Maturi V, Morén A, Enroth S, Heldin CH, Moustakas A
Mol Oncol 12 (7) 1153-1174 [2018-06-00; online 2018-05-21]
Transcriptional regulation mediated by the zinc finger protein Snail1 controls early embryogenesis. By binding to the epithelial tumor suppressor CDH1 gene, Snail1 initiates the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). The EMT generates stem-like cells and promotes invasiveness during cancer progression. Accordingly, Snail1 mRNA and protein is abundantly expressed in triple-negative breast cancers with enhanced metastatic potential and phenotypic signs of the EMT. Such high endogenous Snail1 protein levels permit quantitative chromatin immunoprecipitation-sequencing (ChIP-seq) analysis. Snail1 associated with 185 genes at cis regulatory regions in the Hs578T triple-negative breast cancer cell model. These genes include morphogenetic regulators and signaling components that control polarized differentiation. Using the CRISPR/Cas9 system in Hs578T cells, a double deletion of 10 bp each was engineered into the first exon and into the second exon-intron junction of Snail1, suppressing Snail1 expression and causing misregulation of several hundred genes. Specific attention to regulators of chromatin organization provides a possible link to new phenotypes uncovered by the Snail1 loss-of-function mutation. On the other hand, genetic inactivation of Snail1 was not sufficient to establish a full epithelial transition to these tumor cells. Thus, Snail1 contributes to the malignant phenotype of breast cancer cells via diverse new mechanisms.