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PLoS One. 2010 Nov 12;5(11):e13971. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013971.

Suppression of TGFβ-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition like phenotype by a PIAS1 regulated sumoylation pathway in NMuMG epithelial cells.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Southern Alberta Cancer Research Institute, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT) is a fundamental cellular process that is critical for normal development and tumor metastasis. The transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ) is a potent inducer of EMT like effects, but the mechanisms that regulate TGFβ-induced EMT remain incompletely understood. Using the widely employed NMuMG mammary epithelial cells as a model to study TGFβ-induced EMT, we report that TGFβ downregulates the levels of the SUMO E3 ligase PIAS1 in cells undergoing EMT. Gain and loss of function analyses indicate that PIAS1 acts in a SUMO ligase dependent manner to suppress the ability of TGFβ to induce EMT in these cells. We also find that TGFβ inhibits sumoylation of the PIAS1 substrate SnoN, a transcriptional regulator that antagonizes TGFβ-induced EMT. Accordingly, loss of function mutations of SnoN sumoylation impair the ability of SnoN to inhibit TGFβ-induced EMT in NMuMG cells. Collectively, our findings suggest that PIAS1 is a novel negative regulator of EMT and reveal that inhibition of the PIAS1-SnoN sumoylation pathway represents a key mechanism by which TGFβ induces EMT, with important implications in normal development and tumor metastasis.

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