Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Src-homology 2 domain-containing tyrosine phosphatase 2 promotes oral cancer invasion and metastasis

Hsueh-Chun Wang12, Wei-Fan Chiang3, Hsin-Hsiu Huang4, Ying-Ying Shen5 and Hung-Che Chiang46*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medical Research, China Medical University Hospital, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

2 China Medical University, 40402 Taichung, Taiwan

3 Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Chi-Mei Medical Center, Liouying, 73657 Tainan, Taiwan

4 Division of Environmental Health and Occupational Medicine, National Health Research Institutes, No.35, Keyan Road, Zhunan, 35053 Miaoli County, Taiwan

5 Pathology Core Lab., National Health Research Institutes, 35053 Miaoli, Taiwan

6 National Environmental Health Research Center, National Health Research Institutes, Miaoli, Taiwan

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:442  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-442

Published: 16 June 2014



Tumor invasion and metastasis represent a major unsolved problem in cancer pathogenesis. Recent studies have indicated the involvement of Src-homology 2 domain-containing tyrosine phosphatase 2 (SHP2) in multiple malignancies; however, the role of SHP2 in oral cancer progression has yet to be elucidated. We propose that SHP2 is involved in the progression of oral cancer toward metastasis.


SHP2 expression was evaluated in paired oral cancer tissues by using immunohistochemical staining and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. Isogenic highly invasive oral cancer cell lines from their respective low invasive parental lines were established using a Boyden chamber assay, and changes in the hallmarks of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) were assessed to evaluate SHP2 function. SHP2 activity in oral cancer cells was reduced using si-RNA knockdown or enforced expression of a catalytically deficient mutant to analyze migratory and invasive ability in vitro and metastasis toward the lung in mice in vivo.


We observed the significant upregulation of SHP2 in oral cancer tissues and cell lines. Following SHP2 knockdown, the oral cancer cells markedly attenuated migratory and invasion ability. We observed similar results in phosphatase-dead SHP2 C459S mutant expressing cells. Enhanced invasiveness was associated with significant upregulation of E-cadherin, vimentin, Snail/Twist1, and matrix metalloproteinase-2 in the highly invasive clones. In addition, we determined that SHP2 activity is required for the downregulation of phosphorylated ERK1/2, which modulates the downstream effectors, Snail and Twist1 at a transcript level. In lung tissue sections of mice, we observed that HSC3 tumors with SHP2 deletion exhibited significantly reduced metastatic capacity, compared with tumors administered control si-RNA.


Our data suggest that SHP2 promotes the invasion and metastasis of oral cancer cells. These results provide a rationale for further investigating the effects of small-molecule SHP2 inhibitors on the progression of oral cancer, and indicate a previously unrecognized SHP2-ERK1/2-Snail/Twist1 pathway that is likely to play a crucial role in oral cancer invasion and metastasis.

Extracellular signal-related kinase; Invasion; Metastasis; Oral cancer; Src-homology 2 domain-containing tyrosine phosphatase 2