Regulation of the protein stability of EMT transcription factors.
ABSTRACT: The epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) consists of a rapid change of cell phenotype, characterized by the loss of epithelial characteristics and the acquisition of a more invasive phenotype. Transcription factors regulating EMT (Snail, Twist and Zeb) are extremely labile proteins, rapidly degraded by the proteasome system. In this review we analyze the current mechanisms controlling degradation of EMT transcription factors, focusing on the role of new E3 ubiquitin-ligases involved in EMT. We also summarize the regulation of the stability of these EMT transcription factors, specially observed in different stress conditions, such as hypoxia, chemotherapeutic drugs, oxidative stress or γ-irradiation.
Project description:The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) represents a biological program during which epithelial cells lose their cell identity and acquire a mesenchymal phenotype. EMT is normally observed during organismal development, wound healing and tissue fibrosis. However, this process can be hijacked by cancer cells and is often associated with resistance to apoptosis, acquisition of tissue invasiveness, cancer stem cell characteristics, and cancer treatment resistance. It is becoming evident that EMT is a complex, multifactorial spectrum, often involving episodic, transient or partial events. Multiple factors have been causally implicated in EMT including transcription factors (e.g., SNAIL, TWIST, ZEB), epigenetic modifications, microRNAs (e.g., miR-200 family) and more recently, long non-coding RNAs. However, the relevance of metabolic pathways in EMT is only recently being recognized. Importantly, alterations in key metabolic pathways affect cancer development and progression. In this review, we report the roles of key EMT factors and describe their interactions and interconnectedness. We introduce metabolic pathways that are involved in EMT, including glycolysis, the TCA cycle, lipid and amino acid metabolism, and characterize the relationship between EMT factors and cancer metabolism. Finally, we present therapeutic opportunities involving EMT, with particular focus on cancer metabolic pathways.
Project description:The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an embryonic transdifferentiation process consisting of conversion of polarized epithelial cells to motile mesenchymal ones. EMT-inducing transcription factors are aberrantly expressed in multiple tumor types and are known to favor the metastatic dissemination process. Supporting oncogenic activity within primary lesions, the TWIST and ZEB proteins can prevent cells from undergoing oncogene-induced senescence and apoptosis by abolishing both p53- and RB-dependent pathways. Here we show that they also downregulate PP2A phosphatase activity and efficiently cooperate with an oncogenic version of H-RAS in malignant transformation of human mammary epithelial cells. Thus, by down-regulating crucial tumor suppressor functions, EMT inducers make cells particularly prone to malignant conversion. Importantly, by analyzing transformed cells generated in vitro and by characterizing novel transgenic mouse models, we further demonstrate that cooperation between an EMT inducer and an active form of RAS is sufficient to trigger transformation of mammary epithelial cells into malignant cells exhibiting all the characteristic features of claudin-low tumors, including low expression of tight and adherens junction genes, EMT traits, and stem cell-like characteristics. Claudin-low tumors are believed to be the most primitive breast malignancies, having arisen through transformation of an early epithelial precursor with inherent stemness properties and metaplastic features. Challenging this prevailing view, we propose that these aggressive tumors arise from cells committed to luminal differentiation, through a process driven by EMT inducers and combining malignant transformation and transdifferentiation.
Project description:Over the last years, microRNAs (miRs) have shown to be crucial for breast tumour establishment and progression. To understand the influence that miRs have over transcriptional regulation in breast cancer, we constructed mutual information networks from 86 TCGA matched breast invasive carcinoma and control tissue RNA-Seq and miRNA-Seq sequencing data. We show that miRs are determinant for tumour and control data network structure. In tumour data network, miR-200, miR-199 and neighbour miRs seem to cooperate on the regulation of the acquisition of epithelial and mesenchymal traits by the biological processes: Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) and Mesenchymal to Epithelial Transition (MET). Despite structural differences between tumour and control networks, we found a conserved set of associations between miR-200 family members and genes such as VIM, ZEB-1/2 and TWIST-1/2. Further, a large number of miRs observed in tumour network mapped to a specific chromosomal location in DLK1-DIO3 (Chr14q32); some of those miRs have also been associated with EMT and MET regulation. Pathways related to EMT and TGF-beta reinforce the relevance of miR-200, miR-199 and DLK1-DIO3 cluster in breast cancer. With this approach, we stress that miR inclusion in gene regulatory network construction improves our understanding of the regulatory mechanisms underlying breast cancer biology.
