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Title: Blocking ERK1/2 signaling impairs TGF-β1 tumor promoting function but enhances its tumor suppressing role in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma cells
Authors: Phaijit Sritananuwat
Natthaporn Sueangoen
Parichut Thummarati
Kittiya Islam
Tuangporn Suthiphongchai
Mahidol University. Faculty of Science. Department of Biochemistry
Mahidol University. Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital
Keywords: Cholangiocarcinoma;ERK1/2;Invasion;Slug;Smad2/3;TGF-β1
Issue Date: 2017
Citation: Cancer Cell International. Vol. 17(2017),85
Abstract: Background: Transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) plays a paradoxical role in cancer: it suppresses proliferation at early stages but promotes metastasis at late stages. This cytokine is upregulated in cholangiocarcinoma and is implicated in cholangiocarcinoma invasion and metastasis. Here we investigated the roles of non-Smad pathway (ERK1/2) and Smad in TGF-β tumor promoting and suppressing activities in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC) cells. Methods: TGF-β1 efects on proliferation, invasion and migration of ICC cells, KKU-M213 and/or HuCCA-1, were investigated using MTT, colony formation, in vitro Transwell and wound healing assays. Levels of mRNAs and proteins/ phospho-proteins were measured by quantitative (q)RT-PCR and Western blotting respectively. E-cadherin localization was examined by immunofuorescence and secreted MMP-9 activity was assayed by gelatin zymography. The role of ERK1/2 signaling was evaluated by treating cells with TGF-β1 in combination with MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126, and that of Smad2/3 and Slug using siSmad2/3- and siSlug-transfected cells. Results: h-TGF-β1 enhanced KKU-M213 cell invasion and migration and induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition as shown by an increase in vimentin, Slug and secreted MMP-9 levels and by a change in E-cadherin localization from membrane to cytosol, while retaining the cytokine’s ability to attenuate cell proliferation. h-TGF-β1 stimulated Smad2/3 and ERK1/2 phosphorylation, and the MEK1/2 inhibitor U0126 attenuated TGF-β1-induced KKU-M213 cell invasion and MMP-9 production but moderately enhanced the cytokine growth inhibitory activity. The latter efect was more noticeable in HuCCA-1 cells, which resisted TGF-β-anti-proliferative activity. Smad2/3 knock-down suppressed TGF-β1 ability to induce ERK1/2 phosphorylation, Slug expression and cell invasion, whereas Slug knockdown suppressed cell invasion and vimentin expression but marginally afected ERK1/2 activation and MMP-9 secretion. These results indicate that TGF-β1 activated ERK1/2 through Smad2/3 but not Slug pathway, and that ERK1/2 enhanced TGF-β1 tumor promoting but repressed its tumor suppressing functions. Conclusions: Inhibiting ERK1/2 activation attenuates TGF-β1 tumor promoting efect (invasion) but retains its tumor suppressing role, thereby highlighting the importance of ERK1/2 in resolving the TGF-β paradox switch.
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