhibits Snail-mediated gene repression and EMT differentiation. Snail, 14-3-3 proteins, and Ajuba form a ternary complex which is readily detected via ChIP at the endogenous E-cadherin promoter. Collectively, these data show that 14-3-3 proteins are new components of the Snail transcriptional repression machinery and mediate its important biological functions.
Snail; 14-3-3; Ajuba; epithelial-mesenchymal transition; transcriptional repression
In both Drosophila and the mouse, the zinc finger transcription factor Snail is required for mesoderm formation; its vertebrate paralog Slug (Snai2) appears to be required for neural crest formation in the chick and the clawed frog Xenopus laevis. Both Slug and Snail act to induce epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and to suppress apoptosis.
Methodology & Principle Findings
Morpholino-based loss of function studies indicate that Slug is required for the normal expression of both mesodermal and neural crest markers in X. laevis. Both phenotypes are rescued by injection of RNA encoding the anti-apoptotic protein Bcl-xL; Bcl-xL's effects are dependent upon IκB kinase-mediated activation of the bipartite transcription factor NF-κB. NF-κB, in turn, directly up-regulates levels of Slug and Snail RNAs. Slug indirectly up-regulates levels of RNAs encoding the NF-κB subunit proteins RelA, Rel2, and Rel3, and directly down-regulates levels of the pro-apopotic Caspase-9 RNA.
These studies reveal a Slug/Snail–NF-κB regulatory circuit, analogous to that present in the early Drosophila embryo, active during mesodermal formation in Xenopus. This is a regulatory interaction of significance both in development and in the course of inflammatory and metastatic disease.
The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a de-differentiation process that has been implicated in metastasis and the generation of cancer initiating cells (CICs) in solid tumors. To examine EMT in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), we utilized a three dimensional (3D) cell culture system in which cells were co-stimulated with tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF) and transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). NSCLC spheroid cultures display elevated expression of EMT master-switch transcription factors, TWIST1, SNAI1/Snail1, SNAI2/Slug and ZEB2/Sip1, and are highly invasive. Mesenchymal NSCLC cultures show CIC characteristics, displaying elevated expression of transcription factors KLF4, SOX2, POU5F1/Oct4, MYCN, and KIT. As a result, these putative CIC display a cancer “stem-like” phenotype by forming lung metastases under limiting cell dilution. The pleiotropic transcription factor, NF-κB, has been implicated in EMT and metastasis. Thus, we set out to develop a NSCLC model to further characterize the role of NF-κB activation in the development of CICs. Here, we demonstrate that induction of EMT in 3D cultures results in constitutive NF-κB activity. Furthermore, inhibition of NF-κB resulted in the loss of TWIST1, SNAI2, and ZEB2 induction, and a failure of cells to invade and metastasize. Our work indicates that NF-κB is required for NSCLC metastasis, in part, by transcriptionally upregulating master-switch transcription factors required for EMT.
The process of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) which is required for cancer cell invasion is regulated by a family of E-box binding transcription repressors which include Snail (SNAI) and Slug (SNAI2). Snail appears to repress the expression of the EMT marker E-cadherin by epigenetic mechanisms dependent on the interaction of its N-terminal SNAG domain with chromatin modifying proteins including lysine specific demethylase 1 (LSD1/KDM1A). We assessed whether blocking Snail/Slug-LSD1 interaction by treatment with Parnate, an enzymatic inhibitor of LSD1, or TAT-SNAG, a cell-permeable peptide corresponding to the SNAG domain of Slug, suppresses the motility and invasiveness of cancer cells of different origin and genetic background. We show here that either treatment blocked Slug-dependent repression of the E-cadherin promoter and inhibited the motility and invasion of tumor cell lines without any effect on their proliferation. These effects correlated with induction of epithelial and repression of mesenchymal markers and were phenocopied by LSD1 or Slug down-regulation. Parnate treatment also inhibited bone marrow homing/engraftment of Slug-expressing K562 cells. Together, these studies support the concept that targeting Snail/Slug-dependent transcription repression complexes may lead to the development of novel drugs selectively inhibiting the invasive potential of cancer cells.
