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The demonstration that zinc-finger transcriptional repressors can control E-cadherin expression in epithelial cells has provided a new avenue of research in the field of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). One of these zinc-finger molecules is the transcription factor Snail, which controls gastrulation and neural crest EMT in different species. Additionally, Snail is involved in the development of malignant melanoma where a dramatic change in E-cadherin expression is an important early step for melanoma progression. For this study, a human cancer cDNA array was used which includes genes involved in cancer development and progression. Using the array we compared the gene expression pattern of the melanoma cell line Mel Im with a Mel Im cell clone stable transfected with antisense (as) SNAIL cDNA. We validated the significant differences of the expression of genes on mRNA level. Primarily, we observed changes in the expression of genes involved in EMT. Quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction showed a down-regulation of MMP-2, EMMPRIN, SPARC, TIMP-1, t-PA, RhoA and Notch4 expression and a re-induction of E-cadherin expression in the as Snail cell clones. Furthermore, we measured the expression of integrin [beta]3, NM23b and RhoB. Additionally, we investigated whether the selected genes are influenced only through Snail or if E-cadherin can influence the expression of these genes. In summary, all examined genes which are influenced through Snail have a regulatory function in EMT processes as does Snail itself. The Snail target gene E-cadherin has no regulatory function with respect to the selected genes.

(C) 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.