EGF induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition through phospho-Smad2/3-Snail signaling pathway in breast cancer cells.

PMID 27829223


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) can contribute to tumor invasion, metastasis, and resistance to chemotherapy or hormone therapy. EMT may be induced by a variety of growth factors, such as epidermal growth factor (EGF). Most studies regarding EMT have focused on TGF-β-Smads signaling. The mechanism of EGF-induced EMT via activation of the Smad2/3 in breast cancer cells, MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231, remains unclear. The expression levels of Snail, vimentin, and fibronectin were increased by EGF treatment in a time-dependent manner, while the expression level of E-cadherin was decreased. EGF-induced nuclear co-localization of phospho-Smad2/3 and Snail and cancer cell migration were inhibited by pretreatment with an ERK1/2 inhibitor, PD98059 and a phospho-Smad2 inhibitor, SB203580. Knockdown of Smad2/3 expression suppressed EGF-induced expressions of Snail, vimentin, fibronectin, and cancer cell invasion, suggesting an acquisition of the mesenchymal and migratory phenotype in less aggressive MCF-7 cells. Moreover, MDA-MB-231 cells were shown that EGF-induced EMT, and cell invasion through ERK1/2-phospho-Smad2/3-Snail signaling pathway. We have discovered that EGF-stimulated activation of Smad2/3 upregulated several key EMT markers, inhibited E-cadherin expression, promoted EMT, enhanced migration and invasion in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Identification of this molecular mechanism may provide new molecular targets for the development of therapies for metastatic breast cancer.