Topoisomerase IIα mediates TCF-dependent epithelial-mesenchymal transition in colon cancer

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Abstract

Aberrant T-cell factor (TCF) transcription is implicated in the majority of colorectal cancers (CRCs). TCF transcription induces epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), promoting a tumor-initiating cell (TIC) phenotype characterized by increased proliferation, multidrug resistance (MDR), invasion and metastasis. The data presented herein characterize topoisomerase IIα (TopoIIα) as a required component of TCF transcription promoting EMT. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) and protein co-immunoprecipitation (co-IP) studies, we show that TopoIIα forms protein-protein interactions with β-catentin and TCF4 and interacts with Wnt response elements (WREs) and promoters of direct target genes of TCF transcription, including: MYC, vimentin, AXIN2 and LEF1. Moreover, both TopoIIα and TCF4 ChIP with the N-cadherin promoter, which is a new discovery indicating that TCF transcription may directly regulate N-cadherin expression. TopoIIα N-terminal ATP-competitive inhibitors, exemplified by the marine alkaloid neoamphimedine (neo), block TCF activity in vitro and in vivo. Neo effectively inhibits TopoIIα and TCF4 from binding WREs/promoter sites, whereas protein-protein interactions remain intact. Neo inhibition of TopoIIα-dependent TCF transcription also correlates with significant antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo, including the reversion of EMT, the loss of TIC-mediated clonogenic colony formation, and the loss of cell motility and invasion. Interestingly, non-ATP-competitive inhibitors of TopoIIα, etoposide and merbarone, were ineffective at preventing TopoIIα-dependent TCF transcription. Thus, we propose that TopoIIα participation in TCF transcription may convey a mechanism of MDR to conventional TopoIIα inhibitors. However, our results indicate that TopoIIα N-terminal ATP-binding sites remain conserved and available for drug targeting. This article defines a new strategy for targeted inhibition of TCF transcription that may lead to effective therapies for the treatment of CRC and potentially other Wnt-dependent cancers.

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