Gene Summary

Gene:OCLN; occludin
Aliases: BLCPMG, PTORCH1, PPP1R115
Summary:This gene encodes an integral membrane protein that is required for cytokine-induced regulation of the tight junction paracellular permeability barrier. Mutations in this gene are thought to be a cause of band-like calcification with simplified gyration and polymicrogyria (BLC-PMG), an autosomal recessive neurologic disorder that is also known as pseudo-TORCH syndrome. Alternative splicing results in multiple transcript variants. A related pseudogene is present 1.5 Mb downstream on the q arm of chromosome 5. [provided by RefSeq, Apr 2011]
Databases:OMIM, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Source:NCBIAccessed: 01 September, 2019


What does this gene/protein do?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1994-2019)
Graph generated 01 September 2019 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

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Tag cloud generated 01 September, 2019 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (6)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: OCLN (cancer-related)

Gerashchenko GV, Mevs LV, Chashchina LI, et al.
Expression of steroid and peptide hormone receptors, metabolic enzymes and EMT-related genes in prostate tumors in relation to the presence of the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion.
Exp Oncol. 2018; 40(2):101-108 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: To analyze an expression pattern of the steroid and peptide hormone receptors, metabolic enzymes and EMT-related genes in prostate tumors in relation to the presence of the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion; and to examine a putative correlation between gene expression and clinical characteristics, to define the molecular subtypes of prostate cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: The relative gene expression (RE) of 33 transcripts (27 genes) and the presence/absence of the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion were analyzed by a quantitative PCR. 37 prostate cancer tissues (T) paired with conventionally normal prostate tissue (CNT) and 21 samples of prostate adenomas were investigated. RE changes were calculated, using different protocols of statistics.
RESULTS: We demonstrated differences in RE of seven genes between tumors and CNT, as was calculated, using the 2-ΔCT model and the Wilcoxon matched paired test. Five genes (ESR1, KRT18, MKI67, MMP9, PCA3) showed altered expression in adenocarcinomas, in which the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion was detected. Two genes (INSR, isoform B and HOTAIR) expressed differently in tumors without fusion. Comparison of the gene expression pattern in adenomas, CNT and adenocarcinomas demonstrated that in adenocarcinomas, bearing the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion, genes KRT18, PCA3, and SCHLAP1 expressed differently. At the same time, we detected differences in RE of AR (isoform 2), MMP9, PRLR and HOTAIR in adenocarcinomas without the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion. Two genes (ESR1 and SRD5A2) showed differences in RE in both adenocarcinoma groups. Fourteen genes, namely AR (isoforms 1 and 2), CDH1, OCLN, NKX3-1, XIAP, GCR (ins AG), INSR (isoform A), IGF1R, IGF1R tr, PRLR, PRL, VDR and SRD5A2 showed correlation between RE and tumor stage. RE of four genes (CDH2, ESR2, VDR and SRD5A2) correlated with differentiation status of tumors (Gleason score). Using the K-means clustering, we could cluster adenocarcinomas in three groups, according to gene expression profiles. A specific subtype of prostate tumors is characterized by the activated ERG signaling, due to the presence of TMPRSS2/ERG fusion, and also by high levels of the androgen receptor, prolactin, IGF, INSR and PCA3.
CONCLUSIONS: We have found the specific differences in expression of the steroid and peptide hormone receptors, metabolic enzymes and EMT-related genes, depending on the pre-sence/absence of the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion in prostate adenocarcinomas, CNT and adenomas. We showed three different gene expression profiles of prostate adenocarcinomas. One of them is characteristic for adenocarcinomas with the TMPRSS2/ERG fusion. Further experiments are needed to confirm these data in a larger cohort of patients.

Zeineddine HA, Girard R, Saadat L, et al.
Phenotypic characterization of murine models of cerebral cavernous malformations.
Lab Invest. 2019; 99(3):319-330 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are clusters of dilated capillaries that affect around 0.5% of the population. CCMs exist in two forms, sporadic and familial. Mutations in three documented genes, KRIT1(CCM1), CCM2, and PDCD10(CCM3), cause the autosomal dominant form of the disease, and somatic mutations in these same genes underlie lesion development in the brain. Murine models with constitutive or induced loss of respective genes have been applied to study disease pathobiology and therapeutic manipulations. We aimed to analyze the phenotypic characteristic of two main groups of models, the chronic heterozygous models with sensitizers promoting genetic instability, and the acute neonatal induced homozygous knockout model. Acute model mice harbored a higher lesion burden than chronic models, more localized in the hindbrain, and largely lacking iron deposition and inflammatory cell infiltrate. The chronic model mice showed a lower lesion burden localized throughout the brain, with significantly greater perilesional iron deposition, immune B- and T-cell infiltration, and less frequent junctional protein immunopositive endothelial cells. Lesional endothelial cells in both models expressed similar phosphorylated myosin light chain immunopositivity indicating Rho-associated protein kinase activity. These data suggest that acute models are better suited to study the initial formation of the lesion, while the chronic models better reflect lesion maturation, hemorrhage, and inflammatory response, relevant pathobiologic features of the human disease.

Zhao C, Wang H, Xiong C, Liu Y
Hypoxic glioblastoma release exosomal VEGF-A induce the permeability of blood-brain barrier.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2018; 502(3):324-331 [PubMed] Related Publications
Exosomes are nano-vesicles released by tumor cells to modulate extracellular environment. Accumulating evidence revealed that glioblastoma derived exosomes contain multiple pro-angiogenic factors to induce the proliferation of endothelial cells. Here, we investigated the role of GBM-derived exosomes in inducing the permeability of the blood-brain barrier. We found that VEGF-A was over-expressed in hypoxic GBM-derived exosomes, which enhance the permeability of a BBB in vitro model by interrupting the expression of claudin-5 and occludin. In vivo permeability assay showed hypoxic GBM-derived exosomes remained functional in the blood circulation and induced the permeability of BBB.

