Background: The alternatively spliced V region or type III connecting segment III (IIICS) of fibronectin is important in early development, wound healing, and tumorigenesis, however, its role in oral cancer has not been fully investigated. Thus, we investigated the role of CS-1, a key site within the CSIII region of fibronectin, in human oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC).
Methods: To determine the expression of CS-1 in human normal and oral SCC tissue specimens immunohistochemical analyses were performed. The expression of CS1 was then associated with clinicopathological factors. To investigate the role of CS-1 in regulating OSCC cell spreading, migration and invasion, OSCC cells were assayed for spreading and migration in the presence of a CS-1 peptide or a CS-1 blocking peptide, and for invasion using Matrigel supplemented with these peptides. In addition, integrin alpha4siRNA or a focal adhesion kinase (FAK) anti-sense oligonucleotide was transfected into OSCC cells to examine the mechanistic role of integrin alpha4 or FAK in CS1-mediated cell spreading and migration, respectively.
Results: CS-1 expression levels were significantly higher in OSCC tissues compared to normal tissues (p < 0.05). Also, although, high levels of CS-1 expression were present in all OSCC tissue samples, low-grade tumors stained more intensely than high grade tumors. OSCC cell lines also expressed higher levels of CS-1 protein compared to normal human primary oral keratinocytes. There was no significant difference in total fibronectin expression between normal and OSCC tissues and cells. Inclusion of CS-1 in the in vitro assays enhanced OSCC cell spreading, migration and invasion, whereas the CS1 blocking peptide inhibited these processes. Suppression of integrin alpha4 significantly inhibited the CS1-mediated cell spreading. Furthermore, this migration was mediated by focal adhesion kinase (FAK), since FAK suppression significantly blocked the CS1-induced cell migration.
Conclusion: These data indicate that the CS-1 site of fibronectin is involved in oral cancer pathogenesis and in regulating OSCC cell spreading, migration and invasion.