Phosphoinositide-3 kinase-Rac1-c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase signaling mediates collagen I-induced cell scattering and up-regulation of N-cadherin expression in mouse mammary epithelial cells

Yasushi Shintani, Margaret J. Wheelock, Keith R. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

73 Scopus citations

Abstract

During epithelial-to-mesenchymal transitions (EMTs), cells must change their interactions with one another and with their extracellular matrix in a synchronized manner. To characterize signaling pathways cells use to coordinate these changes, we used NMuMG mammary epithelial cells. We showed that these cells become fibroblastic and scattered, with increased N-cadherin expression when cultured on collagen I. Rac1 and c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) were activated when cells were plated on collagen I, and dominant inhibitory Rac1 (RacN17) or inhibition of JNK signaling prevented collagen I-induced morphological changes and N-cadherin up-regulation. Furthermore, inhibiting phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) activity prevented Rac1 and JNK activation as well as collagen I-induced N-cadherin up-regulation. These data implicate PI3K-Rac1-JNK signaling in collagen I-induced changes in NMuMG cells. To establish a role for N-cadherin in collagen I-induced cell scattering, we generated N-cadherin overexpressing and knockdown NMuMG cells and showed that knocking down N-cadherin expression prevented collagen I-induced morphological changes. Motility assays showed that cells overexpressing N-cadherin were significantly more motile than mock-transfected cells and that N-cadherin-mediated motility was collagen I dependent. In addition, we showed that cord formation and branching in three-dimensional culture (EMT-dependent events) required N-cadherin expression and PI3K-Rac1-JNK signaling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2963-2975
Number of pages13
JournalMolecular biology of the cell
Volume17
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

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