For citation purposes: Chen Y, Gridley T. Regulatory interplay between microRNAs and Snail family proteins in cancer. OA Biology 2014 Jan 18;2(1):1.

Critical review


Regulatory interplay between microRNAs and Snail family proteins in cancer

Y Chen, T Gridley

Authors affiliations

(1) Department of Biomedical Engineering, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA

(2) Center for Molecular Medicine, Maine Medical Center Research Institute, Scarborough, ME 04074, USA

* Corresponding author Email:



The Snail gene family encodes evolutionarily conserved transcriptional repressor proteins that bind to E box sequences. In mammals, the SNAI1 and SNAI2 proteins are key regulators of the epithelial–mesenchymal transition both during embryonic development and tumour metastasis. Recent work has shown that SNAI1/SNAI2 gene and protein expression is regulated during tumourigenesis by a number of microRNAs. Furthermore, the existence of double-negative feedback loops that provide exquisite regulation of SNAI1/SNAI2 expression and the expression of microRNAs binding to the SNAI1 and SNAI2 mRNAs has been revealed.

Here, we review new studies highlighting the regulatory interplay of miRNA expression, regulation of SNAI1 and SNAI2 expression and the epithelial–mesenchymal transition in the progression and metastasis of ovarian and other epithelial tumours. We also summarise new data demonstrating a role for SNAI1 and SNAI2 expression in mediating acquired tumour drug resistance.


This review highlights the important roles played by the transcriptional repressors SNAI1 and SNAI2 during tumour progression and metastasis, as well as their regulatory interplay with the expression of multiple different microRNAs.

Licensee OA Publishing London 2014. Creative Commons Attribution License (CC-BY)