Research Papers:

Human steroid sulfatase induces Wnt/β-catenin signaling and epithelial-mesenchymal transition by upregulating Twist1 and HIF-1α in human prostate and cervical cancer cells

Sangyun Shin, Hee-Jung Im, Yeo-Jung Kwon, Dong-Jin Ye, Hyoung-Seok Baek, Donghak Kim, Hyung-Kyoon Choi and Young-Jin Chun _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:61604-61617. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18645

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Sangyun Shin1,*, Hee-Jung Im1,*, Yeo-Jung Kwon1,*, Dong-Jin Ye1, Hyoung-Seok Baek1, Donghak Kim2, Hyung-Kyoon Choi1 and Young-Jin Chun1

1College of Pharmacy and Center for Metareceptome Research, Chung-Ang University, Seoul 06974, Republic of Korea

2Department of Biological Sciences, Konkuk University, Seoul 05029, Republic of Korea

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Young-Jin Chun, email: [email protected]

Keywords: steroid sulfatase, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, Wnt/β–catenin pathway, HIF-1α, Twist1

Received: March 06, 2017     Accepted: May 22, 2017     Published: June 27, 2017


Steroid sulfatase (STS) catalyzes the hydrolysis of estrone sulfate and dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEAS) to their unconjugated biologically active forms. Although STS is considered a therapeutic target for estrogen-dependent diseases, the cellular functions of STS remain unclear. We found that STS induces Wnt/β-catenin s Delete ignaling in PC-3 and HeLa cells. STS increases levels of β-catenin, phospho-β-catenin, and phospho-GSK3β. Enhanced translocation of β-catenin to the nucleus by STS might activate transcription of target genes such as cyclin D1, c-myc, and MMP-7. STS knockdown by siRNA resulted in downregulation of Wnt/β-catenin signaling. β-Catenin/TCF-mediated transcription was also enhanced by STS. STS induced an epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) as it reduced the levels of E-cadherin, whereas levels of mesenchymal markers such as N-cadherin and vimentin were enhanced. We found that STS induced Twist1 expression through HIFα activation as HIF-1α knockdown significantly blocks the ability of STS to induce Twist1 transcription. Furthermore, DHEA, but not DHEAS is capable of inducing Twist1. Treatment with a STS inhibitor prevented STS-mediated Wnt/β-catenin signaling and Twist1 expression. Interestingly, cancer cell migration, invasion, and MMPs expression induced by STS were also inhibited by a STS inhibitor. Taken together, these results suggest that STS induces Wnt/β-catenin signaling and EMT by upregulating Twist1 and HIF-1α. The ability of STS to induce the Wnt/β-catenin signaling and EMT has profound implications on estrogen-mediated carcinogenesis in human cancer cells.

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