Background and Aim: Engulfment and cell motility 1 (ELMO1) has been linked to the invasive phenotype of various types of cancer cells such as glioma cells, rhabdomyosarcoma cells, ovarian cancer cells and so on. However, the biological functions of ELMO1 in colorectal cancer (CRC) cells remains unclear. The aim of this study is to evaluate the role of ELMO1 in the metastasis in CRC.

Methods: The expression level of ELMO1 was detected using quantitative RT-PCR and western blot in 9 CRC cell lines and 1 human colon epithelial cell line NCM460. ELMO1 was overexpressed via lentiviral vector system and silenced using specific small interference RNA (si-ELMO1) in HCT116 and SW620. Then wound-healing, migration assay and invasion assay were carried out to investigate the function of ELMO1 in CRC cells. Western blot was performed to detect the change of signaling molecule extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2) following the down-regulated or up-regulated expression of ELMO1.

Results: ELMO1 expression was inhibited by si-ELMO1 and was overexpressed by ELMO1-cDNA in HCT116 and SW620. Ectopic expression of ELMO1 in HCT116 and SW620 was shown to promote migration and invasion, while inhibited ELMO1 expression suppressed the capacity of cell migration and invasion. Furthermore, ELMO1 induced migration and invasion in CRC cells was found to be associated with the activation of MAPK/ERK pathway.

Conclusions: High expression of ELMO1 was found to be associated with the metastasis via the activation of MAPK/ERK signaling pathway. This finding provides a molecular basis for the role of ELMO1 in the progression of CRC, which may suggest a novel target for the treatment of CRC.

Citation Format: Xiao-bin Zheng, Chi Zhou, Hai-chun Cheng, Tuo Hu, Hua-shan Liu, Xuan-hui Liu, Xian-rui Wu, Feng-wei Wang, Yu-feng Chen, Jian-ping Wang, Xiao-sheng He, Ping Lan. ELMO1 promotes metastasis in colorectal cancer cells via activation of MAPK/ERK signaling pathway [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the American Association for Cancer Research Annual Meeting 2017; 2017 Apr 1-5; Washington, DC. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Cancer Res 2017;77(13 Suppl):Abstract nr 4849. doi:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2017-4849