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Open Access Research article

JNK signaling maintains the mesenchymal properties of multi-drug resistant human epidermoid carcinoma KB cells through snail and twist1

Xia Zhan1, Xiaobing Feng134, Ying Kong1, Yi Chen2* and Wenfu Tan1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacology, School of Pharmacy, Fudan University, 826 Zhangheng Road, Shanghai, 201203, P.R. China

2 State Key Laboratory of Drug Research, Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 555 Zu Chong Zhi Road, Shanghai, 201203, P.R. China

3 Medical School of Nantong University, Nantong, 226001, P.R. China

4 Department of Integration of Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, Peking University School of Oncology, Beijing Cancer Hospital, Beijing, China

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BMC Cancer 2013, 13:180  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-13-180

Published: 4 April 2013


Background and methods

In addition to possess cross drug resistance characteristic, emerging evidences have shown that multiple-drug resistance (MDR) cancer cells exhibit aberrant metastatic capacity when compared to parental cells. In this study, we explored the contribution of c-Jun N-terminal kinases (JNK) signaling to the mesenchymal phenotypes and the aberrant motile capacity of MDR cells utilizing a well characterized MDR cell line KB/VCR, which is established from KB human epidermoid carcinoma cells by vincristine (VCR), and its parental cell line KB.


Taking advantage of experimental strategies including pharmacological tool and gene knockdown, we showed here that interference with JNK signaling pathway by targeting JNK1/2 or c-Jun reversed the mesenchymal properties of KB/VCR cells to epithelial phenotypes and suppressed the motile capacity of KB/VCR cells, such as migration and invasion. These observations support a critical role of JNK signaling in maintaining the mesenchymal properties of KB/VCR cells. Furthermore, we observed that JNK signaling may control the expression of both snail and twist1 in KB/VCR cells, indicating that both snail and twist1 are involved in controlling the mesenchymal characteristics of KB/VCR cells by JNK signaling.


JNK signaling is required for maintaining the mesenchymal phenotype of KB/VCR cells; and JNK signaling may maintain the mesenchymal characteristics of KB/VCR cells potentially through snail and twist1.

c-Jun N-terminal kinases; Snail; Twist1; Epithelial mesenchymal transition