Background: Altered expression of Solute Carrier Family 12 Member 7 (SLC12A7) is implicated to promote malignant behavior in multiple cancer types through an incompletely understood mechanism. Recent studies have shown recurrent gene amplifications and overexpression of SLC12A7 in adrenocortical carcinoma (ACC). The potential mechanistic effect(s) of SLC12A7 amplifications in portending an aggressive behavior in ACC has not been previously studied and is investigated here using two established ACC cell lines, SW-13 and NCI-H295R.
Methods: SW-13 cells, which express negligible amounts of SLC12A7, were enforced to express SLC12A7 constitutively, while RNAi gene silencing was performed in NCI-H295R cells, which have robust endogenous expression of SLC12A7. In vitro studies tested the outcomes of experimental alterations in SLC12A7 expression on malignant characteristics, including cell viability, growth, colony formation potential, motility, invasive capacity, adhesion and detachment kinetics, and cell membrane organization. Further, potential alterations in transcription regulation downstream to induced SLC12A7 overexpression was explored using targeted transcription factor expression arrays.
Results: Enforced SLC12A7 overexpression in SW-13 cells robustly promoted motility and invasive characteristics (p < 0.05) without significantly altering cell viability, growth, or colony formation potential. SLC12A7 overexpression also significantly increased rates of cellular attachment and detachment turnover (p < 0.05), potentially propelled by increased filopodia formation and/or Ezrin interaction. In contrast, RNAi gene silencing of SLC12A7 stymied cell attachment strength as well as migration and invasion capacity in NCI-H295R cells. Transcription factor expression analysis identified multiple signally pathways potentially affected by SLC12A7 overexpression, including osmotic stress, bone morphogenetic protein, and Hippo signaling pathways.
Conclusions: Amplification of SLC12A7 observed in ACCs is shown here, in vitro, to exacerbate the malignant behavior of ACC cells by promoting invasive capacities, possibly mediated by alterations in multiple signaling pathways, including the osmotic stress pathway.
Keywords: Adrenocortical carcinoma; Ezrin; Filopodia; SLA12A7.