DOI: 10.3390/ijms242417310 ISSN: 1422-0067

Altered Phenotypes of Breast Epithelial × Breast Cancer Hybrids after ZEB1 Knock-Out

Alexander Merckens, Mareike Sieler, Silvia Keil, Thomas Dittmar
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Spectroscopy
  • Molecular Biology
  • General Medicine
  • Catalysis

ZEB1 plays a pivotal role in epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT), (cancer) cell stemness and cancer therapy resistance. The M13HS tumor hybrids, which were derived from spontaneous fusion events between the M13SV1-EGFP-Neo breast epithelial cells and HS578T-Hyg breast cancer cells, express ZEB1 and exhibit prospective cancer stem cell properties. To explore a possible correlation between the ZEB1 and stemness/ EMT-related properties in M13HS tumor hybrids, ZEB1 was knocked-out by CRISPR/Cas9. Colony formation, mammosphere formation, cell migration, invasion assays, flow cytometry and Western blot analyses were performed for the characterization of ZEB1 knock-out cells. The ZEB1 knock-out in M13HS tumor cells was not correlated with the down-regulation of the EMT-related markers N-CADHERIN (CDH2) and VIMENTIN and up-regulation of miR-200c-3p. Nonetheless, both the colony formation and mammosphere formation capacities of the M13HS ZEB1 knock-out cells were markedly reduced. Interestingly, the M13HS-2 ZEB1-KO cells harbored a markedly higher fraction of ALDH1-positive cells. The Transwell/ Boyden chamber migration assay data indicated a reduced migratory activity of the M13HS ZEB1-knock-out tumor hybrids, whereas in scratch/ wound-healing assays only the M13SH-8 ZEB1-knock-out cells possessed a reduced locomotory activity. Similarly, only the M13HS-8 ZEB1-knock-out tumor hybrids showed a reduced invasion capacity. Although the ZEB1 knock-out resulted in only moderate phenotypic changes, our data support the role of ZEB1 in EMT and stemness.

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