Wang M, Liu Y, Qian X, et al.
Downregulation of occludin affects the proliferation, apoptosis and metastatic properties of human lung carcinoma.
Oncol Rep. 2018; 40(1):454-462 [PubMed] Related Publications
Lung cancer is the most frequent and deadliest cancer in the world, especially in China. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in lung cancer remain unclear. Occludin (OCLN), one of the first identified tight junction proteins, has been revealed to be a necessary integral protein for tight junction structure and function. In the present study, we investigated the role of occludin in lung tumorigenesis. We found that occludin protein expression was highly increased in human lung cancer patient samples. Western blotting results also revealed that occludin expression was different in several lung cancer cell lines, with the highest level in SPC‑A1 cells. Moreover, occludin knockdown inhibited lung cancer cell proliferation in vitro and in vivo. In addition, occludin knockdown promoted the apoptosis of lung cancer cell lines and reduced the invasion ability. Mechanistically, the activity of key growth pathway AKT/PI3K was compromised after occludin knockdown. Expression of apoptosis‑related proteins, BAX, caspase‑3, caspase‑9 and AIF, but not Bcl‑2, were upregulated after silencing of occludin. Collectively, our findings for the first time identify the role of occludin as a tumor promoter and a pro‑metastatic factor in lung cancer, demonstrating that occludin is a potential prognostic biomarker and therapeutic target in lung cancer.

Sekhar V, Pollicino T, Diaz G, et al.
Infection with hepatitis C virus depends on TACSTD2, a regulator of claudin-1 and occludin highly downregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma.
PLoS Pathog. 2018; 14(3):e1006916 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Entry of hepatitis C virus (HCV) into hepatocytes is a complex process that involves numerous cellular factors, including the scavenger receptor class B type 1 (SR-B1), the tetraspanin CD81, and the tight junction (TJ) proteins claudin-1 (CLDN1) and occludin (OCLN). Despite expression of all known HCV-entry factors, in vitro models based on hepatoma cell lines do not fully reproduce the in vivo susceptibility of liver cells to primary HCV isolates, implying the existence of additional host factors which are critical for HCV entry and/or replication. Likewise, HCV replication is severely impaired within hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissue in vivo, but the mechanisms responsible for this restriction are presently unknown. Here, we identify tumor-associated calcium signal transducer 2 (TACSTD2), one of the most downregulated genes in primary HCC tissue, as a host factor that interacts with CLDN1 and OCLN and regulates their cellular localization. TACSTD2 gene silencing disrupts the typical linear distribution of CLDN1 and OCLN along the cellular membrane in both hepatoma cells and primary human hepatocytes, recapitulating the pattern observed in vivo in primary HCC tissue. Mechanistic studies suggest that TACSTD2 is involved in the phosphorylation of CLDN1 and OCLN, which is required for their proper cellular localization. Silencing of TACSTD2 dramatically inhibits HCV infection with a pan-genotype effect that occurs at the level of viral entry. Our study identifies TACSTD2 as a novel regulator of two major HCV-entry factors, CLDN1 and OCLN, which is strongly downregulated in malignant hepatocytes. These results provide new insights into the complex process of HCV entry into hepatocytes and may assist in the development of more efficient cellular systems for HCV propagation in vitro.

Zhang B, Chen X, Lin Y, et al.
Occludin protein expression in human cervical cancer and its association with patient's clinical characteristics.
J Cancer Res Ther. 2018; 14(1):124-127 [PubMed] Related Publications
Objective: The objective of the study was to investigate the expression of the tight junction protein occludin (encoded by OCLN gene) in human cervical cancer and its association with clinical features of patients.
Materials and Methods: Sixty-one patients with cervical cancer were included in this study from June 30, 2015 to April 30, 2017. Immuno-histochemical assay was applied to examine the expression of occludin protein in 61 cervical cancer tissues and matched adjacent cancer normal tissues. The association of occludin protein expression with clinical pathology characteristics was analyzed.
Results: Occludin protein was mainly expressed in cell membranes and cytoplasm of both the cervical cancer cell and the normal cells. The protein was manifested with brownish-yellow granules. In cervical cancer tissues, the positive rate of occludin protein was 77.05% (47/61), whereas, in adjacent normal tissues of the cancer, the positive rate was 96.72% (59/61). Therefore, the positive rate of occludin in cervical cancer tissues was significantly lower than that of the adjacent cancer tissues (P < 0.05). Occludin protein expression level was not significantly correlated with the age (P > 0.05), tumor size (P > 0.05), International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics staging (P > 0.05), pathological grades (P > 0.05), and lymph node metastasis (P > 0.05) of the patients.
Conclusion: Occludin protein may contribute to the development of cervical cancer. However, it was not correlated with the clinical features.

Guen VJ, Chavarria TE, Kröger C, et al.
EMT programs promote basal mammary stem cell and tumor-initiating cell stemness by inducing primary ciliogenesis and Hedgehog signaling.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017; 114(49):E10532-E10539 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tissue regeneration relies on adult stem cells (SCs) that possess the ability to self-renew and produce differentiating progeny. In an analogous manner, the development of certain carcinomas depends on a small subset of tumor cells, called "tumor-initiating cells" (TICs), with SC-like properties. Mammary SCs (MaSCs) reside in the basal compartment of the mammary epithelium, and their neoplastic counterparts, mammary TICs (MaTICs), are thought to serve as the TICs for the claudin-low subtype of breast cancer. MaSCs and MaTICs both use epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) programs to acquire SC properties, but the mechanism(s) connecting EMT programs to stemness remain unclear. Here we show that this depends on primary cilia, which are nonmotile, cell-surface structures that serve as platforms for receiving cues and enable activation of various signaling pathways. We show that MaSC and MaTIC EMT programs induce primary cilia formation and Hedgehog (Hh) signaling, which has previously been implicated in both MaSC and MaTIC function. Moreover, ablation of these primary cilia is sufficient to repress Hh signaling, the stemness of MaSCs, and the tumor-forming potential of MaTICs. Together, our findings establish primary ciliogenesis and consequent Hh signaling as a key mechanism by which MaSC and MaTIC EMT programs promote stemness and thereby support mammary tissue outgrowth and tumors of basal origin.

