Research Papers:

Ezrin contributes to cervical cancer progression through induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Jienan Kong, Chunchan Di, Junjie Piao, Jie Sun, Longzhe Han, Liyan Chen, Guanghai Yan and Zhenhua Lin _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:19631-19642. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.7779

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Jienan Kong1,2*, Chunchan Di3,*, Junjie Piao1, Jie Sun1, Longzhe Han4, Liyan Chen1, Guanghai Yan1, Zhenhua Lin1

1Department of Pathology and Cancer Research Center, Yanbian University Medical College, Yanji 133002, China

2Department of Pathology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, Dalian 116011, China

3Department of Pathology, Zibo First Hospital, Zibo 255200, China

4Department of Pathology, Yanbian University Hospital, Yanji 133000, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhenhua Lin, e-mail: [email protected]

Guanghai Yan, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: Ezrin, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, invasion, metastasis, uterine cervical cancer

Received: June 18, 2015     Accepted: February 10, 2016     Published: February 27, 2016


Cervical cancer is the third most common cancer in females worldwide. The treatment options for advanced cervical cancer are limited, leading to high mortality. Ezrin is a membrane-cytoskeleton-binding protein recently reported to act as a tumor promoter, and we previously indicated that the aberrant localization and overexpression of Ezrin could be an independent effective biomarker for prognostic evaluation of cervical cancers. In this study, we identified Ezrin as a regulator of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and metastasis in cervical cancer. Ezrin knock-down inhibited anchorage-independent growth, cell migration, and invasion of cervical cancer cell lines in vitro and in vivo. EMT was inhibited in Ezrin-depleted cells, with up-regulation of E-cadherin and Cytokeratin-18 (CK-18) and down-regulation of mesenchymal markers. Ezrin knock-down also induced Akt phosphorylation. These results implicate Ezrin as an EMT regulator and tumor promoter in cervical cancer, and down-regulation of Ezrin suppressed cervical cancer progression, possibly via the phosphoinositide 3-kinase/Akt pathway. Furthermore, the expression pattern of Ezrin protein was closely related with the lymphovascular invasion status of cervical cancer by immunohistochemistry, and the survival analysis revealed that the cervical cancer patients with the perinuclear Ezrin expression pattern had longer survival time than those with the cytoplasmic Ezrin expression pattern. Ezrin thus represents a promising target for the development of novel and effective strategies aimed at preventing the progression of cervical cancer.

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