A genetic cell context-dependent role for ZEB1 in lung cancer

Ting Zhang, Lixia Guo, Chad J. Creighton, Qiang Lu, Don L. Gibbons, Eunhee S. Yi, Bo Deng, Julian R Molina, Zhifu D Sun, Ping Yang, Yanan D Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations


The Zinc-finger E-box-binding Homeobox-1 (ZEB1) is a transcription factor that promotes epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and acts as an oncogene in KRAS-mutated lung cancer models. Here we report that ZEB1 exerts the opposite effect in EGFR-mutated lung cancer cells, where it suppresses growth by increasing microRNA-200 targets to antagonize ERBB3, a driver of mutant EGFR-dependent cell growth. Among these targets, NOTCH1 represses ERBB3 promoter activity and the expression of ERBB3. Furthermore, we find that EGFR inhibitor treatment, which inhibits the growth of EGFR-mutated cells, induces ZEB1. Despite its growth-inhibiting effect, EGFR inhibitor-induced ZEB1 strongly promotes EMT-dependent resistance to EGFR inhibitors partially through NOTCH1, suggesting a multifunctional role for NOTCH1 in EGFR-mutated cells. These results support a previously unrecognized genetic cell context-dependent role for ZEB1 and suggest that NOTCH1 may be a useful target for treating resistance to EGFR inhibitors, especially EMT-driven resistance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12231
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Jul 26 2016


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)

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