Backround: Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) changes polarized epithelial cells into migratory phenotypes associated with loss of cell-cell adhesion molecules and cytoskeletal rearrangements. This form of plasticity is seen in mesodermal development, fibroblast formation, and cancer metastasis. Methods and Findings: Here we identify prominent transcriptional networks active during three time points of this transitional process, as epithelial cells become fibroblasts. DNA microarray in cultured epithelia undergoing EMT, validated in vivo, were used to detect various patterns of gene expression. In particular, the promoter sequences of differentially expressed genes and their transcription factors were analyzed to identify potential binding sites and partners. The four most frequent cis-regulatory elements (CREs) in up-regulated genes were SRY, FTS-1, Evi-1, and GC-Box, and RNA inhibition of the four transcription factors, Atf2, Klf10, Sox11, and SP1, most frequently binding these CREs, establish their importance in the initiation and propagation of EMT. Oligonucleotides that block the most frequent CREs restrain EMT at early and intermediate stages through apoptosis of the cells. Conclusions: Our results identify new transcriptional interactions with high frequency CREs that modulate the stability of cellular plasticity, and may serve as targets for modulating these transitional states in fibroblasts.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)