EMT Dynamics in Lymph Node Metastasis of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Yasmine Ghantous, Shiraz Mozalbat, Aysar Nashef, Murad Abdol-Elraziq, Shiran Sudri, Shareef Araidy, Hagar Tadmor, Imad Abu El-naaj

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Epithelial–mesenchymal transition (EMT) enables tumor cell invasion and metastasis. Many studies have demonstrated the critical role of EMT in lymph node metastasis in oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). During EMT, epithelial cancer cells lose intercellular adhesion and apical–basal polarity and acquire mesenchymal properties such as motility and invasiveness. A significant feature of EMT is cadherin switching, involving the downregulation of E-cadherin and upregulation of N-cadherin. The TGF-β/SMAD pathway can also induce EMT. We aimed to evaluate EMT markers as predictors of lymph node metastasis in OSCC. Methods: We performed genetic profiling of 159 primary OSCCs from TCGA and analyzed the expression of EMT markers, including cadherin switch genes (CDH1, CDH2), and TGF-β/SMAD pathway genes. Samples were divided into advanced (stage III–IV) and early (stage I–II) stage groups. Differential expression analysis was performed, as well as an independent validation study containing fresh OSCC samples. Results: TGF-β/SMAD pathway genes such as SMAD6 were upregulated in advanced stage tumors. N-cadherin and SNAIL2 were overexpressed in node-positive tumors. Keratins were downregulated in these groups. Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that EMT marker expression correlates with lymph node metastasis in OSCC. Developing therapies targeting regulators such as N-cadherin may prevent metastasis and improve outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1185
Issue number6
StatePublished - 18 Mar 2024

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  • EMT
  • N-cadherin
  • lymph node
  • oral carcinoma


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