Snail overexpression induces an epithelial to mesenchymal transition and cancer stem cell-like properties in SCC9 cells

Zhu, Li-Fang; Hu, Yong; Yang, Cong-Chong; Xu, Xiao-Hui; Ning, Tian-Yun; Wang, Zi-Lu; Ye, Jin-Hai; Liu, Lai-Kui
May 2012
Laboratory Investigation (00236837);May2012, Vol. 92 Issue 5, p744
Local invasiveness and distant metastasis are critical factors that contribute to oral squamous cell carcinoma-related deaths. Increasing evidence has shown that the epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is involved in cancer progression and is associated with the 'stemness' of cancer cells. Snail is a transcriptional factor that can induce EMT and preserve stem-cell function, which may induce resistance to radio- and chemotherapies in the cells. In the present study, SCC9 cells were transfected with an empty vector or a vector encoding human Snail (SCC9-S). Overexpression of Snail induced SCC9 cells to undergo EMT, in which the cells presented a fibroblast-like appearance, downregulated the epithelial markers E-cadherin and β-catenin, upregulated the mesenchymal marker vimentin, and associated with highly invasive and metastatic properties. Furthermore, the induction of EMT promoted cancer stem cell (CSC)-like characteristics in the SCC9-S cells, such as low proliferation, self-renewal, and CSC-like markers expression. These results indicate that overexpression of Snail induces EMT and promotes CSC-like traits in the SCC9 cells. Further understanding the role of Snail in cancer progression may reveal new targets for the prevention or therapy of oral cancers.


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