HOXB8 enhances the proliferation and metastasis of colorectal cancer cells by promoting EMT via STAT3 activation

Cancer Cell Int. 2019 Jan 3;19:3. doi: 10.1186/s12935-018-0717-6. eCollection 2019.


Background: Previous studies have demonstrated that the expression of homeobox8 (HOXB8) is higher in colorectal cancer (CRC) tissues than in normal tissues; however, the precise role of HOXB8 in human CRC cells remains to be elucidated.

Methods: We generated lentiviral constructs to overexpress and silence HOXB8 in CRC cell lines, and examined their biological functions through MTT, wound healing, colony and transwell, expression of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3) and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) related factors through western-blot.

Results: HOXB8 knockdown inhibited cellular proliferation and invasion in vitro as well as carcinogenesis and metastasis in vivo. HOXB8 also induced EMT, which is characterized by the down-regulation of E-cadherin and the up-regulation of Vimentin, N-cadherin, Twist, Zeb1 and Zeb2. Moreover, HOXB8 activated STAT3, which is known to play an oncogenic role in diverse human malignancies.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that HOXB8 may be an independent prognostic factor in CRC. Therefore, deserved a deeper research.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Epithelial–mesenchymal transition; HOXB8; Signal transducer and activator of transcription 3.