Molecular cancer

Notch1 signaling regulates the epithelial-mesenchymal transition and invasion of breast cancer in a Slug-dependent manner.

PMID 25645291


The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is crucial for the invasion and metastasis of breast cancer. However, how Notch signaling regulates the EMT process and invasion in breast cancer remains largely unknown. The impact of Notch1 silencing by specific shRNAs on the EMT and invasion of human breast cancer MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 cells as well as xenografts was tested by western blot, real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), immunofluorescence, transwell, and immunohistochemistry assays. The effect of Slug silencing or upregulation on the EMT and invasion of breast cancer cells was analyzed, and the effect of Notch1 signaling on Slug expression was determined by the luciferase reporter assay. The Notch1 intracellular domain (N1ICD) and Jagged1 were expressed in breast cancer cells. Notch1 silencing reversed the spontaneous EMT process and inhibited the migration and invasion of breast cancer cells and the growth of xenograft breast cancers. The expression of N1ICD was upregulated significantly by Jagged1-mediated Notch signaling activation. Moreover, Jagged1-mediated Notch signaling promoted the EMT process, migration, and invasion of breast cancer cells, which were abrogated by Notch silencing. Furthermore, the N1ICD positively regulated the Slug expression by inducing Slug promoter activation. Importantly, the knockdown of Slug weakened the invasion ability of breast cancer cells and reversed the Jagged1-induced EMT process with significantly decreased expression of vimentin and increased expression of E-cadherin. In addition, Slug overexpression restored the Notch1 knockdown-suppressed EMT process. Our novel data indicate that Notch signaling positively regulates the EMT, invasion, and growth of breast cancer cells by inducing Slug expression. The Notch1-Slug signaling axis may represent a potential therapeutic target for breast cancer therapy.