Gastric carcinoma (GC) is a common and lethal malignancy, and epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is believed to contribute to invasive and metastatic tumor growth. Aquaporin 3 (AQP3) is overexpressed in human GC tissues, while human epidermal growth factor (EGF) and hepatocyte growth factor, which can induce EMT, are able to up-regulate AQP3 expression, subsequently promoting GC cell migration and proliferation. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of AQP3 on EMT in human GC.
AQP3 and EMT-related proteins were detected by immunohistochemistry in human GC specimens and their clinical significance evaluated. AQP3 knockdown was attempted using small interfering RNAs, while EGF was used to up-regulate AQP3 expression. Western blotting, real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction assays and immunofluorescence were used to evaluate changes in expression of AQP3 and EMT-related proteins in the SGC7901 and MGC803 human GC cell lines.
AQP3 up-expression was associated with EMT-related proteins in human GC specimens, which correlated with poor prognosis for GC. AQP3 modulated GC cell proliferation, migration and invasion in vitro, and induced E-cadherin repression. AQP3 also up-regulated the expression of vimentin and fibronectin in vitro. The PI3K/AKT/SNAIL signaling pathway was likely involved in the induction of EMT by AQP3 in GC.