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Cancer cell plasticity plays critical roles in both tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Metastasis-associated protein 3 (MTA3), a component of the nucleosome remodeling and histone deacetylase (NuRD) complex and multi-effect coregulator, can serve as a tumor suppressor in many cancer types. However, the role of MTA3 in tongue squamous cell cancer (TSCC) remains unclear although it is the most prevalent head and neck cancer and often with poor prognosis. By analyzing both published datasets and clinical specimens, we found that the level of MTA3 was lower in TSCC compared to normal tongue tissues. Data from gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) also indicated that MTA3 was inversely correlated with cancer stemness. In addition, the levels of MTA3 in both samples from TSCC patients and TSCC cell lines were negatively correlated with SOX2, a key regulator of the plasticity of cancer stem cells (CSCs). We also found that SOX2 played an indispensable role in MTA3-mediated CSC repression. Using the mouse model mimicking human TSCC we demonstrated that the levels of MTA3 and SOX2 decreased and increased, respectively, during the process of tumorigenesis and progression. Finally, we showed that the patients in the MTA3

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Frontiers in Oncology



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This article was published in Frontiers in Oncology, Volume 9.

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Copyright © 2019 The Authors. CC BY 4.0

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