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Clin Cancer Res. 2010 Sep 15;16(18):4561-71. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-10-0593. Epub 2010 Sep 7.

Regulation of excision repair cross-complementation group 1 by Snail contributes to cisplatin resistance in head and neck cancer.

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  • 1Institue of Biochemistry, National Chung-Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan.



We investigated the mechanism and clinical significance of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-induced chemoresistance in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC).


The correlation between the expression of different EMT regulators and chemoresistance genes, such as excision repair cross complementation group 1 (ERCC1), was evaluated in cancer cell lines from the NCI-60 database and four human HNSCC cell lines. Ectopic expression of Snail or short-interference RNA-mediated repression of Snail or ERCC1 was done in HNSCC cell lines. Cell viability was examined for cells after cisplatin treatment. A luciferase reporter assay and chromatin immunoprecipitation were used to identify the transcriptional regulation of ERCC1 by Snail. Immunohistochemical analysis of Snail, Twist1, ERCC1, hypoxia inducible factor-1 α (HIF-1α), and NBS1 were done in samples from 72 HNSCC patients receiving cisplatin-based chemotherapy.


The correlation between the expression of Snail and ERCC1 was confirmed in different cell lines, including HNSCC cells. In HNSCC cell lines, overexpression of Snail in the low endogenous Snail/ERCC1 cell lines FaDu or CAL-27 increased ERCC1 expression, and hypoxia or overexpression of NBS1 also upregulated ERCC1. Knockdown of Snail in the high endogenous Snail/ERCC1 cell line OECM-1 downregulated ERCC1 expression and attenuated cisplatin resistance. Furthermore, suppression of ERCC1 in Snail- or NBS1-overexpressing HNSCC cells enhanced sensitivity to cisplatin. Snail directly regulated ERCC1 transcription. In patients with HNSCC, coexpression of Snail and ERCC1 correlated with cisplatin resistance and a poor prognosis.


Activation of ERCC1 by Snail is critical in the generation of cisplatin resistance of HNSCC cells.

©2010 AACR.

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