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
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.
By transactivating expression of miRNAs that repress expression of the ZEB1 and ZEB2 transcription factors, p53 inhibits the epithelial–mesenchymal transition.
p53 suppresses tumor progression and metastasis. Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key process in tumor progression and metastasis. The transcription factors ZEB1 and ZEB2 promote EMT. Here, we show that p53 suppresses EMT by repressing expression of ZEB1 and ZEB2. By profiling 92 primary hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) and 9 HCC cell lines, we found that p53 up-regulates microRNAs (miRNAs), including miR-200 and miR-192 family members. The miR-200 family members transactivated by p53 then repress ZEB1/2 expression. p53-regulated miR-192 family members also repress ZEB2 expression. Inhibition or overexpression of the miRNAs affects p53-regulated EMT by altering ZEB1 and ZEB2 expression. Our findings indicate that p53 can regulate EMT, and that p53-regulated miRNAs are critical mediators of p53-regulated EMT.
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.
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.
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
Background: Regulation of cell adhesion is important for embryonic development and to prevent cancer metastasis.
Results: Zeb1 controls cell adhesion in zebrafish embryos and human cancer cell lines through transcriptional repression of E-cadherin, Epcam, and miR-200s.
Conclusion: Zeb1 fine-tunes E-cadherin- and Epcam-mediated cell adhesion to control cell behavior during gastrulation.
Significance: Conserved cell adhesion regulation mechanisms are crucial for understanding development and cancer invasion.
The ZEB1 transcription factor is best known as an inducer of epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) in cancer metastasis, acting through transcriptional repression of CDH1 (encoding E-cadherin) and the EMT-suppressing microRNA-200s (miR-200s). Here we analyze roles of the ZEB1 zebrafish orthologs, Zeb1a and Zeb1b, and of miR-200s in control of cell adhesion and morphogenesis during gastrulation and segmentation stages. Loss and gain of function analyses revealed that Zeb1 represses cdh1 expression to fine-tune adhesiveness of migrating deep blastodermal cells. Furthermore, Zeb1 acts as a repressor of epcam in the deep cells of the blastoderm and may contribute to control of epithelial integrity of enveloping layer cells, the outermost cells of the blastoderm. We found a similar ZEB1-dependent repression of EPCAM expression in human pancreatic and breast cancer cell lines, mediated through direct binding of ZEB1 to the EPCAM promoter. Thus, Zeb1 proteins employ several evolutionary conserved mechanisms to regulate cell-cell adhesion during development and cancer.
Cell Adhesion; Development; E-cadherin; EMT; Transcription/Developmental Factors; Gastrulation
The zinc finger transcription factor, Zeb1, binds to E-box like sequences and is important for maintaining repression of epithelial specification genes in vivo. Overexpression of Zeb1 in cancer triggers epithelial-mesenchymal transition, which facilitates metastasis. Mutation of ZEB1 in humans is linked to posterior polymorphous corneal dystrophy (PPCD), where an epithelial transition of the corneal endothelium is associated with abnormal endothelial proliferation. The purpose of this study is to determine whether Zeb1 null or heterozygous mice may provide an animal model for PPCD.
Corneal morphology, protein and mRNA expression and cell proliferation were compared in wild-type and Zeb1 gene knockout mice by immunostaining, real time PCR and BrdU incorporation. mRNA expression in isolated embryo fibroblasts derived from wild-type, Zeb1 heterozygous and null mice was analyzed by real time PCR
Zeb1 null mice late in gestation show ectopic expression of epithelial genes in the corneal endothelium and keratocytes, including the basement membrane component, COL4A3, which is ectopically expressed by the corneal endothelium in PPCD. These embryos also show abnormal corneal endothelial and keratocyte proliferation, corneal thickening, and corneolenticular and iridocorneal adhesions. Adult Zeb1 heterozygous mice exhibit these same corneal defects. The ectopic expression of epithelial genes extended to embryonic fibroblasts derived from Zeb1 heterozygous and null mice, suggesting that Zeb1 may have a more general role in suppression of an epithelial phenotype.
We conclude that Zeb1 heterozygous and null mice show features of PPCD, and thus should provide an animal model for genetic dissection of pathways contributing to the disease.
