SNAILs promote G1 phase in selected cancer cells

Int J Oncol. 2015 Nov;47(5):1863-73. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2015.3148. Epub 2015 Sep 7.


Cells can acquire a stem-like cell phenotype through epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). However, it is not known which of the stem-like cancer cells are generated by these phenotype transitions. We studied the EMT-inducing roles of SNAILs (the key inducers for the onset of EMT) in selected cancer cells (lung cancer cell line with relatively stable genome), in order to provide more implications for the investigation of EMT-related phenotype transitions in cancer. However, SNAILs fail to induce completed EMT. In addition, we proved that Snail accelerates the early G1 phase whereas Slug accelerates the late G1 phase. Blocking G1 phase is one of the basic conditions for the onset of EMT-related phenotype transitions (e.g., metastasis, acquiring stemness). The discovery of this unexpected phenomenon (promoting G1 phase) typically reveals the heterogeneity of cancer cells. The onset of EMT-related phenotype transitions in cancer needs not only the induction and activation of SNAILs, but also some particular heredity alterations (genetic or epigenetic alterations, which cause heterogeneity). The new connection between heredity alteration (heterogeneity) and phenotype transition suggests a novel treatment strategy, the heredity alteration-directed specific target therapy. Further investigations need to be conducted to study the relevant heredity alterations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition / genetics*
  • G1 Phase / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Lung Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Lung Neoplasms / pathology
  • Phenotype
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • SNAI1 protein, human
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Transcription Factors