Zinc finger E-box binding (ZEB) proteins ZEB1 and ZEB2 are transcription factors essential in transforming growth factor (TGF)-β-mediated senescence, epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cell function. ZEBs are negatively regulated by members of the miR-200 microRNA family, but precisely how tumor cells expressing ZEBs emerge during invasive growth remains unknown. Here we report that NOTCH3-mediated signaling prevents expansion of a unique subset of ZEB-expressing cells. ZEB expression was associated with the lack of cellular capability of undergoing NOTCH3-mediated squamous differentiation in human esophageal cells. Genetic inhibition of the Notch-mediated transcriptional activity by dominant-negative Mastermind-like1 (DNMAML1) prevented squamous differentiation and induction of Notch target genes including NOTCH3. Moreover, DNMAML1 enriched EMT competent cells exhibited robust upregulation of ZEBs, downregulation of the miR-200 family, and enhanced anchorage independent growth and tumor formation in nude mice. RNA interference (RNAi) experiments suggested the involvement of ZEBs in anchorage independent colony formation, invasion and TGF-β-mediated EMT. Invasive growth and impaired squamous differentiation was recapitulated upon Notch inhibition by DNMAML1 in organotypic 3D culture, a form of human tissue engineering. Together, our findings indicate that NOTCH3 is a key factor limiting the expansion of ZEB-expressing cells, providing novel mechanistic insights into the role of Notch signaling in the cell fate regulation and disease progression of squamous esophageal cancers.
Notch; EMT; squamous cell differentiation; ZEB1; miR-200
Insulin-like growth factor-binding protein (IGFBP)-3 is overexpressed frequently in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Yet, the role of IGFBP3 in esophageal tumor biology remains to be elucidated. We find that IGFBP3 facilitates transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in transformed human esophageal epithelial cells, EPC2–hTERT–EGFR–p53R175H. In organotypic 3D culture, a form of human tissue engineering, laser-capture microdissection revealed concurrent upregulation of TGF-β target genes, IGFBP3 and EMT-related genes in the cells invading into the stromal compartment. IGFBP3 enhanced TGF-β1-mediated EMT as well as transcription factors essential in EMT by allowing persistent SMAD2 and SMAD3 phosphorylation. TGF-β1-mediated EMT and cell invasion were enhanced by ectopically expressed IGFBP3 and suppressed by RNA interference directed against IGFBP3. The IGFBP3 knockdown effect was rescued by IGFBP3I56G/L80G/L81G, a mutant IGFBP3 lacking an insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding capacity. Thus, IGFBP3 can regulate TGF-β1-mediated EMT and cell invasion in an IGF or insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor-independent manner. IGFBP3I56G/L80G/L81G also promoted EMT in vivo in a Ras-transformed human esophageal cell line T-TeRas upon xenograft transplantation in nude mice. In aggregate, IGFBP3 may have a novel IGF-binding independent biological function in regulation of TGF-β1-mediated EMT and cell invasion.
Overexpression of zinc finger E-box binding homeobox transcription factor 1 (ZEB1) in cancer leads to epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and increased metastasis. As opposed to overexpression, we show that mutation of the ZEB1 gene in mice causes a mesenchymal-epithelial transition in gene expression characterized by ectopic expression of epithelial genes such as E-cadherin and loss of expression of mesenchymal genes such as vimentin. And in contrast to rapid proliferation in cancer cells where ZEB1 is overexpressed, this mesenchymal-epithelial transition in mutant mice is associated with diminished proliferation of progenitor cells at sites of development defects including the forming palate, skeleton and CNS. ZEB1 gene dosage-dependent deregulation of epithelial and mesenchymal genes extends to mouse embryonic fibroblasts (MEFs), and mutant MEFs also display diminished replicative capacity in culture, leading to premature senescence. Replicative senescence in MEFs is classically triggered by products of the INK4a gene. However, this INK4a pathway is not activated during senescence of ZEB1 gene mutant MEFs. Instead, there is ectopic expression of two other cell cycle inhibitory cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors, p15INK4b and p21CDKN1a. And, we demonstrated that this ectopic expression of p15INK4b extends in vivo to sites of diminished progenitor cell proliferation and developmental defects in ZEB1 gene null mice.