The zinc finger E-box binding protein 1 (ZEB1) transcription factor belongs to a two-member family of zinc-finger homeodomain proteins involved in physiological and pathological events mostly relating to cell migration and epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMTs). ZEB1 (also known as δEF1, zfhx1a, TCF8, and Zfhep) plays a key role in regulating such diverse processes as T-cell development, skeletal patterning, reproduction, and cancer cell metastasis. However, the factors that regulate its expression and consequently the signaling pathways in which ZEB1 participates are poorly defined. Because it is induced by estrogen and progesterone and is high in prostate cancer, we investigated whether tcf8, which encodes ZEB1, is regulated by androgen. Data herein demonstrate that tcf8 is induced by dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the human PC-3/AR prostate cancer cell line and that this induction is mediated by two androgen response elements (AREs). These results demonstrate that ZEB1 is an intermediary in androgen signaling pathways.
ZEB is a zinc finger-homeodomain protein that represses transcription by binding to a subset of E-box sequences. ZEB inhibits muscle differentiation in mammalian systems, and its Drosophila orthologue, zfh-1, inhibits somatic and cardiac muscle differentiation during Drosophila embryogenesis. ZEB also binds to the promoter of pivotal hematopoietic genes (including those encoding interleukin-2, CD4, GATA-3, and α4-integrin), and mice in which ZEB has been genetically targeted show thymic atrophy, severe defects in lymphocyte differentiation, and increased expression of the α4-integrin and CD4. Here, we demonstrate that ZEB contains separate repressor domains which function in T lymphocytes and muscle, respectively. The most C-terminal domain inhibits muscle differentiation in mammalian cells by specifically blocking the transcriptional activity of the myogenic factor MEF2C. The more N-terminal domain blocks activity of hematopoietic transcription factors such as c-myb, members of the ets family, and TFE-III. Our results demonstrate that ZEB has evolved with two independent repressor domains which target distinct sets of transcription factors and function in different tissues.
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is involved in normal developmental cellular
processes, but it may also be co-opted by a subset of cancer cells, to enable them to invade and
form metastases at distant sites. Several gene transcription factors regulate EMT, including Snail1,
Snail2, Zeb1, Zeb2, and Twist; ongoing studies continue to identify and elucidate other drivers.
Specific micro ribonucleic acids (RNAs) have also been found to regulate EMT, including the
microRNA-200 (miR-200) family, which targets Zeb1/Zeb2. Cancer “stem cells”
– with the ability to self-renew and to regenerate all the cell types within the tumor
– have been found to express EMT markers, further implicating both cancer stem cells and EMT
with metastasis. Microenvironmental cues, including transforming growth factor-β, can direct
EMT tumor metastasis, such as by regulating miR-200 expression. In human tumors, EMT markers and
regulators may be expressed in a subset of tumor cells, such as in cells at the invasive front or
tumor–microenvironment interface, though certain subtypes of cancer can show widespread
mesenchymal-like features. In terms of therapeutic targeting of EMT in patients, potential areas of
exploration could include targeting the cancer stem cell subpopulation, as well as microRNA-based
therapeutics that reintroduce miR-200. This review will examine evidence for a role of EMT in
invasion and metastasis, with the focus being on studies in lung and breast cancers. We also carry
out analyses of publicly-available gene expression profiling datasets in order to show how
EMT-associated genes appear coordinately expressed across human tumor specimens.
EMT; epithelial; mesenchymal transition; tumor microenvironment; miR-200; cancer stem cells
MicroRNA-200c (miR-200c) has been shown to suppress epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is attributed mainly to targeting of ZEB1/ZEB2, repressors of the cell-cell contact protein E-cadherin. Here we demonstrated that modulation of miR-200c in breast cancer cells regulates cell migration, cell elongation, and transforming growth factor β (TGF-β)-induced stress fiber formation by impacting the reorganization of cytoskeleton that is independent of the ZEB/E-cadherin axis. We identified FHOD1 and PPM1F, direct regulators of the actin cytoskeleton, as novel targets of miR-200c. Remarkably, expression levels of FHOD1 and PPM1F were inversely correlated with the level of miR-200c in breast cancer cell lines, breast cancer patient samples, and 58 cancer cell lines of various origins. Furthermore, individual knockdown/overexpression of these target genes phenocopied the effects of miR-200c overexpression/inhibition on cell elongation, stress fiber formation, migration, and invasion. Mechanistically, targeting of FHOD1 by miR-200c resulted in decreased expression and transcriptional activity of serum response factor (SRF), mediated by interference with the translocation of the SRF coactivator mycocardin-related transcription factor A (MRTF-A). This finally led to downregulation of the expression and phosphorylation of the SRF target myosin light chain 2 (MLC2) gene, required for stress fiber formation and contractility. Thus, miR-200c impacts on metastasis by regulating several EMT-related processes, including a novel mechanism involving the direct targeting of actin-regulatory proteins.
