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J Cell Physiol. 2019 Mar 25. doi: 10.1002/jcp.28480. [Epub ahead of print]

Epithelial-mesenchymal transition induced cancer-stem-cell-like characteristics in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Department of Medical Oncology, he First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.
The Third Department of Medical Oncology, Shaanxi Provincial Tumor Hospital, Xi'an, China.
Department of Oncology, he Second Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, Shaanxi, China.


Hepatocellular carcinoma in China accounts for half of the world's incidence. Both epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer stem cells (CSCs) are thought to be involved in tumor malignant progression. However, the relationship between EMT and CSCs is still unclear. Bioinformatics analysis was performed to evaluate the relationship between EMT and CSCs. The EMT and CSC regulatory mechanism was investigated through Transwell, wound-healing, sphere formation, colony-forming, and western blotting assays. Immunofluorescence and immunoprecipitation were used to study the interaction of hypoxia inducible factor 1α (HIF-1α) /Notch1. Immunohistochemical study was applied to investigate the expression pattern in the process of hepatocellular carcinogenesis and development. In our present study, bioinformatics results indicate that the expression of EMT-related molecules is correlated with CSCs. In vitro studies indicated that EMT activation could induce CSC characteristics. Notch1 was confirmed to mediate the process of EMT-induced CSCs through the interaction with HIF-1α directly. Our findings indicate that EMT could induce CSC-like characteristics, which is mediated by HIF-1α-upregulated Notch intracellular domain expression.


CSCs; EMT; HCC; HIF-1α; Notch1


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