Single cell analysis of mechanical properties and EMT-related gene expression profiles in cancer fingers

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

13 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Article number103917
Journal / PublicationiScience
Issue number3
Online published12 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2022



Collective cell migration is associated with cancer metastasis. Cancer fingers are formed when groups of migrating cancer cells follow the leader cells in the front. Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a critical process of cancer metastasis. However, the role of EMT in cancer finger formation remains unclear. In this work, we investigated the EMT-associated mechanical properties and gene expression at single-cell levels in non-small lung cancer fingers. We found that leader cells were more elastic and less sticky than follower cells. Spatial EMT-related gene expression profiling in cancer fingers revealed cellular heterogeneity. Particularly, SNAIL and VIM were found to be two key genes that positively correlated with leader cell phenotypes and controlled cancer finger formation. Silencing either SNAIL or VIM, decreased cancer cell elasticity, cancer finger formation and migration, and increased adhesiveness. These findings indicated that SNAIL and VIM are two driver genes for cancer finger formation.

Research Area(s)

  • Cancer, Cell biology, Transcriptomics

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