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Oncol Lett. 2013 Apr;5(4):1353-1356. Epub 2013 Feb 15.

HMGA2 induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in human hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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  • 1Department of Oncology and Hematology, Jun Xie Hospital, Nanjing, Jiangsu 210002;


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an important event during tumorigenesis. The human high-mobility group A2 (HMGA2) is a chromatin-binding protein, which contains three AT-hook domains that enable its binding to the minor groove of DNA. HMGA2 organizes protein complexes on enhancers of various genes to regulate gene expression and cell differentiation. The HMGA2 protein has been reported to be overexpressed in many types of cancer. It is not known, however, whether HMGA2 regulates EMT in human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines, and the mechanism(s) have not been fully elucidated. In this study, the expression of HMGA2 in five HCC cell lines was examined. The levels of HMGA2 expression among the five HCC cell lines coincided with their invasiveness. The variation in HMGA2 expression significantly correlated with the expression of several putative EMT markers. In addition, assessment of the invasive potential, following transfection with HMGA2-siRNA, demonstrated that the rate of cell migration was significantly reduced, suggesting that HMGA2 may be an important contributor to the invasion of tumor cells and that expression levels of HMGA2 influence the metastatic behavior of HCC cells. To further confirm the conclusion and explore the molecular mechanism through which HMGA2 induces EMT, we found that HMGA2 upregulates the expression of Twist and Snail in HCC cell lines. In conclusion, this present study is the first to show that HMGA2 effectively regulates EMT to induce invasion and metastasis in HCC cells. The function of HMGA2 as an oncoprotein may be associated with several important molecules involved in invasion and metastasis of cancer cells.


Snail; Twist; epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition; hepatocellular carcinoma; human high-mobility group A2

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