The RNA-binding protein ESRP1 promotes human colorectal cancer progression

Sharmila Fagoonee, Gabriele Picco, Francesca Orso, Arrigo Arrigoni, Dario L. Longo, Marco Forni, Irene Scarfò, Adele Cassenti, Roberto Piva, Paola Cassoni, Lorenzo Silengo, Emanuela Tolosano, Silvio Aime, Daniela Taverna, Pier Paolo Pandolfi, Mara Brancaccio, Enzo Medico, Fiorella Altruda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Epithelial splicing regulatory protein 1 (ESRP1) is an epithelial cell-specific RNA binding protein that controls several key cellular processes, like alternative splicing and translation. Previous studies have demonstrated a tumor suppressor role for this protein. Recently, however, a pro-metastatic function of ESRP1 has been reported. We thus aimed at clarifying the role of ESRP1 in Colorectal Cancer (CRC) by performing loss- and gain-of-function studies, and evaluating tumorigenesis and malignancy with in vitro and in vivo approaches. We found that ESRP1 plays a role in anchorage-independent growth of CRC cells. ESRP1-overexpressing cells grown in suspension showed enhanced fibroblast growth factor receptor (FGFR1/2) signalling, Akt activation, and Snail upregulation. Moreover, ESRP1 promoted the ability of CRC cells to generate macrometastases in mice livers. High ESRP1 expression may thus stimulate growth of cancer epithelial cells and promote colorectal cancer progression. Our findings provide mechanistic insights into a previously unreported, pro-oncogenic role for ESRP1 in CRC, and suggest that fine-tuning the level of this RNA-binding protein could be relevant in modulating tumor growth in a subset of CRC patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10007-10024
Number of pages18
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2017


  • ESRP1
  • Human colorectal cancer
  • Proto-oncogene
  • RNA binding protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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