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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 6;287(15):11850-8. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.258236. Epub 2012 Feb 15.

Down-regulation of CMTM8 induces epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition-like changes via c-MET/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling.

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Department of Immunology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Key Laboratory of Medical Immunology, Ministry of Health, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing 100191, China.


The acquisition of an invasive phenotype is a critical turning point for malignant tumor cells. CMTM8, a potential tumor suppressor, is frequently down-regulated in solid tumors, and its overexpression induces tumor cell apoptosis. Here, we identify a new role for CMTM8 in regulating tumor cell migration. Reducing CMTM8 expression in HepG2 hepatocellular carcinoma cells results in the acquisition of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) features, including a morphological change from organized epithelial sheets to scattered fibroblast-like shapes, reduction of the epithelial marker E-cadherin, and an increased invasive and migratory ability. These phenotypic changes are mediated in large part by the ERK-MAPK pathway, as the MEK inhibitor U0126 and shRNA-mediated knockdown of ERK2 significantly reversed these phenotypes. Hepatocyte growth factor binding to the c-MET receptor is known to induce EMT in HepG2 cells. We found that CMTM8 knockdown in HepG2 cells induced c-MET signaling and ERK activation. Inhibition of c-MET signaling with the small molecule inhibitor SU11274 or c-MET RNAi blocked the EMT-like changes following CMTM8 knockdown. CMTM8 overexpression in HepG2 cells inhibited hepatocyte growth factor-induced EMT-like morphological changes and cell motility. Down-regulation of CMTM8 also promoted an EMT-like change in MCF-10A cells, indicating a broader role for CMTM8 in regulating cellular transformation.

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