Glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta regulates Snail and β-catenin expression during Fas-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition in gastrointestinal cancer

Haoxuan Zheng, Wenjing Li, Yadong Wang, Zhizhong Liu, Yidong Cai, Tingting Xie, Meng Shi, Zhiqing Wang, Bo Jiang
European Journal of Cancer 2013, 49 (12): 2734-46
Fas signalling has been shown to induce the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to promote gastrointestinal (GI) cancer metastasis, but its mechanism of action is still unknown. The effects of Fas-ligand (FasL) treatment and inhibition of Fas signalling on GI cancer cells were tested using invasion assay, immunofluorescence, immunoblot, Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR), quantitative Real-time PCR (qRT-PCR), immunoprecipitation and luciferase reporter assay. Immunohistochemistry was used to analyse the EMT-associated molecules in GI cancer specimens. FasL treatment inhibited E-cadherin transcription by upregulation of Snail in GI cancer cells. The nuclear expression and transcriptional activity of Snail and β-catenin were increased by inhibitory phosphorylation of glycogen synthase kinase-3 beta (GSK-3β) at Ser9 by FasL-induced extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signalling. Snail associated with β-catenin in the nucleus and, thus, increased β-catenin transcriptional activity. Evaluation of human GI cancer specimens showed that the expression of FasL, phospho-GSK-3β, Snail and β-catenin increase during GI cancer progression. An EMT phenotype was shown to correlate with an advanced cancer stage, and a non-EMT phenotype significantly correlated with a better prognosis. Collectively, these data indicate that GSK-3β regulates Snail and β-catenin expression during Fas-induced EMT in gastrointestinal cancer.

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