Breast cancer is the most frequently diagnosed malignant neoplasm and the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Epithelial-to-mesenchymal Transition (EMT) plays a critical role in the organism development, providing cell migration and tissue formation. However, its erroneous activation in malignancies can serve as the basis for the dissemination of cancer cells and metastasis. The Zeb1 transcription factor, which regulates the EMT activation, has been shown to play an essential role in malignant transformation. This factor is involved in many signaling pathways that influence a wide range of cellular functions via interacting with many proteins that affect its transcriptional functions. Importantly, the interactome of Zeb1 depends on the cellular context. Here, using the inducible expression of Zeb1 in epithelial breast cancer cells, we identified a substantial list of novel potential Zeb1 interaction partners, including proteins involved in the formation of malignant neoplasms, such as ATP-dependent RNA helicase DDX17and a component of the NURD repressor complex, CTBP2. We confirmed the presence of the selected interactors by immunoblotting with specific antibodies. Further, we demonstrated that co-expression of Zeb1 and CTBP2 in breast cancer patients correlated with the poor survival prognosis, thus signifying the functionality of the Zeb1-CTBP2 interaction.
Keywords: Zeb1; breast cancer; epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT); metastasis.