Enhanced expression of ANO1 in head and neck squamous cell carcinoma causes cell migration and correlates with poor prognosis

PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43265. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043265. Epub 2012 Aug 17.


Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) has the potential for early metastasis and is associated with poor survival. Ano1 (Dog1) is an established and sensitive marker for the diagnosis of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST) and has recently been identified as a Ca(2+) activated Cl(-) channel. Although the ANO1 gene is located on the 11q13 locus, a region which is known to be amplified in different types of human carcinomas, a detailed analysis of Ano1 amplification and expression in HNSCC has not been performed. It is thus still unclear how Ano1 contributes to malignancy in HNSCC. We analyzed genomic amplification of the 11q13 locus and Ano1 together with Ano1-protein expression in a large collection of HNSCC samples. We detected a highly significant correlation between amplification and expression of Ano1 and showed that HNSCC patients with Ano1 protein expression have a poor overall survival. We further analyzed the expression of the Ano1 protein in more than 4'000 human samples from 80 different tumor types and 76 normal tissue types and detected that besides HNSCC and GISTs, Ano1 was rarely expressed in other tumor samples or healthy human tissues. In HNSCC cell lines, expression of Ano1 caused Ca(2+) activated Cl(-) currents, which induced cell motility and cell migration in wound healing and in real time migration assays, respectively. In contrast, knockdown of Ano1 did not affect intracellular Ca(2+) signaling and surprisingly did not reduce cell proliferation in BHY cells. Further, expression and activity of Ano1 strongly correlated with the ability of HNSCC cells to regulate their volume. Thus, poor survival in HNSCC patients is correlated with the presence of Ano1. Our results further suggest that Ano1 facilitates regulation of the cell volume and causes cell migration, which both can contribute to metastatic progression in HNSCC.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anoctamin-1
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Calcium Signaling / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / metabolism*
  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / pathology
  • Cell Movement / genetics
  • Cell Movement / physiology*
  • Cell Size
  • Chloride Channels / genetics
  • Chloride Channels / metabolism*
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 11 / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Humans
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Prognosis


  • ANO1 protein, human
  • Anoctamin-1
  • Chloride Channels
  • Chlorides
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Calcium

Grant support

Supported by Deutsche Krebshilfe Projekt 109438 and DFG SFB699 Project A7, and by Krebsliga Schweiz KFS-02780-02-2011. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.