Kaiso depletion attenuates transforming growth factor-β signaling and metastatic activity of triple-negative breast cancer cells
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Triple-negative breast cancers (TNBCs) represent a subset of breast tumors that are highly aggressive and metastatic, and are responsible for a disproportionate number of breast cancer-related deaths. Several studies have postulated a role for the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program in the increased aggressiveness and metastatic propensity of TNBCs. Although EMT is essential for early vertebrate development and wound healing, it is frequently co-opted by cancer cells during tumorigenesis. One prominent signaling pathway involved in EMT is the transforming growth factor-β (TGFβ) pathway. In this study, we report that the novel POZ-ZF transcription factor Kaiso is highly expressed in TNBCs and correlates with a shorter metastasis-free survival. Notably, Kaiso expression is induced by the TGFβ pathway and silencing Kaiso expression in the highly invasive breast cancer cell lines, MDA-MB-231 (hereafter MDA-231) and Hs578T, attenuated the expression of several EMT-associated proteins (Vimentin, Slug and ZEB1), abrogated TGFβ signaling and TGFβ-dependent EMT. Moreover, Kaiso depletion attenuated the metastasis of TNBC cells (MDA-231 and Hs578T) in a mouse model. Although high Kaiso and high TGFβR1 expression is associated with poor overall survival in breast cancer patients, overexpression of a kinase-active TGFβR1 in the Kaiso-depleted cells was insufficient to restore the metastatic potential of these cells, suggesting that Kaiso is a key downstream component of TGFβ-mediated pro-metastatic responses. Collectively, these findings suggest a critical role for Kaiso in TGFβ signaling and the metastasis of TNBCs.