MicroRNAs have been implicated in tumor progression. Recent studies have shown that miR-200 family regulates Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) by targeting zinc-finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) and ZEB2. Emerging evidence from our laboratory and others suggest that the processes of EMT can be triggered by various growth factors such as Transforming Growth Factor-beta (TGF-β) and Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-D (PDGF-D). Moreover, we have recently reported that over-expression of PDGF-D in prostate cancer cells (PC3 PDGF-D cells) leads to the acquisition of EMT phenotype, and this model offers an opportunity for investigating the molecular interplay between PDGF-D signaling and EMT. Here we report, for the first time, significant down-regulation of miR-200 family in PC3 PDGF-D cells as well as in PC3 cells exposed to purified active PDGF-D protein, resulting in the up-regulation of ZEB1, ZEB2 and snail2 expression. Interestingly, re-expression of miR-200b in PC3 PDGF-D cells led to the reversal of EMT phenotype, which was associated with the down-regulation of ZEB1, ZEB2 and snail2 expression and these results were consistent with increased gene expressions of epithelial markers. Moreover, transfection of PC3 PDGF-D cells with miR-200b inhibited cell migration and invasion with concomitant repression of cell adhesion to culture surface and cell detachment. From these results, we conclude that PDGF-D induced acquisition of EMT phenotype of PC3 cells is in part due to repression of miR-200 and that any novel strategies by which miR-200 could be up-regulated would become a promising approach for the treatment of invasive prostate cancer.
Platelet-Derived Growth Factor-D (PDGF-D); Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition (EMT); miR-200; zinc-finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1); snail2
The embryonic programme ‘epithelial–mesenchymal transition' (EMT) is thought to promote malignant tumour progression. The transcriptional repressor zinc-finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) is a crucial inducer of EMT in various human tumours, and was recently shown to promote invasion and metastasis of tumour cells. Here, we report that ZEB1 directly suppresses transcription of microRNA-200 family members miR-141 and miR-200c, which strongly activate epithelial differentiation in pancreatic, colorectal and breast cancer cells. Notably, the EMT activators transforming growth factor β2 and ZEB1 are the predominant targets downregulated by these microRNAs. These results indicate that ZEB1 triggers an microRNA-mediated feedforward loop that stabilizes EMT and promotes invasion of cancer cells. Alternatively, depending on the environmental trigger, this loop might switch and induce epithelial differentiation, and thus explain the strong intratumorous heterogeneity observed in many human cancers.
EMT; feedback loop; invasion; microRNA; ZEB1
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition is a form of cellular plasticity that is critical for embryonic development and tumor metastasis. This study shows that a signaling network involving autocrine TGF-β signaling, ZEB transcription factors, and the miR-200 family regulates interconversion between epithelial and mesenchymal states.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a form of cellular plasticity that is critical for embryonic development and tumor metastasis. A double-negative feedback loop involving the miR-200 family and ZEB (zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox) transcription factors has been postulated to control the balance between epithelial and mesenchymal states. Here we demonstrate using the epithelial Madin Darby canine kidney cell line model that, although manipulation of the ZEB/miR-200 balance is able to repeatedly switch cells between epithelial and mesenchymal states, the induction and maintenance of a stable mesenchymal phenotype requires the establishment of autocrine transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling to drive sustained ZEB expression. Furthermore, we show that prolonged autocrine TGF-β signaling induced reversible DNA methylation of the miR-200 loci with corresponding changes in miR-200 levels. Collectively, these findings demonstrate the existence of an autocrine TGF-β/ZEB/miR-200 signaling network that regulates plasticity between epithelial and mesenchymal states. We find a strong correlation between ZEBs and TGF-β and negative correlations between miR-200 and TGF-β and between miR-200 and ZEBs, in invasive ductal carcinomas, consistent with an autocrine TGF-β/ZEB/miR-200 signaling network being active in breast cancers.
