The transcription factor snail controls epithelial-mesenchymal transitions by repressing E-cadherin expression.

Nat Cell Biol 2000 Feb;2(2):76-83

Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas, Arturo Duperier 4, 28029 Madrid, Spain.

The Snail family of transcription factors has previously been implicated in the differentiation of epithelial cells into mesenchymal cells (epithelial-mesenchymal transitions) during embryonic development. Epithelial-mesenchymal transitions are also determinants of the progression of carcinomas, occurring concomitantly with the cellular acquisition of migratory properties following downregulation of expression of the adhesion protein E-cadherin. Here we show that mouse Snail is a strong repressor of transcription of the E-cadherin gene. Epithelial cells that ectopically express Snail adopt a fibroblastoid phenotype and acquire tumorigenic and invasive properties. Endogenous Snail protein is present in invasive mouse and human carcinoma cell lines and tumours in which E-cadherin expression has been lost. Therefore, the same molecules are used to trigger epithelial-mesenchymal transitions during embryonic development and in tumour progression. Snail may thus be considered as a marker for malignancy, opening up new avenues for the design of specific anti-invasive drugs.

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Source
http://www.nature.com/articles/ncb0200_76
Publisher Site
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/35000025DOI Listing
February 2000

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