The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process is believed to play a crucial role in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) progression, a squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck with the tendency to metastasize early. At present, much attention has been given to the inducer of EMT involved in NPC progression, while antagonists have been less intensively characterized. In this study, unbiased analysis of EMT-associated gene expression patterns was performed using data mining of global gene expression profiles derived from NPC samples, leading to the successful identification of NOR1, FOXA1, and Slug, all of which showed aberrant expression during NPC progression. The effect of tumor suppressor NOR1 on Slug-induced NPC cells during the EMT process was investigated by use of ectopic expression and RNA interference methods. The molecular mechanisms underlying the tumor-suppressing effect of NOR1 on Slug-induced EMT were thought to be dependent on the cooperation of NOR1 with the FOXA1-HDAC2 complex. We also showed that FOXA1 and HDAC2 bind the slug promoter and directly repress its transcription. Our data revealed a previously unrecognized role of the NOR1-FOXA1/HDAC2-Slug network in the regulation of the EMT process and aggressiveness of NPC.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Nasopharyngeal carcinoma