In human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) correlates with aggressiveness of tumors and poor survival. We employed a model of EMT based on immortalized p19ARF null hepatocytes (MIM), which display tumor growth upon expression of oncogenic Ras and undergo EMT through the synergism of Ras and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β. Here, we show that the interleukin-related protein interleukin-like EMT inducer (ILEI), a novel EMT-, tumor- and metastasis-inducing protein, cooperates with oncogenic Ras to cause TGF-β-independent EMT. Ras-transformed MIM hepatocytes overexpressing ILEI showed cytoplasmic E-cadherin, loss of ZO-1 and induction of α-smooth muscle actin as well as platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)/PDGF-R isoforms. As shown by dominant-negative PDGF-R expression in these cells, ILEI-induced PDGF signaling was required for enhanced cell migration, nuclear accumulation of β-catenin, nuclear pY-Stat3 and accelerated growth of lung metastases. In MIM hepatocytes expressing the Ras mutant V12-C40, ILEI collaborated with PI3K signaling resulting in tumor formation without EMT. Clinically, human HCC samples showed granular or cytoplasmic localization of ILEI correlating with well and poorly differentiated tumors, respectively. In conclusion, these data indicate that ILEI requires cooperation with oncogenic Ras to govern hepatocellular EMT through mechanisms involving PDGF-R/β-catenin and PDGF-R/Stat3 signaling.
hepatocyte; ILEI; epithelial to mesenchymal transition; HCC; tumor progression
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.
Over 90% of all cancers are carcinomas, malignancies derived from cells of epithelial origin. As carcinomas progress, these tumors may lose epithelial morphology and acquire mesenchymal characteristics which contribute to metastatic potential. An epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) similar to the process critical for embryonic development is thought to be an important mechanism for promoting cancer invasion and metastasis. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions have been induced in vitro by transient or unregulated activation of receptor tyrosine kinase signaling pathways, oncogene signaling and disruption of homotypic cell adhesion. These cellular models attempt to mimic the complexity of human carcinomas which respond to autocrine and paracrine signals from both the tumor and its microenvironment. Activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) has been implicated in the neoplastic transformation of solid tumors and overexpression of EGFR has been shown to correlate with poor survival. Notably, epithelial tumor cells have been shown to be significantly more sensitive to EGFR inhibitors than tumor cells which have undergone an EMT-like transition and acquired mesenchymal characteristics, including non-small cell lung (NSCLC), head and neck (HN), bladder, colorectal, pancreas and breast carcinomas. EGFR blockade has also been shown to inhibit cellular migration, suggesting a role for EGFR inhibitors in the control of metastasis. The interaction between EGFR and the multiple signaling nodes which regulate EMT suggest that the combination of an EGFR inhibitor and other molecular targeted agents may offer a novel approach to controlling metastasis.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; EMT; EGFR; IGF-1R; PDGFR; Cancer; Metastasis; Erlotinib; Snail; Zeb-1; Twist; Vimentin; E-cadherin
The Hippo signaling pathway regulates cellular proliferation and survival, thus exerting profound effects on normal cell fate and tumorigenesis. We previously showed that the pivotal effector of this pathway, YAP, is amplified in tumors and promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and malignant transformation. Here, we report that overexpression of TAZ, a paralog of YAP, in human mammary epithelial cells promotes EMT and, in particular, some invasive structures in 3D cultures. TAZ also leads to cell migration and anchorage-independent growth in soft agar. Furthermore, we identified amphiregulin (AREG), an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) ligand, as a target of TAZ. We show that AREG functions in a non-cell-autonomous manner to mediate EGF-independent growth and malignant behavior of mammary epithelial cells. In addition, ablation of TEAD binding completely abolishes the TAZ-induced phenotype. Last, analysis of breast cancer patient samples reveals a positive correlation between TAZ and AREG in vivo. In summary, TAZ-dependent secretion of AREG indicates that activation of the EGFR signaling is an important non-cell-autonomous effector of the Hippo pathway, and TAZ as well as its targets may play significant roles in breast tumorigenesis and metastasis.
amphiregulin (AREG); epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); Hippo pathway; TAZ; tumor metastasis
Modifications in adhesion molecules profile may change the way tumor cells interact with the surrounding microenvironment. The Cadherin family is a large group of transmembrane proteins that dictate the specificity of the cellular interactions. The Cadherin switch that takes place during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) contributes to loosening the rigid organization of epithelial tissues and to enhancing motility and invasiveness of tumor cells. Recently, we found Cadherin-6 (CDH6, also known as K-CAD) highly expressed in thyroid tumor cells that display mesenchymal features and aggressive phenotype, following the overexpression of the transcriptional regulator Id1. In this work, we explored the possibility that CDH6 is part of the EMT program in thyroid tumors. We demonstrate that CDH6 is a new transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) target and that its expression is modulated similarly to other EMT mesenchymal markers, both in vitro and in thyroid tumor patients. We show for the first time that CDH6 is expressed in human thyroid carcinomas and that its expression is enhanced at the invasive front of the tumor. Finally, we show that CDH6 is under the control of the transcription factor RUNX2, which we previously described as a crucial mediator of the Id1 pro-invasive function in thyroid tumor cells. Overall, these observations provide novel information on the mechanism of the EMT program in tumor progression and indicate CDH6 as a potential regulator of invasiveness in thyroid tumors.
