Maturi V, Enroth S, Heldin CH, Moustakas A
J. Cell. Physiol. 233 (10) 7113-7127 [2018-10-00; online 2018-05-10]
Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1) is a transcriptional regulator involved in embryonic development and cancer progression. ZEB1 induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Triple-negative human breast cancers express high ZEB1 mRNA levels and exhibit features of EMT. In the human triple-negative breast cancer cell model Hs578T, ZEB1 associates with almost 2,000 genes, representing many cellular functions, including cell polarity regulation (DLG2 and FAT3). By introducing a CRISPR-Cas9-mediated 30 bp deletion into the ZEB1 second exon, we observed reduced migratory and anchorage-independent growth capacity of these tumor cells. Transcriptomic analysis of control and ZEB1 knockout cells, revealed 1,372 differentially expressed genes. The TIMP metallopeptidase inhibitor 3 and the teneurin transmembrane protein 2 genes showed increased expression upon loss of ZEB1, possibly mediating pro-tumorigenic actions of ZEB1. This work provides a resource for regulators of cancer progression that function under the transcriptional control of ZEB1. The data confirm that removing a single EMT transcription factor, such as ZEB1, is not sufficient for reverting the triple-negative mesenchymal breast cancer cells into more differentiated, epithelial-like clones, but can reduce tumorigenic potential, suggesting that not all pro-tumorigenic actions of ZEB1 are linked to the EMT.