Department of Basic Sciences, Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine, 525 Pine Street, Scranton, PA 18509, USA
We discuss the hypothesis that ZEB1-Wnt-p300 signaling integrates epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and resistance to histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells. The HDACi butyrate, derived from dietary fiber, has been linked to CRC prevention, and other HDACis have been proposed as therapeutic agents against CRC. We have previously discussed that resistance to butyrate likely contributes to colonic carcinogenesis, and we have demonstrated that butyrate resistance leads to cross-resistance to cancer therapeutic HDACis. Deregulated Wnt signaling is the major initiating event in most CRC cases. One mechanism whereby butyrate and other HDACis exert their anti-CRC effects is via Wnt signaling hyperactivation, which promotes CRC cell apoptosis. The histone acetylases (HATs) CBP and p300 are mediators of Wnt transcriptional activity, and play divergent roles in the downstream consequences of Wnt signaling. CBP-mediated Wnt signaling is associated with cell proliferation and stem cell maintenance; whereas, p300-mediated Wnt activity is associated with differentiation. We have found that CBP and p300 differentially affect the ability of butyrate to influence Wnt signaling, apoptosis, and proliferation. ZEB1 is a Wnt signaling-targeted gene, whose product is a transcription factor expressed at the invasive front of carcinomas where it promotes malignant progression and EMT. ZEB1 is typically a transcriptional repressor; however, when associated with p300, ZEB1 enhances transcription. These changes in ZEB1 activity likely affect the cancer cell phenotype. ZEB1 has been shown to promote resistance to chemotherapeutic agents, and expression of ZEB1 is upregulated in butyrate-resistant CRC cells that lack p300 expression. Since the expression of ZEB1 correlates with poor outcomes in cancer, ZEB represents a relevant therapeutic target. Here we propose that targeting the signaling network established by ZEB1, Wnt signaling, and p300 signaling can reverse HDACi resistance and inhibit EMT.
Keywords: ZEB1, Wnt, epithelial to mesenchymal transition, histone deactylase inhibitors, colorectal cancer, Wnt signaling, p300