Jingushi K, Kashiwagi Y, Ueda Y, et al.
High miR-122 expression promotes malignant phenotypes in ccRCC by targeting occludin.
Int J Oncol. 2017; 51(1):289-297 [PubMed] Related Publications
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common neoplasm of the adult kidney, and clear cell RCC (ccRCC) represents its most common histological subtype. Although several studies have reported high expression of miR-122 in ccRCC, its physiological role remains unclear. To clarify the role of miR-122 in ccRCC, we compared miR-122 expression levels in non-cancerous tissue and ccRCC. Significant upregulation of miR-122 was observed in ccRCC specimens. Moreover, ccRCC patients with high miR-122 expression showed poor progression-free survival compared to those with low miR-122 expression. Overexpression of miR-122 using an miRNA mimic promoted proliferation, migration, and invasion activities of ccRCC cells. miR-122 directly targets occludin, a known component of tight junctions. Occludin knockdown promoted the cell migration activity but not proliferation or invasion activities of ccRCC cells. In human clinical specimens, miR-122 expression inversely correlated with occludin protein expression. These findings show that miR-122 is an oncomiR in ccRCC.

Guo J, Cai H, Zheng J, et al.
Long non-coding RNA NEAT1 regulates permeability of the blood-tumor barrier via miR-181d-5p-mediated expression changes in ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5.
Biochim Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2017; 1863(9):2240-2254 [PubMed] Related Publications
The blood-tumor barrier (BTB) constitutes an efficient organization of tight junctions that limits the delivery of chemotherapeutic drugs to brain tumor tissues and impacts the treatment of glioma. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are non-protein coding RNAs regulating gene expression, some lncRNAs play a crucial role in BTB permeability. However, the function of lncRNAs in BTB permeability is still largely unclear. Here, we have identified lncRNA nuclear paraspeckle assembly transcript 1 (NEAT1), was remarkably up-regulated in glioma endothelial cells (GECs) obtained from an in vitro BTB model. Knockdown of NEAT1 impaired the integrity and increased the permeability of the BTB, accompanied by downregulation of expression of the tight junction proteins ZO-1, occludin and claudin-5 in GECs. Both bioinformatics data and results of luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that NEAT1 influenced BTB permeability by binding to miR-181d-5p. Knockdown of NEAT1 also down-regulated the expression of sex determining region Y-box protein 5 (SOX5), which was defined as a direct and functional downstream target of miR-181d-5p. SOX5 interacts with the promoter region of ZO-1, occludin and claudin-5 in GECs. In conclusion, knockdown of NEAT1 increased BTB permeability by binding to miR-181d-5p and then reducing tight junction protein expression by targeting SOX5. These results suggest an important role for NEAT1 in regulating BTB permeability and provide an additional strategy for treating glioma.

Conceição AL, Da Silva CT, Badial RM, et al.
Downregulation of OCLN and GAS1 in clear cell renal cell carcinoma.
Oncol Rep. 2017; 37(3):1487-1496 [PubMed] Related Publications
Clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) is the most common histological subtype of kidney cancer. This carcinoma is histologically characterized by the presence of clear and abundant cytoplasm. In the present study, we sought to identify genes differentially expressed in ccRCC and build a molecular profile of this cancer. We selected genes described in the literature related to cellular differentiation and proliferation. We analyzed the gene and protein expression by quantitative PCR (qPCR) and immunohistochemistry, respectively, and examined possible epigenetic mechanisms that regulate their expression in ccRCC samples and cell lines. Occludin (OCLN) and growth arrest-specific 1 (GAS1) genes were underexpressed in ccRCC, and we report that miR-122 and miR-34a, respectively, may regulate their expression in this cancer. Furthermore, we showed by qPCR and immunohistochemistry that solute carrier family 2 member 1 (SLC2A1) was significantly overexpressed in ccRCC. The set of genes identified in the present study furthers our understanding of the molecular basis and development of ccRCC.

Kar S, Bali KK, Baisantry A, et al.
Genome-Wide Sequencing Reveals MicroRNAs Downregulated in Cerebral Cavernous Malformations.
J Mol Neurosci. 2017; 61(2):178-188 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCM) are vascular lesions associated with loss-of-function mutations in one of the three genes encoding KRIT1 (CCM1), CCM2, and PDCD10. Recent understanding of the molecular mechanisms that lead to CCM development is limited. The role of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been demonstrated in vascular pathologies resulting in loss of tight junction proteins, increased vascular permeability and endothelial cell dysfunction. Since the relevance of miRNAs in CCM pathophysiology has not been elucidated, the primary aim of the study was to identify the miRNA-mRNA expression network associated with CCM. Using small RNA sequencing, we identified a total of 764 matured miRNAs expressed in CCM patients compared to the healthy brains. The expression of the selected miRNAs was validated by qRT-PCR, and the results were found to be consistent with the sequencing data. Upon application of additional statistical stringency, five miRNAs (let-7b-5p, miR-361-5p, miR-370-3p, miR-181a-2-3p, and miR-95-3p) were prioritized to be top CCM-relevant miRNAs. Further in silico analyses revealed that the prioritized miRNAs have a direct functional relation with mRNAs, such as MIB1, HIF1A, PDCD10, TJP1, OCLN, HES1, MAPK1, VEGFA, EGFL7, NF1, and ENG, which are previously characterized as key regulators of CCM pathology. To date, this is the first study to investigate the role of miRNAs in CCM pathology. By employing cutting edge molecular and in silico analyses on clinical samples, the current study reports global miRNA expression changes in CCM patients and provides a rich source of data set to understand detailed molecular machinery involved in CCM pathophysiology.

