Research Papers:

Disulfiram inhibits TGF-β-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and stem-like features in breast cancer via ERK/NF-κB/Snail pathway

Dan Han _, Gang Wu, Chan Chang, Fang Zhu, Yin Xiao, Qiuhui Li, Tao Zhang and Liling Zhang

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Oncotarget. 2015; 6:40907-40919. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.5723

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Dan Han1,*, Gang Wu1,*, Chan Chang1, Fang Zhu1, Yin Xiao1, Qiuhui Li1, Tao Zhang1, Liling Zhang1

1Cancer Center, Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Liling Zhang, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: breast cancer, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, cancer stem cells, disulfiram

Received: February 19, 2015     Accepted: September 20, 2015     Published: October 16, 2015


Disulfiram (DSF), an anti-alcoholism drug, has been reported as an inhibitor of NF-κB. NF-κB is involved in epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and self-renewal of breast cancer stem cells (CSCs). In this study, we treated MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells with TGF-β to induce EMT and cancer stem-like features and studied whether DSF can reverse this process. We found that DSF inhibited TGF-β induced EMT in breast cancer cells in a dose-dependent manner. Also, DSF inhibited EMT-associated stem-like features, migration and invasion of tumor cells as well as tumor growth in xenograft model. The activation of NF-κB was linked with EMT and stem-like cells. We conclude that DSF can suppress NF-κB activity and downregulate ERK/NF-κB/Snail pathway, leading to reverse EMT and stem-like features. Our data suggest that DSF inhibits EMT and stem-like properties in breast cancer cells associated with inhibition of the ERK/NF-κB/Snail pathway.

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