The control of radioresistance and metastatic potential of surviving cancer cells is important for improving cancer eradication by radiotheraphy. The distal-less homeobox2 (DLX2) gene encodes for a homeobox transcription factor involved in morphogenesis and its deregulation was found in human solid tumors and hematologic malignancies. Here we investigated the role of DLX2 in association with radiation-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and stem cell-like properties and its regulation by Smad2/3 signaling in irradiated A549 and MDA-MB-231 human cancer cell lines. In irradiated A549 and MDA-MB-231 cells, EMT was induced as demonstrated by EMT marker expression, phosphorylation of Smad2/3, and migratory and invasive ability. Also, irradiated A549 and MDA-MB-231 cells showed increased cancer stem cells (CSCs) marker. Interestingly, DLX2 was overexpressed upon irradiation. Therefore, we examined the role of DLX2 in radiation-induced EMT and radioresistance. The overexpression of DLX2 alone induced EMT, migration and invasion, and CSC marker expression. The reduced colony-forming ability in irradiated cells was partially restored by DLX2 overexpression. On the other hand, the depletion of DLX2 using si-RNA abolished radiation-induced EMT, CSC marker expression, and phosphorylation of Smad2/3 in irradiated A549 and MDA-MB-231 cells. Also, depletion of DLX2 increased the radiation sensitivity in both cell lines. Moreover, knockdown of Smad2/3, a key activator of TGF-1 pathway, abrogated the radiation-induced DLX2 expression, indicating that radiation-induced DLX2 expression is dependent on Smad2/3 signaling. These results demonstrated that DLX2 plays a crucial role in radioresistance, radiation-induced EMT and CSC marker expression, and the expression of DLX2 is regulated by Smad2/3 signaling in A549 and MDA-MB-231 cell lines.
Choi, Y. J., Baek, G. Y., Park, H. R., Jo, S. K., & Jung, U. (2016). Smad2/3-regulated expression of DLX2 is associated with radiation-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition and radioresistance of A549 and MDA-MB-231 human cancer cell lines. PLoS ONE, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0147343