Hemidesmosomal linker proteins regulate cell motility, invasion and tumorigenicity in oral squamous cell carcinoma derived cells

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BPAG1e and Plectin are hemidesmosomal linker proteins which anchor intermediate filament proteins to the cell surface through β4 integrin. Recent reports indicate that these proteins play a role in various cellular processes apart from their known anchoring function. However, the available literature is inconsistent. Further, the previous study from our laboratory suggested that Keratin8/18 pair promotes cell motility and tumor progression by deregulating β4 integrin signaling in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC) derived cells. Based on these findings, we hypothesized that linker proteins may have a role in neoplastic progression of OSCC. Downregulation of hemidesmosomal linker proteins in OSCC derived cells resulted in reduced cell migration accompanied by alterations in actin organization. Further, decreased MMP9 activity led to reduced cell invasion in linker proteins knockdown cells. Moreover, loss of these proteins resulted in reduced tumorigenic potential. SWATH analysis demonstrated upregulation of N-Myc downstream regulated gene 1 (NDRG1) in linker proteins downregulated cells as compared to vector control cells. Further, the defects in phenotype upon linker proteins ablation were rescued upon loss of NDRG1 in linker proteins knockdown background. These data together indicate that hemidesmosomal linker proteins regulate cell motility, invasion and tumorigenicity possibly through NDRG1 in OSCC derived cells.

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