Background & Aims
Colorectal cancers (CRCs) displaying DNA microsatellite instability (MSI) are associated with a favorable natural history, but the molecular basis for this observation has not been defined. We sought to determine whether the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is impaired in MSI-positive CRCs that characteristically have a mutant transforming growth factor-β receptor type II (TGFBR2) gene.
The induction of EMT by TGF-β1 was analyzed by phase contrast microscopy, immunofluorescence, qRT-PCR, immunoblotting, and cellular migration and invasion assays. Expression of EMT markers was evaluated by immunohistochemistry and qRT-PCR in a series of human colorectal tumors.
TGF-β1 induced changes in cellular morphology, gene expression, motility, and invasion consistent with EMT in microsatellite stable (MSS) colon cancer cells whereas cells with MSI and mutant TGFBR2 were unresponsive to TGF-β1. These effects did not require Smad4 but depended upon the recruitment of ERK. Tumor cells with MSI but wildtype TGFBR2 underwent EMT in response to TGF-β1, indicating that TGFBR2 genotype is a key determinant of the EMT response in tumors with MSI. In human colorectal tumors, expression of EMT markers was significantly associated with adverse clinicopathologic features and the absence of MSI.
These findings define a unique genotype-phenotype relationship between TGFBR2 and EMT that may contribute to the improved prognosis consistently observed in colon cancers with MSI.
epithelial to mesenchymal transition; microsatellite instability; colorectal cancer; transforming growth factor-β receptor type II
EMT requires cooperation of the EGF/Ras with the TGF-β signaling pathways in a multistep process. ERF, a bona fide Ras-Erk effector, inhibits TGF-β–induced EMT via Semaphorin-7a repression, and Semaphorin-7a induction is required for EMT progress. These data provide new insights into the Ras–TGF-β interconnection.
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key process in cancer progression and metastasis, requiring cooperation of the epidermal growth factor/Ras with the transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway in a multistep process. The molecular mechanisms by which Ras signaling contributes to EMT, however, remain elusive to a large extent. We therefore examined the transcriptional repressor Ets2-repressor factor (ERF)—a bona fide Ras–extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase effector—for its ability to interfere with TGF-β–induced EMT in mammary epithelial cells (EpH4) expressing oncogenic Ras (EpRas). ERF-overexpressing EpRas cells failed to undergo TGF-β–induced EMT, formed three-dimensional tubular structures in collagen gels, and retained expression of epithelial markers. Transcriptome analysis indicated that TGF-β signaling through Smads was mostly unaffected, and ERF suppressed the TGF-β–induced EMT via Semaphorin-7a repression. Forced expression of Semaphorin-7a in ERF-overexpressing EpRas cells reestablished their ability to undergo EMT. In contrast, inhibition of Semaphorin-7a in the parental EpRas cells inhibited their ability to undergo TGF-β–induced EMT. Our data suggest that oncogenic Ras may play an additional role in EMT via the ERF, regulating Semaphorin-7a and providing a new interconnection between the Ras- and the TGF-β–signaling pathways.
Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) induced by Transforming Growth Factor-β (TGF-β) is an important cellular event in organogenesis, cancer, and organ fibrosis. The process to reverse EMT is not well established. Our purpose is to define signaling pathways and transcription factors that maintain the TGF-β-induced mesenchymal state.
Inhibitors of five kinases implicated in EMT, TGF-β Type I receptor kinase (TβRI), p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (p38 MAPK), MAP kinase kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase activator kinase (MEK1), c-Jun NH-terminal kinase (JNK), and Rho kinase (ROCK), were evaluated for reversal of the mesenchymal state induced in renal tubular epithelial cells. Single agents did not fully reverse EMT as determined by cellular morphology and gene expression. However, exposure to the TβRI inhibitor SB431542, combined with the ROCK inhibitor Y27632, eliminated detectable actin stress fibers and mesenchymal gene expression while restoring epithelial E-cadherin and Kidney-specific cadherin (Ksp-cadherin) expression. A second combination, the TβRI inhibitor SB431542 together with the p38 MAPK inhibitor SB203580, was partially effective in reversing EMT. Furthermore, JNK inhibitor SP600125 inhibits the effectiveness of the TβRI inhibitor SB431542 to reverse EMT. To explore the molecular basis underlying EMT reversal, we also targeted the transcriptional repressors ZEB1 and ZEB2/SIP1. Decreasing ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression in mouse mammary gland cells with shRNAs was sufficient to up-regulate expression of epithelial proteins such as E-cadherin and to re-establish epithelial features. However, complete restoration of cortical F-actin required incubation with the ROCK inhibitor Y27632 in combination with ZEB1/2 knockdown.
