Acquired expression of NFATc1 downregulates E-cadherin and promotes cancer cell invasion

Cancer Res. 2013 Aug 15;73(16):5100-9. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-13-0274. Epub 2013 Jun 28.


NFATc1 is a transcription factor that regulates T-cell development, osteoclastogenesis, and macrophage function. Given that T cells, osteoclasts, and macrophages in the tumor microenvironment are thought to modulate tumor progression, tumor cells may acquire NFATc1 expression through fusion with these NFATc1-expressing normal cells. We here revealed that a small proportion of tumor cells in human carcinoma specimens expressed NFATc1. To investigate the consequences of NFATc1 acquisition by tumor cells, we established A549 and MCF7 cell lines expressing a constitutively active form of NFATc1 (NFATc1CA) in an inducible manner. The expression of NFATc1CA promoted cancer cell invasion in association with changes in cell morphology. Analysis of gene expression and RNA interference experiments revealed that NFATc1CA suppressed E-cadherin expression by upregulating the transcriptional repressors Snail and Zeb1 in a manner independent of TGF-β signaling. Induced expression of NFATc1CA also downregulated E-cadherin expression and increased invasive activity in tumor xenografts in vivo. Our results thus suggest that the acquisition of NFATc1 expression contributes to tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antigens, CD
  • Cadherins / genetics
  • Cadherins / metabolism*
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Down-Regulation
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Heterografts
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • MCF-7 Cells
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mice, Nude
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • NFATC Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Neoplasm Invasiveness
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / genetics
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1


  • Antigens, CD
  • CDH1 protein, human
  • Cadherins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • NFATC Transcription Factors
  • NFATC1 protein, human
  • Transcription Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • ZEB1 protein, human
  • Zinc Finger E-box-Binding Homeobox 1