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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2011 May 20;408(4):686-91. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.04.089. Epub 2011 Apr 23.

Role of Twist in vasculogenic mimicry formation in hypoxic hepatocellular carcinoma cells in vitro.

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Department of Hepatobiliary Surgery, The FirstAffiliated Hospital, College of Medicine, Xi’an Jiaotong University, No. 277 Yanta West Road, Xi’an, PR China.


Vasculogenic mimicry (VM) refers to the unique ability of highly aggressive human tumor cells to form matrix-rich networks de novo when cultured on a three-dimensional matrix, thus mimicking embryonic vasculogenesis. Some studies have shown that tumor hypoxia can promote tumor cells to form vessel-like tubes in vitro and express genes associated with VM. Although, the mechanisms involved in hypoxia-induced VM remain elusive, we hypothesized that the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) regulator Twist may play a major role in hypoxia-induced VM. We investigated this hypothesis in vitro by pretreating hepatocellular carcinoma cells under hypoxic conditions. Following the hypoxia treatment, the cells formed typical pipe-like VM networks. Moreover, the expression of VM markers was increased. Hypoxia-induced VM was accompanied by the increased expression of Twist. Twist siRNA reversed the effects of hypoxia on VM. These results suggest that the overexpression of Twist correlates to hypoxia-induced VM in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

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