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
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 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
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
The product of Snail1 gene is a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin expression and an inductor of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition in several epithelial tumour cell lines. Transcription of Snail1 is induced when epithelial cells are forced to acquire a mesenchymal phenotype. In this work we demonstrate that Snail1 protein limits its own expression: Snail1 binds to an E-box present in its promoter (at −146 with respect to the transcription start) and represses its activity. Therefore, mutation of the E-box increases Snail1 transcription in epithelial and mesenchymal cells. Evidence of binding of ectopic or endogenous Snail1 to its own promoter was obtained by chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments. Studies performed expressing different forms of Snail1 under the control of its own promoter demonstrate that disruption of the regulatory loop increases the cellular levels of Snail protein. These results indicate that expression of Snail1 gene can be regulated by its product and evidence the existence of a fine-tuning feed-back mechanism of regulation of Snail1 transcription.
The Snail gene product is a transcriptional repressor of E-cadherin expression and an inducer of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in several epithelial tumor cell lines. This report presents data indicating that Snail function is controlled by its intracellular location. The cytosolic distribution of Snail depended on export from the nucleus by a CRM1-dependent mechanism, and a nuclear export sequence (NES) was located in the regulatory domain of this protein. Export of Snail was controlled by phosphorylation of a Ser-rich sequence adjacent to this NES. Modification of this sequence released the restriction created by the zinc finger domain and allowed nuclear export of the protein. The phosphorylation and subcellular distribution of Snail are controlled by cell attachment to the extracellular matrix. Suspended cells presented higher levels of phosphorylated Snail and an augmented extranuclear localization with respect to cells attached to the plate. These findings show the existence in tumor cells of an effective and fine-tuning nontranscriptional mechanism of regulation of Snail activity dependent on the extracellular environment.
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.
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
E-cadherin is involved in intercellular binding and cellular polarity formation. Snail is a key regulator of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and is closely associated with tumor invasiveness due to its ability to suppress E-cadherin expression. We investigated the expressions of E-cadherin and Snail in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissue to determine the clinical significance of these proteins in HCC.
Immunohistochemistry was used to examine the expressions of E-cadherin and Snail in resected tissues from 59 patients diagnosed with HCC. We also evaluated the relationship between the expressions of these two molecules in HCC tissue and clinicopathologic factors in the patients.
Immunohistochemistry showed that Snail was stained in 20.3% of the HCC tissues and 3.4% of noncancerous tissues. Snail was not stained in the area of E-cadherin expression. The expression of Snail in the HCC tissue was associated with poorly differentiated HCC (P=0.028). The expression of Snail without E-cadherin staining in HCC tissue was significantly associated with postoperative HCC recurrence (P=0.013).
The expression of Snail in HCC tissue was associated with decreased expression of E-cadherin and poorly differentiated HCC. The expression of Snail without E-cadherin staining in HCC was associated with postoperative recurrence.
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Snail; E-cadherin; Immunohistochemistry; Differentiation
The transcriptional repressors Snail and Slug are situated at the core of several signaling pathways proposed to mediate epithelial to mesenchymal transition or EMT, which has been implicated in tumor metastasis. EMT involves an alteration from an organized, epithelial cell structure to a mesenchymal, invasive and migratory phenotype. In order to obtain a global view of the impact of Snail and Slug expression, we performed a microarray experiment using the MCF-7 breast cancer cell line, which does not express detectable levels of Snail or Slug. MCF-7 cells were infected with Snail, Slug or control adenovirus, and RNA samples isolated at various time points were analyzed across all transcripts. Our analyses indicated that Snail and Slug regulate many genes in common, but also have distinct sets of gene targets. Gene set enrichment analyses indicated that Snail and Slug directed the transcriptome of MCF-7 cells from a luminal towards a more complex pattern that includes many features of the claudin-low breast cancer signature. Of particular interest, genes involved in the TGF-beta signaling pathway are upregulated, while genes responsible for a differentiated morphology are downregulated following Snail or Slug expression. Further we noticed increased histone acetylation at the promoter region of the transforming growth factor beta-receptor II (TGFBR2) gene following Snail or Slug expression. Inhibition of the TGF-beta signaling pathway using selective small-molecule inhibitors following Snail or Slug addition resulted in decreased cell migration with no impact on the repression of cell junction molecules by Snail and Slug. We propose that there are two regulatory modules embedded within EMT: one that involves repression of cell junction molecules, and the other involving cell migration via TGF-beta and/or other pathways.
