ESRP1 (epithelial splicing regulatory protein 1) and ESRP2 regulate alternative splicing events associated with epithelial phenotypes of cells, and both are down-regulated during the epithelial-mesenchymal transition. However, little is known about their expression and functions during carcinogenesis. In this study, we found that expression of both ESRP1 and ESRP2 is plastic: during oral squamous cell carcinogenesis, these proteins are up-regulated relative to their levels in normal epithelium but down-regulated in invasive fronts. Importantly, ESRP1 and ESRP2 are re-expressed in the lymph nodes, where carcinoma cells metastasize and colonize. In head and neck carcinoma cell lines, ESRP1 and ESRP2 suppress cancer cell motility through distinct mechanisms: knockdown of ESRP1 affects the dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton through induction of Rac1b, whereas knockdown of ESRP2 attenuates cell-cell adhesion through increased expression of epithelial-mesenchymal transition-associated transcription factors. Down-regulation of ESRP1 and ESRP2 is thus closely associated with a motile phenotype of cancer cells.
Keywords: Cancer Biology; Cell Invasion; Cell Motility; ESRP; Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT); RNA Splicing; Rac1b; SIP1; δEF1.
© 2014 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.