The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a developmental process enabling epithelial cells to gain a migratory mesenchymal phenotype. In cancer, this process contributes to metastases; however the regulatory signals and mechanistic details are not fully elucidated. Here, we sought to identify the subset of genes regulated in lung cancer by ZEB1, an E-box transcriptional repressor known to induce EMT. Using an Affymetrix-based expression database of 38 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines, we identified 324 genes that correlated negatively with ZEB1 and 142 that were positively correlated. A mesenchymal gene pattern (low E-cadherin, high Vimentin or N-cadherin) was significantly associated with ZEB1 and ZEB2, but not with Snail, Slug, Twist1 or Twist2. Among 8 genes selected for validation, 7 were confirmed to correlate with ZEB1 by quantitative real-time RT-PCR in a series of 22 NSCLC cell lines, either negatively (CDS1, EpCAM, ESRP1, ESRP2, ST14) or positively (FGFR1, Vimentin). In addition, overexpression or knockdown of ZEB1 led to corresponding changes in gene expression, demonstrating that these genes are also regulated by ZEB1, either directly or indirectly. Of note, the combined knockdown of ZEB1 and ZEB2 led to apparent synergistic responses in gene expression. Furthermore, these responses were not restricted to artificial settings, since most genes were similarly regulated during a physiologic induction of EMT by TGF-β plus EGF. Finally, the absence of ST14 (matriptase) was linked to ZEB1 positivity in lung cancer tissue microarrays, implying that the regulation observed in vitro applies to the human disease. In summary, this study identifies a new set of ZEB-regulated genes in human lung cancer cells and supports the hypothesis that ZEB1 and ZEB2 are key regulators of the EMT process in this disease.
lung cancer; ZEB1; ZEB2; EMT; ST14; NSCLC
Tumor progression shares many characteristics with the process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Cells that have undergone an EMT are known to have an increased resistance to apoptosis. CD95/Fas is an apoptosis-inducing receptor expressed on many tissues and tumor cells. During tumor progression CD95 is frequently downregulated, and tumor cells lose apoptosis sensitivity. miR-200 microRNAs repress both the EMT-inducing ZEB1 and ZEB2 transcription factors. We now demonstrate that miR-200c sensitizes cells to apoptosis mediated by CD95. We have identified the apoptosis inhibitor FAP-1 as a target for miR-200c. FAP-1 was demonstrated to be responsible for the reduced sensitivity to CD95-mediated apoptosis in cells with inhibited miR-200. The identification of FAP-1 as a miR-200c target provides a molecular mechanism to explain both the downregulation of CD95 expression and the reduction in sensitivity of cells to CD95-mediated apoptosis that is observed in the context of reduced miR-200 expression during tumor progression.
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is implicated in the progression of primary tumours towards metastasis and is likely caused by a pathological activation of transcription factors regulating EMT in embryonic development. To analyse EMT-causing pathways in tumouri-genesis, we identified transcriptional targets of the E-cadherin repressor ZEB1 in invasive human cancer cells. We show that ZEB1 repressed multiple key determinants of epithelial differentiation and cell–cell adhesion, including the cell polarity genes Crumbs3, HUGL2 and Pals1-associated tight junction protein. ZEB1 associated with their endogenous promoters in vivo, and strongly repressed promotor activities in reporter assays. ZEB1 downregulation in undifferentiated cancer cells by RNA interference was sufficient to upregulate expression of these cell polarity genes on the RNA and protein level, to re-establish epithelial features and to impair cell motility in vitro. In human colorectal cancer, ZEB1 expression was limited to the tumour–host interface and was accompanied by loss of intercellular adhesion and tumour cell invasion. In invasive ductal and lobular breast cancer, upregulation of ZEB1 was stringently coupled to cancer cell dedifferentiation. Our data show that ZEB1 represents a key player in pathologic EMTs associated with tumour progression.