Zuo L, Yang X, Lu M, et al.
All-Trans Retinoic Acid Inhibits Human Colorectal Cancer Cells RKO Migration via Downregulating Myosin Light Chain Kinase Expression through MAPK Signaling Pathway.
Nutr Cancer. 2016; 68(7):1225-33 [PubMed] Related Publications
All-trans-retinoic acid (ATRA) inhibits the invasive and metastatic potentials of various cancer cells. However, the underlying mechanism is unclear. Here, we demonstrate that ATRA inhibited colorectal cancer cells RKO (human colon adenocarcinoma cell) migration by downregulating cell movement and increasing cell adhesion. ATRA inhibited the expression and activation of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK) in RKO cells, while the expression level of MLC phosphatase (MLCP) had no change in RKO cells treated with or without ATRA. The expression and activity of MLC was also inhibited in RKO cells exposed to ATRA. Intriguingly, ATRA increased the expression of occludin messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein and its localization on cell membrane. However, ATRA did not change the expression of zonula occludens 1 (ZO-1), but increased the accumulation of ZO-1 on RKO cells membrane. ML-7, an inhibitor of MLCK, significantly inhibited RKO cell migration. Furthermore, knockdown of endogenous MLCK expression inhibited RKO migration. Mechanistically, we showed that MAPK-specific inhibitor PD98059 enhanced the inhibitory effect of ATRA on RKO migration. In contrast, phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) attenuated the effects of ATRA in RKO cells. Moreover, knocking down endogenous extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) expression inhibited MLCK expression in the RKO cells. In conclusion, ATRA inhibits RKO migration by reducing MLCK expression via extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/Mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK1/MAPK) signaling pathway.

Sulaiman NB, Mohan CD, Basappa S, et al.
An azaspirane derivative suppresses growth and induces apoptosis of ER-positive and ER-negative breast cancer cells through the modulation of JAK2/STAT3 signaling pathway.
Int J Oncol. 2016; 49(3):1221-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Persistent activation of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) is associated with the progression of a range of tumors. In this report, we present the anticancer activity of 2-(1-(4-(2-cyanophenyl)1-benzyl‑1H-indol-3-yl)-5-(4-methoxy-phenyl)-1-oxa-3-azaspiro(5,5)undecane (CIMO) against breast cancer cells. We observed that CIMO suppresses the proliferation of both estrogen receptor-negative (ER-) (BT-549, MDA-MB‑231) and estrogen receptor-positive (ER+) (MCF-7, and BT-474) breast cancer (BC) cells with IC50 of 3.05, 3.41, 4.12 and 4.19 µM, respectively, and without significantly affecting the viability of normal cells. CIMO was observed to mediate its anti-proliferative effect in ER- BC cells by inhibiting the phosphorylation of JAK2 and STAT3 proteins. Quantitative PCR analysis demonstrated that CIMO decreases the relative mRNA expression of genes that are involved in cell cycle progression (CCND1) and cell survival (BCL2, BCL-xL, BAD, CASP 3/7/9, and TP53). In addition, CIMO was observed to arrest BC cells at G0/G1 phase and of the cell cycle. Furthermore, CIMO suppressed BC cell migration and invasion with concordant regulation of genes involved in epithelial to mesechymal transition (CDH1, CDH2, OCLN and VIM). Thus, we report the utility of a synthetic azaspirane which targets the JAK-STAT pathway in ER- BC.

Martin TA, Jordan N, Davies EL, Jiang WG
Metastasis to Bone in Human Cancer Is Associated with Loss of Occludin Expression.
Anticancer Res. 2016; 36(3):1287-93 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Occludin is an integral membrane protein localised at tight junctions (TJ). There is no consensus regarding its paramount role in TJ. In previous work we showed that occludin is aberrantly expressed in both human breast tissues and cancer cell lines. This study demonstrates a link to bone metastasis in human cancer.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Primary breast tumours (n=124) and matched normal tissues (n=30) were processed for quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) analysis. A hammerhead ribozyme was constructed to create occludin knockdown cell lines, MDA-MB-231(ΔOcc) and PC-3(ΔOcc). The effect of human bone matrix extract (BME) was investigated using cell growth and electric cell impedance sensing (ECIS) technology to measure changes in attachment/migration. Trans-epithelial resistance (TER) was measured for assessing changes in TJ function. Cells used were MDA-MB-231, PC-3, CORL-23, SKMES-1 and A-549 human cancer cell lines.
RESULTS: Tumours from patients with bone metastasis had significantly lower occludin expression compared to those remaining alive/well (60.7±21 vs. 331±98, respectively, p=0.008). This was striking in ductal carcinomas, where patients alive/well had significantly higher occludin expression compared to those with bone metastasis (391±12.5 vs. 67.9±28, respectively, p=0.0014). ECIS demonstrated that MDA-MB-231(ΔOcc) showed reduced attachment to 5% BME compared to controls (84% vs. 100%) that prevented closure of wounded cell layers. Moreover, these cells had reduced growth on BME. In addition, BME changed the TER of a number of human cell lines and was able to effect changes in the growth of MDA-MB-241 and PC-3 cells, with greater effect on knockdown cells.
CONCLUSION: This is the first study to demonstrate that occludin expression has a clear relationship with bone metastasis in human cancer. The discrepancy between this and the in vitro data indicating a reduction in migration/growth rate of occludin knockdown indicates that loss of occludin leads to complex changes in human cancer cell phenotype.

Kanda M, Shimizu D, Tanaka H, et al.
Metastatic pathway-specific transcriptome analysis identifies MFSD4 as a putative tumor suppressor and biomarker for hepatic metastasis in patients with gastric cancer.
Oncotarget. 2016; 7(12):13667-79 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Gastric cancer (GC) with hepatic metastasis remains a fatal disease. Global expression profiling was conducted using tissues from patients who had GC with synchronous hepatic metastasis, and major facilitator superfamily domain containing 4 (MFSD4) was identified as a candidate biomarker for hepatic metastasis in GC. Functional and expression analyses of this molecule in GC cell lines and clinical samples were conducted. We analyzed MFSD4 expression, DNA methylation, and copy number. RNA interference experiments evaluated the effects of MFSD4 expression on cell phenotype and apoptosis. We analyzed tissues of 200 patients with GC to assess the diagnostic performance of MFSD4 levels for predicting hepatic recurrence, metastasis, or both. Differential expression of MFSD4 mRNA by GC cell lines correlated positively with the levels of NUDT13 and OCLN mRNAs and inversely with those of BMP2. Hypermethylation of the MFSD4 promoter was detected in cells with lower levels of MFSD4 mRNA. Inhibition of MFSD4 expression significantly increased the invasiveness and motility of GC cells but did not influence cell proliferation or apoptosis. MFSD4 mRNA levels in primary GC tissues were reduced in patients with concomitant hepatic metastasis or recurrence compared with those without. Low levels of MFSD4 mRNA in primary GC tissues were an independent risk factor of hepatic recurrence and metastasis. MFSD4 expression in gastric tissues may represent a useful biomarker for identification of patients at high risk for hepatic recurrence, metastasis, or both.

