Document Type



The role of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) during hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) progression is well established, however the regulatory mechanisms modulating this phenomenon remain unclear. Here, we demonstrate that transcription factor glioma-associated oncogene 1 (GLI1) modulates EMT through direct up-regulation of SNAI1 and serves as a downstream effector of the transforming growth factor-b1 (TGFb1) pathway, a well-known regulator of EMT in cancer cells. Overexpression of GLI1 increased proliferation, viability, migration, invasion, and colony formation by HCC cells. Conversely, GLI1 knockdown led to a decrease in all the above-mentioned cancer-associated phenotypes in HCC cells. Further analysis of GLI1 regulated cellular functions showed that this transcription factor is able to induce EMT and identified SNAI1 as a transcriptional target of GLI1 mediating this cellular effect in HCC cells. Moreover, we demonstrated that an intact GLI1-SNAI1 axis is required by TGFb1 to induce EMT in these cells. Together, these findings define a novel cellular mechanism regulated by GLI1, which controls the growth and EMT phenotype in HCC.



Publication Date


Original Citation

Zheng X, Rumie Vittar NB, Gai X, Fernandez-Barrena MG, Moser CD, et al. (2012) The Transcription Factor GLI1 Mediates TGFb1 Driven EMT in Hepatocellular Carcinoma via a SNAI1-Dependent Mechanism. PLoS ONE 7(11): e49581. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049581


Department of Biological Sciences

Legacy Department

Department of Biological Sciences


National Institutes of Health Grants CA100882 and CA128633 (to LRR) and CA165076; the Mayo Clinic Center for Cell Signaling in Gastroenterology (NIDDK P30DK084567) (to MEFZ); the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center (CA15083), the Mayo Clinic Center for Translational Science Activities (NIH/NCRR CTSA Grant Number KL2 RR024151), and an American Gastroenterological Association Foundation for Digestive Health and Nutrition Bridging Grant (to LRR).






PLoS One



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