Snail1 and ZEB1 are transcriptional repressors that drive tumor initiation and metastasis in animal models. Snail1 and ZEB1 are frequently coexpressed in tumor cell lines, suggesting that these factors may cooperate to promote tumor progression. However, coexpression of these transcriptional repressors in primary human cancer specimens has not been investigated. Previous studies assessed expression in primary breast cancers of Snail1 messenger RNA, which does not reflect Snail1 activity because Snail1 is subject to posttranslational modifications that inhibit its nuclear localization/activity. In the current study, using breast tumor cell lines of known Snail1 and ZEB1 expression status, we developed immunohistochemistry protocols for detecting nuclear Snail1 and nuclear ZEB1 proteins. Using these protocols, we assessed nuclear Snail1 and nuclear ZEB1 expressions in primary human breast cancers of varying subtypes (n = 78). Nuclear Snail1 and estrogen receptor α expression were inversely associated in primary breast cancers, and nuclear Snail1 was expressed in approximately 80% of triple-negative breast cancers (lacking estrogen receptor α, progesterone receptor, and human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 overexpression). In contrast, nuclear ZEB1 was expressed at a significantly lower frequency in these breast cancers. Notably, nuclear Snail1 protein was detected in 45% of ductal carcinoma in situ specimens (n = 29), raising the important possibility that nuclear Snail1 expression in early stage breast lesions may predict future development of invasive breast cancer. Collectively, our studies demonstrate frequent expression of nuclear Snail1, but not nuclear ZEB1, in invasive, triple-negative breast cancers as well as in intraductal carcinomas.
Snail1; ZEB1; Breast cancer; Estrogen receptor; Ductal carcinoma in situ
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.
Expression of the snail gene is required for the epithelial-mesenchymal transitions that accompany mammalian gastrulation, neural crest migration, and organ formation. Pathological expression of snail contributes to the migratory capacity of invasive tumors, including melanomas. To investigate the mechanism of snail up regulation in human melanoma cells, a conserved enhancer located 3’ of the snail gene was analyzed. An overlapping Ets and YY1 consensus sequence, in addition to a SOX consensus sequence, were required for full enhancer activity. Proteins specifically binding these sequences were detected by EMSA. The Ets/YY1 binding activity was purified by DNA affinity chromatography and identified as YY1. Although ubiquitously expressed, YY1 was bound at the snail 3’ enhancer in vivo in snail-expressing cells but not in cells that did not express snail. Knockdown of YY1 in A375 cells led to decreased snail expression. These results identify a role for YY1 in regulating transcription of snail in melanoma cells through binding to the snail 3’ enhancer.
The product of the Snail1 gene is a transcriptional repressor required for triggering the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition. Furthermore, ectopic expression of Snail1 in epithelial cells promotes resistance to apoptosis. In this study, we demonstrate that this resistance to γ radiation-induced apoptosis caused by Snail1 is associated with the inhibition of PTEN phosphatase. In MDCK cells, mRNA levels of the p53 target gene PTEN are induced after γ radiation; the transfection of Snail1 prevents this up-regulation. Decreased mRNA levels of PTEN were also detected in RWP-1 cells after the ectopic expression of this transcriptional factor. Snail1 represses and associates to the PTEN promoter as detected both by the electrophoretic mobility shift assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation experiments performed with either endogenous or ectopic Snail1. The binding of Snail1 to the PTEN promoter increases after γ radiation, correlating with the stabilization of Snail1 protein, and prevents the association of p53 to the PTEN promoter. These results stress the critical role of Snail1 in the control of apoptosis and demonstrate the regulation of PTEN phosphatase by this transcriptional repressor.
