The cap-dependent translation is frequently deregulated in a variety of cancers associated with tumor progression. However, the molecular basis of the translation activation for metastatic progression of cancer remains largely elusive. Here, we demonstrate that activation of cap-dependent translation by silencing the translational repressor 4E-BP1 causes cancer epithelial cells to undergo epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), which is associated with selective upregulation of the EMT inducer Snail followed by repression of E-cadherin expression and promotion of cell migratory and invasive capabilities as well as metastasis. Conversely, inhibition of cap-dependent translation by a dominant active mutant 4E-BP1 effectively downregulates Snail expression and suppresses cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, dephosphorylation of 4E-BP1 by mTORC1 inhibition or directly targeting the translation initiation also profoundly attenuates Snail expression and cell motility, whereas knockdown of 4E-BP1 or overexpression of Snail significantly rescues the inhibitory effects. Importantly, 4E-BP1-regulated Snail expression is not associated with its changes in the level of transcription or protein stability. Together, these findings indicate a novel role of 4E-BP1 in the regulation of EMT and cell motility through translational control of Snail expression and activity, and suggest that targeting cap-dependent translation may provide a promising approach for blocking Snail-mediated metastatic potential of cancer.

Document Type


Publication Date


Notes/Citation Information

Published in Oncotarget, v. 5, no. 15, p. 6015-6027.

Copyright @ 2008-2016 Impact Journals, LLC. All rights reserved.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


Funding Information

This work was supported in part by grants from NIH/NCI R01CA175105, NIH/NCATS UL1RR033173-KL2RR0033171 and ACS IRG85-001-22 to Q-B She.

2109-23028-1-SP.pdf (330 kB)
Supplementary File

Included in

Oncology Commons