EMT reversal in human cancer cells after IR knockdown in hyperinsulinemic mice

Zara Zelenko, Emily Jane Gallagher, Irini Markella Antoniou, Deepali Sachdev, Anupma Nayak, Douglas Yee, Derek LeRoith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Type 2 diabetes (T2D) is associated with increased cancer risk and cancer-related mortality. Data herein show that we generated an immunodeficient hyperinsulinemic mouse by crossing the Rag1-/- mice, which have no mature B or T lymphocytes, with the MKR mouse model of T2D to generate the Rag1-/- (Rag/WT) and Rag1-/-/MKR+/+ (Rag/MKR) mice. The female Rag/MKR mice are insulin resistant and have significantly higher nonfasting plasma insulin levels compared with the Rag/WT controls. Therefore, we used these Rag/MKR mice to investigate the role of endogenous hyperinsulinemia on human cancer progression. In this study, we show that hyperinsulinemia in the Rag/MKR mice increases the expression of mesenchymal transcription factors, TWIST1 and ZEB1, and increases the expression of the angiogenesis marker, vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGFA). We also show that silencing the insulin receptor (IR) in the human LCC6 cancer cells leads to decreased tumor growth and metastases, suppression of mesenchymal markers vimentin, SLUG, TWIST1 and ZEB1, suppression of angiogenesis markers, VEGFA and VEGFD, and re-expression of the epithelial marker, E-cadherin. The data in this paper demonstrate that IR knockdown in primary tumors partially reverses the growth-promoting effects of hyperinsulinemia as well as highlighting the importance of the insulin receptor signaling pathway in cancer progression, and more specifically in epithelial-mesenchymal transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)747-758
Number of pages12
JournalEndocrine-related cancer
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the NIH/NCI grant (2R01CA128799-06A1) and American Diabetes Association grant (1-13-BS-108) to Dr Derek LeRoith and the NIH/NCI grant 1K08CA190770 to Dr Emily Jane Gallagher

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Society for Endocrinology Published by Bioscientifica Ltd. Printed in Great Britain.


  • Cancer
  • Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • Hyperinsulinemia
  • Insulin receptor
  • Type 2 diabetes


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