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 SNAIL transcription factor contains C-terminal tandem zinc finger motifs and an N-terminal SNAG repression domain. The members of the SNAIL family have recently emerged as major contributors to the processes of development and metastasis via the regulation of epithelial-mesenchymal transition events during embryonic development and tumor progression. However, the mechanisms by which SNAIL represses gene expression are largely undefined. Previously we demonstrated that the AJUBA family of LIM proteins function as corepressors for SNAIL and, as such, may serve as a platform for the assembly of chromatin-modifying factors. Here, we describe the identification of the protein arginine methyltransferase 5 (PRMT5) as an effector recruited to SNAIL through an interaction with AJUBA that functions to repress the SNAIL target gene, E-cadherin. PRMT5 binds to the non-LIM region of AJUBA and is translocated into the nucleus in a SNAIL- and AJUBA-dependent manner. The depletion of PRMT5 in p19 cells stimulates E-cadherin expression, and the SNAIL, AJUBA, and PRMT5 ternary complex can be found at the proximal promoter region of the E-cadherin gene, concomitant with increased arginine methylation of histones at the locus. Together, these data suggest that PRMT5 is an effector of SNAIL-dependent gene repression.
Snail family proteins are core EMT (epithelial-mesenchymal transition) regulatory factors that play essential roles in both development and disease processes and have been associated with metastasis in carcinomas. Snail factors are required for the formation of neural crest stem cells in most vertebrate embryos, as well as for the migratory invasive behavior of these cells. Snail factors have recently been linked to the formation of cancer stem cells, and expression of Snail proteins may be associated with tumor recurrence and resistance to chemotherapy and radiotherapy. We report that Co(III)-Ebox is a potent inhibitor of Snail- mediated transcriptional repression in breast cancer cells and in the neural crest of Xenopus. We further show that the activity of Co(III)-Ebox can be modulated by temperature, increasing the utility of this conjugate as a Snail inhibitor in model organisms. We exploit this feature to further delineate the requirements for Snail function during neural crest development, showing that in addition to the roles that Snail factors play in neural crest precursor formation and neural crest EMT/migration, inhibition of Snail function after the onset of neural crest migration leads to a loss of neural crest derived melanocytes. Co(III)-Ebox-mediated inhibition therefore provides a powerful tool for analysing the function of these core EMT factors with unparalleled temporal resolution. Moreover, the potency of Co(III)-Ebox as a Snail inhibitor in breast cancer cells suggests its potential as a therapeutic inhibitor of tumor progression and metastasis.
Snail family transcriptional repressors regulate epithelial mesenchymal transitions during physiological and pathological processes. A conserved SNAG repression domain present in all vertebrate Snail proteins is necessary for repressor complex assembly. Here, we identify the Ajuba family of LIM proteins as functional corepressors of the Snail family via an interaction with the SNAG domain. Ajuba LIM proteins interact with Snail in the nucleus on endogenous E-cadherin promoters and contribute to Snail-dependent repression of E-cadherin. Using Xenopus neural crest as a model of in vivo Snail- or Slug-induced EMT, we demonstrate that Ajuba LIM proteins contribute to neural crest development as Snail/Slug corepressors and are required for in vivo Snail/Slug function. Because Ajuba LIM proteins are also components of adherens junction and contribute to their assembly or stability, their functional interaction with Snail proteins in the nucleus suggests that Ajuba LIM proteins are important regulators of epithelia dynamics communicating surface events with nuclear responses.
