EMT Subtype Influences Epithelial Plasticity and Mode of Cell Migration.
ABSTRACT: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is strongly implicated in tumor cell invasion and metastasis. EMT is thought to be regulated primarily at the transcriptional level through the repressive activity of EMT transcription factors. However, these classical mechanisms have been parsed out almost exclusively in vitro, leaving questions about the programs driving EMT in physiological contexts. Here, using a lineage-labeled mouse model of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma to study EMT in vivo, we found that most tumors lose their epithelial phenotype through an alternative program involving protein internalization rather than transcriptional repression, resulting in a "partial EMT" phenotype. Carcinoma cells utilizing this program migrate as clusters, contrasting with the single-cell migration pattern associated with traditionally defined EMT mechanisms. Moreover, many breast and colorectal cancer cell lines utilize this alternative program to undergo EMT. Collectively, these results suggest that carcinoma cells have different ways of losing their epithelial program, resulting in distinct modes of invasion and dissemination.
Project description:Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and its reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET) have been suggested to play crucial roles in metastatic dissemination of carcinomas. These phenotypic transitions between states are not binary. Instead, carcinoma cells often exhibit a spectrum of epithelial/mesenchymal phenotype(s). While epithelial/mesenchymal plasticity has been observed preclinically and clinically, whether any of these phenotypic transitions are indispensable for metastatic outgrowth remains an unanswered question. Here, we focus on epithelial/mesenchymal plasticity in metastatic dissemination and propose alternative mechanisms for successful dissemination and metastases beyond the traditional EMT/MET view. We highlight multiple hypotheses that can help reconcile conflicting observations, and outline the next set of key questions that can offer valuable insights into mechanisms of metastasis in multiple tumor models.
Project description:The role of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) during hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression is well established, however the regulatory mechanisms modulating this phenomenon remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that transcription factor glioma-associated oncogene 1 (GLI1) modulates EMT through direct up-regulation of SNAI1 and serves as a downstream effector of the transforming growth factor-?1 (TGF?1) pathway, a well-known regulator of EMT in cancer cells. Overexpression of GLI1 increased proliferation, viability, migration, invasion, and colony formation by HCC cells. Conversely, GLI1 knockdown led to a decrease in all the above-mentioned cancer-associated phenotypes in HCC cells. Further analysis of GLI1 regulated cellular functions showed that this transcription factor is able to induce EMT and identified SNAI1 as a transcriptional target of GLI1 mediating this cellular effect in HCC cells. Moreover, we demonstrated that an intact GLI1-SNAI1 axis is required by TGF?1 to induce EMT in these cells. Together, these findings define a novel cellular mechanism regulated by GLI1, which controls the growth and EMT phenotype in HCC.
Project description:Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), a mechanism important for embryonic development, plays a critical role during malignant transformation. While much is known about transcriptional regulation of EMT, alternative splicing of several genes has also been correlated with EMT progression, but the extent of splicing changes and their contributions to the morphological conversion accompanying EMT have not been investigated comprehensively. Using an established cell culture model and RNA-Seq analyses, we determined an alternative splicing signature for EMT. Genes encoding key drivers of EMT-dependent changes in cell phenotype, such as actin cytoskeleton remodeling, regulation of cell-cell junction formation, and regulation of cell migration, were enriched among EMT-associated alternatively splicing events. Our analysis suggested that most EMT-associated alternative splicing events are regulated by one or more members of the RBFOX, MBNL, CELF, hnRNP, or ESRP classes of splicing factors. The EMT alternative splicing signature was confirmed in human breast cancer cell lines, which could be classified into basal and luminal subtypes based exclusively on their EMT-associated splicing pattern. Expression of EMT-associated alternative mRNA transcripts was also observed in primary breast cancer samples, indicating that EMT-dependent splicing changes occur commonly in human tumors. The functional significance of EMT-associated alternative splicing was tested by expression of the epithelial-specific splicing factor ESRP1 or by depletion of RBFOX2 in mesenchymal cells, both of which elicited significant changes in cell morphology and motility towards an epithelial phenotype, suggesting that splicing regulation alone can drive critical aspects of EMT-associated phenotypic changes. The molecular description obtained here may aid in the development of new diagnostic and prognostic markers for analysis of breast cancer progression.
