Gene Summary

Gene:SNAI1; snail family zinc finger 1
Aliases: SNA, SNAH, SNAIL, SLUGH2, SNAIL1, dJ710H13.1
Summary:The Drosophila embryonic protein snail is a zinc finger transcriptional repressor which downregulates the expression of ectodermal genes within the mesoderm. The nuclear protein encoded by this gene is structurally similar to the Drosophila snail protein, and is also thought to be critical for mesoderm formation in the developing embryo. At least two variants of a similar processed pseudogene have been found on chromosome 2. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:zinc finger protein SNAI1
Source:NCBIAccessed: 20 August, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
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Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 20 August 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

Tag cloud generated 20 August, 2015 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: SNAI1 (cancer-related)

Gao XJ, Liu JW, Zhang QG, et al.
Nobiletin inhibited hypoxia-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition of lung cancer cells by inactivating of Notch-1 signaling and switching on miR-200b.
Pharmazie. 2015; 70(4):256-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an early step in the process of tumor metastasis. It is well known that tumor microenvironment affects malignancy in various carcinomas; in particular, that hypoxia induces EMT. Deregulated notch signaling also contributes a lot to the development of EMT in lung cancer. In this study, we investigated the use of Notch-1-inhibiting compound as novel therapeutic candidates to regulate hypoxia-induced EMT in lung cancer cells. According to previous screening, nobiletin was selected as a Notch-1 inhibitor. Hypoxia-induced EMT was characteristic of increased N-cadherin & vimentin expressions and decreased E-cadherin expressions. Treatment with nobiletin notably attenuated hypoxia-induced EMT, invasion and migration in H1299 cells, accompanied with reduced Notch-1, Jagged1/2 expressions and its downstream genes Hey-1 and Hes-1. Nobiletin treatment also promoted tumorsuppressive miR-200b level. Moreover, notch-1 siRNA prevented hypoxia-mediated cell migration and decreased Twist1, Snail1, and ZEB1/2 expressions, which are key EMT markers. Re-expression of miR-200b blocked hypoxia-induced EMT and cell invasion. Our findings suggest that downregulation of Notch-1 and reexpression of miR-200b by nobiletin might be a novel remedy for the therapy of lung cancer.

Jia W, Zhu J, Martin TA, et al.
Epithelial-mesenchymal Transition (EMT) Markers in Human Pituitary Adenomas Indicate a Clinical Course.
Anticancer Res. 2015; 35(5):2635-43 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND/AIM: Pituitary adenomas are brain tumors with invasive properties. Epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT) is a cellular process linked to the transformation to an aggressive cancer phenotype. In the present study, we investigated the expression of a panel of EMT markers, namely E-cadherin, N-cadherin, SLUG, SNA1 and TWIST in a cohort of human pituitary adenomas.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Fresh-frozen human pituitary tumors (n=95) were collected immediately after surgery for histology. Gene transcripts of the EMT markers were quantified using quantitative-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis. Levels of expression were analyzed against clinical, pathological, invasion and endocrine functions.
RESULTS: Levels of E-cadherin and N-cadherin had a negative and positive correlation with the appearance of intratumoral cystic lesions of pituitary tumors. E-cadherin and TWIST were associated with tumor size and staging. There was a significant link between SLUG/TWIST and the destruction of the sella fosa bones (p<0.030). EMT markers also showed links with the endocrine functions of pituitary tumors. In pituitary tumors, SLUG and SNA1 had significant correlation with N-cadherin.
CONCLUSION: EMT markers are significant indicators of the appearance of cystic lesions, tumor progression, bone destruction and endocrine functions. These markers are valuable biomarkers in assessing the clinical course of pituitary adenomas.

Pilli VS, Gupta K, Kotha BP, Aradhyam GK
Snail-mediated Cripto-1 repression regulates the cell cycle and epithelial-mesenchymal transition-related gene expression.
FEBS Lett. 2015; 589(11):1249-56 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transcription factor Snail mediates epithelial to mesenchymal transitions (EMT) by coordinate repression of epithelial markers, facilitating mass cell movement during germ layer formation. Aberrant reprogramming in its signaling pathways causes metastatic cancer. Snail's involvement in "fate-changing" decisions is however not understood. Cripto-1 shares a common temporal expression pattern with Snail during development. While Cripto-1 is required for mammary morphogenesis and hematopoietic stem cell renewal, its unregulated expression causes metastatic cancers. Therefore, we suspected that Snail regulates the expression of Cripto-1 controlling decisions such as motility, transformation and differentiation. We demonstrate that Snail represses Cripto-1 gene by direct transcriptional interaction and propose a novel mechanism by which it co-ordinately regulates cell fate decisions during development and could be causal of cancers.

Virtakoivu R, Mai A, Mattila E, et al.
Vimentin-ERK Signaling Uncouples Slug Gene Regulatory Function.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(11):2349-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cells is a developmental process adopted during tumorigenesis that promotes metastatic capacity. In this study, we advance understanding of EMT control in cancer cells with the description of a novel vimentin-ERK axis that regulates the transcriptional activity of Slug (SNAI2). Vimentin, ERK, and Slug exhibited overlapping subcellular localization in clinical specimens of triple-negative breast carcinoma. RNAi-mediated ablation of these gene products inhibited cancer cell migration and cell invasion through a laminin-rich matrix. Biochemical analyses demonstrated direct interaction of vimentin and ERK, which promoted ERK activation and enhanced vimentin transcription. Consistent with its role as an intermediate filament, vimentin acted as a scaffold to recruit Slug to ERK and promote Slug phosphorylation at serine-87. Site-directed mutagenesis established a requirement for ERK-mediated Slug phosphorylation in EMT initiation. Together, these findings identified a pivotal step in controlling the ability of Slug to organize hallmarks of EMT.