Zhang X, Yu X, Jiang G, et al.
Cytosolic TMEM88 promotes invasion and metastasis in lung cancer cells by binding DVLS.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(21):4527-37 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transmembrane protein 88 (TMEM88) is a transmembrane protein that plays a crucial role in regulating human stem cell differentiation and embryonic development. However, its expression and clinicopathologic significance in human neoplasms is unclear. In this study, the expression and subcellular localizations of TMEM88 were assessed in 214 cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Notably, TMEM88 was highly expressed in the cytosol of ∼60% NSCLC specimens examined. Higher expression of cytosolic TMEM88 in NSCLC correlated significantly with poor differentiation, high TNM stage, lymph node metastasis, and inferior survival. In NSCLC cells displaying membrane-localized TMEM88, we observed an inhibition of canonical Wnt signaling due to interactions of TMEM88 with the Wnt pathway factor Dishevelled (DVLS). In contrast, NSCLC cells with cytosol-localized TMEM88 lacked effects on Wnt signaling. Cytosolic interactions of TMEM88 and DVLS increased the expression of phosphorylated, active forms of p38, GSK3β (Thr390), and Snail, thereby reducing the expression of the tight junction-associated proteins ZO-1 and occludin, effects associated with enhanced invasive and metastatic cell characters. Importantly, attenuating the expression of cytosolic TMEM88 reduced metastatic prowess in xenograft models. Overall, our findings show how mislocalization of TMEM88 to the cytosol in NSCLC cells ablates its Wnt pathway regulatory properties, thereby promoting invasion and metastasis by activating the p38-GSK3β-Snail signaling pathway.

Melchers LJ, Clausen MJ, Mastik MF, et al.
Identification of methylation markers for the prediction of nodal metastasis in oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma.
Epigenetics. 2015; 10(9):850-60 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Hypermethylation is an important mechanism for the dynamic regulation of gene expression, necessary for metastasizing tumour cells. Our aim is to identify methylation tumour markers that have a predictive value for the presence of regional lymph node metastases in patients with oral and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma (OOSCC). Significantly differentially expressed genes were retrieved from four reported microarray expression profiles comparing pN0 and pN+ head-neck tumours, and one expression array identifying functionally hypermethylated genes. Additional metastasis-associated genes were included from the literature. Thus genes were selected that influence the development of nodal metastases and might be regulated by methylation. Methylation-specific PCR (MSP) primers were designed and tested on 8 head-neck squamous cell carcinoma cell lines and technically validated on 10 formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) OOSCC cases. Predictive value was assessed in a clinical series of 70 FFPE OOSCC with pathologically determined nodal status. Five out of 28 methylation markers (OCLN, CDKN2A, MGMT, MLH1 and DAPK1) were frequently differentially methylated in OOSCC. Of these, MGMT methylation was associated with pN0 status (P = 0.02) and with lower immunoexpression (P = 0.02). DAPK1 methylation was associated with pN+ status (P = 0.008) but did not associate with protein expression. In conclusion, out of 28 candidate genes, two (7%) showed a predictive value for the pN status. Both genes, DAPK1 and MGMT, have predictive value for nodal metastasis in a clinical group of OOSCC. Therefore DNA methylation markers are capable of contributing to diagnosis and treatment selection in OOSCC. To efficiently identify additional new methylation markers, genome-wide methods are needed.

Cai H, Xue Y, Wang P, et al.
The long noncoding RNA TUG1 regulates blood-tumor barrier permeability by targeting miR-144.
Oncotarget. 2015; 6(23):19759-79 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Blood-tumor barrier (BTB) limits the delivery of chemotherapeutic agent to brain tumor tissues. Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been shown to play critical regulatory roles in various biologic processes of tumors. However, the role of lncRNAs in BTB permeability is unclear. LncRNA TUG1 (taurine upregulated gene 1) was highly expressed in glioma vascular endothelial cells from glioma tissues. It also upregulated in glioma co-cultured endothelial cells (GEC) from BTB model in vitro. Knockdown of TUG1 increased BTB permeability, and meanwhile down-regulated the expression of the tight junction proteins ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5. Both bioinformatics and luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that TUG1 influenced BTB permeability via binding to miR-144. Furthermore, Knockdown of TUG1 also down-regulated Heat shock transcription factor 2 (HSF2), a transcription factor of the heat shock transcription factor family, which was defined as a direct and functional downstream target of miR-144. HSF2 up-regulated the promoter activities and interacted with the promoters of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5 in GECs. In conclusion, our results indicate that knockdown of TUG1 increased BTB permeability via binding to miR-144 and then reducing EC tight junction protein expression by targeting HSF2. Thus, TUG1 may represent a useful future therapeutic target for enhancing BTB permeability.

Zhao L, Wang P, Liu Y, et al.
miR-34c regulates the permeability of blood-tumor barrier via MAZ-mediated expression changes of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(3):716-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
The purposes of this study were to investigate the potential roles of miR-34c in regulating blood-tumor barrier (BTB) functions and its possible molecular mechanisms. The over-expression of miR-34c significantly impaired the integrity and increased the permeability of BTB, which were detected in an in vitro BTB model by transendothelial electric resistance and horseradish peroxidase flux assays, respectively. Meanwhile, real-time quantitative PCR (qRT-PCR), Western blot and immunofluorescence assays successively demonstrated downregulation of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5 and miR-34c silencing uncovered the opposite results. Dual-luciferase reporter assays results revealed myc-associated zinc-finger protein (MAZ) is a target gene of miR-34c. Besides, mRNA and protein expressions of MAZ were reversely regulated by miR-34c. The down-expression of MAZ significantly impaired the integrity and increased the permeability of BTB as well as downregulated the expressions of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5. And chromatin immunoprecipitation verified that MAZ interacted with "GGGCGGG," "CCCTCCC," and "GGGAGGG" DNA sequence of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5 promoter, respectively. The over-expression or silencing of either miR-34c or MAZ was performed simultaneously to further explore their functional relations, and results elucidated that miR-34c and MAZ displayed reverse regulatory effects on the integrity and permeability of BTB as well as the expressions of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5. In conclusion, our present study indicated that miR-34c regulated the permeability of BTB via MAZ-mediated expression changes of ZO-1, occludin, and claudin-5.

