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Cells 2019, 8(2), 129;

Control of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Cancer Metastasis by Autophagy-Dependent SNAI1 Degradation

Department of Biochemistry and Convergence Medical Sciences, Institute of Health Sciences, Gyeongsang National University School of Medicine, JinJu 527-27, Korea
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 31 January 2019 / Accepted: 5 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Proteostasis and Autophagy)
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Autophagy, an intracellular degradation process, is essential for maintaining cell homeostasis by removing damaged organelles and proteins under various conditions of stress. In cancer, autophagy has conflicting functions. It plays a key role in protecting against cancerous transformation by maintaining genomic stability against genotoxic components, leading to cancerous transformation. It can also promote cancer cell survival by supplying minimal amounts of nutrients during cancer progression. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying how autophagy regulates the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer metastasis are unknown. Here, we show that starvation-induced autophagy promotes Snail (SNAI1) degradation and inhibits EMT and metastasis in cancer cells. Interestingly, SNAI1 proteins were physically associated and colocalized with LC3 and SQSTM1 in cancer cells. We also found a significant decrease in the levels of EMT and metastatic proteins under starvation conditions. Furthermore, ATG7 knockdown inhibited autophagy-induced SNAI1 degradation in the cytoplasm, which was associated with a decrease in SNAI1 nuclear translocation. Moreover, cancer cell invasion and migration were significantly inhibited by starvation-induced autophagy. These findings suggest that autophagy-dependent SNAI1 degradation could specifically regulate EMT and cancer metastasis during tumorigenesis. View Full-Text
Keywords: autophagy; cancer metastasis; EMT; LC3; SNAI1 autophagy; cancer metastasis; EMT; LC3; SNAI1

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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Zada, S.; Hwang, J.S.; Ahmed, M.; Lai, T.H.; Pham, T.M.; Kim, D.R. Control of the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition and Cancer Metastasis by Autophagy-Dependent SNAI1 Degradation. Cells 2019, 8, 129.

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