Yoon J, Ko YS, Cho SJ, et al.
Signal transducers and activators of transcription 3-induced metastatic potential in gastric cancer cells is enhanced by glycogen synthase kinase-3β.
APMIS. 2015; 123(5):373-82 [PubMed] Related Publications
The transcription factor signal transducers and activators of transcription 3 (STAT3) can promote cancer metastasis, but its underlying regulatory mechanisms in gastric cancer cell invasiveness still remain obscure. We investigated the relationship between STAT3 and glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) and its significance in metastatic potential in gastric cancer cells. Immunohistochemical tissue array analysis of 267 human gastric carcinoma specimens showed that the expressions of active forms of STAT3 (pSTAT3) and GSK-3β (pGSK-3β) were found in 68 (25%) and 124 (46%) of 267 gastric cancer cases, respectively, showing a positive correlation (p < 0.001). Cell culture experiments using gastric cancer cell lines SNU-638 and SNU-668 revealed that STAT3 suppression did not affect pGSK-3β expression, whereas GSK-3β inhibition reduced pSTAT3 expression. With respect to metastatic potential in gastric cancer cells, both STAT3 suppression and GSK-3β inhibition decreased cell migration, invasion, and mesenchymal marker (Snail, Vimentin, and MMP9) expression. Moreover, the inhibitory effects of STAT3 and GSK-3β on cell migration were synergistic. These results demonstrated that STAT3 and GSK-3β are positively associated and synergistically contribute to metastatic potential in gastric cancer cells. Thus, dual use of STAT3 and GSK-3β inhibitors may enhance the efficacy of the anti-metastatic treatment of gastric cancer.

Shilpa P, Kaveri K, Salimath BP
Anti-metastatic action of anacardic acid targets VEGF-induced signalling pathways in epithelial to mesenchymal transition.
Drug Discov Ther. 2015; 9(1):53-65 [PubMed] Related Publications
Anacardic acid is a major constituent of nutshell of cashew. In this study, we have isolated it from the leaves of Anacardium Occidentale L. using polarity-based fractionation and confirmed the structure using GC-MS, NMR and FT-IR. The main focus of this study is to harness the molecular mechanism of anti-metastatic action of anacardic acid (A1). We have used MCF-7, a weak metastatic and U-87, a highly metastatic, breast and glioma cell lines respectively, for our study. We have shown that VEGF increases migration and invasion activities of MCF-7 cells, upon overexpression of Twist and Snail genes. It is observed from the current study that exposure of MCF-7 cells to A1 resulted in upregulation of epithelial marker E-cadherin with a concomitant decrease in the expression of mesenchymal markers Twist and Snail gene expression besides exhibiting a strong anti-migratory and anti-invasive activity. In metastatic U-87 glioma cells, treatment with A1 decreased the phosphorylation of MAP kinases, inhibited the translocation of Sp1 and down regulated VEGF and Flt-1 gene expression. Overall, the current findings demonstrate for the first time that anacardic acid functions as a potent EMT inhibitor by targeting VEGF signaling pathway, providing a novel template for drug discovery.

Choi YJ, Kim N, Chang H, et al.
Helicobacter pylori-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition, a potential role of gastric cancer initiation and an emergence of stem cells.
Carcinogenesis. 2015; 36(5):553-63 [PubMed] Related Publications
We know little concerning the expression of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) and TGF-β1-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers in gastric mucosa and their changes after eradication of Helicobacter pylori infection have not yet been clarified. In the present study, we compared the time course of messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of TGF-β1 and five EMT markers (Twist, Snail, Slug, vimentin and E-cadherin) in 111 controls, 55 patients with gastric dysplasia and 71 patients with early gastric cancer, following eradication of H.pylori. mRNA levels in non-cancerous gastric mucosa were measured using quantitative real time-polymerase chain reaction and the histologic findings of gastric mucosa were compared before and after eradication. The average duration of follow-up was 46.7 months (6.0-112.4). The levels of TGF-β1, Twist, Snail, Slug and vimentin mRNA, in addition to levels of CD44 detected by immunohistochemistry, showed all up-regulation in patients with dysplasia or early gastric cancer compared with controls (P < 0.05); moreover, the mRNA levels of E-cadherin, an epithelial marker, were decreased in these patients compared with the control group (P < 0.001). Eradication of H.pylori reduced the expression of TGF-β1, Twist, Snail, Slug and vimentin mRNA (P-value for slope <0.001), as well as the immunohistochemical expression of CD44 (P = 0.014), whereas it enhanced the expression of E-cadherin (P-value for slope < 0.05). Thus, H.pylori infection may trigger the TGF-β1-induced EMT pathway and the emergence of gastric cancer stem cells (CSCs). Its eradication may prevent the carcinogenesis of gastric cancer by inhibiting these two pathways.

Antonova O, Yossifova L, Staneva R, et al.
Changes in the gene expression profile of the bladder cancer cell lines after treatment with Helix lucorum and Rapana venosa hemocyanin.
J BUON. 2015 Jan-Feb; 20(1):180-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to elucidate the mechanism of action of the Helix lucorum hemocyanin (HlH), b-HlH-h, and RvH2-g hemocyanins as potential agents against bladder cancer.
METHODS: We evaluated the viability of 647-V, T-24, and CAL-29 bladder cancer cell lines after treatment with the tested hemocyanins. The cell viability was measured at 72 hrs with MTT and WST-1 assays. Acridine orange/propidium iodide double staining was used to discriminate between apoptotic and necrotic cells. Gene expression profiling of the 168 genes from human inflammatory cytokines and signal transduction pathways were performed on the tumor cells before and after hemocyanins' treatment.
RESULTS: The results showed decreased survival of cancer cells in the presence of HlH and two functional units: b-HlH-h and RvH2-g. Acridine orange/propidium iodide double staining revealed that the decreased viability was due to apoptosis. The gene expression data showed upregulation of genes involved in the apoptosis as well as of the immune system activation, and downregulation of the CCL2, CCL17, CCL21, CXCL1, and ABCF1 genes.
CONCLUSIONS: The present study is the first to report gene expression in human cells under the influence of hemocyanins. The mechanism of antitumor activity of the HlH, b-HlH-h, and RvH2-g hemocyanins includes induction of apoptosis. In addition to the antiproliferative effect, downregulation of the genes with metastatic potential was observed. Together with the already known immunogenic effect, these findings support further studies on hemocyanins as potential therapeutic agents against bladder cancer.