Karagiannis GS, Schaeffer DF, Cho CK, et al.
Collective migration of cancer-associated fibroblasts is enhanced by overexpression of tight junction-associated proteins claudin-11 and occludin.
Mol Oncol. 2014; 8(2):178-95 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
It has been suggested that cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs) positioned at the desmoplastic areas of various types of cancer are capable of executing a migratory program, characterized by accelerated motility and collective configuration. Since CAFs are reprogrammed derivatives of normal progenitors, including quiescent fibroblasts, we hypothesized that such migratory program could be context-dependent, thus being regulated by specific paracrine signals from the adjacent cancer population. Using the traditional scratch assay setup, we showed that only specific colon cancer cell lines (i.e. HT29) were able to induce collective CAF migration. By performing quantitative proteomics (SILAC), we identified a 2.7-fold increase of claudin-11, a member of the tight junction apparatus, in CAFs that exerted such collectivity in their migratory pattern. Further proteomic investigations of cancer cell line secretomes revealed a specific signature, involving TGF-β, as potential mediator of this effect. Normal colonic fibroblasts stimulated with TGF-β exerted myofibroblastic differentiation, occludin (OCLN) and claudin-11 (CLDN11) overexpression and cohort formation. Subsequently, inhibition of TGF-β attenuated all the previous effects. Immunohistochemistry of the universal tight junction marker occludin in a cohort of 30 colorectal adenocarcinoma patients defined a CAF subpopulation expressing tight junctions. Overall, these data suggest that cancer cells may induce CLDN11 overexpression and subsequent collective migration of peritumoral CAFs via TGF-β secretion.

Jackstadt R, Röh S, Neumann J, et al.
AP4 is a mediator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis in colorectal cancer.
J Exp Med. 2013; 210(7):1331-50 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor AP4/TFAP4/AP-4 is encoded by a c-MYC target gene and displays up-regulation concomitantly with c-MYC in colorectal cancer (CRC) and numerous other tumor types. Here a genome-wide characterization of AP4 DNA binding and mRNA expression was performed using a combination of microarray, genome-wide chromatin immunoprecipitation, next-generation sequencing, and bioinformatic analyses. Thereby, hundreds of induced and repressed AP4 target genes were identified. Besides many genes involved in the control of proliferation, the AP4 target genes included markers of stemness (LGR5 and CD44) and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) such as SNAIL, E-cadherin/CDH1, OCLN, VIM, FN1, and the Claudins 1, 4, and 7. Accordingly, activation of AP4 induced EMT and enhanced migration and invasion of CRC cells. Conversely, down-regulation of AP4 resulted in mesenchymal-epithelial transition and inhibited migration and invasion. In addition, AP4 induction was required for EMT, migration, and invasion caused by ectopic expression of c-MYC. Inhibition of AP4 in CRC cells resulted in decreased lung metastasis in mice. Elevated AP4 expression in primary CRC significantly correlated with liver metastasis and poor patient survival. These findings imply AP4 as a new regulator of EMT that contributes to metastatic processes in CRC and presumably other carcinomas.

Lee NP
The blood-biliary barrier, tight junctions and human liver diseases.
Adv Exp Med Biol. 2012; 763:171-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Tight junction (TJ) composes of an intriguing class of cell junction molecules, for which these molecules share similar organizations and structure features among different organs. Fourtypes of transmembrane molecules namely occludins, claudins, junctional adhesion molecules and coxsackievirus and adenovirus receptors act as core units and each link directly and indirectly with a panel of peripheral molecules and underlying cytoskeletons to constitute the functional protein complexes at TJs. Individual TJ complex alone or in co-operation with other complexes via cross-talk mediated by peripheral molecules activate signaling pathways pertinent to various physiological and pathological processes in livers. In human livers, TJs are located at two regions in association with hepatocytes and cholangiocytes and perform major roles in controlling bile flow and metabolism. Apart from this physiological function, the other functions of TJs relating to liver diseases of hepatitis and liver cancer are gradually uncovered. The understanding of how TJs are involved in these clinical conditions hint for the development of new treatments at the molecular level.

Rachow S, Zorn-Kruppa M, Ohnemus U, et al.
Occludin is involved in adhesion, apoptosis, differentiation and Ca2+-homeostasis of human keratinocytes: implications for tumorigenesis.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(2):e55116 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
Tight junction (TJ) proteins are involved in a number of cellular functions, including paracellular barrier formation, cell polarization, differentiation, and proliferation. Altered expression of TJ proteins was reported in various epithelial tumors. Here, we used tissue samples of human cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), its precursor tumors, as well as sun-exposed and non-sun-exposed skin as a model system to investigate TJ protein alteration at various stages of tumorigenesis. We identified that a broader localization of zonula occludens protein (ZO)-1 and claudin-4 (Cldn-4) as well as downregulation of Cldn-1 in deeper epidermal layers is a frequent event in all the tumor entities as well as in sun-exposed skin, suggesting that these changes result from chronic UV irradiation. In contrast, SCC could be distinguished from the precursor tumors and sun-exposed skin by a frequent complete loss of occludin (Ocln). To elucidate the impact of down-regulation of Ocln, we performed Ocln siRNA experiments in human keratinocytes and uncovered that Ocln downregulation results in decreased epithelial cell-cell adhesion and reduced susceptibility to apoptosis induction by UVB or TNF-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL), cellular characteristics for tumorigenesis. Furthermore, an influence on epidermal differentiation was observed, while there was no change of E-cadherin and vimentin, markers for epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Ocln knock-down altered Ca(2+)-homeostasis which may contribute to alterations of cell-cell adhesion and differentiation. As downregulation of Ocln is also seen in SCC derived from other tissues, as well as in other carcinomas, we suggest this as a common principle in tumor pathogenesis, which may be used as a target for therapeutic intervention.

