Targeting GLI1 expression in human inflammatory breast cancer cells enhances apoptosis and attenuates migration.
BACKGROUND: Inflammatory breast cancer (IBC) is an aggressive subtype of breast cancer with distinct molecular profiles. Gene expression profiling previously identified sonic hedgehog (SHH) as part of a gene signature that is differentially regulated in IBC patients. METHODS: The effects of reducing GLI1 levels on protein expression, cell proliferation, apoptosis and migration were determined by immunoblots, MTT assay, Annexin-V/PI assay and conventional and automated cell migration assays. RESULTS: Evaluation of a panel of breast cancer cell lines revealed elevated GLI1 expression, typically a marker for hedgehog-pathway activation, in a triple-negative, highly invasive IBC cell line, SUM149 and its isogenic-derived counterpart rSUM149 that has acquired resistance to ErbB1/2 targeting strategies. Downregulation of GLI1 expression in SUM149 and rSUM149 by small interfering RNA or a small molecule GLI1 inhibitor resulted in decreased proliferation and increased apoptosis. Further, GLI1 suppression in these cell lines significantly inhibited cell migration as assessed by a wound-healing assay compared with MCF-7, a non-invasive cell line with low GLI1 expression. A novel high-content migration assay allowed us to quantify multiple effects of GLI1 silencing including significant decreases in cell distance travelled and linearity of movement. CONCLUSION: Our data reveal a role for GLI1 in IBC cell proliferation, survival and migration, which supports the feasibility of targeting GLI1 as a novel therapeutic strategy for IBC patients.
Thomas, ZI; Gibson, W; Sexton, JZ; Aird, KM; Ingram, SM; Aldrich, A; Lyerly, HK; Devi, GR; Williams, KP
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