Ji L, Xu J, Liu J, et al.
Mutant p53 promotes tumor cell malignancy by both positive and negative regulation of the transforming growth factor β (TGF-β) pathway.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(18):11729-40 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Specific p53 mutations abrogate tumor-suppressive functions by gaining new abilities to promote tumorigenesis. Inactivation of p53 is known to distort TGF-β signaling, which paradoxically displays both tumor-suppressive and pro-oncogenic functions. The molecular mechanisms of how mutant p53 simultaneously antagonizes the tumor-suppressive and synergizes the tumor-promoting function of the TGF-β pathway remain elusive. Here we demonstrate that mutant p53 differentially regulates subsets of TGF-β target genes by enhanced binding to the MH2 domain in Smad3 upon the integration of ERK signaling, therefore disrupting Smad3/Smad4 complex formation. Silencing Smad2, inhibition of ERK, or introducing a phosphorylation-defective mutation at Ser-392 in p53 abrogates the R175H mutant p53-dependent regulation of these TGF-β target genes. Our study shows a mechanism to reconcile the seemingly contradictory observations that mutant p53 can both attenuate and cooperate with the TGF-β pathway to promote cancer cell malignancy in the same cell type.

Liu H, Ren G, Wang T, et al.
Aberrantly expressed Fra-1 by IL-6/STAT3 transactivation promotes colorectal cancer aggressiveness through epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Carcinogenesis. 2015; 36(4):459-68 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
The pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-6 (IL-6) in tumor microenvironment has been suggested to promote development and progression of colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the underlying molecular mechanisms remain elusive. In this study, we demonstrate that fos-related antigen-1 (Fra-1) plays a critical role in IL-6 induced CRC aggressiveness and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). In CRC cell lines, the expression of Fra-1 gene was found significantly upregulated during IL-6-driven EMT process. The Fra-1 induction occurred at transcriptional level in a manner dependent on signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3), during which both phosphorylated and acetylated post-translational modifications were required for STAT3 activation to directly bind to the Fra-1 promoter. Importantly, RNA interference-based attenuation of either STAT3 or Fra-1 prevented IL-6-induced EMT, cell migration and invasion, whereas ectopic expression of Fra-1 markedly reversed the STAT3-knockdown effect and enhanced CRC cell aggressiveness by regulating the expression of EMT-promoting factors (ZEB1, Snail, Slug, MMP-2 and MMP-9). Furthermore, Fra-1 levels were positively correlated with the local invasion depth as well as lymph node and liver metastasis in a total of 229 CRC patients. Intense immunohistochemical staining of Fra-1 was observed at the tumor marginal area adjacent to inflammatory cells and in parallel with IL-6 secretion and STAT3 activation in CRC tissues. Together, this study proposes the existence of an aberrant IL-6/STAT3/Fra-1 signaling axis leading to CRC aggressiveness through EMT induction, which suggests novel therapeutic opportunities for the malignant disease.

Uygur B, Abramo K, Leikina E, et al.
SLUG is a direct transcriptional repressor of PTEN tumor suppressor.
Prostate. 2015; 75(9):907-16 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: PTEN/AKT signaling plays a key role in prostate cancer development and maintenance of prostate cancer stem cells. How other oncogenes or tumor suppressors interact with this pathway remain to be elucidated. SLUG is an zinc finger transcription factor of the Snail superfamily, and it promotes cancer metastasis and determines the mammary stem cell state.
METHODS: SLUG was overexpressed in cells by retroviral vector and knockdown of SLUG and PTEN was mediated by shRNAs-expressing lentiviruses. Expression level of SLUG and PTEN was examined by Western blot, RT-PCR, and qPCR analyses. PTEN promoter activity was measured by luciferase reporter assay. ChIP assay was used to measure the binding between SLUG and the PTEN promoter in vivo.
RESULT: We showed that overexpression of SLUG decreased expression of PTEN tumor repressor in prostate cancer cell lines 22RV1 and DU145; conversely, knockdown of SLUG expression elevated PTEN expresson at both protein and RNA level in these cells. We demonstrated that SLUG overexpression inhibits PTEN promoter activity through the proximal promoter region in prostate cancer cells. By ChIP assay, we confirmed that SLUG directly binds to the PTEN promoter region covering the E-box sites. We also showed that Slug deficiency leads to an increased expression of PTEN in mouse embryo fibroblasts and prostate tissues. Importantly, we found that overexpression of SLUG increases drug resistance of DU145 prostate cancer cell line and knockdown of SLUG by shRNA sensitizes DU145 cell line to chemotherapeutic drugs. We further demonstrated that PTEN knockdown converts drug sensitivity of DU145 cells expressing SLUG shRNA to anticancer drugs.
CONCLUSION: We provide compelling evidence showing that PTEN is a direct functional target of SLUG. Our findings offer new insight in the regulation of the PTEN/AKT pathway and provide a molecular basis for potential targeted therapies of prostate cancer Prostate 75:907-916, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Abera MB, Kazanietz MG
Protein kinase Cα mediates erlotinib resistance in lung cancer cells.
Mol Pharmacol. 2015; 87(5):832-41 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Overexpression and mutational activation of the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). EGFR tyrosine-kinase inhibitors (TKIs) are given as a primary therapy for advanced patients with EGFR-activating mutations; however, the majority of these tumors relapse and patients eventually develop resistance to TKIs. To address a potential role of protein kinase C (PKC) isozymes in the resistance to TKIs, we used the isogenic NSCLC H1650 cell line and its erlotinib-resistant derivative H1650-M3, a cell line that displays a mesenchymal-like morphology driven by transforming growth factor-β signaling. We found that H1650-M3 cells display remarkable PKCα upregulation and PKCδ downregulation. Notably, silencing PKCα from H1650-M3 cells using RNA interference caused a significant reduction in the expression of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) markers vimentin, Zeb2, Snail, and Twist. Moreover, pharmacological inhibition or PKCα RNA interference depletion and PKCδ restoring sensitized H1650-M3 cells to erlotinib. Whereas ectopic overexpression of PKCα in parental H1650 cells was not sufficient to alter the expression of EMT genes or to confer resistance to erlotinib, it caused downregulation of PKCδ expression, suggesting a unidirectional crosstalk. Finally, mechanistic studies revealed that PKCα upregulation in H1650-M3 cells is driven by transforming growth factor-β. Our results identified important roles for specific PKC isozymes in erlotinib resistance and EMT in lung cancer cells, and highlight PKCα as a potential target for lung cancer treatment.

