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1.  A SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 transcriptional repressor complex promotes TGF-β mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition 
Nature cell biology  2009;11(8):943-950.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transitions (EMT) are essential for organogenesis and triggered in carcinoma progression into an invasive state1. Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) cooperates with signalling pathways, such as Ras and Wnt, to induce EMT2-5, but the molecular mechanisms are not clear. Here, we report that SMAD3 and SMAD4 interact and form a complex with SNAIL1, a transcriptional repressor and promoter of EMT6, 7. The SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 complex was targeted to the gene promoters of CAR, a tight junction protein, and E-cadherin during TGF-β-driven EMT in breast epithelial cells. SNAIL1 and SMAD3/4 acted as co-repressors of CAR, occludin, claudin-3 and E-cadherin promoters in transfected cells. Conversely, co-silencing of SNAIL1 and SMAD4 by siRNA inhibited the repression of CAR and occludin during EMT. Moreover, loss of CAR and E-cadherin correlated with nuclear co-expression of SNAIL1 and SMAD3/4 in a mouse model of breast carcinoma and at the invasive fronts of human breast cancer. We propose that activation of a SNAIL1-SMAD3/4 transcriptional complex represents a novel mechanism of gene repression during EMT.
PMCID: PMC3769970  PMID: 19597490
2.  Differences in the Nemosis Response of Normal and Cancer-Associated Fibroblasts from Patients with Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(9):e6879.
Tumor-stroma reaction is associated with activation of fibroblasts. Nemosis is a novel type of fibroblast activation. It leads to an increased production of growth factors and proinflammatory and proteolytic proteins, while at the same time cytoskeletal proteins are degraded. Here we used paired normal skin fibroblasts and cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAF) and primary and recurrent oral squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cells to study the nemosis response.
Principal Findings
Fibroblast nemosis was analyzed by protein and gene expression and the paracrine regulation with colony formation assay. One of the normal fibroblast strains, FB-43, upregulated COX-2 in nemosis, but FB-74 cells did not. In contrast, CAF-74 spheroids expressed COX-2 but CAF-43 cells did not. Alpha-SMA protein was expressed in both CAF strains and in FB-74 cells, but not in FB-43 fibroblasts. Its mRNA levels were downregulated in nemosis, but the CAFs started to regain the expression. FSP1 mRNA was downregulated in normal fibroblasts and CAF-74 cells, but not in CAF-43 fibroblasts. Serine protease FAP was upregulated in all fibroblasts, more so in nemotic CAFs. VEGF, HGF/SF and FGF7 mRNA levels were upregulated to variable degree in nemosis. CAFs increased the colony formation of primary tumor cell lines UT-SCC-43A and UT-SCC-74A, but normal fibroblasts inhibited the anchorage-independent growth of recurrent UT-SCC-43B and UT-SCC-74B cells.
Nemosis response, as observed by COX-2 and growth factor induction, and expression of CAF markers α-SMA, FSP1 and FAP, varies between fibroblast populations. The expression of CAF markers differs between normal fibroblasts and CAFs in nemosis. These results emphasize the heterogeneity of fibroblasts and the evolving tumor-promoting properties of CAFs.
PMCID: PMC2730537  PMID: 19721715
3.  Nuclear expression of Snail1 in borderline and malignant epithelial ovarian tumours is associated with tumour progression 
BMC Cancer  2009;9:289.
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.
PMCID: PMC3087336  PMID: 19695091
4.  Mesenchymal cells reactivate Snail1 expression to drive three-dimensional invasion programs 
The Journal of Cell Biology  2009;184(3):399-408.
