Immediate and delayed effects of E-cadherin inhibition on gene regulation and cell motility in human epidermoid carcinoma cells

Henriette Andersen, Jakob Mejlvang, Shaukat Mahmood, Irina Gromova, Pavel Gromov, Eugene Lukanidin, Marina Kriajevska, J. Kilian Mellon, Eugene Tulchinsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The invasion suppressor protein, E-cadherin, plays a central role in epithelial cell-cell adhesion. Loss of E-cadherin expression or function in various tumors of epithelial origin is associated with a more invasive phenotype. In this study, by expressing a dominant-negative mutant of E-cadherin (Ec1WVM) in A431 cells, we demonstrated that specific inhibition of E-cadherin-dependent cell-cell adhesion led to the genetic reprogramming of tumor cells. In particular, prolonged inhibition of cell-cell adhesion activated expression of vimentin and repressed cytokeratins, suggesting that the effects of Ec1WVM can be classified as epithelial-mesenchymal transition. Both short-term and prolonged expression of Ec1WVM resulted in morphological transformation and increased cell migration though to different extents. Short-term expression of Ec1WVM up-regulated two AP-1 family members, c-jun and fra-1, but was insufficient to induce complete mesenchymal transition. AP-1 activity induced by the short-term expression of Ec1WVM was required for transcriptional up-regulation of AP-1 family members and down-regulation of two other Ec1WVM-responsive genes, S100A4 and igfbp-3. Using a dominant-negative mutant of c-Jun (TAM67) and RNA interference-mediated silencing of c-Jun and Fra-1, we demonstrated that AP-1 was required for cell motility stimulated by the expression of Ec1WVM. In contrast, Ec1WVM-mediated changes in cell morphology were AP-1-independent. Our data suggest that mesenchymal transition induced by prolonged functional inhibition of E-cadherin is a slow and gradual process. At the initial step of this process, Ec1WVM triggers a positive autoregulatory mechanism that increases AP-1 activity. Activated AP-1 in turn contributes to Ec1WVM-mediated effects on gene expression and tumor cell motility. These data provide novel insight into the tumor suppressor function of E-cadherin.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9138-9150
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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