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Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) arises from the mucosal lining of the upper aerodigestive tract and display few treatment options in advanced stages. Despite increased knowledge of HNSCC molecular biology, the identification of new players involved in triggering HNSCC recurrence and metastatic disease is needed. We uncover that G-protein-coupled receptor kinase-2 (GRK2) expression is reduced in undifferentiated, high-grade human HNSCC tumors, whereas its silencing in model human HNSCC cells is sufficient to trigger epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) phenotypic features, an EMT-like transcriptional program and enhanced lymph node colonization from orthotopic tongue tumors in mice. Conversely, enhancing GRK2 expression counteracts mesenchymal cells traits by mechanisms involving phosphorylation and decreased functionality of the key EMT inducer Snail1. Our results suggest that GRK2 safeguards the epithelial phenotype, whereas its downregulation contributes to the activation of EMT programs in HNSCC. © 2019 UICC.


Julia Palacios-García, María Sanz-Flores, Alejandro Asensio, Raúl Alvarado, Susana Rojo-Berciano, Konstantinos Stamatakis, Jesús M Paramio, Amparo Cano, M Ángela Nieto, Ramón García-Escudero, Federico Mayor, Catalina Ribas. G-protein-coupled receptor kinase 2 safeguards epithelial phenotype in head and neck squamous cell carcinomas. International journal of cancer. 2020 Jul 01;147(1):218-229

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PMID: 31850518

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