Abstract Msi2 has been widely reported to be upregulated and strongly associated with fast progress and poor prognosis in many cancers. However, the expression and role of Msi2 in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma (ESCC) remain unknown. In this study, we found that Msi2 was upregulated in ESCC clinical samples, and was significantly associated with tumor size, differentiation status, and lymph node metastasis in ESCC patients. Multivariate Cox regression analysis showed that Msi2 was an independent predictor for disease-free survival (DFS) and overall survival (OS). Moreover, knockdown of Msi2 impaired ESCC cell proliferation, epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and migration, while overexpression of Msi2 promoted ESCC cell proliferation, EMT and migration in vitro. Animal experiments also confirmed that Msi2 promoted ESCC cell proliferation in vivo. Mechanistically, Msi2 promoted ESCC cell proliferation, EMT and migration via regulation of the Wnt/β-catenin and Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathways. Taken together, our study suggested that Msi2 could serve as a candidate for diagnosis and prognosis and as a potential therapeutic target in ESCC. Highlights Msi2 is upregulated in ESCC tissues and cell lines. Msi2 is associated with tumor progression and poor prognosis of ESCC patients. Msi2 promotes ESCC cell proliferation, EMT and migration. Msi2 functions by regulating the Wnt/β-catenin and Hh signaling pathways.
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