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Interaction Between Ezrin and Cortactin in Promoting Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition in Breast Cancer Cells

Jing He, Ge Ma, Jiayi Qian, Yichao Zhu, Mengdi Liang, Na Yao, Qiang Ding, Lin Chen, Xiaoan Liu, Tiansong Xia, Shui Wang

(Department of Surgical Oncology, The Affiliated Hospital of Jiangnan University, Wuxi, Jiangsu, China (mainland))

Med Sci Monit 2017; 23:1583-1596

DOI: 10.12659/MSM.904124


BACKGROUND: Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) contributes to metastases in various types of tumors, and is also the key step in the breast cancer metastatic cascade. In our previous study, a mouse model containing human-derived normal breast tissue was established and allowed EMT/MET process of human breast cancer cells to be mimicked in a humanized mammary microenvironment.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: Two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) and mass spectrometry were used to detect different proteins between parental MDA-MB-231 and its variant sub-line obtained from tumors grown in transplanted normal human breast tissue (MDA-MB-231br). We knocked down the ezrin in 2 cell lines (MDA-MB-231 and SUM1315). The migration and invasion ability was assessed. EMT markers were examined by real-time reverse transcription PCR analysis and Western blot analysis. The relationship of ezrin with cortactin was tested by tissue microarray and co-immunoprecipitation.
RESULTS: Proteomic analysis revealed 81 differentially expressed proteins between parental MDA-MB-231 and MDA-MB-231br. Among these proteins, the expression of ezrin and cortactin and the phosphorylation of ezrin were significantly correlated, accompanied with a group of classic EMT makers. Knockdown of ezrin reversed the expression of EMT markers and downregulated cortactin and EMT transcription factors. Ezrin silencing inhibited tumor cell migration and invasion. Breast cancer tissue microarray and immunohistochemistry showed a significant positive association between ezrin and cortactin.
CONCLUSIONS: These findings indicate that ezrin is correlated with cortactin in facilitating EMT in breast cancer. The interaction between ezrin and cortactin is a novel mechanism contributing to the EMT process in cancer metastases.

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