Ahnak promotes tumor metastasis through transforming growth factor-β-mediated epithelial-mesenchymal transition

Mira Sohn, Sunmee Shin, Jung Yeon Yoo, Yookyung Goh, In Hye Lee, Yun Soo Bae

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Previously, we reported a molecular mechanism by which Ahnak potentiates transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) signaling during cell growth. Here, we show that Ahnak induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in response to TGFβ. EMT phenotypes, including altered in cell morphology, and expression patterns of various EMT marker genes were detected in HaCaT keratinocytes transfected with Ahnak-specific siRNA. Knockdown of Ahnak expression in HaCaT keratinocytes resulted in attenuated cell migration and invasion. We found that Ahnak activates TGFβ signaling via Smad3 phosphorylation, leading to enhanced Smad3 transcriptional activity. To validate function of Ahnak in EMT of B16F10 cells having high metastatic and tumorigenic properties, we established B16F10 cells with stable knockdown of Ahnak. N-cadherin expression and Smad3 phosphorylation were significantly decreased in B16F10-shAhnak cells, compared to B16F10-shControl cells after treatment of TGFβ. Moreover, TGFβ failed to induce cell migration and cell invasion in B16F10-shAhnak cells. To determine whether Ahnak regulates the metastatic activity of B16F10 cells, we established a lung metastasis model in C57BL/6 mice via tail vein injection of B16F10-shAhnak cells. Lung metastasis was significantly suppressed in mice injected with B16F10-shAhnak cells, compared to those injected with B16F10-shControl cells. Taken together, we propose that TGFβ-Ahnak signaling axis regulates EMT during tumor metastasis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14379
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2018


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