Research Papers:

Loss of E-cadherin activates EGFR-MEK/ERK signaling, which promotes invasion via the ZEB1/MMP2 axis in non-small cell lung cancer

Gab-Yong Bae, So-Jung Choi, Ji-Seon Lee, Jisuk Jo, Jinseon Lee, Jhingook Kim and Hyuk-Jin Cha _

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Oncotarget. 2013; 4:2512-2522. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.1463

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Gab-Yong Bae1, So-Jung Choi2, Ji-Seon Lee1, Jisuk Jo4, Jinseon Lee2, Jhingook Kim2,3 and Hyuk-Jin Cha1

1 Department of Life Science, Sogang University, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

2 Samsung Biomedical Research Institute, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University, School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

3 Department of Thoracic Surgery, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University, School of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

4 Samsung Genome Institute, Research Institute for Future Medicine, Samsung Medical Center.


Hyuk-Jin Cha, email:

Jhingook Kim, email:

Keywords: E-Cadherin, EGFR-MEK/ERK signaling, ZEB1, MMP2, Invasion

Received: October 3, 2013 Accepted: November 27, 2013 Published: November 29, 2013


Loss of E-cadherin, a hallmark of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), can significantly affect metastatic dissemination. However, the molecular mechanism of EMT-associated metastatic dissemination by loss of E-cadherin still remains unclear in non-small cell lung cancers (NSCLCs). In the present study, we show that the knockdown of E-cadherin was sufficient to convert A549 NSCLC cells into mesenchymal type with the concurrent up-regulation of typical EMT inducers such as ZEB1 and TWIST1. Interestingly, the EMT-induced cells by E-cadherin depletion facilitate invasion in a matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP2)-dependent manner with aberrant activation of EGFR signaling. We demonstrated that the elevated invasiveness was a result of the activated EGFR-MEK/ERK signaling, which in turn leads to ZEB1 dependent MMP2 induction. These results suggest that the EGFR-MEK/ERK/ZEB1/MMP2 axis is responsible for promoted invasion in EMT-induced NSCLCs. Consistently, ERK activation and loss of E-cadherin were both observed in the disseminating cancer cells at the invasive tumor fronts in NSCLC cancer tissues. Thereby, these data suggest that the EGFR-MEK/ERK signaling would be a promising molecular target to control aberrant MMP2 expression and consequent invasion in the EMT-induced NSCLCs

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