Project description:The epithelial-to mesenchymal (EMT) process is increasingly recognized for playing a key role in the progression, dissemination, and therapy resistance of epithelial tumors. Accumulating evidence suggests that EMT inducers also lead to a gain in mesenchymal properties and promote malignancy of nonepithelial tumors. In this review, we present and discuss current findings, illustrating the importance of EMT inducers in tumors originating from nonepithelial/mesenchymal tissues, including brain tumors, hematopoietic malignancies, and sarcomas. Among these tumors, the involvement of mesenchymal transition has been most extensively investigated in glioblastoma, providing proof for cell autonomous and microenvironment-derived stimuli that provoke EMT-like processes that regulate stem cell, invasive, and immunogenic properties as well as therapy resistance. The involvement of prominent EMT transcription factor families, such as TWIST, SNAI, and ZEB, in promoting therapy resistance and tumor aggressiveness has also been reported in lymphomas, leukemias, and sarcomas. A reverse process, resembling mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET), seems particularly relevant for sarcomas, where (partial) epithelial differentiation is linked to less aggressive tumors and a better patient prognosis. Overall, a hybrid model in which more stable epithelial and mesenchymal intermediates exist likely extends to the biology of tumors originating from sources other than the epithelium. Deeper investigation and understanding of the EMT/MET machinery in nonepithelial tumors will shed light on the pathogenesis of these tumors, potentially paving the way toward the identification of clinically relevant biomarkers for prognosis and future therapeutic targets.
Project description:Beyond inducing epithelial-to-mesenchymal transcription (EMT), transcriptional factors of the Snail, ZEB and Twist families (EMT-TFs) control global plasticity programmes affecting cell stemness and fate. Literature addressing the reactivation of these factors in adult tumour cells is very extensive, as they enable cancer cell plasticity and fuel both tumour initiation and metastatic spread. Incipient data reveal that EMT-TFs are also expressed in fibroblasts, providing these with additional properties. Here, I will review recent reports on the expression of EMT-TFs in cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). The new model suggests that EMT-TFs can be envisioned as essential metastasis and chemoresistance-promoting molecules, thereby enabling coordinated plasticity programmes in parenchyma and stroma-tumour compartments.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in carcinoma cells enhances malignant progression by promoting invasion and survival. EMT is induced by microenvironmental factors, including TGF-? and Wnt agonists, and by the E-box-binding transcription factors Twist, Snail, and ZEB. Grainyhead-like-2 (GRHL2), a member of the mammalian Grainyhead family of wound-healing regulatory transcription factors, suppresses EMT and restores sensitivity to anoikis by repressing ZEB1 expression and inhibiting TGF-? signaling. In this study, we elucidate the functional relationship between GRHL2 and ZEB1 in EMT/MET and tumor biology. At least three homeodomain proteins, Six1, LBX1, and HoxA5, transactivated the ZEB1 promoter, in the case of Six1, through direct protein-promoter interaction. GRHL2 altered the Six1-DNA complex, inhibiting this transactivation. Correspondingly, GRHL2 expression prevented tumor initiation in xenograft assays, sensitized breast cancer cells to paclitaxel, and suppressed the emergence of CD44(high)CD24(low) cells (defining the cancer stem cell phenotype in the cell type studied). GRHL2 was downregulated in recurrent mouse tumors that had evolved to an oncogene-independent, EMT-like state, supporting a role for GRHL2 downregulation in this phenotypic transition, modeling disease recurrence. The combination of TGF-? and Wnt activation repressed GRHL2 expression by direct interaction of ZEB1 with the GRHL2 promoter, inducing EMT. Together, our observations indicate that a reciprocal feedback loop between GRHL2 and ZEB1 controls epithelial versus mesenchymal phenotypes and EMT-driven tumor progression.
