Msx2 induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition in mouse mammary epithelial cells through upregulation of Cripto-1

di Bari, M. G.; Ginsburg, E.; Plant, J.; Strizzi, L.; Salomon, D. S.; Vonderhaar, B. K.

J Cell Physiol. 2009 Jan 27; 219(3):659-66


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process occurring during both embryogenesis and early stages of invasive cancer. Epithelial cells that undergo EMT become more migratory and invasive with a mesenchymal morphology. Herein we assess EMT induction in a mouse mammary epithelial cell line driven by Msx2, a homeobox-containing transcription factor important during mammary gland development. NMuMG cells, a normal mouse mammary epithelial cell line, stably transfected with a Msx2 cDNA showed downregulation of an epithelial marker E-cadherin and upregulation of the mesenchymal markers vimentin and N-cadherin. Furthermore, overexpression of Cripto-1, a member of the epidermal growth factor-CFC protein family already known to be involved in EMT, was detected in Msx2-transfected cells. The expression of Cripto-1 was accompanied by activation of the tyrosine kinase c-Src pathway and an increase in the invasive ability of the cells. Functional assays also demonstrated inhibition of the invasive behavior of the Msx2-transfected cells by a c-Src specific inhibitor. Moreover, immunohistochemistry of human infiltrating breast carcinomas showed positive staining for Msx2 only in the infiltrating tumor cells while the non-infiltrating tumor cells were negative. These results suggest that Msx2 may play a significant role in promoting EMT in epithelial cells that acquire properties involved in tumor invasion. J. Cell. Physiol. 219: 659-666, 2009. Published 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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