Li W, Kidiyoor A, Hu Y, et al.
Evaluation of transforming growth factor-β1 suppress Pokemon/epithelial-mesenchymal transition expression in human bladder cancer cells.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(2):1155-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) plays a dual role in apoptosis and in proapoptotic responses in the support of survival in a variety of cells. The aim of this study was to determine the function of TGF-β1 in bladder cancer cells and the relationship with POK erythroid myeloid ontogenic factor (Pokemon). TGF-β1 and its receptors mediate several tumorigenic cascades that regulate cell proliferation, migration, and survival of bladder cancer cells. Bladder cancer cells T24 were treated with different levels of TGF-β1. Levels of Pokemon, E-cadherin, Snail, MMP2, MMP9, Twist, VEGF, and β-catenin messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein were examined by real-time quantitative fluorescent PCR and Western blot analysis, respectively. The effects of TGF-β1 on epithelial-mesenchymal transition of T24 cells were evaluated with wound-healing assay, proliferation of T24 was evaluated with reference to growth curves with MTT assay, and cell invasive ability was investigated by Transwell assay. Data show that Pokemon was inhibited by TGF-β1 treatment; the gene and protein of E-cadherin and β-catenin expression level showed decreased markedly after TGF-β1 treatment (P < 0.05). While the bladder cancer cell after TGF-β1 treatment showed a significantly reduced wound-closing efficiency at 6, 12, and 24 h, mechanistic analyses demonstrated that different levels of TGF-β1 promotes tumor cell growth, migration, and invasion in bladder cancer cells (P < 0.01, P < 0.05, respectively). In summary, our findings suggest that TGF-β1 may inhibit the expression of Pokemon, β-catenin, and E-cadherin. The high expression of TGF-β1 leads to an increase in the phenotype and apical-base polarity of epithelial cells. These changes of cells may result in the recurrence and progression of bladder cancer at last. Related mechanism is worthy of further investigation.

Drasin DJ, Guarnieri AL, Neelakantan D, et al.
TWIST1-Induced miR-424 Reversibly Drives Mesenchymal Programming while Inhibiting Tumor Initiation.
Cancer Res. 2015; 75(9):1908-21 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/05/2016 Related Publications
Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a dynamic process that relies on cellular plasticity. Recently, the process of an oncogenic EMT, followed by a reverse mesenchymal-to-epithelial transition (MET), has been implicated as critical in the metastatic colonization of carcinomas. Unlike governance of epithelial programming, regulation of mesenchymal programming is not well understood in EMT. Here, we describe and characterize the first microRNA that enhances exclusively mesenchymal programming. We demonstrate that miR-424 is upregulated early during a TWIST1 or SNAI1-induced EMT, and that it causes cells to express mesenchymal genes without affecting epithelial genes, resulting in a mixed/intermediate EMT. Furthermore, miR-424 increases motility, decreases adhesion, and induces a growth arrest, changes associated with a complete EMT that can be reversed when miR-424 expression is lowered, concomitant with an MET-like process. Breast cancer patient miR-424 levels positively associate with TWIST1/2 and EMT-like gene signatures, and miR-424 is increased in primary tumors versus matched normal breast. However, miR-424 is downregulated in patient metastases versus matched primary tumors. Correspondingly, miR-424 decreases tumor initiation and is posttranscriptionally downregulated in macrometastases in mice, suggesting the need for biphasic expression of miR-424 to transit the EMT-MET axis. Next-generation RNA sequencing revealed miR-424 regulates numerous EMT and cancer stemness-associated genes, including TGFBR3, whose downregulation promotes mesenchymal phenotypes, but not tumor-initiating phenotypes. Instead, we demonstrate that increased MAPK-ERK signaling is critical for miR-424-mediated decreases in tumor-initiating phenotypes. These findings suggest miR-424 plays distinct roles in tumor progression, potentially facilitating earlier, but repressing later, stages of metastasis by regulating an EMT-MET axis.

