Funding Source


Grant Number

NIH 2R15CA158677-02, R25GM060926


Department of Biology

Document Type


Publication Date



The mitochondrial Bcl-2 inhibitor of transcription 1 (Bit1) protein is part of an anoikis-regulating pathway that is selectively dependent on integrins. We previously demonstrated that the caspase-independent apoptotic effector Bit1 exerts tumor suppressive function in lung cancer in part by inhibiting anoikis resistance and anchorage-independent growth in vitro and tumorigenicity in vivo. Herein we show a novel function of Bit1 as an inhibitor cell migration and epithelial±mesenchymal transition (EMT) in the human lung adenocarcinoma A549 cell line. Suppression of endogenous Bit1 expression via siRNA and shRNA strategies promoted mesenchymal phenotypes, including enhanced fibroblastoid morphology and cell migratory potential with concomitant downregulation of the epithelial marker E-cadherin expression. Conversely, ectopic Bit1 expression in A549 cells promoted epithelial transition characterized by cuboidal-like epithelial cell phenotype, reduced cell motility, and upregulated E-cadherin expression. Specific downregulation of E-cadherin in Bit1-transfected cells was sufficient to block Bit1-mediated inhibition of cell motility while forced expression of E-cadherin alone attenuated the enhanced migration of Bit1 knockdown cells, indicating that E-cadherin is a downstream target of Bit1 in regulating cell motility. Furthermore, quantitative real-time PCR and reporter analyses revealed that Bit1 upregulates E-cadherin expression at the transcriptional level through the transcriptional regulator Amino-terminal Enhancer of Split (AES) protein. Importantly, the Bit1/AES pathway induction of E-cadherin expression involves inhibition of the TLE1-mediated repression of E-cadherin, by decreasing TLE1 corepressor occupancy at the E-cadherin promoter as revealed by chromatin immunoprecipitation assays. Consistent with its EMT inhibitory function, exogenous Bit1 expression significantly suppressed the formation of lung metastases of A549 cells in an in vivo experimental metastasis model. Taken together, our studies indicate Bit1 is an inhibitor of EMT and metastasis in lung cancer and hence can serve as a molecular target in curbing lung cancer aggressiveness.