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A theoretical approach to coupling the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (Emt) to extracellular matrix (ecm) stiffness via loxl2

Deng, Y and Chakraborty, P and Jolly, MK and Levine, H (2021) A theoretical approach to coupling the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (Emt) to extracellular matrix (ecm) stiffness via loxl2. In: Cancers, 13 (7).

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.3390/cancers13071609


The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) plays a critical role in cancer progression, being responsible in many cases for the onset of the metastatic cascade and being integral in the ability of cells to resist drug treatment. Most studies of EMT focus on its induction via chemical signals such as TGF-β or Notch ligands, but it has become increasingly clear that biomechanical features of the microenvironment such as extracellular matrix (ECM) stiffness can be equally important. Here, we introduce a coupled feedback loop connecting stiffness to the EMT transcription factor ZEB1, which acts via increasing the secretion of LOXL2 that leads to increased cross-linking of collagen fibers in the ECM. This increased cross-linking can effectively increase ECM stiffness and increase ZEB1 levels, thus setting a positive feedback loop between ZEB1 and ECM stiffness. To investigate the impact of this non-cell-autonomous effect, we introduce a computational approach capable of connecting LOXL2 concentration to increased stiffness and thereby to higher ZEB1 levels. Our results indicate that this positive feedback loop, once activated, can effectively lock the cells in a mesenchymal state. The spatial-temporal heterogeneity of the LOXL2 concentration and thus the mechanical stiffness also has direct implications for migrating cells that attempt to escape the primary tumor. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publication: Cancers
Publisher: MDPI AG
Additional Information: The copyright for this article belongs to Authors
Department/Centre: Division of Interdisciplinary Sciences > Centre for Biosystems Science and Engineering
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2021 11:16
Last Modified: 16 Jul 2021 11:16
URI: http://eprints.iisc.ac.in/id/eprint/68716

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