SOX4 mediates TGF-ß-induced expression of mesenchymal markers during mammary cell epithelial to mesenchymal transition.

Vervoort SJ, Lourenço AR, van Boxtel R, Coffer PJ.
Source: PLoS ONE
Publication Date: (2013)
Issue: 8(1): e53238
Research Area:
Basic Research
Cells used in publication:
Epithelial, mammary, human (HMEC)
Species: human
Tissue Origin: breast
The epithelial to mensenchymal transition program regulates various aspects of embryonic development and tissue homeostasis, but aberrant activation of this pathway in cancer contributes to tumor progression and metastasis. TGF-b potently induces an epithelial to mensenchymal transition in cancers of epithelial origin by inducing transcriptional changes mediated by several key transcription factors. Here, we identify the developmental transcription factor SOX4 as a transcriptional target of TGF-b in immortalized human mammary epithelial cells. SOX4 expression and activity are rapidly induced in the early stages of the TGF-b-induced epithelial to mensenchymal transition. We demonstrate that conditional activation of Sox4 is sufficient to induce the expression of N-cadherin and additional mesenchymal markers including vimentin and fibronectin, but fails to induce complete EMT as no changes are observed in the expression of E-cadherin and b-catenin. Moreover, shRNA-mediated knockdown of SOX4 significantly delays TGF-b-induced mRNA and protein expression of mesenchymal markers. Taken together, these data suggest that TGF-b-mediated increased expression of SOX4 is required for the induction of a mesenchymal phenotype during EMT in human mammary epithelial cells.