Vimentin-ERK Signaling Uncouples Slug Gene Regulatory Function.

Cancer Research

PubMedID: 25855378

Virtakoivu R, Mai A, Mattila E, De Franceschi N, Imanishi SY, Corthals G, Kaukonen R, Saari M, Cheng F, Torvaldson E, Kosma VM, Mannermaa A, Muharram G, Gilles C, Eriksson J, Soini Y, Lorens JB, Ivaska J. Vimentin-ERK Signaling Uncouples Slug Gene Regulatory Function. Cancer Res. 2015;75(11):2349-62.
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in cells is a developmental process adopted during tumorigenesis that promotes metastatic capacity. In this study, we advance understanding of EMT control in cancer cells with the description of a novel vimentin-ERK axis that regulates the transcriptional activity of Slug (SNAI2). Vimentin, ERK, and Slug exhibited overlapping subcellular localization in clinical specimens of triple-negative breast carcinoma. RNAi-mediated ablation of these gene products inhibited cancer cell migration and cell invasion through a laminin-rich matrix. Biochemical analyses demonstrated direct interaction of vimentin and ERK, which promoted ERK activation and enhanced vimentin transcription. Consistent with its role as an intermediate filament, vimentin acted as a scaffold to recruit Slug to ERK and promote Slug phosphorylation at serine-87. Site-directed mutagenesis established a requirement for ERK-mediated Slug phosphorylation in EMT initiation. Together, these findings identified a pivotal step in controlling the ability of Slug to organize hallmarks of EMT. Cancer Res; 75(11); 2349-62. ©2015 AACR.