1. Department of Oral Medicine, Sichuan Academy of Medical Sciences, Sichuan Provincial People's Hospital, Affiliated Hospital to University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, Chengdu 610072, Sichuan, China.
2. UCLA School of Dentistry and Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, 10833 Le Conte Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.
*Yi Liu and Li Cui contributed equally to this study
Background: The development of oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) is a multistep process that involves in both genetic alterations and epigenetic modifications. Previous studies suggest SOX4 might function as an oncogene or a tumor suppressor in different types of cancers. However, whether SOX4 involves in promoting the progression of oral precancer to cancer is unknown.
Methods: Liquid chromatography with tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) was used to identify the proteins that may be differentially expressed between oral lichen planus (OLP) and OLP-associated OSCC (OLP-OSCC) formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissues. Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blotting were performed to evaluate SOX4 expression between OLP and OLP-OSCC tissues and among oral cancer cell lines and normal human oral keratinocytes (NHOKs). SOX4 siRNA was used to knock down the expression of SOX4 in UM1 oral cancer cells. MTT, cell counting, migration and Matrigel invasion assays were utilized to examine the effect of SOX4 down-regulation on proliferation, migration and invasion capacity of UM1 cells.
Results: LC-MS/MS analysis showed that 88 proteins including SOX4 were only identified in OLP-OSCC FFPE tissues when compared to OLP FFPE tissues. IHC confirmed that SOX4 expression was significantly higher in OLP-OSCC than OLP and Western blot analysis indicated that SOX4 was over-expressed in UM1/UM2 cells when compared to NHOKs. Knockdown of SOX4 significantly inhibited the proliferation, migration and invasion of UM1 cells (P<0.01).
Conclusions: Our study indicated that SOX4 is significantly upregulated in OLP-OSCC versus OLP tissues. In addition, down-regulation of SOX4 led to significantly reduced proliferation, migration and invasion capability of oral cancer cells. These findings suggest that SOX4 might be actively involved in the progression of OLP to OSCC.
Keywords: Invasion, Migration, Oral lichen planus, Oral squamous cell carcinoma, SOX4