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Title: JNK pathway mediates low oxygen level induced epithelial–mesenchymal transition and stemness maintenance in colorectal cancer cells
Authors: Tam, SY 
Wu, VWC 
Law, HKW 
Issue Date: 2020
Source: Cancers, 2020, v. 12, no. 1, 224
Abstract: (1) Background: Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) and cancer cell stemness maintenance (SM) are important factors for cancer metastasis. Although hypoxia has been considered as a possible factor for EMT induction and promotion of SM, studies in this area, apart from hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) pathways and severe hypoxia, are scant. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of different oxygen levels on EMT induction and SM and elucidate the signaling pathways involved in colorectal cancer cells. (2) Methods: Cell morphological analysis, migration assay, immunofluorescence staining of cytoskeleton and Western blotting were performed on human colorectal cancer cells HT-29, DLD-1, and SW-480 cultured at 1%, 10%, and normal (21%) O2 levels. The role played by c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) was evaluated through the use of the specific JNK inhibitor SP600125. (3) Results: This study evaluated 1% and 10% O2 are possible conditions for EMT induction and SM. This study also demonstrated the partial relieve of EMT induction and SM by SP600125, showing the importance of the JNK pathway in these processes. Furthermore, this study proposed a novel pathway on the regulation of Akt by JNK-c-Jun. (4) Conclusions: This study suggests 10% O2 as another possible condition for EMT induction, and SM and JNK pathways play important roles in these processes through multiple factors. Inhibition of JNK could be explored as treatment for inhibiting metastasis in colorectal cancer cells.
Keywords: Akt
Colorectal cancer
Epithelial–mesenchymal transition
Oxygen level
Stemness maintenance
Publisher: MDPI AG
Journal: Cancers
EISSN: 2072-6694
DOI: 10.3390/cancers12010224
Rights: © 2020 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (
The following publication Tam SY, Wu VW, Law HK. JNK Pathway Mediates Low Oxygen Level Induced Epithelial–Mesenchymal Transition and Stemness Maintenance in Colorectal Cancer Cells. Cancers. 2020; 12(1):224, is available at
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