epithelial to mesenchymal transition; invasion; transcription; epithelial polarity; cell adhesion
Mast cell activation results in the release of stored and newly synthesized inflammatory mediators. We found that Zeb2 (also named Sip1, Zfhx1b), a zinc finger transcription factor, regulates both early and late mast cell responses. Transfection with small interfering RNA (siRNA) reduced Zeb2 expression and resulted in decreased FcεRI-mediated degranulation; with a parallel reduction in receptor induced activation of NFAT and NF-kB transcription factors, but an enhanced response to the LPS-mediated activation of NF-kB. There was variable and less of a decrease in the antigen-mediated release of the cytokines TNF-α, IL-13 and CCL-4. This suggests that low Zeb2 expression differentially regulates signaling pathways in mast cells. Multiple phosphorylation events were impaired that affected molecules both at early- and late-events in the signaling pathway. The Zeb2 siRNA treated mast cells had altered cell cycle progression, as well as decreased expression of several molecules including cell surface FcεRI and its β subunit, Gab2, phospholipase-Cγ1 and phospholipase-Cγ2, all of which are required for receptor-induced signal transduction. The results indicate that the transcription factor Zeb2 controls the expression of molecules thereby regulating signaling in mast cells.
We have previously reported that RAS-MEK (Cancer Res. 2003 May 1;63(9):2088-95) and TGF-β (Cancer Res. 2006 Feb 1;66(3):1648-57) signaling negatively regulate coxsackie virus and adenovirus receptor (CAR) cell-surface expression and adenovirus uptake. In the case of TGF-β, down-regulation of CAR occurred in context of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a process associated with transcriptional repression of E-cadherin by, for instance, the E2 box-binding factors Snail, Slug, SIP1 or ZEB1. While EMT is crucial in embryonic development, it has been proposed to contribute to the formation of invasive and metastatic carcinomas by reducing cell-cell contacts and increasing cell migration.
Here, we show that ZEB1 represses CAR expression in both PANC-1 (pancreatic) and MDA-MB-231 (breast) human cancer cells. We demonstrate that ZEB1 physically associates with at least one of two closely spaced and conserved E2 boxes within the minimal CAR promoter here defined as genomic region -291 to -1 relative to the translational start ATG. In agreement with ZEB1's established role as a negative regulator of the epithelial phenotype, silencing its expression in MDA-MB-231 cells induced a partial Mesenchymal-to-Epithelial Transition (MET) characterized by increased levels of E-cadherin and CAR, and decreased expression of fibronectin. Conversely, knockdown of ZEB1 in PANC-1 cells antagonized both the TGF-β-induced down-regulation of E-cadherin and CAR and the reduction of adenovirus uptake. Interestingly, even though ZEB1 clearly contributes to the TGF-β-induced mesenchymal phenotype of PANC-1 cells, TGF-β did not seem to affect ZEB1's protein levels or subcellular localization. These findings suggest that TGF-β may inhibit CAR expression by regulating factor(s) that cooperate with ZEB1 to repress the CAR promoter, rather than by regulating ZEB1 expression levels. In addition to the negative E2 box-mediated regulation the minimal CAR promoter is positively regulated through conserved ETS and CRE elements.
This report provides evidence that inhibition of ZEB1 may improve adenovirus uptake of cancer cells that have undergone EMT and for which ZEB1 is necessary to maintain the mesenchymal phenotype. Targeting of ZEB1 may reverse some aspects of EMT including the down-regulation of CAR.
ZEB1; EMT; MET; TGF-β; adenovirus; cancer
Metastatic cancer is extremely difficult to treat, and the presence of metastases greatly reduces a cancer patient’s likelihood of long-term survival. The ZEB1 transcriptional repressor promotes metastasis through downregulation of microRNAs (miRs) that are strong inducers of epithelial differentiation and inhibitors of stem cell factors. Given that each miR can target multiple genes with diverse functions, we posited that the prometastatic network controlled by ZEB1 extends beyond these processes. We tested this hypothesis using a mouse model of human lung adenocarcinoma metastasis driven by ZEB1, human lung carcinoma cells, and human breast carcinoma cells. Transcriptional profiling studies revealed that ZEB1 controls the expression of numerous oncogenic and tumor-suppressive miRs, including miR-34a. Ectopic expression of miR-34a decreased tumor cell invasion and metastasis, inhibited the formation of promigratory cytoskeletal structures, suppressed activation of the RHO GTPase family, and regulated a gene expression signature enriched in cytoskeletal functions and predictive of outcome in human lung adenocarcinomas. We identified several miR-34a target genes, including Arhgap1, which encodes a RHO GTPase activating protein that was required for tumor cell invasion. These findings demonstrate that ZEB1 drives prometastatic actin cytoskeletal remodeling by downregulating miR-34a expression and provide a compelling rationale to develop miR-34a as a therapeutic agent in lung cancer patients.
