Secreted clusterin (sCLU) has been shown to be overexpressed in metastatic hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissue, and its overexpression in HCC cells increases cell migration and the formation of liver metastatic tumor nodules in vivo. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that sCLU plays a role in the invasiveness of human HCC and may be associated with its metastatic spread. HCCLM3, a human hepatocellular carcinoma cell line, was transiently transfected with an antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) against sCLU (OGX-011). HepG2 liver hepatocellular cells were transiently transfected with the pc.DNA3.1-sCLU plasmid to overexpress sCLU, and subsequently evaluated for effects on invasion and the expression of molecules involved in invasion. We observed that suppression of the sCLU gene significantly reduced the invasive capability of the highly invasive HCCLM3 cells, and vice versa in the low invasive HepG2 cell line. The results revealed that knockdown of sCLU by OGX-011 resulted in a significant increase in the expression of E-cadherin and a decrease in matrix metalloproteinase-2 ( MMP-2) gene transcription. Overexpression of sCLU by transfection with pc.DNA3.1-sCLU significantly decreased the expression of E-cadherin and increased MMP-2 gene transcription. These data were further verified by reverse transcription-PCR and Western blot analysis. A significant reduction in MMP-2 expression and an increase in E-cadherin expression in sCLU-knockdown HCCLM3 cells were observed, as well as a significant increase in MMP-2 expression and a decrease in E-cadherin expression in HepG2 cells overexpressing sCLU. These data indicate a role for sCLU in augmenting MMP-2 transcription and decreasing E-cadherin expression. Our data show the involvement of sCLU in human HCC invasion, and demonstrate that silencing sCLU gene expression inhibits the invasion of human HCC cells by inhibiting MMP-2 expression and promoting E-cadherin expression. Thus, OGX-011 could be an effective therapeutic agent for HCC.
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