Presence of twist1-positive neoplastic cells in the stroma of chromosome-unstable colorectal tumors

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Background & Aims Cancer cells undergo an epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) to become invasive, allowing tumors to progress. However, there is no direct evidence that human cancer cells undergo an EMT. In mouse cancer cells, up-regulation of transcription factor Twist1 was shown to promote an EMT. We searched the stroma of human colorectal tumor samples for TWIST1-positive cells with a mesenchymal phenotype and neoplastic genotype. Methods We measured the expression of TWIST1 in human colorectal cancer (CRC) cell lines and examined the effects of overexpression or knockdown in vitro and in mice. We used immunohistochemistry to measure levels of TWIST1 in 201 colorectal tumor samples. In 20 samples, immunostaining was combined with fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses. Levels of TWIST1 messenger RNA (mRNA) were measured in blood samples from 15 patients. Results TWIST1 was required to maintain the mesenchymal phenotype and invasiveness of the microsatellite-stable CoLo741 cells (which express endogenous TWIST1) and SW480 (expressing transgenic TWIST1). TWIST1 mRNA was not translated in CRC cells with microsatellite instability (HCT116). Syngenic TWIST1-positive colon carcinoma cells (CT26) that invaded tissues surrounding tumors acquired a mesenchymal phenotype. The presence of TWIST1-positive cells in the stroma of human colorectal tumors correlated with microsatellite stability (P =.05), stage IV cancer (P =.02), and disease-free survival time (P

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


  • Colon Cancer
  • Metastasis
  • MSI
  • Tumor Invasion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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