High motility of triple-negative breast cancer cells is due to repression of plakoglobin gene by metastasis modulator protein SLUG.

Department of Biochemistry and Cancer Biology, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennessee 37208, USA.
Journal of Biological Chemistry (Impact Factor: 4.6). 04/2012; 287(23):19472-86. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M112.345728
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT One of highly pathogenic breast cancer cell types are the triple negative (negative in the expression of estrogen, progesterone, and ERBB2 receptors) breast cancer cells. These cells are highly motile and metastatic and are characterized by high levels of the metastasis regulator protein SLUG. Using isogenic breast cancer cell systems we have shown here that high motility of these cells is directly correlated with the levels of the SLUG in these cells. Because epithelial/mesenchymal cell motility is known to be negatively regulated by the catenin protein plakoglobin, we postulated that the transcriptional repressor protein SLUG increases the motility of the aggressive breast cancer cells through the knockdown of the transcription of the plakoglobin gene. We found that SLUG inhibits the expression of plakoglobin gene directly in these cells. Overexpression of SLUG in the SLUG-deficient cancer cells significantly decreased the levels of mRNA and protein of plakoglobin. On the contrary, knockdown of SLUG in SLUG-high cancer cells elevated the levels of plakoglobin. Blocking of SLUG function with a double-stranded DNA decoy that competes with the E2-box binding of SLUG also increased the levels of plakoglobin mRNA, protein, and promoter activity in the SLUG-high triple negative breast cancer cells. Overexpression of SLUG in the SLUG-deficient cells elevated the motility of these cells. Knockdown of plakoglobin in these low motility non-invasive breast cancer cells rearranged the actin filaments and increased the motility of these cells. Forced expression of plakoglobin in SLUG-high cells had the reverse effects on cellular motility. This study thus implicates SLUG-induced repression of plakoglobin as a motility determinant in highly disseminating breast cancer.

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