Four genome-wide association studies mapped an “obesity” gene to human chromosome 10p11–12. As the zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) transcription factor is encoded by the TCF8 gene located in that region, and as it influences the differentiation of various mesodermal lineages, we hypothesized that ZEB1 might also modulate adiposity. The goal of these studies was to test that hypothesis in mice.
To ascertain whether fat accumulation affects ZEB1 expression, female C57BL/6 mice were fed a regular chow diet (RCD) ad libitum or a 25% calorie-restricted diet from 2.5 to 18.3 months of age. ZEB1 mRNA levels in parametrial fat were six to ten times higher in the obese mice. To determine directly whether ZEB1 affects adiposity, wild type (WT) mice and mice heterozygous for TCF8 (TCF8+/−) were fed an RCD or a high-fat diet (HFD) (60% calories from fat). By two months of age on an HFD and three months on an RCD, TCF8+/− mice were heavier than WT controls, which was attributed by Echo MRI to increased fat mass (at three months on an HFD: 0.517±0.081 total fat/lean mass versus 0.313±0.036; at three months on an RCD: 0.175±0.013 versus 0.124±0.012). No differences were observed in food uptake or physical activity, suggesting that the genotypes differ in some aspect of their metabolic activity. ZEB1 expression also increases during adipogenesis in cell culture.
These results show for the first time that the ZEB1 transcription factor regulates the accumulation of adipose tissue. Furthermore, they corroborate the genome-wide association studies that mapped an “obesity” gene at chromosome 10p11–12.
The ZEB family of transcription factors regulates key factors during embryonic development and cell differentiation but their role in cancer biology has only more recently begun to be recognized. Early evidence showed that ZEB proteins induce an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition linking their expression with increased aggressiveness and metastasis in mice models and a wide range of primary human carcinomas. Reports over the last few years have found that ZEB proteins also play critical roles in the maintenance of cancer cell stemness, control of replicative senescence, tumor angiogenesis, overcoming of oncogenic addiction and resistance to chemotherapy. These expanding roles in tumorigenesis and tumor progression set ZEB proteins as potential diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic targets.
Cancer; cancer stem cells; chemotherapy resistance; E-cadherin; EMT; transcription; tumor invasiveness; ZEB1; ZEB2
We found that among four master epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-inducing genes (ZEB1, SIP1, Snail, and Slug) ZEB1expression was most significantly correlated with the mesenchymal phenotype (high Vimentin and low E-cadherin expression) in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cell lines and tumors. Furthermore, ZEB1 knockdown with RNA interference in three NSCLC cell lines with high ZEB1 expression suppressed to varying degrees mass culture growth and liquid colony formation but in all cases dramatically suppressed soft agar colony formation. In addition, ZEB1 knockdown induced apoptosis in one of the three lines, indicating that the growth inhibitory effects of ZEB1 knockdown occurs in part through the activation of the apoptosis pathway. These results suggest that inhibiting ZEB1 function may be an attractive target for NSCLC therapeutic development.
Lung cancer; Epidermal growth factor receptor; Anchorage-independent growth; EMT; MicroRNA; RNA interference
Down-regulation of miR-138 (microRNA-138) has been frequently observed in various cancers, including HNSCC (head and neck squamous cell carcinoma). Our previous studies suggest that down-regulation of miR-138 is associated with mesenchymal-like cell morphology and enhanced cell migration and invasion. In the present study, we demonstrated that these miR-138-induced changes were accompanied by marked reduction in E-cad (E-cadherin) expression and enhanced Vim (vimentin) expression, characteristics of EMT (epithelial–mesenchymal transition). On the basis of a combined experimental and bioinformatics analysis, we identified a number of miR-138 target genes that are associated with EMT, including VIM, ZEB2 (zinc finger E-box-binding homeobox 2) and EZH2 (enhancer of zeste homologue 2). Direct targeting of miR-138 to specific sequences located in the mRNAs of the VIM, ZEB2 and EZH2 genes was confirmed using luciferase reporter gene assays. Our functional analyses (knock-in and knock-down) demonstrated that miR-138 regulates the EMT via three distinct pathways: (i) direct targeting of VIM mRNA and controlling the expression of VIM at a post-transcriptional level, (ii) targeting the transcriptional repressors (ZEB2) which in turn regulating the transcription activity of the E-cad gene, and (iii) targeting the epigenetic regulator EZH2 which in turn modulates its gene silencing effects on the downstream genes including E-cad. These results, together with our previously observed miR-138 effects on cell migration and invasion through targeting RhoC (Rho-related GTP-binding protein C) and ROCK2 (Rho-associated, coiled-coil-containing protein kinase 2) concurrently, suggest that miR-138 is a multi-functional molecular regulator and plays major roles in EMT and in HNSCC progression.
