Prevention of High Glucose-Mediated EMT by Inhibition of Hsp70 Chaperone

Int J Mol Sci. 2021 Jun 27;22(13):6902. doi: 10.3390/ijms22136902.


Hyperglycemia may contribute to the progression of carcinomas by triggering epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Some proteostasis systems are involved in metastasis; in this paper, we sought to explore the mechanism of Hsp70 chaperone in EMT. We showed that knockdown of Hsp70 reduced cell migration capacity concomitantly with levels of mRNA of the Slug, Snail, and Twist markers of EMT, in colon cancer cells incubated in high glucose medium. Conversely, treatment of cells with Hsp70 inducer U-133 were found to elevate cell motility, along with the other EMT markers. To prove that inhibiting Hsp70 may reduce EMT efficiency, we treated cells with a CL-43 inhibitor of the HSF1 transcription factor, which lowered Hsp70 and HSF1 content in the control and induced EMT in carcinoma cells. Importantly, CL-43 reduced migration capacity, EMT-linked transcription factors, and increased content of epithelial marker E-cadherin in colon cancer cells of three lines, including one derived from a clinical sample. To prove that Hsp70 chaperone should be targeted when inhibiting the EMT pathway, we treated cancer cells with 2-phenylethynesulfonamide (PES) and demonstrated that the compound inhibited substrate-binding capacity of Hsp70. Furthermore, PES suppressed EMT features, cell motility, and expression of specific transcription factors. In conclusion, the Hsp70 chaperone machine efficiently protects mechanisms of the EMT, and the safe inhibitors of the chaperone are needed to hamper metastasis at its initial stage.

Keywords: CL-43; EMT; Hsp70; PES; colon cancer; hyperglycemia.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose*
  • Cadherins / metabolism
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism
  • Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition* / drug effects
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / etiology
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism
  • Protein Binding
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • Blood Glucose
  • Cadherins
  • HSP70 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Snail Family Transcription Factors
  • Glucose