We demonstrate that reversal of EMT requires re-establishing both epithelial transcription and structural components by sustained and independent signaling through TβRI and ROCK. These findings indicate that combination small molecule therapy targeting multiple kinases may be necessary to reverse disease conditions.
Matrix rigidity regulates a switch between TGF-β1–induced cell functions in two epithelial cell lines. On compliant polyacrylamide gels, TGF-β1 induced apoptosis, whereas on rigid gels, cells underwent an epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT). Compliant gels reduced PI3K/Akt activity, which was essential for cell survival and EMT on rigid gels.
The transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway is often misregulated during cancer progression. In early stages of tumorigenesis, TGF-β acts as a tumor suppressor by inhibiting proliferation and inducing apoptosis. However, as the disease progresses, TGF-β switches to promote tumorigenic cell functions, such as epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and increased cell motility. Dramatic changes in the cellular microenvironment are also correlated with tumor progression, including an increase in tissue stiffness. However, it is unknown whether these changes in tissue stiffness can regulate the effects of TGF-β. To this end, we examined normal murine mammary gland cells and Madin–Darby canine kidney epithelial cells cultured on polyacrylamide gels with varying rigidity and treated with TGF-β1. Varying matrix rigidity switched the functional response to TGF-β1. Decreasing rigidity increased TGF-β1–induced apoptosis, whereas increasing rigidity resulted in EMT. Matrix rigidity did not change Smad signaling, but instead regulated the PI3K/Akt signaling pathway. Direct genetic and pharmacologic manipulations further demonstrated a role for PI3K/Akt signaling in the apoptotic and EMT responses. These findings demonstrate that matrix rigidity regulates a previously undescribed switch in TGF-β–induced cell functions and provide insight into how changes in tissue mechanics during disease might contribute to the cellular response to TGF-β.
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.
Aberrant epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) signaling is a major cause of tumor progression and metastasis; the underlying mechanisms, however, are not well understood. In particular, it remains elusive whether deregulated EGFR pathway is involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), an early event that occurs during metastasis of cancers of an epithelial origin. Here, we show that EGF induces EGFR-expressing cancer cells to undergo a transition from the epithelial to the spindle-like mesenchymal morphology. EGF reduced E-cadherin expression and increased that of mesenchymal proteins. In search of a downstream mediator that may account for EGF-induced EMT, we focused on transcription repressors of E-cadherin, TWIST, SLUG, and Snail and found that cancer cells express high levels of TWIST and that EGF enhances its expression. EGF significantly increases TWIST transcripts and protein in EGFR-expressing lines. Forced expression of EGFR reactivates TWIST expression in EGFR-null cells. TWIST expression is suppressed by EGFR and Janus-activated kinase (JAK)/signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) inhibitors, but not significantly by those targeting phosphoinositide-3 kinase and MEK/ERK. Furthermore, constitutively active STAT3 significantly activates the TWIST promoter, whereas the JAK/STAT3 inhibitor and dominant-negative STAT3 suppressed TWIST promoter. Deletion/mutation studies further show that a 26-bp promoter region contains putative STAT3 elements required for the EGF-responsiveness of the TWIST promoter. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays further show that EGF induces binding of nuclear STAT3 to the TWIST promoter. Immunohistochemical analysis of 130 primary breast carcinomas indicates positive correlations between non-nuclear EGFR and TWIST and between phosphorylated STAT3 and TWIST. Together, we report here that EGF/EGFR signaling pathways induce cancer cell EMT via STAT3-mediated TWIST gene expression.
