Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which involves the persistent loss of epithelial markers and expression of mesenchymal markers, is assumed to have a critical role in not only tissue development during embryogenesis but also central mechanisms that enhance the invasive and metastatic ability of cancer cells. Twist has been identified to play an essential role in EMT-mediated tumor invasion and metastasis. Although recent studies suggest that twist expression levels in tissue specimens of lung cancer might be associated with prognosis, the expression of twist in lung cancer cells itself and its effect have not been fully evaluated. Here, we evaluated twist expression and its effect on phenotype alteration in lung cancer cell lines. Twist expression varied among human lung cancer cell lines. The lung cancer cell lines with high twist expression also tended to show a high vimentin/E-cadherin ratio, which was supported by a migration assay, in which high twist expression gave rise to high cell motility. Furthermore, in comparison to control cells, the lung cancer cells with ectopic expression of twist showed a significant phenotype alteration through EMT and an increasing ability to migrate in vitro, in part, due to a tenfold increase in matrix metalloproteinases activity and almost a 60% increase in modulation of focal adhesion kinase activity, although a contribution of microRNA appeared unlikely in our study. Our present analysis of twist expression in lung cancer provide clues to comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms, by which metastasis often develops in lung cancer.
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