We investigated the regulatory effect of insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) on transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1)-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). TGF-beta1-induced EMT and cell migration in A549 cells are associated with a decrease in IRS-1 tyrosine phosphorylation and protein levels. Tissue microarray analysis of human lung carcinoma shows a correlation between IRS-1 protein levels and E-cadherin protein levels. High IRS-1 levels coexist with high E-cadherin levels, whereas low IRS-1 levels coexist with low E-cadherin levels, implying a possibility that IRS-1 protein levels may be linked with EMT. Surprisingly, overexpression of IRS-1 in A549 cells completely blocked TGF-beta1-induced EMT and cell migration, inhibited TGF-beta1-mediated expression of snail and slug genes, and abolished TGF-beta1-mediated repression of E-cadherin promoter activity. In contrast, IRS-1 knockdown by RNAi increased the expression of snail and slug genes and induced EMT. Inhibition of protein tyrosine phosphatase with sodium vanadate, which greatly increased the levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated IRS-1, suppressed TGF-beta1-induced actin remodeling and cell morphologic changes. These results show for the first time that TGF-beta1 induces EMT through mechanisms involving the modulation of IRS-1 signaling, and that IRS-1 functions as a critical EMT suppressor that suppresses TGF-beta1-induced EMT via inhibition of snail and slug expression.
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