The E-box binding zinc finger transcription factors Slug and ZEB1 are important repressors of E-cadherin, contributing to epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in primary epithelial cancers. Activator or repressor status of EMT transcription factors defines consequences for tumorigenesis. We show that changes in expression levels of Slug in melanoma cell lines lead to concomitant alterations of ZEB1 expression. Electrophoretic mobility shift, luciferase reporter and chromatin immunoprecipitation assays identified Slug as a direct transcriptional activator at E-boxes of the ZEB1 promoter. Transcriptional activation of ZEB1 was demonstrated to be specific for Slug, since EMT regulators Snail and Twist failed to influence ZEB1 expression. Slug and ZEB1 cooperatively repressed E-cadherin expression resulting in decreased adhesion to human keratinocytes, but promoted migration of melanoma cells. Our results show that the transcriptional activity of ZEB1 is increased by Slug, suggesting a hierarchical organized expression of EMT transcription factors through directed activation, triggering an EMT-like process in melanoma.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has been known to play a key role in the stromal invasion of carcinoma in situ (CIS) lesion. Loss of E-cadherin and acquisition of vimentin are two critical steps in EMT, that are induced by Snail-1 upregulation associated with overexpression of epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). However, roles of EMT-related proteins in human cervical tissues have not been fully elucidated. In this study, we investigated the immunoexpressions of EMT-related proteins in CIS, microinvasive squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and invasive SCC to demonstrate their key roles in tumor progression.
Eighty one CIS, 17 microinvasive, and 21 invasive SCC cases were immunostained with primary antibodies for Snail-1, EGFR, E-cadherin, and vimentin on paraffin-embedded tissue microarray blocks.
EGFR and Snail-1 proteins were highly expressed but the levels were not significantly different between the three groups. However, loss of E-cadherin and acquisition of vimentin were proven to occur significantly higher in microinvasive and invasive SCC cases than in CIS.
E-cadherin and vimentin were found to be two useful indicators of EMT in evaluating stromal invasion of CIS. However, it was not demonstrated for Snail-1 and EGFR proteins to play any key role in the progression of cervix cancer.
Cadherins; Vimentin; Epithelial-mesenchymal transition; Uterine cervical neoplasms
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) promotes cellular motility, invasiveness and metastasis during embryonic development and tumorigenesis. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway is a key regulator of EMT. A lot of evidences suggest that this process is Smad3-dependent. Herein we showed that exposure of aspc-1 and panc-1 pancreatic cancer cells to TGF-β1 resulted in characteristic morphological alterations of EMT, and enhancement of cell motility and gemcitabine (Gem) resistance along with an up-regulation of EMT markers genes such as vimentin, N-cadherin, MMP2 and MMP9. Naringenin (Nar) down-regulated EMT markers expression in both mRNA and protein levels by inhibiting TGF-β1/Smad3 signal pathway in the pancreatic cancer cells. Consequently, Nar suppressed the cells migration and invasion and reversed their resistance to Gem.
TGF-β regulates isoform switching of FGF receptors and epithelial–mesenchymal transition
Both TGF-β and FGF signalling regulate the epithelial–mesenchymal transition. Here, TGF-β is found to promote myofibroblast differentiation, while concomitant FGF pathway activation instead drives cells towards an invasive mesenchymal fate.
The epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a crucial event in wound healing, tissue repair, and cancer progression in adult tissues. Here, we demonstrate that transforming growth factor (TGF)-β induced EMT and that long-term exposure to TGF-β elicited the epithelial–myofibroblastic transition (EMyoT) by inactivating the MEK-Erk pathway. During the EMT process, TGF-β induced isoform switching of fibroblast growth factor (FGF) receptors, causing the cells to become sensitive to FGF-2. Addition of FGF-2 to TGF-β-treated cells perturbed EMyoT by reactivating the MEK-Erk pathway and subsequently enhanced EMT through the formation of MEK-Erk-dependent complexes of the transcription factor δEF1/ZEB1 with the transcriptional corepressor CtBP1. Consequently, normal epithelial cells that have undergone EMT as a result of combined TGF-β and FGF-2 stimulation promoted the invasion of cancer cells. Thus, TGF-β and FGF-2 may cooperate with each other and may regulate EMT of various kinds of cells in cancer microenvironment during cancer progression.
