• E-cadherin inhibits cell surface localization of the pro-migratory 5T4 oncofetal antigen in mouse embryonic stem cells.

      Spencer, Helen L; Eastham, Angela M; Merry, Catherine L R; Southgate, Thomas D; Perez-Campo, Flor-Maria; Soncin, Francesca; Ritson, Sarah; Kemler, Rolf; Stern, Peter L; Ward, Christopher M; et al. (2007-08)
      Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) events occur during embryonic development and are important for the metastatic spread of epithelial tumors. We show here that spontaneous differentiation of mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells is associated with an E- to N-cadherin switch, up-regulation of E-cadherin repressor molecules (Snail and Slug proteins), gelatinase activity (matrix metalloproteinase [MMP]-2 and -9), and increased cellular motility, all characteristic EMT events. The 5T4 oncofetal antigen, previously shown to be associated with very early ES cell differentiation and altered motility, is also a part of this coordinated process. E- and N-cadherin and 5T4 proteins are independently regulated during ES cell differentiation and are not required for induction of EMT-associated transcripts and proteins, as judged from the study of the respective knockout ES cells. Further, abrogation of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contact in undifferentiated ES cells using neutralizing antibody results in a reversible mesenchymal phenotype and actin cytoskeleton rearrangement that is concomitant with translocation of the 5T4 antigen from the cytoplasm to the cell surface in an energy-dependent manner. E-cadherin null ES cells are constitutively cell surface 5T4 positive, and although forced expression of E-cadherin cDNA in these cells is sufficient to restore cell-cell contact, cell surface expression of 5T4 antigen is unchanged. 5T4 and N-cadherin knockout ES cells exhibit significantly decreased motility during EMT, demonstrating a functional role for these proteins in this process. We conclude that E-cadherin protein stabilizes cortical actin cytoskeletal arrangement in ES cells, and this can prevent cell surface localization of the promigratory 5T4 antigen.
    • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition events during human embryonic stem cell differentiation

      Eastham, Angela M; Spencer, Helen L; Soncin, Francesca; Ritson, Sarah; Merry, Catherine L R; Stern, Peter L; Ward, Christopher M; Centre for Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, The University of Manchester, M13 9PT, United Kingdom. (2007-12-01)
      Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) occurs during embryonic development and may also be associated with the metastatic spread of epithelial tumors. During EMT, E-cadherin is down-regulated and this correlates with increased motility and invasion of cells. We show that differentiation of human embryonic stem (ES) cells in monolayer culture is associated with an E- to N-cadherin switch, increased vimentin expression, up-regulation of E-cadherin repressor molecules (Snail and Slug proteins), and increased gelatinase (matrix metalloproteinases; MMP-2 and MMP-9) activity and cellular motility, all characteristic EMT events. The 5T4 oncofetal antigen, previously shown to be associated with early human ES cell differentiation, is also part of this process. Abrogation of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contact in undifferentiated ES cells using neutralizing antibody (nAb) SHE78.7 resulted in increased cellular motility, altered actin cytoskeleton arrangement and a mesenchymal phenotype together with presentation of the 5T4 antigen at the cell surface. nAb-treated ES cells remained in an undifferentiated state, as assessed by OCT-4 protein expression, and did not express EMT-associated transcripts. Removal of nAb from ES cells resulted in the restoration of cell-cell contact, absence of cell surface 5T4, decreased mesenchymal cellular morphology and motility, and enabled the differentiation of the cells to the three germ layers upon their removal from the fibroblast feeder layer. We conclude that E-cadherin functions in human ES cells to stabilize the cortical actin cyoskeletal arrangement and this prevents cell surface localization of the 5T4 antigen. Furthermore, human ES cells represent a useful model system with which to study EMT events relevant to embryonic development and tumor cell metastasis.