The product of Snail gene is a repressor of E-cadherin transcription and an inductor of the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition in several epithelial tumor cell lines. In order to examine Snail expression in animal and human tissues, we have raised a monoclonal antibody (MAb) that reacts with the regulatory domain of this protein. Analysis of murine embryos shows that Snail is expressed in extraembryonic tissues and embryonic mesoderm, in mesenchymal cells of lungs and dermis as well as in cartilage. Little reactivity was detected in adult tissues as Snail was not constitutively expressed in most mesenchymal cells. However, Snail expression was observed in activated fibroblasts involved in wound healing in mice skin. Moreover, Snail was detected in pathological conditions causing hyperstimulation of fibroblasts, such as fibromatosis. Analysis of Snail expression in tumors revealed that it was highly expressed in sarcomas and fibrosarcomas. In epithelial tumors, it presented a more limited distribution, restricted to stromal cells placed in the vicinity of the tumor and to tumoral cells in the same areas. These results demonstrate that Snail is present in activated mesenchymal cells, indicate its relevance in the communication between tumor and stroma and suggest that it can promote the conversion of carcinoma cells to stromal cells. © 2006 Nature Publishing Group All rights reserved.
- Epithelial-mesenchymal transition
- Snail transcriptional factor