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs during embryogenesis, carcinoma invasiveness, and metastasis and can be elicited by transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling via intracellular Smad transducers. The molecular mechanisms that control the onset of EMT remain largely unexplored. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that the high mobility group A2 (HMGA2) gene is induced by the Smad pathway during EMT. Endogenous HMGA2 mediates EMT by TGF-β, whereas ectopic HMGA2 causes irreversible EMT characterized by severe E-cadherin suppression. HMGA2 provides transcriptional input for the expression control of four known regulators of EMT, the zinc-finger proteins Snail and Slug, the basic helix-loop-helix protein Twist, and inhibitor of differentiation 2. We delineate a pathway that links TGF-β signaling to the control of epithelial differentiation via HMGA2 and a cohort of major regulators of tumor invasiveness and metastasis. This network of signaling/transcription factors that work sequentially to establish EMT suggests that combinatorial detection of these proteins could serve as a new tool for EMT analysis in cancer patients.
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.
Transcription factor Snail1 has a central role in induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The aim of the present study was to elucidate the expression of Snail1 protein during epithelial ovarian tumourigenesis and to study the association of Snail1 expression with clinicopathological factors and prognosis.
Epithelial and stromal fibroblast-like fusiform cells of 14 normal ovarian samples, 21 benign, 24 borderline and 74 malignant epithelial ovarian tumours were studied for Snail1 protein using immunohistochemistry.
Nuclei of surface peritoneal cells of normal ovaries (n = 14) were regarded as negative for Snail1. Nuclear expression of Snail1 protein in epithelial ovarian tumours was increased during tumour progression from precursor lesions into carcinomas both in epithelial (p = 0.006) and stromal cells (p = 0.007). Nuclei of benign tumours (n = 21) were negative for Snail1. In borderline tumours (n = 24) occasional positive epithelial cells were found in 2 (8%) samples and in 3 (13%) samples stromal cells were focally positive for Snail1. In carcinomas (n = 74) focal Snail1 staining in epithelial cells was present in 17 (23%) tumours, and in stromal cells in 18 (24%) tumours. Nuclear expression of Snail1 in epithelial or stromal cells was not associated with clinicopathological factors or prognosis.
Nuclear Snail1 expression seems to be related to tumour progression, and expression in borderline tumours indicates a role for Snail1 in early epithelial ovarian tumour development. Snail1 also appears to function more generally in tissue remodelling as positive staining was demonstrated in stromal cells.
The role of nitric oxide (NO) in cancer has been controversial and is based on the levels of NO and the responsiveness of the tumor type. It remains unclear whether NO can inhibit the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cancer cells. EMT induction is mediated, in part, by the constitutive activation of the metastasis-inducer transcription factor, Snail and EMT can be inhibited by the metastasis-suppressors Raf-1 kinase inhibitor protein (RKIP) and E-cadherin. Snail is transcriptionally regulated by NFκB and in turn, Snail represses RKIP transcription. Hence, we hypothesized that high levels of NO, that inhibit NFκB activity, may also inhibit Snail, induce RKIP and leading to inhibition of EMT. We show that treatment of human prostate metastatic cell lines with the NO donor, DETANONOate, inhibits EMT and reverses both the mesenchymal phenotype and the cell invasive properties. Further, treatment with DETANONOate inhibits Snail expression and DNA-binding activity in parallel with the upregulation of RKIP and E-cadherin protein levels. The pivotal roles of Snail inhibition and RKIP induction in DETANONOate-mediated inhibition of EMT were corroborated by both Snail silencing by siRNA and by ectopic expression of RKIP. The in vitro findings were validated in vivo in mice bearing PC-3 xenografts treated with DETANONOate. The present findings show, for the first time, the novel role of high, yet, subtoxic concentrations of NO in the inhibition of EMT. Thus, NO donors may exert therapeutic activities in the reversal of EMT and metastasis.
epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT); nitric oxide; NFκB; Raf-1 kinase inhibitor protein (RKIP); snail
The members of the Snail superfamily of zinc-finger transcription factors, including Snai1 and Snai2, are involved in essential biological processes, such as epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). While Snai1 has been investigated in a number of cancers, our knowledge on Snai2 and its role(s) in squamous cell carcinoma of oral tongue (SCCOT) is limited. In this study, we confirmed the previous observation that over-expression of Snai2 is a frequent event in SCCOT. We further demonstrated that Snai2 over-expression is associated with lymph node metastasis in two independent SCCOT patient cohorts (total n = 129). Statistical analysis revealed that Snai2 over-expression was correlated with reduced overall survival. Furthermore, over-expression of Snai2 was correlated with reduced E-cadherin expression and enhanced Vimentin expression, suggesting a functional role of Snai2 in EMT. These observations were confirmed in vitro, in which knockdown of Snai2 induced a switch from a mesenchymal-like morphology to an epithelial-like morphology in SCCOT cell lines, and suppressed the cell invasion and migration. In contrast, ectopic transfection of Snai2 led to enhanced cell invasion and migration. Furthermore, Snai2 knockdown attenuated TGFβ1-induced EMT in SCCOT cell lines. Taken together, these data suggest that Snai2 plays major roles in EMT and the progression of SCCOT, and may serve as a therapeutic target for patients at risk of metastasis.
epithelial menschymal transition; E-cadherin; Snai2; squmous cell carcinoma
Snail transcription factor induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in which the epithelial cells downregulate cell-cell adhesion genes such as E-cadherin and upregulate mesenchymal genes such as vimentin, leading to increased invasion and migration. Very little is known about the role of Snail in cellular adhesion to the extracellular matrix. We hypothesized that Snail will lead to decreased cellular adhesion to fibronectin and collagen I matrix through integrin regulation, concomitant with increased cell migration. Androgen-independent C4-2 cells, an aggressive subline of androgen-dependent LNCaP cells, exhibited increased cell migration on fibronectin and collagen I as compared to LNCaP cells, which was reversed by Snail knockdown in C4-2 cells. ARCaP and LNCaP prostate cancer cells stably transfected with Snail displayed decreased adhesion and increased cell migration on fibronectin and collagen I as compared to control Neo-transfected cells, which was reversed by Snail knockdown. Flow cytometry analysis revealed a decrease in α5, α2 and β1 integrin expression in ARCaP Snail-transfected cells that was reversed in Snail knockdown cells. We also observed an increase in ERK phosphorylation in ARCaP Snail-transfected cells as compared to control ARCaP-Neo cells, and inhibition of the MAPK pathway with UO126 inhibitor in ARCaP Snail-transfected cells abrogated Snail-mediated decrease in cell adhesion and reinduced α5, α2 and β1 integrin expression. Collectively, these studies define a new role for Snail transcription factor in cell adhesion to the ECM, which may be mediated by MAPK signaling, and may be crucial for cell detachment and subsequent metastasis.
snail; cell adhesion; integrin; extracellular matrix; prostate cancer
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) events occur during embryonic development and are important for the metastatic spread of epithelial tumors. We show here that spontaneous differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells is associated with an E- to N-cadherin switch, up-regulation of E-cadherin repressor molecules (Snail and Slug proteins), gelatinase activity (matrix metalloproteinase [MMP]-2 and -9), and increased cellular motility, all characteristic EMT events. The 5T4 oncofetal antigen, previously shown to be associated with very early ES cell differentiation and altered motility, is also a part of this coordinated process. E- and N-cadherin and 5T4 proteins are independently regulated during ES cell differentiation and are not required for induction of EMT-associated transcripts and proteins, as judged from the study of the respective knockout ES cells. Further, abrogation of E-cadherin–mediated cell–cell contact in undifferentiated ES cells using neutralizing antibody results in a reversible mesenchymal phenotype and actin cytoskeleton rearrangement that is concomitant with translocation of the 5T4 antigen from the cytoplasm to the cell surface in an energy-dependent manner. E-cadherin null ES cells are constitutively cell surface 5T4 positive, and although forced expression of E-cadherin cDNA in these cells is sufficient to restore cell–cell contact, cell surface expression of 5T4 antigen is unchanged. 5T4 and N-cadherin knockout ES cells exhibit significantly decreased motility during EMT, demonstrating a functional role for these proteins in this process. We conclude that E-cadherin protein stabilizes cortical actin cytoskeletal arrangement in ES cells, and this can prevent cell surface localization of the promigratory 5T4 antigen.
