Kaempferol Suppresses Transforming Growth Factor-β1-Induced Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Migration of A549 Lung Cancer Cells by Inhibiting Akt1-Mediated Phosphorylation of Smad3 at Threonine-179

Eunji Jo, Seong Ji Park, Yu Sun Choi, Woo-Kwang Jeon, Byung-Chul Kim
Neoplasia: An International Journal for Oncology Research 2015, 17 (7): 525-37
Kaempferol, a natural dietary flavonoid, is well known to possess chemopreventive and therapeutic anticancer efficacy; however, its antimetastatic effects have not been mechanistically studied so far in any cancer model. This study was aimed to investigate the inhibitory effect and accompanying mechanisms of kaempferol on epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cell migration induced by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). In human A549 non-small lung cancer cells, kaempferol strongly blocked the enhancement of cell migration by TGF-β1-induced EMT through recovering the loss of E-cadherin and suppressing the induction of mesenchymal markers as well as the upregulation of TGF-β1-mediated matrix metalloproteinase-2 activity. Interestingly, kaempferol reversed TGF-β1-mediated Snail induction and E-cadherin repression by weakening Smad3 binding to the Snail promoter without affecting its C-terminus phosphorylation, complex formation with Smad4, and nuclear translocation under TGF-β1 stimulation. Mechanism study revealed that the phosphorylation of Smad3 linker region induced by TGF-β1 was required for the induction of EMT and cell migration, and selective downregulation of the phosphorylation of Smad3 at Thr179 residue (not Ser204, Ser208, and Ser213) in the linker region was responsible for the inhibition by kaempferol of TGF-β1-induced EMT and cell migration. Furthermore, Akt1 was required for TGF-β1-mediated induction of EMT and cell migration and directly phosphorylated Smad3 at Thr179, and kaempferol completely abolished TGF-β1-induced Akt1 phosphorylation. In summary, kaempferol blocks TGF-β1-induced EMT and migration of lung cancer cells by inhibiting Akt1-mediated phosphorylation of Smad3 at Thr179 residue, providing the first evidence of a molecular mechanism for the anticancer effect of kaempferol.

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