Growth differentiation factor 15 (GDF15), a member of the TGF-β superfamily, is a prognostic biomarker of cervical cancer. In addition, GDF15 has been reported to enhance the migration of colorectal cancer cells and liver cancer stem-like cells. However, the mechanism by which GDF15 promotes cervical cancer cell migration is not completely understood. Here, we report that GDF15 expression is enhanced in cervical cancer tissues as well as in cultured cervical cancer cells. ShGDF15 transfection markedly inhibited expression of Vimentin, N-cadherin, and Snail1, and resulted in upregulation of E-cadherin expression in HT-3 and HeLa cells. Moreover, knockdown of GDF15 suppressed wound healing rate and reduced the number of invasive cells. Furthermore, knockdown of GDF15 significantly suppressed the expression of p-Smad2 and p-Smad3. The addition of TGF-β1 partially abolished the inhibitory effects of GDF15 knockdown on the migration and invasion of cervical cancer cells. In summary, we report here that GDF15 knockdown inhibits migration and invasion of cervical cancer cells in vitro through TGF-β/Smad2/3/Snail1 pathway.
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