EMT; FGF-2; FGF receptor; TGF-β; δEF1
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) contributes to normal tissue patterning and carcinoma invasiveness. We show that transforming growth factor (TGF)-β/activin members, but not bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) members, can induce EMT in normal human and mouse epithelial cells. EMT correlates with the ability of these ligands to induce growth arrest. Ectopic expression of all type I receptors of the TGF-β superfamily establishes that TGF-β but not BMP pathways can elicit EMT. Ectopic Smad2 or Smad3 together with Smad4 enhanced, whereas dominant-negative forms of Smad2, Smad3, or Smad4, and wild-type inhibitory Smad7, blocked TGF-β–induced EMT. Transcriptomic analysis of EMT kinetics identified novel TGF-β target genes with ligand-specific responses. Using a TGF-β type I receptor that cannot activate Smads nor induce EMT, we found that Smad signaling is critical for regulation of all tested gene targets during EMT. One such gene, Id2, whose expression is repressed by TGF-β1 but induced by BMP-7 is critical for regulation of at least one important myoepithelial marker, α-smooth muscle actin, during EMT. Thus, based on ligand-specific responsiveness and evolutionary conservation of the gene expression patterns, we begin deciphering a genetic network downstream of TGF-β and predict functional links to the control of cell proliferation and EMT.
Discoidin domain receptor 2 (DDR2) is a collagen receptor that is expressed during epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a cellular transformation that mediates many stages of embryonic development and disease. However, the functional significance of this receptor in EMT is unknown. Here we show that Transforming Growth Factor-beta1 (TGF-β1), a common stimulator of EMT, promotes increased expression of type I collagen and DDR2. Inhibiting expression of COL1A1 or DDR2 with siRNA is sufficient to perturb activity of the NF-βB and LEF-1 transcription factors and to inhibit EMT and cell migration induced by TGF-β1. Furthermore, knockdown of DDR2 expression with siRNA inhibits EMT directly induced by type I collagen. These data establish a critical role for type I collagen-dependent DDR2 signaling in the regulation of EMT.
EMT; DDR2; collagen; TGF-beta; LEF-1; epithelial-mesenchymal transition
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT), a crucial event in cancer progression and embryonic development, is induced by transforming growth factor (TGF)-β in mouse mammary NMuMG epithelial cells. Id proteins have previously been reported to inhibit major features of TGF-β–induced EMT. In this study, we show that expression of the δEF1 family proteins, δEF1 (ZEB1) and SIP1, is gradually increased by TGF-β with expression profiles reciprocal to that of E-cadherin. SIP1 and δEF1 each dramatically down-regulated the transcription of E-cadherin in NMuMG cells through direct binding to the E-cadherin promoter. Silencing of the expression of both SIP1 and δEF1, but not either alone, completely abolished TGF-β–induced E-cadherin repression. However, expression of mesenchymal markers, including fibronectin, N-cadherin, and vimentin, was not affected by knockdown of SIP1 and δEF1. TGF-β–induced the expression of Ets1, which in turn activated δEF1 promoter activity. Moreover, up-regulation of SIP1 and δEF1 expression by TGF-β was suppressed by knockdown of Ets1 expression. In addition, Id2 suppressed the TGF-β– and Ets1-induced up-regulation of δEF1. Taken together, these findings suggest that the δEF1 family proteins, SIP1 and δEF1, are necessary, but not sufficient, for TGF-β–induced EMT and that Ets1 induced by TGF-β may function as an upstream transcriptional regulator of SIP1 and δEF1.
The forkhead box transcription factor A2 (FOXA2) is an important regulator in animal development and body homeostasis. However, whether FOXA2 is involved in transforming growth factor β1 (TGF-β1)-mediated epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor metastasis remains unknown. The present study showed that in human lung cancer cell lines, the abundance of FOXA2 positively correlates with epithelial phenotypes and negatively correlates with the mesenchymal phenotypes of cells, and TGF-β1 treatment decreased FOXA2 protein level. Consistently, knockdown of FOXA2 promoted EMT and invasion of lung cancer cells, whereas overexpression of FOXA2 reduced the invasion and suppressed TGF-β1-induced EMT. In addition, knockdown of FOXA2 induced slug expression, and ectopic expression of FOXA2 inhibited slug transcription. Furthermore, we identified that FOXA2 can bind to slug promoter through a conserved binding site, and that the DNA-binding region and transactivation region II of FOXA2 are required for repression of the slug promoter. These data demonstrate that FOXA2 functions as a suppressor of tumor metastasis by inhibition of EMT.
FOXA2; EMT; TGF-β1; lung tumors; slug