Nolan KD, Franco OE, Hance MW, et al.
Tumor-secreted Hsp90 subverts polycomb function to drive prostate tumor growth and invasion.
J Biol Chem. 2015; 290(13):8271-82 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
Prostate cancer remains the second highest contributor to male cancer-related lethality. The transition of a subset of tumors from indolent to invasive disease is associated with a poor clinical outcome. Activation of the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) genetic program is a major risk factor for cancer progression. We recently reported that secreted extracellular Hsp90 (eHsp90) initiates EMT in prostate cancer cells, coincident with its enhanced expression in mesenchymal models. Our current work substantially extended these findings in defining a pathway linking eHsp90 signaling to EZH2 function, a methyltransferase of the Polycomb repressor complex. EZH2 is also implicated in EMT activation, and its up-regulation represents one of the most frequent epigenetic alterations during prostate cancer progression. We have now highlighted a novel epigenetic function for eHsp90 via its modulation of EZH2 expression and activity. Mechanistically, eHsp90 initiated sustained activation of MEK/ERK, a signal critical for facilitating EZH2 transcriptional up-regulation and recruitment to the E-cadherin promoter. We further demonstrated that an eHsp90-EZH2 pathway orchestrates an expanded repertoire of EMT-related events including Snail and Twist expression, tumor cell motility, and anoikis resistance. To evaluate the role of eHsp90 in vivo, eHsp90 secretion was stably enforced in a prostate cancer cell line resembling indolent disease. Remarkably, eHsp90 was sufficient to induce tumor growth, suppress E-cadherin, and initiate localized invasion, events that are exquisitely dependent upon EZH2 function. In summary, our findings illuminate a hitherto unknown epigenetic function for eHsp90 and support a model wherein tumor eHsp90 functions as a rheostat for EZH2 expression and activity to orchestrate mesenchymal properties and coincident aggressive behavior.

Li Y, Sun B, Zhao X, et al.
Subpopulations of uPAR+ contribute to vasculogenic mimicry and metastasis in large cell lung cancer.
Exp Mol Pathol. 2015; 98(2):136-44 [PubMed] Related Publications
The urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (uPAR) is closely associated with poor prognosis in various aggressive cancers including large-cell lung cancer (LCLC). Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) refers to the unique capability of aggressive tumor cells to mimic the pattern of embryonic vasculogenic networks involving the blood supply in early tumor formation. We demonstrate the statistically positive correlation of uPAR expression with VM formation, metastasis, and poor prognosis of LCLC patients. uPAR(+) cells sorted from the LCLC H460 cell line show higher invasion, migration capacity, and tube structure formation capability on Matrigel compared with uPAR(-) cells. uPAR(+) tumor cells highly expressed vimentin and VE-cadherin; the epithelial marker E-cadherin was low expressed. Higher EMT-regulated protein twist and snail expressions were also observed in these cells. uPAR(+) cells injected subcutaneously into nude mice markedly increased tumor growth, induced VM formation and liver metastasis; by contrast, uPAR(-) cells did not. The data suggest that uPAR expression may predict VM formation, tumor metastasis and poorer prognosis of LCLC patients. The uPAR gene may be used as a novel therapeutic target for inhibiting angiogenesis and metastasis in LCLC.

Datar I, Tegegne H, Qin K, et al.
Genetic and epigenetic control of RKIP transcription.
Crit Rev Oncog. 2014; 19(6):417-30 [PubMed] Related Publications
Raf kinase inhibitory protein (RKIP) is known to modulate key signaling cascades and regulate normal physiological processes such as cellular proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. The expression of RKIP is found to be downregulated in several cancer metastases and the repressed RKIP expression can be reactivated on treatment with chemotherapeutic agents. RKIP is a proven tumor metastasis suppressor gene and investigating the mechanisms of transcriptional regulation of RKIP is therefore of immense clinical importance. In this review, we discuss the basal expression of RKIP in various tissues and the genetic aspects of the RKIP chromosomal locus including the structure of the RKIP promoter as well as gene regulatory elements such as enhancers. We also review the genetic and epigenetic modulation of RKIP transcription through EZH2, a component of the polycomb repressive complex 2 (PRC2) and sequence specific transcription factors (TFs) BACH1 and Snail. Emerging experimental evidence supports a unifying model in which both these TFs repress RKIP transcription in cancers by recruiting the EZH2 containing repressive complex to the proximal RKIP promoter. Finally, we review the known mechanisms employed by different types of chemotherapeutic agents to activate RKIP expression in cancer cells.

Wang L, Yang H, Abel EV, et al.
ATDC induces an invasive switch in KRAS-induced pancreatic tumorigenesis.
Genes Dev. 2015; 29(2):171-83 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
The initiation of pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is linked to activating mutations in KRAS. However, in PDA mouse models, expression of oncogenic mutant KRAS during development gives rise to tumors only after a prolonged latency or following induction of pancreatitis. Here we describe a novel mouse model expressing ataxia telangiectasia group D complementing gene (ATDC, also known as TRIM29 [tripartite motif 29]) that, in the presence of oncogenic KRAS, accelerates pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) formation and the development of invasive and metastatic cancers. We found that ATDC up-regulates CD44 in mouse and human PanIN lesions via activation of β-catenin signaling, leading to the induction of an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype characterized by expression of Zeb1 and Snail1. We show that ATDC is up-regulated by oncogenic Kras in a subset of PanIN cells that are capable of invading the surrounding stroma. These results delineate a novel molecular pathway for EMT in pancreatic tumorigenesis, showing that ATDC is a proximal regulator of EMT.

