Melanoma differentiation-associated gene-9 (MDA-9)/Syntenin is a novel therapeutic target because it plays critical roles in cancer progression and exosome biogenesis. Here we show that Slug, a key epithelial-mesenchymal-transition (EMT) regulator, is a MDA-9/Syntenin downstream target. Mitogen EGF stimulation increases Slug expression and MDA-9/Syntenin nuclear translocation. MDA-9/Syntenin uses its PDZ1 domain to bind with Slug, and this interaction further leads to HDAC1 recruitment, up-regulation of Slug transcriptional repressor activity, enhanced Slug-mediated EMT, and promotion of cancer invasion and metastasis. The PDZ domains and nuclear localization of MDA-9/Syntenin are both required for promoting Slug-mediated cancer invasion. Clinically, patients with high MDA-9/Syntenin and high Slug expressions were associated with poor overall survival compared to those with low expression in lung adenocarcinomas. Our findings provide evidence that MDA-9/Syntenin acts as a pivotal adaptor of Slug and it transcriptionally enhances Slug-mediated EMT to promote cancer invasion and metastasis.
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