Sox2 modulates motility and enhances progression of colorectal cancer via the Rho-ROCK signaling pathway

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Abstract

Sox2 (Sry-box2) is essential for a variety of stem cells and is also expressed in colorectal cancer (CRC). However, the underlying mechanism by which Sox2 enhances CRC progression remains unclear. In the present study, we show that elevated Sox2 expression is significantly correlated with poor clinical prognosis. CRC is phenotypically heterogeneous, and harbors several subtypes of cancer cells. Elevated Sox2 expression was always detected in rounded-shape cells, which colocated to poorly differentiated regions, the invasive frontier and metastatic lesions. Knockdown of Sox2 in CRC cells not only decreased the number of round-shaped cells, but also suppressed cell migration, invasion as well as attenuated colony forming capacity and tumorigenicity. By contrast, overexpression of Sox2 in CRC cells was associated with up-regulation of multidrug resistance genes and accelerated CRC progression. Moreover, Sox2 conferred activation of Rho-ROCK signaling, whereas inhibition of ROCK signaling decreased cell migration, invasion, colony formation and self-renewal of CRC. Our results reveal that CRC is phenotypically and functionally heterogeneous. Elevated Sox2 expression activates the Rho-ROCK pathway, which in turn changes cell morphology and promotes cell migration and progression.

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Zheng, J., Xu, L., Pan, Y., Yu, S., Wang, H., Kennedy, D., & Zhang, Y. (2017). Sox2 modulates motility and enhances progression of colorectal cancer via the Rho-ROCK signaling pathway. Oncotarget, 8(58), 98635–98645. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.21709

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