Liu H, Li P, Li B, et al.
RKIP promotes cisplatin-induced gastric cancer cell death through NF-κB/Snail pathway.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(3):1445-53 [PubMed] Related Publications
The objectives of this study were to explore the expression profiles of Raf kinase inhibitor protein (RKIP) in human gastric cancer cell line (SGC-7901) and cisplatin-resistant cell line (SGC-7901/DDP) and investigate the role of RKIP in the sensitivity of human gastric cancer cells to cisplatin and its signaling pathways, with an attempt to identify new approaches and strategies for the management of gastric cancer. The human gastric cancer cell line (SGC-7901) and cisplatin-resistant cell line (SGC-7901/DDP) were separately cultured in vitro. The expression profiles of RKIP in these two cell lines were detected by Western blotting. Forty-eight hours after the transfection of RKIP siRNA in SGC-7901 cells, the change of RKIP expression in the cells was detected using Western blotting, and the change of cell viability after the interference of RKIP expression was determined using 3-(4,5)-dimethylthiahiazo (-z-y1)-3,5-di-phenytetrazoliumromide (MTT) method. The effect of the ectopic expression of RKIP on the cisplatin-induced viability of gastric cancer cell was detected using MTT method. The effect of the ectopic expression of RKIP on the cisplatin-induced apoptosis of gastric cancer cell was detected using flow cytometry after having been double stained with Annexin V/PI. The effect of the ectopic expression of RKIP on the NF-κB and Snail expressions in cisplatin-induced gastric cancer cells was detected using Western blotting. As shown by the Western blotting, the expression of RKIP in SGC-7901/DDP cells significantly decreased when compared with that in SGC-7901 cells (P < 0.05). Compared with the control group, the expression of RKIP in SGC-7901 cells significantly decreased 48 h after the transfection of RKIP siRNA (P < 0.01). After the SGC-7901 cells were transfected with RKIP siRNA, the cell viability was significantly increased (P < 0.05); after the SGC-7901/DDP cells were transfected with RKIP recombinant plasmid, the cell viability was significantly decreased (P < 0.05). After the RKIP expression was suppressed in the cisplatin-treated SGC-7901 cells, the cell viability significantly increased (P < 0.05), and the amount of apoptotic cells significantly decreased (P < 0.05). In contrast, after the RKIP overexpression in the cisplatin-treated SGC-7901/DDP cells, the cell viability significantly decreased (P < 0.05), and the amount of apoptotic cells significantly increased (P < 0.05). The suppression of RKIP expression in SGC-7901 cells could significantly promote the increase of NF-κB expression (P < 0.05); in contrast, the increased expression of RKIP in SGC-7901/DDP cells significantly inhibited the expression of Snail (P < 0.05). The expression of RKIP is downregulated in cisplatin-resistant cell line (SGC-7901/DDP). The overexpression of RKIP can enhance the sensitivity of human gastric cancer cells to cisplatin, which may be achieved via the NF-κB/Snail signaling pathway.

Mahalingaiah PK, Ponnusamy L, Singh KP
Chronic oxidative stress leads to malignant transformation along with acquisition of stem cell characteristics, and epithelial to mesenchymal transition in human renal epithelial cells.
J Cell Physiol. 2015; 230(8):1916-28 [PubMed] Related Publications
Oxidative injury to cellular macromolecules has been suggested as a common pathway shared by multiple etiological factors for kidney cancer. Whether the chronic oxidative stress alone is sufficient to induce malignant transformation in human kidney cells is not clear. Therefore, the objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of H2O2-induced chronic oxidative stress on growth, and malignant transformation of HK-2 normal kidney epithelial cells. This study revealed that chronic oxidative stress causes increased growth and neoplastic transformation in normal kidney epithelial cells at non-cytotoxic dose and increased adaptation to cytotoxic level. This was confirmed by gene expression changes, cell cycle analysis, anchorage independent growth assay and in vivo tumorigenicity in nude mice. Stem cells characteristics as revealed by up-regulation of stem cell marker genes, and morphological changes indicative of EMT with up regulation of mesenchymal markers were also observed in cells exposed to chronic oxidative stress. Antioxidant NAC did not reverse the chronic oxidative stress-induced growth, and adaptation suggesting that perturbed biological function in these cells are permanent. Partial reversal of oxidative stress-induced growth, and adaptation by silencing of Oct 4 and Snail1, respectively, suggest that these changes are mediated by acquisition of stem cell and EMT characteristics. In summary, this study for the first time suggests that chronic exposure to elevated levels of oxidative stress is sufficient to induce malignant transformation in kidney epithelial cells through acquisition of stem cell characteristics. Additionally, the EMT plays an important role in increased adaptive response of renal cells to oxidative stress.

Kim RK, Cui YH, Yoo KC, et al.
Radiation promotes malignant phenotypes through SRC in breast cancer cells.
Cancer Sci. 2015; 106(1):78-85 [PubMed] Related Publications
Despite the fact that ionizing radiation (IR) is widely used as a standard treatment for breast cancer, much evidence suggests that IR paradoxically promotes cancer malignancy. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying radiation-induced cancer progression remain obscure. Here, we report that irradiation activates SRC signaling among SRC family kinase proteins, thereby promoting malignant phenotypes such as invasiveness, expansion of the cancer stem-like cell population, and resistance to anticancer agents in breast cancer cells. Importantly, radiation-activated SRC induced SLUG expression and caused epithelial-mesenchymal cell transition through phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B and p38 MAPK signaling. In agreement, either inhibition of SRC or downstream signaling of p38 MAPK or protein kinase B effectively attenuated radiation-induced epithelial-mesenchymal cell transition along with an increase in the cancer stem-like cell population. In addition, downregulation of SRC also abolished radiation-acquired resistance of breast cancer cells to anticancer agents such as cisplatin, etoposide, paclitaxel, and IR. Taken together, our findings suggest that combining radiotherapy with targeting of SRC might attenuate the harmful effects of radiation and enhance the efficacy of breast cancer treatment.