Project description:Carcinomas are phenotypically arrayed along an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) spectrum, a developmental program currently exploited to understand the acquisition of drug resistance through a re-routing of growth factor signaling. This review collates the current approaches employed in developing therapeutics against cancer-associated EMT, and provides an assessment of their respective strengths and drawbacks. We reflect on the close relationship between EMT and chemoresistance against current targeted therapeutics, with a special focus on the epigenetic mechanisms that link these processes. This prompts the hypothesis that carcinoma-associated EMT shares a common epigenetic pathway to cellular plasticity as somatic cell reprogramming during tissue repair and regeneration. Indeed, their striking resemblance suggests that EMT in carcinoma is a pathological adaptation of an intrinsic program of cellular plasticity that is crucial to tissue homeostasis. We thus propose a revised approach that targets the epigenetic mechanisms underlying pathogenic EMT to arrest cellular plasticity regardless of upstream cancer-driving mutations.
Project description:Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) has an important role in invasion and metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To explore the regulatory mechanism of atypical protein kinase C ? (aPKC?) signaling pathways to HCC development, and find an agent for targeted therapy for HCC, immortalized murine hepatocytes were employed to establish an EMT cell model of HCC, MMH-RT cells. Our study showed that EMT took place in MMH-R cells under the effect of transforming growth factor-?1 (TGF-?1) overexpressing aPKC?. Furthermore, we showed that the aPKC? blocking agent aurothiomalate (ATM) inhibited EMT and decreased invasion of hepatocytes. Moreover, ATM selectively inhibited proliferation of mesenchymal cells and HepG2 cells and induced apoptosis. However, ATM increased proliferation of epithelial cells and had little effect on apoptosis and invasion of epithelial cells. In conclusion, our result suggested that aPKC? could be an important bio-marker of tumor EMT, and used as an indicator of invasion and malignancy. ATM might be a promising agent for targeted treatment of HCC.
Project description:The 5-year survival rate for colorectal cancer is approximately 55 % because of its invasion and metastasis. The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is one of the well-defined processes during the invasion and distant metastasis of primary epithelial tumors. miR-429, a member of the miR-200 family of microRNAs, was previously shown to inhibit the expression of transcriptional repressors ZEB1/delta EF1 and SIP1/ZEB2, and regulate EMT. In this study, we showed that miR-429 was significantly downregulated in colorectal carcinoma (CRC) tissues and cell lines. We found that miR-429 inhibited the proliferation and growth of CRC cells in vitro and in vivo, suggesting that miR-429 could play a role in CRC tumorigenesis. We also showed that downregulation of miR-429 may contribute to carcinogenesis and the initiation of EMT of CRC by targeting Onecut2. Further researches indicated that miR-429 inhibited the cells migration and invasion and reversed TGF-?-induced EMT changes in SW620 and SW480 cells. miR-429 could reverse the change of EMT-related markers genes induced by TGF-?1, such as E-cadherin, CTNNA1, CTNNB1, TFN, CD44, MMP2, Vimentin, Slug, Snail, and ZEB2 by targeting Onecut2. Taken together, our data showed that transcript factor Onecut2 is involved in the EMT, migration and invasion of CRC cells; miR-429 inhibits the initiation of EMT and regulated expression of EMT-related markers by targeting Onecut2; and miR-429 or Onecut2 is the important therapy target for CRC.
Project description:Epithelial/mesenchymal transition (EMT) has emerged as a key regulator of metastasis by facilitating tumor cell invasion and dissemination to distant organs. Recent evidences support that the reverse mesenchymal/epithelial transition (MET) is required for metastatic outgrowth; moreover, the existence of hybrid epithelial/mesenchymal (E/M) phenotypes is increasingly being reported in different tumor contexts. The accumulated data strongly support that plasticity between epithelial and mesenchymal states underlies the dissemination and metastatic potential of carcinoma cells. However, the translation into the clinics of EMT and epithelial plasticity processes presents enormous challenges and still remains a controversial issue. In this review, we will evaluate current evidences for translational applicability of EMT and depict an overview of the most recent EMT in vivo models, EMT marker analyses in human samples as well as potential EMT therapeutic approaches and ongoing clinical trials. We foresee that standardized analyses of EMT markers in solid and liquid tumor biopsies in addition to innovative tools targeting the E/M states will become promising strategies for future translation to the clinical setting.
