ZEB-1, a repressor of the semaphorin 3F tumor suppressor gene in lung cancer cells.
- Lung cancer
SEMA3F is a secreted semaphorin with potent antitumor activity, which is frequently downregulated in lung cancer. In cancer cell lines, SEMA3F overexpression decreases hypoxia-induced factor 1alpha protein and vascular endothelial growth factor mRNA, and inhibits multiple signaling components. Therefore, understanding how SEMA3F expression is inhibited in cancer cells is important. We previously defined the promoter organization of SEMA3F and found that chromatin remodeling by a histone deacetylase inhibitor was sufficient to activate SEMA3F expression. In lung cancer, we have also shown that ZEB-1, an E-box transcription repressor, is predominantly responsible for loss of E-Cadherin associated with a poor prognosis and resistance to epidermal growth factor receptor inhibitors. In the present study, we demonstrated that ZEB-1 also inhibits SEMA3F in lung cancer cells. Levels of ZEB-1, but not ZEB-2, Snail or Slug, significantly correlate with SEMA3F inhibition, and overexpression or inhibition of ZEB-1 correspondingly affected SEMA3F expression. Four conserved E-box sites were identified in the SEMA3F gene. Direct ZEB-1 binding was confirmed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays for two of these, and ZEB-1 binding was reduced when cells were treated with a histone deacetylase inhibitor. These results demonstrate that ZEB-1 directly inhibits SEMA3F expression in lung cancer cells. SEMA3F loss was associated with changes in cell signaling: increased phospho-AKT in normoxia and increase of hypoxia-induced factor 1alpha protein in hypoxia. Moreover, exogenous addition of SEMA3F could modulate ZEB-1-induced angiogenesis in a chorioallantoic membrane assay. Together, these data provide further support for the importance of SEMA3F and ZEB-1 in lung cancer progression.