Cellular migration and invasion uncoupled: increased migration is not an inexorable consequence of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition.
Metastatic dissemination requires carcinoma cells to detach from the primary tumor and invade through the basement membrane. To acquire these characteristics, epithelial tumor cells undergo epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMT), whereby cells lose polarity and E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion. Post-EMT cells have also been shown, or assumed, to be more migratory; however, there have been contradictory reports on an immortalized human mammary epithelial cell line (HMLE) that underwent EMT. In the context of carcinoma-associated EMT, it is not yet clear whether the change in migration and invasion must be positively correlated during EMT or whether enhanced migration is a necessary consequence of having undergone EMT. Here, we report that pre-EMT rat prostate cancer (PC) and HMLE cells are more migratory than their post-EMT counterparts. To determine a mechanism for increased epithelial cell migration, gene expression analysis was performed and revealed an increase in epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) expression in pre-EMT cells. Indeed, inhibition of EGFR in PC epithelial cells slowed migration. Importantly, while post-EMT PC and HMLE cell lines are less migratory, both remain invasive in vitro and, for PC cells, in vivo. Our study demonstrates that enhanced migration is not a phenotypic requirement of EMT, and migration and invasion can be uncoupled during carcinoma-associated EMT.
Schaeffer, D; Somarelli, JA; Hanna, G; Palmer, GM; Garcia-Blanco, MA
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