Project description:microRNAs(miRNAs) can regulate epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) through transcription factors, however, little is known whether EMT transcription factors can modulate miRNAs and further induce EMT and cancer metastasis. Here we show that overexpression of Snail and Slug leads to a mesenchymal phenotype and morphology and enhances cell invasion along with stem cell properties in squamous cell carcinoma of oral tongue (OTSCC) cells. Repression of miR-101 expression by Snail and Slug is essential for Snail/Slug-induced malignant phenotypes. The suppression of miR-101 subsequently activates EZH2, the sole histone methyltransferase, inducing EMT, migration and invasion of OTSCC cells. Importantly, co-overexpression of Slug and Snail correlates with poor survival and elevated EZH2 expression in two independent patient cohorts of OTSCC specimens. These findings defined a Snail and Slug/miR-101/EZH2 pathway as a novel regulatory axis of EMT-mediated-microRNA signaling.
Project description:The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a fundamental developmental process that is abnormally activated in cancer metastasis. Dynamic changes in alternative splicing occur during EMT. ESRP1 and hnRNPM are splicing regulators that promote an epithelial splicing program and a mesenchymal splicing program, respectively. The functional relationships between these splicing factors in the genome scale remain elusive. Comparing alternative splicing targets of hnRNPM and ESRP1 revealed that they coregulate a set of cassette exon events, with the majority showing discordant splicing regulation. Discordant splicing events regulated by hnRNPM show a positive correlation with splicing during EMT; however, concordant events do not, indicating the role of hnRNPM in regulating alternative splicing during EMT is more complex than previously understood. Motif enrichment analysis near hnRNPM-ESRP1 coregulated exons identifies guanine-uridine rich motifs downstream from hnRNPM-repressed and ESRP1-enhanced exons, supporting a general model of competitive binding to these cis-elements to antagonize alternative splicing. The set of coregulated exons are enriched in genes associated with cell migration and cytoskeletal reorganization, which are pathways associated with EMT. Splicing levels of coregulated exons are associated with breast cancer patient survival and correlate with gene sets involved in EMT and breast cancer subtyping. This study identifies complex modes of interaction between hnRNPM and ESRP1 in regulation of splicing in disease-relevant contexts.
Project description:The epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process allows carcinoma cells to dissociate from the primary tumor thereby facilitating tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Ras-dependent hyperactive signaling is commonly associated with tumorigenesis, invasion, EMT, and metastasis. However, the downstream effectors by which Ras regulates EMT remain ill defined. In this study, we show that the H-Ras pathway leads to mesenchymal-like phenotypic changes in human breast epithelial cells by controlling the ZEB1/microRNA-200c axis. Moreover, H-Ras suppresses the expression of the discoidin domain receptor 1 (DDR1), a collagen receptor tyrosine kinase, via ZEB1, thus identifying ZEB1 as a novel transcriptional repressor of DDR1. Mutation studies on the putative promoter of the DDR1 gene revealed that bipartite Z- and E-box elements play a key role in transcriptional repression of DDR1 in Hs578T and MDA-MB-231 breast carcinoma cell lines by ZEB1. Furthermore, we found an inverse correlation between ZEB1 and DDR1 expression in various cancer cell lines and in human breast carcinoma tissues. Consistently, overexpression of DDR1 reduced the invasive phenotype of mesenchymal-like triple-negative breast cancer cells in 3D cultures and in vivo. Thus, ZEB1's role in maintenance of EMT in breast carcinoma cells is mediated in part by its ability to suppress DDR1 expression and consequently contribute to the activation of the invasive phenotype. Taken together, our results unveil a novel H-Ras/ZEB1/DDR1 network that contributes to breast cancer progression in triple-negative breast cancers.