Saintigny P, Peng S, Zhang L, et al.
Global evaluation of Eph receptors and ephrins in lung adenocarcinomas identifies EphA4 as an inhibitor of cell migration and invasion.
Mol Cancer Ther. 2012; 11(9):2021-32 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The Eph family of receptors is the largest family of receptor tyrosine kinases, but it remains poorly studied in lung cancer. We aimed to systematically explore the human Eph receptors and their ligands, the ephrins, in lung adenocarcinoma. The prognostic impact of Eph receptor and ephrin gene expression was analyzed using 2 independent cohorts of lung adenocarcinoma. Gene expression profiles in lung adenocarcinoma compared with normal adjacent lung were studied in 3 independent cohorts and in cell lines. Gene expression profiles were validated with quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and Western blotting in cell lines. Functional studies to assess the role of Eph receptor A4 (EphA4) were carried out in vitro. The biological effects of EphA4 in lung cancer cell lines were assayed following overexpression and knockdown. Of the 11 Eph receptors and 8 ephrins analyzed, only EphA4 and ephrin A1 gene expression were consistently associated with an improved outcome in patients with lung adenocarcinoma. Expression levels of EphA4 by microarray correlated well with expression levels measured by qPCR and Western blotting. EphA4 overexpression reduced cell migration and invasion but did not affect cell cycle, apoptosis, or drug sensitivity. Surprisingly, EphA4 was expressed at higher levels in cancer compared with non-cancer tissues and cell lines. EphA4 gene expression is associated with an improved outcome in patients with resected lung adenocarcinoma, possibly by affecting cancer cell migration and invasion.

Runkle EA, Rice SJ, Qi J, et al.
Occludin is a direct target of thyroid transcription factor-1 (TTF-1/NKX2-1).
J Biol Chem. 2012; 287(34):28790-801 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The thyroid transcription factor 1 gene (TTF-1 or NKX2-1) is essential to lung development; however, it is also a critical factor in lung cancer. TTF-1 is amplified in lung cancers, suggesting that it is a gain-of-function lung oncogene. Conversely, TTF-1 counters epithelial to mesenchymal transition in cell-based studies and inhibits progression of primary lung adenocarcinomas to metastases in an animal model of lung adenocarcinomas. The unifying theory regarding TTF-1 is that it exhibits both pro-oncogenic and anti-metastatic function depending on the cellular context. Occludin is the first discovered constituent of the epithelial tight junction; in recent years, a functional role of occludin as a tumor suppressor has begun to emerge. Here, we demonstrate that TTF-1 transactivated the expression of the epithelial tight junction molecules occludin (OCLN) and claudin-1 (CLDN1). We show that transcriptional activation occurred through a direct interaction of TTF-1 with the OCLN and CLDN1 promoters. Furthermore, in cells that lack TTF-1, exogenous TTF-1 expression dampened the inhibitory effect of TGF-β on occludin and claudin-1 content. Using cells derived from a genetically engineered mouse model of lung adenocarcinomas, we observed that silenced TTF-1 expression down-regulated occludin, which we supported with additional siRNA experiments. Finally, TTF-1 knockdown conferred human lung cancer cells resistance to anoikis, and expression of occludin restored cellular sensitivity to anoikis. Overexpression of occludin impeded migration and induced anoikis in lung carcinoma cells. Collectively, these data suggest that TTF-1 transcriptionally regulates occludin, which represents another avenue of TTF-1-mediated metastasis suppression.

Liu K, Hearne K, Mrsny A, et al.
A strategy to improve selectivity and targeting to epithelial-derived cancer cells.
J Control Release. 2012; 164(2):205-12 [PubMed] Related Publications
Examination of genomic and proteomic changes associated with ras-driven epithelial to mesenchymal transformation (EMT) of polarized epithelial cells has led to an improved understanding of surface-expressed structures and alterations in components involved in intracellular trafficking events that are altered as normal cells become cancerous. We have previously identified a mechanism involved in the establishment of tight junction (TJ) cell-cell contacts orchestrated by the protein occludin (Ocln) and its ability to reverse EMT events. Previous studies have suggested an increased functional expression of a cell-surface import system for small peptides, hPepT1, in several types of cancer cells. We now describe two approaches to identify agents capable of re-activating Ocln expression which could be modified into selective substrates of hPepT1. A screen for agents to re-activate suppressed occludin gene (OCLN) expression resulting from Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK pathway activation led to the identification of several small molecules. Using phage panning we have also identified several short peptide sequences that bind to the E-box used by the suppressor protein Slug to block OCLN expression. Thus, the current studies have identified several molecules and a roadmap to generate additional agents that could be examined for their ability to selectively enter cancer cells via hPepT1. We believe this strategy could result in reduced off-target drug distribution and thus greater functional targeting could be achieved for epithelial-derived cancers to prime them for the actions of established chemotherapeutic agents.

Speisky D, Duces A, Bièche I, et al.
Molecular profiling of pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors in sporadic and Von Hippel-Lindau patients.
Clin Cancer Res. 2012; 18(10):2838-49 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) disease is an inherited syndrome caused by germline mutations in the VHL tumor suppressor gene, predisposing to a variety of neoplasms including pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors (PanNET). In VHL disease, PanNET probably progress according to a specific pathway of carcinogenesis. Our aim was to characterize by molecular quantitative analysis a panel of molecules implicated in the VHL pathway and in tumor progression in the PanNET of patients with VHL.
EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN: The expression of 52 genes was studied by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR in 18 patients with VHL operated on for PanNET and compared with 16 non-VHL PanNET. The VHL and non-VHL tumors were matched according to their size and cell proliferation. For some genes, we looked for differences in the protein expression in VHL PanNET (n = 31), microadenomas (n = 22), and non-VHL PanNET (n = 16), included in tissue microarray blocks.
RESULTS: Nineteen (36%) genes were significantly upregulated and three (6%) downregulated in VHL PanNET. The upregulated genes were related to (i) hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) molecules (CA9, HIF2A, and GLUT1), (ii) angiogenesis (CDH5, VEGFR1, EDNRA, ANGPT2, CD34, VEGFR2, VEGFA, and ANGPT1), (iii) the processes of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (VIM) and/or metastasis (LAMA4 and CXCR4), (iv) growth factors and receptors (PDGFB, IRS1, and ERBB1), or (v) cell cycle (CCND1 and CDKN2A). The downregulated genes were related to (i) EMT (OCLN) and (ii) signaling pathways (RPS6KB1 and GADD45B).
CONCLUSION: This study shows that the progression of PanNET in patients with VHL tumors follows a specific pathway and supports that targeting molecules specifically involved may be of therapeutic importance.

