Anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC) is among the most aggressive types of malignant cancer. Epidermal growth factor (EGF) plays a crucial role in the pathogenesis of ATC, and patients with thyroid carcinoma typically exhibit increased cysteine-rich protein 61 (Cyr61). In this study, we found that EGF treatment induced cell migration, stress fiber formation, Cyr61 mRNA and protein expressions, and Cyr61 protein secretion in ATC cells. The recombinant Cyr61 protein significantly induced cell migration; however, inhibition of Cyr61 activity by a Cyr61-specific antibody abrogated EGF-induced cell migration. EGF treatment also affected epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT)-related marker protein expression, as evidenced by an increase in vimentin and a decrease in E-cadherin expression. Inhibition of Cyr61 expression by Cyr61 siRNA decreased cell migration and reversed the EMT-related marker protein expression. EGF treatment increased the phosphorylation of the extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB), and finally activated Cyr61 promoter plasmid activity. Our results suggest that Cyr61 is induced by EGF through the ERK/CREB signal pathway and that it plays a crucial role in the migration and invasion of ATC cells; moreover, Cyr61 might be a therapeutic target for metastatic ATC.
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