Expression of snail and slug in renal cell carcinoma: E-cadherin repressor snail is associated with cancer invasion and prognosis

Shuji Mikami, Ken Ichi Katsube, Mototsugu Oya, Masaru Ishida, Takeo Kosaka, Ryuichi Mizuno, Makio Mukai, Yasunori Okada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

78 Citations (Scopus)


The Snail family transcription factors have been proposed as important mediators of epithelial-mesenchymal transition because of their role in down-regulation of E-cadherin and up-regulation of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). The present study was undertaken to investigate the expression of Snail, Slug and their associations with cancer invasion and prognosis in renal cell carcinomas (RCCs). Ninety-seven primary RCCs were analyzed for the protein expression of Snail, Slug, MMP2 and MMP9 by immunohistochemistry. Snail protein expression level was positively correlated with pathological tumor stage, histological grade and the presence of sarcomatoid carcinoma. On the contrary, Slug protein expression level was negatively correlated with pathological tumor stage, suggesting that Slug was down-regulated in advanced RCCs. Because Snail was positively associated with malignant potential of RCCs, involvement of Snail in the invasiveness of an RCC cell line 786-O was examined in the Matrigel invasion assay by down-regulating the gene expression with small interfering RNA (siRNA). Targeting the Snail, not Slug, expression in 786-O cells with siRNA caused down-regulation of the gene expression of Snail, vimentin, MMP2 and MMP9, but up-regulated the E-cadherin. Invasion of the cells through Matrigel in vitro was inhibited under this condition. Furthermore, expression levels of MMP2 and MMP9 were positively correlated with pathological tumor stage and the presence of sarcomatoid carcinoma. Statistical analysis indicated that elevated Snail, MMP2 and MMP9 protein expression are significantly worse predictors of disease-free and disease-specific survival of the patients with RCC. In conclusion, these data suggest that Snail has an important role in invasion and metastasis, and that silencing the gene may be a potential therapeutic target in RCCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1443-1458
Number of pages16
JournalLaboratory Investigation
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2011 Oct 1



  • E-cadherin
  • Slug
  • Snail
  • epithelial-mesenchymal transition
  • matrix metalloproteinase
  • renal cell carcinoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this