Cofilin-1 signaling mediates epithelial-mesenchymal transition by promoting actin cytoskeleton reorganization and cell-cell adhesion regulation in colorectal cancer cells.


Cellular and Molecular Oncobiology Program, Cellular Dynamic and Structure Group, Brazilian National Cancer Institute (INCA), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Electronic address: [Email]


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is frequently a lethal disease because of metastasis. Actin cytoskeletal rearrangement is an essential step in cell migration during activation of the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) program, which is associated with metastatic properties of cancer cells. Cofilin-1 protein modulates actin dynamics by promoting actin treadmilling, thereby driving membrane protrusion and cell migration and invasion. However, the role of cofilin-1 during EMT in CRC is unknown. Here, we show that cofilin-1 and p-cofilin-1 have distinct subcellular distribution in EMT cells, as determined by super-resolution microscopy images, indicating distinct roles in different areas of cells. Silenced cofilin-1 cells treated with TGF-β (siCofilin-1/TGF-β) evaded p-LIMK2-p-cofilin-1 status, leading to recovery of E-cadherin and claudin-3 at the cell-cell contact and their respective protein levels, actin reorganization, and decreased mesenchymal protein level. Furthermore, siCofilin-1/TGF-β cells exhibited decreased migration and invasion rates as well as MMP-2 and -9 activity and augmented focal adhesion size. The expression of an inactive phospho-cofilin-1 mimetic (S3E) reduced E-cadherin and claudin-3 in cell-cell contacts, reduced their protein levels, and increased vimentin protein. Based on our findings, we suggest that cofilin-1 is crucial to switching from epithelial to mesenchymal-like morphology and cell migration and invasion by regulating actin cytoskeleton organization through activation of RhoA-LIMK2-cofilin-1 signaling, impacting the cell-cell adhesion organization of colon cancer cells in EMT.


Actin,Cell-cell adhesion,Cofilin-1,Colorectal cancer,Cytoskeleton,EMT,