Hypoxia is an element of the tumour microenvironment that impacts upon numerous cellular factors linked to clinical aggressiveness in cancer. One such factor, Snail, a master regulator of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), has been implicated in key tumour biological processes such as invasion and metastasis. In this study we set out to investigate regulation of EMT in hypoxia, and the importance of Snail in cell migration and clinical outcome in breast cancer.
Four breast cancer cell lines were exposed to 0.1% oxygen and expression of EMT markers was monitored. The migratory ability was analysed following Snail overexpression and silencing. Snail expression was assessed in 500 tumour samples from premenopausal breast cancer patients, randomised to either 2 years of tamoxifen or no adjuvant treatment.
Exposure to 0.1% oxygen resulted in elevated levels of Snail protein, along with changes in vimentin and E-cadherin expression, and in addition increased migration of MDA-MB-468 cells. Overexpression of Snail increased the motility of MCF-7, T-47D and MDA-MB-231 cells, whereas silencing of the protein resulted in decreased migratory propensity of MCF-7, MDA-MB-468 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Moreover, nuclear Snail expression was associated with tumours of higher grade and proliferation rate, but not with disease recurrence. Interestingly, Snail negativity was associated with impaired tamoxifen response (P=0.048).
Our results demonstrate that hypoxia induces Snail expression but generally not a migratory phenotype, suggesting that hypoxic cells are only partially pushed towards EMT. Furthermore, our study supports the link between Snail and clinically relevant features and treatment response.
hypoxia; EMT; Snail; breast cancer; tamoxifen
In this study, we evaluate whether Snail is expressed in adrenocortical cancer (ACC) and if its expression is related to patient outcome. One of the best known functions of the zinc-finger transcription factor Snail is to induce epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Increasing evidence suggests that EMT plays a pivotal role in tumour progression and metastatic spread. Snail and E-cadherin expression were assessed by immunohistochemistry in 26 resected ACCs and real-time quantitative RT–PCR expression analysis was performed. Data were correlated with clinical outcome and in particular with overall patient survival. Seventeen of 26 (65%) ACC tumour samples expressed Snail when assessed by immunohistochemistry. Snail expression was neither detected in normal adrenocortical tissue, nor in benign adrenocortical adenomas. Expression levels were confirmed on the mRNA level by Real-Time–PCR. Survival rates were significantly decreased in Snail-positive tumours compared to Snail-negative tumours: 10 out of 16 vs one out of eight patients succumbed to disease after a median follow up of 14.5 and 28.5 months, respectively (P=0.03). Patients with Snail-expressing ACCs presented in advanced disease (11 out of 12 vs 6 out of 14, P=0.01) and tend to develop distant metastases more frequently than patients with negative staining (7 out of 11 vs two out of eight, P=0.19). In conclusion, we describe for the first time that Snail is expressed in a large subset of ACCs. Furthermore, Snail expression is associated with decreased survival, advanced disease and higher risk of developing distant metastases.
adrenocortical carcinomas; Snail; survival
In developing amniote embryos, the first epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs at gastrulation, when a subset of epiblast cells moves to the primitive streak and undergoes EMT to internalize and generate the mesoderm and the endoderm. We show that in the chick embryo this decision to internalize is mediated by reciprocal transcriptional repression of Snail2 and Sox3 factors. We also show that the relationship between Sox3 and Snail is conserved in the mouse embryo and in human cancer cells. In the embryo, Snail-expressing cells ingress at the primitive streak, whereas Sox3-positive cells, which are unable to ingress, ensure the formation of ectodermal derivatives. Thus, the subdivision of the early embryo into the two main territories, ectodermal and mesendodermal, is regulated by changes in cell behavior mediated by the antagonistic relationship between Sox3 and Snail transcription factors.