LIM proteins; Snail; Slug; Neural crest development; Epithelial Mesenchymal Transitions; E-cadherin; Xenopus
Snail is a transcriptional factor which is known to influence the epitheliomesenchymal transition (EMT) by regulating adhesion proteins such as E-cadherin and claudins as well as matrix metalloproteases (MMP).
To evaluate the functional importance of snail, a transciptional factor involved in EMT in lung tumors, we investigated its expression in a large set of lung carcinomas by immunohistochemistry. Expression of snail and effects of snail knockdown was studied in cell lines.
Nuclear snail expression was seen in 21% of cases this being strongest in small cell lung carcinomas (SCLC). There was significantly greater snail expression in SCLC compared to squamous cell or adenocarcinoma. Positive snail expression was associated with poor survival in the whole material and separately in squamous cell and adenocarcinomas. In Cox regression analysis, snail expression showed an independent prognostic value in all of these groups. In several cell lines knockdown of snail reduced invasion in both matrigel assay and in the myoma tissue model for invasion. The influence of snail knockdown on claudin expression was cell type specific. Snail knockdown in these cell lines modified the expression of MMP2 and MMP9 but did not influence the activation of these MMPs to any significant degree.
The results show that snail plays an important role in the invasive characteristics of lung carcinoma influencing the survival of the patients. Snail knockdown might thus be one option for targeted molecular therapy in lung cancer. Snail knockdown influenced the expression of claudins individually in a cell-line dependent manner but did not influence MMP expressions or activations to any significant degree.
Lung; Carcinoma; Snail; Claudin; MMP
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.
The prognosis of squamous cell carcinoma of the oral tongue is poor and it would be beneficial to find prognostic markers to better adjust treatment. Bmi-1 controls cell cycle and self-renewal of tissue stem cells, transcription factor c-myc affects cell proliferation and apoptosis, and Snail regulates epithelial–mesenchymal transition. The expression of these markers has been connected to prognosis in many cancer types.
Bmi-1, c-myc, and Snail expressions were studied in our material consisting of 73 primarily T1N0M0 oral tongue carcinoma patients. We compared the immunoexpressions of Bmi1, c-myc, and Snail with clinical parameters including the degree of histological differentiation, tumour size, TNM classification, depth of invasion, and resection margins. In addition, survival analyses were performed, comparing disease-free survival time with the registered protein expression of the markers mentioned above.
A significant correlation between Bmi-1 protein expression and recurrence (log-rank test, P=0.005) was detected. Snail and c-myc expression did not correlate with prognosis. Snail expression correlated with histopathological grade (Fisher's exact test, P=0.007) and with the invasion depth of tumours (χ2-test, P=0.037).
Negative Bmi-1 immunoexpression might serve as a marker of poor prognosis in oral tongue carcinoma patients.
Bmi-1; c-myc; Snail; oral cancer; prognosis; immunohistochemistry
The E-cadherin transcriptional repressor Snail is a prognostic marker for metastatic breast carcinoma, as well as a critical determinant of tumor growth and recurrence. We define a non-angiogenic, autocrine function for the vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) in regulating Snail expression in breast tumor cells. The transfection of well-differentiated breast tumor cells with VEGF-A increases Snail mRNA and protein levels, resulting in reduced E-cadherin expression. Conversely, reducing endogenous VEGF-A expression in poorly-differentiated breast tumor cells by siRNA transfection decreases Snail levels. Our studies demonstrate that VEGF and the VEGF receptor Neuropilin-1 increase Snail expression by suppressing the Glycogen Synthase Kinase-3 (GSK-3), an established inhibitor of Snail transcription and protein stability. The VEGF-A neutralizing antibody Avastin® was recently approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer. We present the provocative finding that beyond its anti-angiogenic activity, Avastin® can reduce Snail expression in breast tumor cells. Collectively, this work describes a novel autocrine function for VEGF in breast tumor cells in driving the expression of Snail, a breast tumor progression factor. Based on our demonstration that Avastin® reduces Snail expression in breast tumor cells, we propose that the treatment of early stage breast cancer patients with Avastin® may impede tumor progression.