Project description:Metastasis of carcinoma involves migration of tumor cells to distant organs and initiate secondary tumors. Migration requires a complete or partial Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT), and tumor-initiation requires cells possessing stemness. Epithelial cells (E) undergoing a complete EMT to become mesenchymal (M) have been suggested to be more likely to possess stemness. However, recent studies suggest that stemness can also be associated with cells undergoing a partial EMT (hybrid E/M phenotype). Therefore, the correlation between EMT and stemness remains elusive. Here, using a theoretical framework that couples the core EMT and stemness modules (miR-200/ZEB and LIN28/let-7), we demonstrate that the positioning of 'stemness window' on the 'EMT axis' need not be universal; rather it can be fine-tuned. Particularly, we present OVOL as an example of a modulating factor that, due to its coupling with miR-200/ZEB/LIN28/let-7 circuit, fine-tunes the EMT-stemness interplay. Coupling OVOL can inhibit the stemness likelihood of M and elevate that of the hybrid E/M (partial EMT) phenotype, thereby pulling the 'stemness window' away from the M end of 'EMT axis'. Our results unify various apparently contradictory experimental findings regarding the interconnection between EMT and stemness, corroborate the emerging notion that partial EMT associates with stemness, and offer new testable predictions.
Project description:Cancer stem cell (CSC) has become recognized for its role in both tumorigenesis and poor patient prognosis in recent years. Traditional therapeutics are unable to effectively eliminate this group of cells from the bulk population of cancer cells, allowing CSCs to persist posttreatment and thus propagate into secondary tumors. The therapeutic potential of eliminating CSCs, to decrease tumor relapse, has created a demand for identifying mechanisms that directly target and eliminate cancer stem cells. Molecular profiling has shown that cancer cells and tumors that exhibit the CSC phenotype also express genes associated with the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) feature. Ample evidence has demonstrated that upregulation of master transcription factors (TFs) accounting for the EMT process such as Snail/Slug and Twist can reprogram cancer cells from differentiated to stem-like status. Despite being appealing therapeutic targets for tackling CSCs, pharmacological approaches that directly target EMT-TFs remain impossible. In this review, we will summarize recent advances in the regulation of Snail/Slug and Twist at transcriptional, translational, and posttranslational levels and discuss the clinical implication and application for EMT blockade as a promising strategy for CSC targeting.
Project description:Zinc finger E-box-binding (ZEB) proteins ZEB1 and ZEB2 are transcription factors essential in TGF-?-mediated senescence, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), and cancer stem cell functions. 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-like 1 (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 experiments suggested the involvement of ZEBs in anchorage-independent colony formation, invasion, and TGF-?-mediated EMT. Invasive growth and impaired squamous differentiation were recapitulated upon Notch inhibition by DNMAML1 in organotypic three-dimensional 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 esophageal squamous cancers.
Project description:Cell plasticity is emerging as a key regulator of tumor progression and metastasis. During carcinoma dissemination epithelial cells undergo epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) processes characterized by the acquisition of migratory/invasive properties, while the reverse, mesenchymal to epithelial transition (MET) process, is also essential for metastasis outgrowth. Different transcription factors, called EMT-TFs, including Snail, bHLH and Zeb families are drivers of the EMT branch of epithelial plasticity, and can be post-transcriptionally downregulated by several miRNAs, as the miR-200 family. The specific or redundant role of different EMT-TFs and their functional interrelations are not fully understood. To study the interplay between different EMT-TFs, comprehensive gain and loss-of-function studies of Snail1, Snail2 and/or Zeb1 factors were performed in the prototypical MDCK cell model system. We here describe that Snail1 and Zeb1 are mutually required for EMT induction while continuous Snail1 and Snail2 expression, but not Zeb1, is needed for maintenance of the mesenchymal phenotype in MDCK cells. In this model system, EMT is coordinated by Snail1 and Zeb1 through transcriptional and epigenetic downregulation of the miR-200 family. Interestingly, Snail1 is involved in epigenetic CpG DNA methylation of the miR-200 loci, essential to maintain the mesenchymal phenotype. The present results thus define a novel functional interplay between Snail and Zeb EMT-TFs in miR200f regulation providing a molecular link to their previous involvement in the generation of EMT process in vivo. Expression analysis of MDCK over-expression EMT-TF Analysis of 7 overexpression MDCK cells each of them using biological rpelicates (MDCK-E47, Snail2, Snail1, Twist1, Tiwst2, Zeb1, Zeb2)