► Snail and Sox3 are reciprocal direct transcriptional repressors ► Snail/Sox3 reciprocal repression defines ectodermal versus mesendodermal territories ► Snail2 induces cell delamination without inducing mesodermal or endodermal fates ► The Snail/Sox3 relationship is conserved in mouse embryos and human cancer cells
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays pivotal roles during embryonic development and carcinoma progression. Members of the Snail family of zinc finger transcription factors are central mediators of EMT and induce EMT in part by directly repressing epithelial markers such as E-cadherin, a gatekeeper of the epithelial phenotype and a suppressor of tumor invasion. However, the molecular mechanism underlying Snai1 (Snail)-mediated transcriptional repression remains incompletely understood. Here we show that Snai1 physically interacts with and recruits the histone demethylase LSD1 (KDM1A) to epithelial gene promoters. LSD1 removes dimethylation of lysine 4 on histone H3 (H3K4m2), a covalent histone modification associated with active chromatin. Importantly, LSD1 is essential for Snai1-mediated transcriptional repression and for maintenance of the silenced state of Snai1 target genes in invasive cancer cells. In the absence of LSD1, Snai1 fails to repress E-cadherin. In cancer cells in which E-cadherin is silenced, depletion of LSD1 results in partial de-repression of epithelial genes and elevated H3K4m2 levels at the E-cadherin promoter. These results underline the critical role of LSD1 in Snai1-dependent transcriptional repression of epithelial markers and suggest that the LSD1 complex may be a potential therapeutic target for prevention of tumor invasion.
EMT; E-cadherin; Snail; histone modifications; LSD1; bivalent
Snail1 is a transcription regulator of E-cadherin. The loss of E-cadherin seems to be a crucial step in the process of Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT initiates invasion and proliferation in many tumours. Overexpression of Snail1 is known to be associated with poor outcome in several solid tumours. The aim of this study was to analyse its expression profile and prognostic significance in colorectal cancer.
Tissue microarrays (TMA) containing paraffin-embedded primary colorectal cancer (CRC) tissue samples from 251 patients were used in this study. The expression of Snail1 and E-cadherin was assessed by immunohistochemistry in different tumour compartments, corresponding lymph node metastases and normal colonic mucosa. Intensity of staining was classified according to the Remmele score (standardized scoring system) as well as the semiquantitative score established by Blechschmidt et al.
Snail1 expression was observed in 76% of the CRC. Loss of E-cadherin was noted in 87% of the CRC. Snail1 positive tumours were significantly correlated with Snail1 positive lymph node metastases (p=0.03). There was no significant correlation between loss of E-cadherin and Snail1 expression, or between N-stage or grading and Snail1 expression. Kaplan-Meier survival analysis identified no prognostic impact of Snail1 expression on overall survival.
Snail1 expression was detectable in most of the CRC but showed no significant association with E-cadherin loss, clinical pathological characteristics or overall survival. The observed loss of E-cadherin could be explained by effects of other important EMT pathways, such as the Wnt-signalling cascade.
Snail1; E-cadherin; Colorectal carcinoma; Prognostic factor; EMT
The proliferation of retinal pigment epithelium (RPE) cells resulting from an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a key role in proliferative vitreoretinopathy (PVR), which leads to complex retinal detachment and the loss of vision. Genes of Snail family encode the zinc finger transcription factors that have been reported to be essential in EMT during embryonic development and cancer metastasis. However, the function of Snail in RPE cells undergoing EMT is largely unknown.
Transforming growth factor beta(TGF-β)-1 resulted in EMT in human RPE cells (ARPE-19), which was characterized by the expected decrease in E-cadherin and Zona occludin-1(ZO-1) expression, and the increase in fibronectin and α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA) expression, as well as the associated increase of Snail expression at both mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, TGF-β1 treatment caused a significant change in ARPE-19 cells morphology, with transition from a typical epithelial morphology to mesenchymal spindle-shaped. More interestingly, Snail silencing significantly attenuated TGF-β1-induced EMT in ARPE-19 cells by decreasing the mesenchymal markers fibronectin and a-SMA and increasing the epithelial marker E-cadherin and ZO-1. Snail knockdown could effectively suppress ARPE-19 cell migration. Finally, Snail was activated in epiretinal membranes from PVR patients. Taken together, Snail plays very important roles in TGF-β-1-induced EMT in human RPE cells and may contribute to the development of PVR.
Snail transcription factor plays a critical role in TGF-β1-induced EMT in human RPE cells, which provides deep insight into the pathogenesis of human PVR disease. The specific inhibition of Snail may provide a new approach to treat and prevent PVR.