ETS1 is coexpressed with ZEB2 and mediates ZEB2-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in human tumors

Yalim-Camci I., Balcik-Ercin P., Cetin M., Odabas G., Tokay N., Sayan A. E., ...More

MOLECULAR CARCINOGENESIS, vol.58, no.6, pp.1068-1081, 2019 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 58 Issue: 6
  • Publication Date: 2019
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/mc.22994
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.1068-1081
  • Keywords: chromatin immunoprecipitation, epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, ETS1, hepatocellular carcinoma, MMP9, site-directed mutagenesis, TWIST1, Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2, SMAD-INTERACTING PROTEIN-1, DNA-BINDING, POOR-PROGNOSIS, INDUCED APOPTOSIS, CANCER-CELLS, E-CADHERIN, EXPRESSION, CARCINOMA, SIP1, PROTOONCOGENE
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is an embryonic program that is reactivated in cancer and regulates the invasion and metastasis of tumor cells. Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 2 (ZEB2) induces EMT by upregulating matrix metalloproteinases (MMP), yet MMP genes lack ZEB2 binding motif in their promoters. Recently, expression of MMPs was associated to the activation of ETS1 transcription factor; however, a link between ZEB2 and ETS proto-oncogene 1, transcription factor (ETS1) remains to be elucidated. Hence, we investigated the transcriptional regulation of ETS1 by ZEB2 after our initial observation that ZEB2 and ETS1 are coexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCCs). Chromatin immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter assays clearly showed that ZEB2 binds to E-box sequences on the promoter of ETS1. Elevated expression of ETS1 was found in DLD-ZEB2 and A431-ZEB2 inducible systems, and knockdown of ZEB2 caused an explicit downregulation of ETS1 in shZEB2-SNU398 and shZEB2-SK-HEP-1 cells. Repression of ETS1 expression in ZEB2-induced conditions substantially impaired the migration and invasive capacities of DLD1 cells. Mechanistically, knockdown of ETS1 in ZEB2-expressing cells resulted in the downregulation of established ZEB2 targets TWIST and MMP9. Correlation analyses in HCC lines, cancer complementary DNA arrays, and The Cancer Genome Atlas RNA-sequencing data set revealed that ZEB2 and ETS1 are coexpressed, and their expressions in human tumors show a highly significant positive correlation. Our results demonstrated that ZEB2 acts as an upstream regulator of ETS1 and, in turn, ETS1 maintains ZEB2-induced EMT. These findings add another level of complexity to the understanding of ZEB2 in the invasion and metastasis of cancer cells, and put ZEB2/ETS1 axis as a novel therapeutic target in human malignancies.