enhancer of zeste homologue 2 (EZH2); epithelial–mesenchymal transition; microRNA-138 (miR-138); squamous cell carcinoma; vimentin (Vim); zinc finger E-box-binding homoeobox 2 (ZEB2)
Plakophilin 3 (PKP3) belongs to the p120ctn family of armadillo-related proteins predominantly functioning in desmosome formation. Here we report that PKP3 is transcriptionally repressed by the E-cadherin repressor ZEB1 in metastatic cancer cells. ZEB1 physically associates with two conserved E-box elements in the PKP3 promoter and partially represses the activity of corresponding human and mouse PKP3 promoter fragments in reporter gene assays. In human tumours ZEB1 is upregulated in invasive cancer cells at the tumour–host interface, which is accompanied by downregulation of PKP3 expression levels. Hence, the transcriptional repression of PKP3 by ZEB1 contributes to ZEB1-mediated disintegration of intercellular adhesion and epithelial to mesenchymal transition.
Epithelial to mesenchymal transition; Invasion; Transcription; Desmosomes; Cell adhesion
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is important in fibrotic responses, formation of cancer stem cells and acquisition of a metastatic phenotype. Zeb1 represses epithelial specification genes to enforce epithelial-mesenchymal phenotypic boundaries during development, and it is one of several E-box-binding repressors whose overexpression triggers EMT. Our purpose was to investigate the potential role for Zeb1 in the EMT leading to dedifferentiation of retinal pigment epithelial (RPE) cells.
Real time PCR was used to examine mRNA expression during RPE dedifferentiation in primary cultures of RPE cells from Zeb1(+/−) mice and following knockdown of Zeb1 by lentivirus shRNA. Chromatin Immunoprecipitation was used to detect Zeb1 a gene promoters in vivo.
Zeb1 is overexpressed during RPE dedifferentiation. Heterozygous mutation or shRNA knockdown to prevent this overexpression eliminates the onset of proliferation and the EMT which characterizes RPE dedifferentiation. One role of Zeb1 in this process is to bind directly to the Mitf promoter and repress its transcription. We link Zeb1 expression to cell-cell contact, and demonstrate that forcing dedifferentiated RPE cells to adopt cell-cell only contacts via sphere formation reverses overexpression of Zeb1 and reprograms RPE cells back to a normal phenotype.
Overexpression of the EMT transcription factor Zeb1 has an important role in RPE dedifferentiation via its regulation of Mitf and other epithelial specification genes. Expression of Zeb1, and in turn RPE dedifferentiation, is linked to cell-cell contact, and these contacts can be utilized to diminish Zeb1 expression and reprogram dedifferentiated RPE cells.
The tumor suppressor gene p53 has been implicated in the regulation of epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and tumor metastasis by regulating microRNA (miRNA) expression. Here, we report that mutant p53 exerts oncogenic functions and promotes EMT in endometrial cancer (EC) by directly binding to the promoter of miR-130b (a negative regulator of ZEB1) and inhibiting its transcription. We transduced p53 mutants into p53-null EC cells, profiled the miRNA expression by miRNA microarray and identified miR-130b as a potential target of mutant p53. Ectopic expression of p53 mutants repressed the expression of miR-130b and triggered ZEB1-dependent EMT and cancer cell invasion. Loss of an endogenous p53 mutation increased the expression of miR-130b, which resulted in reduced ZEB1 expression and attenuation of the EMT phenotype. Furthermore, re-expression of miR-130b suppressed mutant p53-induced EMT and ZEB1 expression. Importantly, the expression of miR-130 was significantly reduced in EC tissues, and patients with higher expression levels of miR-130b survived longer. These data provide a novel understanding of the roles of p53 gain-of-function mutations in accelerating tumor progression and metastasis through modulation of the miR-130b–ZEB1 axis.
EMT; cancer; gain-of-function; miRNA; p53 mutation