Snail1 transcriptional repressor is a major inducer of epithelial-to mesenchymal transition but is very limitedly expressed in adult animals. We have previously demonstrated that Snail1 is required for the maintenance of mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), preventing their premature differentiation. Now, we show that Snail1 controls the tumorigenic properties of mesenchymal cells. Increased Snail1 expression provides tumorigenic capabilities to fibroblastic cells; on the contrary, Snail1 depletion decreases tumor growth. Genetic depletion of Snail1 in MSCs that are deficient in p53 tumor suppressor downregulates MSC markers and prevents the capability of these cells to originate sarcomas in immunodeficient SCID mice. Notably, an analysis of human sarcomas shows that, contrarily to epithelial tumors, these neoplasms display high Snail1 expression. This is particularly clear for undifferentiated tumors, which are associated with poor outcome. Together, our results indicate a role for Snail1 in the generation of sarcomas.
Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.