Regulation of transcription factor twist expression by the DNA architectural protein high mobility group A2 during epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition

E. Jean Tan, Sylvie Thuault, Laia Caja, Tea Carletti, Carl Henrik Heldin, Aristidis Moustakas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Deciphering molecular mechanisms that control epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) contributes to our understanding of how tumor cells become invasive and competent for intravasation. We have established that transforming growth factor β activates Smad proteins, which induce expression of the embryonic factor high mobility group A2 (HMGA2), which causes mesenchymal transition. HMGA2 associates with Smad complexes and induces expression of an established regulator of EMT, the zinc finger transcription factor Snail. We now show that HMGA2 can also induce expression of a second regulator of EMT, the basic helix-loop-helix transcription factor Twist. Silencing of endogenous Twist demonstrated that this protein acts in a partially redundant manner together with Snail. Double silencing of Snail and Twist reverts mesenchymal HMGA2-expressing cells to a more epithelial phenotype when compared with single silencing of Snail or Twist. Furthermore, HMGA2 can directly associate with A:T-rich sequences and promote transcription from the Twist promoter. The new evidence proposes a model whereby HMGA2 directly induces multiple transcriptional regulators of the EMT program and, thus, is a potential biomarker for carcinomas displaying EMT during progression to more advanced stages of malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7134-7145
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2 2012


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Molecular Biology

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