During epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT), cells modulate expression of proteins resulting in loss of apical-basal polarity. Effectors of this EMT switch target the polarity protein Crumbs3a, a small transmembrane protein that is essential for generation of the apical membrane and tight junctions of mammalian epithelial cells. We previously showed that the Crumbs3 gene is a direct target of transcriptional regulation by Snail, a potent inducer of EMT. However, Snail has also been shown to have multiple non-transcriptional roles, including regulation of cell adhesion, proliferation and survival. Using SNAP-tag labeling, we determined that cell surface Crumbs3a has a half-life of approximately 3 h and that this cell surface half-life is significantly reduced when EMT is induced by Snail. We further observe that Snail induces differential glycosylation of Crumbs3a, including sialylation, suggesting a mechanism by which Crumbs3a may be destabilized. These results indicate that Crumbs3a is a post-translational target of Snail, in addition to being a transcriptional target. We conclude that Snail's ability to post-translationally modify and destabilize Crumbs3a augments the depolarizing process of EMT.
© 2012 John Wiley & Sons A/S.