Cao J, Yang X, Li WT, et al.
Silencing of COX-2 by RNAi modulates epithelial-mesenchymal transition in breast cancer cells partially dependent on the PGE2 cascade.
Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2014; 15(22):9967-72 [PubMed] Related Publications
In order to prove whether downregulation of COX-2 (Cyclooxygenase-2) could modulate the epithelial- mesenchymal transition (EMT) of breast cancer, celecoxib and siRNA were respectively used to inhibit COX-2 function and expression in MDA-MB-231 cells. The EMT reversal effect in the RNAi treated group was better than that of the celecoxib group while there were no obvious differences in the medium PGE2 levels between the two groups. The results show that COX-2 pathways may contribute considerably to EMT of breast cancer cells, partially dependent on the PGE2 cascade. Akt2, ZEB2 and Snail were measured to clarify the underlying mechanisms of COX-2 on EMT; COX-2 may modulate EMT of breast cancer by regulating these factors. This finding may be helpful to elucidate the mechanisms of selective COX-2 inhibitor action in EMT modulation in breast cancer.

Zhu L, Li X, Chen Y, et al.
High-mobility group box 1: a novel inducer of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition in colorectal carcinoma.
Cancer Lett. 2015; 357(2):527-34 [PubMed] Related Publications
Proinflammatory cytokine high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) mediates critical processes of tumour metastasis. Because the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a key player in metastasis, the aim of this study was to determine whether and through which mechanism HMGB1 induces EMT in colorectal carcinoma. The direct treatment of cells with recombinant human HMGB1 induced alterations in the epithelial morphology consistent with the EMT and enhanced cell migration through a process mediated by the receptor for advanced glycation end-products (RAGE). The levels of Snail and phospho-NF-κB were upregulated during the HMGB1-induced EMT, and these effects were reversed by inhibiting Snail and NF-κB. In addition, HMGB1 increased the expression of MMP-7 but not that of MMP-9, and this effect was also regulated by Snail/NF-κB signalling. Collectively, these findings indicate that HMGB1 acts as a potent driver of cancer EMT through the RAGE/Snail/NF-κB signalling pathways accompanied by the activation of MMP-7, thereby suggest the feasibility of targeting HMGB1 for the treatment of tumour metastasis.

Gaur N, Gandhi J, Robertson ES, et al.
Epstein-Barr virus latent antigens EBNA3C and EBNA1 modulate epithelial to mesenchymal transition of cancer cells associated with tumor metastasis.
Tumour Biol. 2015; 36(4):3051-60 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition is an important mechanism in cancer invasiveness and metastasis. We had previously reported that cancer cells expressing Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) latent viral antigens EBV nuclear antigen EBNA3C and/ or EBNA1 showed higher motility and migration potential and had a propensity for increased metastases when tested in nude mice model. We now show that both EBNA3C and EBNA1 can modulate cellular pathways critical for epithelial to mesenchymal transition of cancer cells. Our data confirms that presence of EBNA3C or EBNA1 result in upregulation of transcriptional repressor Slug and Snail, upregulation of intermediate filament of mesenchymal origin vimentin, upregulation of transcription factor TCF8/ZEB1, downregulation as well as disruption of tight junction zona occludens protein ZO-1, downregulation of cell adhesion molecule E-cadherin, and nuclear translocation of β-catenin. We further show that the primary tumors as well as metastasized lesions derived from EBV antigen-expressing cancer cells in nude mice model display EMT markers expression pattern suggesting their greater propensity to mesenchymal transition.

Xiao H, Jiang N, Zhou B, et al.
TAZ regulates cell proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition of human hepatocellular carcinoma.
Cancer Sci. 2015; 106(2):151-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
The transcriptional coactivator with PDZ binding motif (TAZ) has been reported to be one of the nuclear effectors of Hippo-related pathways. TAZ is expressed in many primary tumors and could regulate many biological processes. However, little is known about the role of TAZ in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). In the current study, we show that TAZ regulates cellular proliferation and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of HCC. TAZ is overexpressed in HCC tissues and cell lines and upregulation of TAZ correlates with a lower overall survival rate of HCC patients after hepatic resection. TAZ knockdown results in inhibition of cancer cell proliferation through decreases in expression of stem cell markers (OCT4, Nanog, and SOX2). Reduction in HCC cell migration and invasion is also evident through reversal of EMT by increases E-cadherin expression, decreases in N-cadherin, vimentin, Snail, and Slug expression, and suppression of MMP-2 and MMP-9 expression. In a xenograft tumorigenicity model, TAZ knockdown could effectively inhibit tumor growth and metastasis through reversal of the EMT pathway. In conclusion, TAZ is associated with the proliferation and invasiveness of HCC cells, and the TAZ gene may contribute to a novel therapeutic approach against HCC.

Tan EJ, Kahata K, Idås O, et al.
The high mobility group A2 protein epigenetically silences the Cdh1 gene during epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.
Nucleic Acids Res. 2015; 43(1):162-78 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
The loss of the tumour suppressor E-cadherin (Cdh1) is a key event during tumourigenesis and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) triggers EMT by inducing the expression of non-histone chromatin protein High Mobility Group A2 (HMGA2). We have previously shown that HMGA2, together with Smads, regulate a network of EMT-transcription factors (EMT-TFs) like Snail1, Snail2, ZEB1, ZEB2 and Twist1, most of which are well-known repressors of the Cdh1 gene. In this study, we show that the Cdh1 promoter is hypermethylated and epigenetically silenced in our constitutive EMT cell model, whereby HMGA2 is ectopically expressed in mammary epithelial NMuMG cells and these cells are highly motile and invasive. Furthermore, HMGA2 remodels the chromatin to favour binding of de novo DNA methyltransferase 3A (DNMT3A) to the Cdh1 promoter. E-cadherin expression could be restored after treatment with the DNA de-methylating agent 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine. Here, we describe a new epigenetic role for HMGA2, which follows the actions that HMGA2 initiates via the EMT-TFs, thus achieving sustained silencing of E-cadherin expression and promoting tumour cell invasion.

