J Cancer 2018; 9(23):4430-4439. doi:10.7150/jca.24361 This issue

Research Paper

TFF3 Contributes to Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Cells via the MAPK/ERK Signaling Pathway

Xu Lin1, Huiqin Zhang2, Jin Dai1, Wenjing Zhang1, Jing Zhang1, Gang Xue3, Jingfang Wu1✉

1. Department of Histology and Embryology, Hebei North University, Zhangjiakou, 075000, China ,
2. Department of Ophthalmology, Cangzhou Central Hospital, Cangzhou, 061000, China,
3. Department of Otorhinolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Hebei North University, Zhangjiakou, 075000, China

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Lin X, Zhang H, Dai J, Zhang W, Zhang J, Xue G, Wu J. TFF3 Contributes to Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition (EMT) in Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma Cells via the MAPK/ERK Signaling Pathway. J Cancer 2018; 9(23):4430-4439. doi:10.7150/jca.24361. Available from https://www.jcancer.org/v09p4430.htm

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Abstract: Trefoil factor 3 (TFF3) was found to be overexpressed in many types of tumours. Evidence has shown that TFF3 plays an important role in tumour proliferation, migration and invasion metastasis. However, the impact of TFF3 on patients' clinicopathological characteristics and underlying mechanisms remain unknown in papillary thyroid carcinoma (PTC). In this study, the expression of TFF3 and the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) transcriptional factor Snail in PTC and para-carcinoma specimens was evaluated by immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Western blot, and the possible associations with lymph node (LN) metastasis and other clinicopathological parameters were analysed. In vitro, the effect of TFF3 on the malignant behaviour of TPC-1 cells was evaluated by cell proliferation assays, cell adhesion assays, colony formation assays, wound-healing assays and transwell chamber invasion assays. EMT markers and regulatory molecules were detected by quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR) and Western blot analysis in the TFF3-knockdown groups and shRNA control group. The results showed that TFF3 was upregulated in PTC tissue and was associated with lymph node metastasis (P=0.0001), pathological grade (P=0.0002) and Snail expression (P=0.0001). The knockdown of TFF3 markedly inhibited the abilities of TPC-1 cell proliferation, adhesion, colony formation, migration and invasion. Mechanically, the results demonstrated that TFF3 might activate the MAPK/ERK signalling pathways, affect the expression of the transcription factors snail and slug in addition to affecting EMT associated markers E-cadherin and N-cadherin, and accelerate the progression of EMT in TPC-1 cells. These findings indicate that TFF3 might promote the metastatic potential of PTC by promoting the EMT process through cascades of MAPK/ERK pathways.

Keywords: trefoil factor 3 (TFF3), epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), papillary thyroid carcinoma, MAPK signalling pathway