VEGF; autocrine; Neuropilin; Snail; Avastin
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
Placental malfunction in preeclampsia is believed to be a consequence of aberrant differentiation of trophoblast lineages and changes in utero-placental oxygenation. The transcription factor Snail, a master regulator molecule of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in embryonic development and in cancer, is shown to be involved in trophoblast differentiation as well. Moreover, Snail can be controlled by oxidative stress and hypoxia. Therefore, we examined the expression of Snail and its downstream target, e-cadherin, in human normal term, preterm and preeclamptic placentas, and in pregnant rats that developed preeclampsia-like symptoms in the response to a 20-fold increase in sodium intake.
Western blotting analysis was used for comparative expression of Snail and e- cadherin in total protein extracts. Placental cells expressing Snail and e-cadherin were identified by immunohistochemical double-labeling technique.
The levels of Snail protein were decreased in human preeclamptic placentas by 30% (p < 0.01) compared to normal term, and in the rat model by 40% (p < 0.001) compared to control placentas. In preterm placentas, the levels of Snail expression varied, yet there was a strong trend toward statistical significance between preterm and preeclamptic placentas. In humans, e-cadherin protein level was 30% higher in preeclamptic (p < 0.05) placentas and similarly, but not significantly (p = 0.1), high in the preterm placentas compared to normal term. In the rat model of preeclampsia, e-cadherin was increased by 60% (p < 0.01). Immunohistochemical examination of human placentas demonstrated Snail-positive staining in the nuclei of the villous trophoblasts and mesenchymal cells and in the invasive trophoblasts of the decidua. In the rat placenta, the majority of Snail positive cells were spongiotrophoblasts of the junctional zone, while in the labyrinth, Snail-positive sinusoidal giant trophoblasts cells were found in some focal areas located close to the junctional zone.
We demonstrated that human preeclampsia and the salt-induced rat model of preeclampsia are associated with the reduced levels of Snail protein in placenta. Down-regulation of the transcription factor Snail in placental progenitor cell lineages, either by intrinsic defects and/or by extrinsic and maternal factors, may affect normal placenta development and function and thus contribute to the pathology of preeclampsia.
Preeclampsia; Placenta; Snail; Trophoblast; E-cadherin
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical process providing tumor cells with the ability to migrate and escape from the primary tumor and metastasize to distant sites. Recently, EMT was shown to be associated with the cancer stem cell (CSC) phenotype in breast cancer. Snail is a transcription factor that mediates EMT in a number of tumor types, including colorectal cancer (CRC). Our study was done to determine the role of Snail in mediating EMT and CSC function in CRC. Human CRC specimens were stained for Snail expression, and human CRC cell lines were transduced with a retroviral Snail construct or vector control. Cell proliferation and chemosensitivity to oxaliplatin of the infected cells were determined by the MTT (colorimetric 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide) assay. Migration and invasion were determined in vitro using modified Boyden chamber assays. EMT and putative CSC markers were analyzed using Western blotting. Intravenous injection of tumor cells was done to evaluate their metastatic potential in mice. Snail was overexpressed in human CRC surgical specimens. This overexpression induced EMT and a CSC-like phenotype in human CRC cells and enhanced cell migration and invasion (P < 0.002 vs. control). Snail overexpression also led to an increase in metastasis formation in vivo (P < 0.002 vs. control). Furthermore, the Snail-overexpressing CRC cells were more chemoresistant to oxaliplatin than control cells. Increased Snail expression induces EMT and the CSC-like phenotype in CRC cells, which enhance cancer cell invasion and chemoresistance. Thus, Snail is a potential therapeutic target in metastatic CRC.
Cancer stem cells; colorectal cancer; EMT; migration; Snail