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) is required for mesodermal differentiation during development. The zinc-finger transcription factor, Snail1, can trigger EMT and is sufficient to transcriptionally reprogram epithelial cells toward a mesenchymal phenotype during neoplasia and fibrosis. Whether Snail1 also regulates the behavior of terminally differentiated mesenchymal cells remains unexplored. Using a Snai1 conditional knockout model, we now identify Snail1 as a regulator of normal mesenchymal cell function. Snail1 expression in normal fibroblasts can be induced by agonists known to promote proliferation and invasion in vivo. When challenged within a tissue-like, three-dimensional extracellular matrix, Snail1-deficient fibroblasts exhibit global alterations in gene expression, which include defects in membrane type-1 matrix metalloproteinase (MT1-MMP)-dependent invasive activity. Snail1-deficient fibroblasts explanted atop the live chick chorioallantoic membrane lack tissue-invasive potential and fail to induce angiogenesis. These findings establish key functions for the EMT regulator Snail1 after terminal differentiation of mesenchymal cells.
PMCID: PMC2646556  PMID: 19188491
5.  OSBPL10, a novel candidate gene for high triglyceride trait in dyslipidemic Finnish subjects, regulates cellular lipid metabolism 
Analysis of variants in three genes encoding oxysterol-binding protein (OSBP) homologues (OSBPL2, OSBPL9, OSBPL10) in Finnish families with familial low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) levels (N = 426) or familial combined hyperlipidemia (N = 684) revealed suggestive linkage of OSBPL10 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with extreme end high triglyceride (TG; >90th percentile) trait. Prompted by this initial finding, we carried out association analysis in a metabolic syndrome subcohort (Genmets) of Health2000 examination survey (N = 2,138), revealing association of multiple OSBPL10 SNPs with high serum TG levels (>95th percentile). To investigate whether OSBPL10 could be the gene underlying the observed linkage and association, we carried out functional experiments in the human hepatoma cell line Huh7. Silencing of OSBPL10 increased the incorporation of [3H]acetate into cholesterol and both [3H]acetate and [3H]oleate into triglycerides and enhanced the accumulation of secreted apolipoprotein B100 in growth medium, suggesting that the encoded protein ORP10 suppresses hepatic lipogenesis and very-low-density lipoprotein production. ORP10 was shown to associate dynamically with microtubules, consistent with its involvement in intracellular transport or organelle positioning. The data introduces OSBPL10 as a gene whose variation may contribute to high triglyceride levels in dyslipidemic Finnish subjects and provides evidence for ORP10 as a regulator of cellular lipid metabolism.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00109-009-0490-z) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC2707950  PMID: 19554302
Cholesterol; High-density lipoprotein; Microtubule; Oxysterol-binding protein; Single-nucleotide polymorphism; Triglyceride
6.  Snail1 Protein in the Stroma as a New Putative Prognosis Marker for Colon Tumours 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5595.
Over-expression of Snail1 gene transcriptional repressor promotes an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in epithelial tumour cell lines. Expression of Snail1 RNA has been associated to the pathogenesis of a number of malignancies; however, the lack of good monoclonal antibodies against this protein has precluded a definitive analysis of Snail1 protein. In this study, we aimed to determine the expression of this transcriptional factor in colorectal tumours. Using a Snail1 well-characterized monoclonal antibody developed in our laboratories we have analyzed by immunohistochemistry a cohort of 162 human colorectal tumours. Ninety tumours (56%) showed nuclear expression in the tumoral tissue and the adjacent stroma; in 34 (21%), Snail1 was detected just in the stroma, whereas in only 4 the expression of Snail1 was detected in the tumoral tissue and the stroma was negative. No correlation was found between the presence of Snail1 in the tumour and tumour stage; however, a trend (p = 0.054) was detected when the expression of this factor in the stroma was considered. Snail1 immunoreactivity in this compartment was associated with presence of distant metastasis (p = 0.006). Moreover, expression of Snail1 in the tumor stroma correlated with lower specific survival of cancer patients (p = 0.011). Interestingly, this correlation was also detected in stage I and II tumors. Therefore, our results indicate that the presence of nuclear Snail1 immunoreactive cells in the stroma may be an informative indicator of prognosis of colon tumours especially useful in those corresponding to lower stages and identify a new marker suitable to label activated stroma in colon tumours.
PMCID: PMC2680015  PMID: 19440385

Results 1-6 (6)