Visualization of epithelial-mesenchymal transition in an inflammatory microenvironment–colorectal cancer network

Takeshi Ieda, Hiroshi Tazawa, Hiroki Okabayashi, Shuya Yano, Kunitoshi Shigeyasu, Shinji Kuroda, Toshiaki Ohara, Kazuhiro Noma, Hiroyuki Kishimoto, Masahiko Nishizaki, Shunsuke Kagawa, Yasuhiro Shirakawa, Takashi Saitou, Takeshi Imamura, Toshiyoshi Fujiwara

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28 Citations (Scopus)


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a biological process by which epithelial cells acquire mesenchymal characteristics. In malignant tumors, EMT is crucial for acquisition of a mesenchymal phenotype with invasive and metastatic properties, leading to tumor progression. An inflammatory microenvironment is thought to be responsible for the development and progression of colorectal cancer (CRC); however, the precise role of inflammatory microenvironments in EMT-related CRC progression remains unclear. Here, we show the spatiotemporal visualization of CRC cells undergoing EMT using a fluorescence-guided EMT imaging system in which the mesenchymal vimentin promoter drives red fluorescent protein (RFP) expression. An inflammatory microenvironment including TNF-α, IL-1β, and cytokine-secreting inflammatory macrophages induced RFP expression in association with the EMT phenotype in CRC cells. In vivo experiments further demonstrated the distribution of RFP-positive CRC cells in rectal and metastatic tumors. Our data suggest that the EMT imaging system described here is a powerful tool for monitoring EMT in inflammatory microenvironment–CRC networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16378
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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