McGrail DJ, Mezencev R, Kieu QM, et al.
SNAIL-induced epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition produces concerted biophysical changes from altered cytoskeletal gene expression.
FASEB J. 2015; 29(4):1280-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
A growing body of evidence suggests that the developmental process of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is co-opted by cancer cells to metastasize to distant sites. This transition is associated with morphologic elongation and loss of cell-cell adhesions, though little is known about how it alters cell biophysical properties critical for migration. Here, we use multiple-particle tracking (MPT) microrheology and traction force cytometry to probe how genetic induction of EMT in epithelial MCF7 breast cancer cells changes their intracellular stiffness and extracellular force exertion, respectively, relative to an empty vector control. This analysis demonstrated that EMT alone was sufficient to produce dramatic cytoskeletal softening coupled with increases in cell-exerted traction forces. Microarray analysis revealed that these changes corresponded with down-regulation of genes associated with actin cross-linking and up-regulation of genes associated with actomyosin contraction. Finally, we show that this loss of structural integrity to expedite migration could inhibit mesenchymal cell proliferation in a secondary tumor as it accumulates solid stress. This work demonstrates that not only does EMT enable escape from the primary tumor through loss of cell adhesions but it also induces a concerted series of biophysical changes enabling enhanced migration of cancer cells after detachment from the primary tumor.

Qiu Y, Li WH, Zhang HQ, et al.
P2X7 mediates ATP-driven invasiveness in prostate cancer cells.
PLoS One. 2014; 9(12):e114371 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
The ATP-gated P2X7 has been shown to play an important role in invasiveness and metastasis of some tumors. However, the possible links and underlying mechanisms between P2X7 and prostate cancer have not been elucidated. Here, we demonstrated that P2X7 was highly expressed in some prostate cancer cells. Down-regulation of P2X7 by siRNA significantly attenuated ATP- or BzATP-driven migration and invasion of prostate cancer cells in vitro, and inhibited tumor invasiveness and metastases in nude mice. In addition, silencing of P2X7 remarkably attenuated ATP- or BzATP- driven expression changes of EMT/invasion-related genes Snail, E-cadherin, Claudin-1, IL-8 and MMP-3, and weakened the phosphorylation of PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 in vitro. Similar effects were observed in nude mice. These data indicate that P2X7 stimulates cell invasion and metastasis in prostate cancer cells via some EMT/invasion-related genes, as well as PI3K/AKT and ERK1/2 signaling pathways. P2X7 could be a promising therapeutic target for prostate cancer.

Liu K, Guo L, Guo Y, et al.
AEG-1 3'-untranslated region functions as a ceRNA in inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition of human non-small cell lung cancer by regulating miR-30a activity.
Eur J Cell Biol. 2015; 94(1):22-31 [PubMed] Related Publications
Competitive endogenous messenger RNA regulates the transcription of other RNA moleculars through competing for the shared microRNAs. This study was carried out to explore the regulation of AEG-1 messenger RNA as a competitive endogenous RNA in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis of lung tumor cells. It is shown that the epithelial-mesenchymal transition was associated with the down-regulation of miR-30a, up-regulation of AEG-1 and mesenchymal markers (Snail and Vimentin); miR-30a inhibited the metastasis of lung tumor A549 cells in vitro, whereas AEG-1 promoted it. These results suggested the potential linkage between miR-30a and genes (AEG-1, Snail and Vimentin) in the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis of lung tumor cell. It was verified later that the 3'-untranslated regions of AEG-1, Snail and Vimentin bind to miR-30a in A549 cells. Therefore, a competitive endogenous RNAs regulatory network among AEG-1, Snail and Vimentin mediated via competitive binding to miR-30a was proved. That is, the 3'-untranslated region of AEG-1, functioning as the competitive endogenous RNAs, indirectly regulated the expression of Vimentin and Snail in inducing epithelial-mesenchymal transition of human non-small cell lung cancer. In conclusion, our findings demonstrated a competitive endogenous RNAs regulatory network which will help understand the metastasis mechanisms of lung cancer and improve the prevention and treatment of lung cancer.

Thakur N, Gudey SK, Marcusson A, et al.
TGFβ-induced invasion of prostate cancer cells is promoted by c-Jun-dependent transcriptional activation of Snail1.
Cell Cycle. 2014; 13(15):2400-14 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 27/03/2016 Related Publications
High levels of transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) correlate with poor prognosis for patients with prostate cancer and other cancers. TGFβ is a multifunctional cytokine and crucial regulator of cell fate, such as epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is implicated in cancer invasion and progression. TGFβ conveys its signals upon binding to type I and type II serine/threonine kinase receptors (TβRI/II); phosphorylation of Smad2 and Smad3 promotes their association with Smad4, which regulates expression of targets genes, such as Smad7, p21, and c-Jun. TGFβ also activates the ubiquitin ligase tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6), which associates with TβRI and activates the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Snail1 is a key transcription factor, induced by TGFβ that promotes migration and invasion of cancer cells. In this study, we have identified a novel binding site for c-Jun in the promoter of the Snail1 gene and report that the activation of the TGFβ-TRAF6-p38 MAPK pathway promotes both c-Jun expression and its activation via p38α-dependent phosphorylation of c-Jun at Ser63. The TRAF6-dependent activation of p38 also leads to increased stability of c-Jun, due to p38-dependent inactivation of glycogen synthase kinase (GSK) 3β by phosphorylation at Ser9. Thus, our findings elucidate a novel role for the p38 MAPK pathway in stimulated cells, leading to activation of c-Jun and its binding to the promoter of Snail1, thereby triggering motility and invasiveness of aggressive human prostate cancer cells.

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