EVI1 promotes epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, cancer stem cell features and chemo-/radioresistance in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Yaoyong Lu, Yingying Liang, Xin Zheng, Xubin Deng, Wendong Huang, Gong Zhang
Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research: CR 2019 February 15, 38 (1): 82

BACKGROUND: Aberrant EVI1 expression is frequently reported in cancer studies; however, its role in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) has not been examined in detail. The aim of the present study is to investigate the involvement of EVI1 in progression and prognosis of NPC.

METHODS: RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and western blot assays were used to examine the expression of EVI1 in NPC tissues and cell lines. Fluorescence in situ hybridization assay was used to examine the amplification of EVI1 in NPC tissues. The biological effect of EVI1 was determined by both in vitro and in vivo studies. The dual-luciferase reporter assay was performed to confirm that EVI1 bind at E-cadherin andβ-catenin promoters. The ChIP, EMSA, and coimmunoprecipitation combined with mass spectrometry assays were used to analyze the EVI1 regulated proteins.

RESULTS: EVI1 expression level was up-regulated in NPC tissues and cell lines. EVI1 was amplificated in NPC tissues. We observed that EVI1 down-regulation decreased the cell proliferation and invasive capacity of NPC cells in vitro and in vivo. EVI1, snail, and HDAC1 formed a co-repressor complex to repress E-cadherin expression and ultimately contributed to epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotype in NPC cells. In another way, EVI1 directly bound at β-catenin promoter and activated its expression. β-catenin mediated EVI1's function on cancer stem cells (CSCs) properties. EVI1 up-regulation predicted unfavorable prognosis and contributed to chemo/radio-resistance in NPC cells. Finally, we constructed arsenic trioxide-loaded nanoparticles (ALNPs) and revealed that ALNPs exerted anti-tumor effect in NPC cells.

CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicated that EVI1 played an oncogenic role in NPC growth and metastasis and that EVI1 might serve as a novel molecular target for the treatment of NPC.

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