A novel FOXM1 isoform, FOXM1D, promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition and metastasis through ROCKs activation in colorectal cancer

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Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical event in metastasis of colorectal cancer (CRC). Rho/ROCKs signaling has a pivotal role in orchestrating actin cytoskeleton, leading to EMT and cancer invasion. However, the underlying mechanisms for ROCKs activation are not fully understood. Here, we identified FOXM1D, a novel isoform of Forkhead box M1 (FOXM1) that has a pivotal role in ROCKs activation by directly interacting with coiled-coil region of ROCK2. FOXM1D overexpression significantly polymerizes actin assembly and impairs E-cadherin expression, resulting in EMT and metastasis in xenograft mouse model and knockdown of FOXM1D has the opposite effect. Moreover, a high FOXM1D level correlates closely with clinical CRC metastasis. FOXM1D-induced ROCKs activation could be abrogated by the ROCKs inhibitors Y-27632 and fasudil. These observations indicate that the FOXM1D-ROCK2 interaction is crucial for Rho/ROCKs signaling and provide novel insight into actin cytoskeleton regulation and therapeutic potential for CRC metastasis.

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