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J Biol Chem. 2003 Jun 6;278(23):21113-23. Epub 2003 Mar 28.

Transforming growth factor beta-1 induces snail transcription factor in epithelial cell lines: mechanisms for epithelial mesenchymal transitions.

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  • 1Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols" (CSIC-UAM) and Departamento de Bioquímica (UAM), Arturo Duperier 4, 28029 Madrid, Spain.


The Snail transcription factor has been described recently as a strong repressor of E-cadherin in epithelial cell lines, where its stable expression leads to the loss of E-cadherin expression and induces epithelial-mesenchymal transitions and an invasive phenotype. The mechanisms regulating Snail expression in development and tumor progression are not yet known. We show here that transforming growth factor beta-1 (TGFbeta1) induces Snail expression in Madin-Darby canine kidney cells and triggers epithelial-mesenchymal transitions by a mechanism dependent on the MAPK signaling pathway. Furthermore, TGFbeta1 induces the activity of Snail promoter, whereas fibroblast growth factor-2 has a milder effect but cooperates with TGFbeta1 in the induction of Snail promoter. Interestingly, TGFbeta1-mediated induction of Snail promoter is blocked by a dominant negative form of H-Ras (N17Ras), whereas oncogenic H-Ras (V12Ras) induces Snail promoter activity and synergistically cooperates with TGFbeta1. The effects of TGFbeta1 on Snail promoter are dependent of MEK1/2 activity but are apparently independent of Smad4 activity. In addition, H-Ras-mediated induction of Snail promoter, alone or in the presence of TGFbeta1, depends on both MAPK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activities. These data support that MAPK and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase signaling pathways are implicated in TGFbeta1-mediated induction of Snail promoter, probably through Ras activation and its downstream effectors.

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