Kojima T, Takasawa A, Kyuno D, et al.
Downregulation of tight junction-associated MARVEL protein marvelD3 during epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human pancreatic cancer cells.
Exp Cell Res. 2011; 317(16):2288-98 [PubMed] Related Publications
The novel tight junction protein marvelD3 contains a conserved MARVEL (MAL and related proteins for vesicle trafficking and membrane link) domain like occludin and tricellulin. However, little is yet known about the detailed role and regulation of marvelD3 in normal epithelial cells and cancer cells, including pancreatic cancer. In the present study, we investigated marvelD3 expression in well and poorly differentiated human pancreatic cancer cell lines and normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells in which the hTERT gene was introduced into human pancreatic duct epithelial cells in primary culture, and the changes of marvelD3 during Snail-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) under hypoxia, TGF-β treatment and knockdown of FOXA2 in well differentiated pancreatic cancer HPAC cells. MarvelD3 was transcriptionally downregulated in poorly differentiated pancreatic cancer cells and during Snail-induced EMT of pancreatic cancer cells in which Snail was highly expressed and the fence function downregulated, whereas it was maintained in well differentiated human pancreatic cancer cells and normal pancreatic duct epithelial cells. Depletion of marvelD3 by siRNAs in HPAC cells resulted in downregulation of barrier functions indicated as a decrease in transepithelial electric resistance and an increase of permeability to fluorescent dextran tracers, whereas it did not affect fence function of tight junctions. In conclusion, marvelD3 is transcriptionally downregulated in Snail-induced EMT during the progression for the pancreatic cancer.

Yamaguchi H, Kojima T, Ito T, et al.
Effects of Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin via claudin-4 on normal human pancreatic duct epithelial cells and cancer cells.
Cell Mol Biol Lett. 2011; 16(3):385-97 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
The tight junction protein claudin-4 is frequently overexpressed in pancreatic cancer, and is also a receptor for Clostridium perfringens enterotoxin (CPE). The cytotoxic effects of CPE are thought to be useful as a novel therapeutic tool for pancreatic cancer. However, the responses to CPE via claudin-4 remain unknown in normal human pancreatic duct epithelial (HPDE) cells. We introduced the human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) gene into HPDE cells in primary culture as a model of normal HPDE cells in vitro. hTERT-HPDE cells treated with or without 10% FBS and pancreatic cancer cell lines PANC-1, BXPC3, HPAF-II and HPAC were treated with CPE. In Western blotting, the expression of claudin-4 protein in hTERT-HPDE cells treated with 10% FBS was as high as it was in all of the pancreatic cancer cell lines. In hTERT-HPDE cells with or without 10% FBS, cytotoxicity was not observed at any concentration of CPE, whereas in all pancreatic cancer cell lines, CPE had a dose-dependent cytotoxic effect. In hTERT-HPDE cells with 10% FBS, claudin-4 was localized in the apical-most regions, where there are tight junction areas, in which in all pancreatic cancer cell lines claudin-4 was found not only in the apical-most regions but also at basolateral membranes. In hTERT-HPDE cells with 10% FBS after treatment with CPE, downregulation of barrier function and claudin-4 expression at the membranes was observed. In HPAC cells, the sensitivity to CPE was significantly decreased by knockdown of claudin-4 expression using siRNA compared to the control. These findings suggest that, in normal HPDE cells, the lack of toxicity of CPE was probably due to the localization of claudin-4, which is different from that of pancreatic cancer cells. hTERT-HPDE cells in this culture system may be a useful model of normal HPDE cells not only for physiological regulation of claudin-4 expression but also for developing safer and more effective therapeutic methods targeting claudin-4 in pancreatic cancer.

Sehrawat A, Singh SV
Benzyl isothiocyanate inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition in cultured and xenografted human breast cancer cells.
Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2011; 4(7):1107-17 [PubMed] Free Access to Full Article Related Publications
We showed previously that cruciferous vegetable constituent benzyl isothiocyanate (BITC) inhibits growth of cultured and xenografted human breast cancer cells and suppresses mammary cancer development in a transgenic mouse model. We now show, for the first time, that BITC inhibits epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human breast cancer cells. Exposure of estrogen-independent MDA-MB-231 and estrogen-responsive MCF-7 human breast cancer cell lines and a pancreatic cancer cell line (PL-45) to BITC resulted in upregulation of epithelial markers (e.g., E-cadherin and/or occludin) with a concomitant decrease in protein levels of mesenchymal markers, including vimentin, fibronectin, snail, and/or c-Met. The BITC-mediated induction of E-cadherin protein was accompanied by an increase in its transcription, whereas BITC-treated MDA-MB-231 cells exhibited suppression of vimentin, snail, and slug mRNA levels. Experimental EMT induced by exposure to TGFβ and TNFα or Rb knockdown in a spontaneously immortalized nontumorigenic human mammary epithelial cell line (MCF-10A) was also partially reversed by BITC treatment. The TGFβ-/TNFα-induced migration of MCF-10A cells was inhibited in the presence of BITC, which was partially attenuated by RNA interference of E-cadherin. Inhibition of MDA-MB-231 xenograft growth in vivo in female athymic mice by BITC administration was associated with an increase in protein level of E-cadherin and suppression of vimentin and fibronectin protein expression. In conclusion, this study reports a novel anticancer effect of BITC involving inhibition of EMT, a process triggered during progression of cancer to invasive state.

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