Epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) and wound vascularization are two critical interrelated processes that enable cutaneous wound healing. Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1 (ZEB1), primarily studied in the context of tumor biology, is a potent EMT activator. ZEB1 is also known to contribute to endothelial cell survival as well as stimulate tumor angiogenesis. The role of ZEB1 in cutaneous wounds was assessed using Zeb1+/− mice, as Zeb1−/− mice are not viable. Quantitative stable isotope labeling by amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) proteomics was used to elucidate the effect of elevated ZEB1, as noted during hyperglycemia. Under different glycemic conditions, ZEB1 binding to E-cadherin promoter was investigated using chromatin immunoprecipitation. Cutaneous wounding resulted in loss of epithelial marker E-cadherin with concomitant gain of ZEB1. The dominant proteins downregulated after ZEB1 overexpression functionally represented adherens junction pathway. Zeb1+/− mice exhibited compromised wound closure complicated by defective EMT and poor wound angiogenesis. Under hyperglycemic conditions, ZEB1 lost its ability to bind E-cadherin promoter. Keratinocyte E-cadherin, thus upregulated, resisted EMT required for wound healing. Diabetic wound healing was improved in ZEB+/− as well as in db/db mice subjected to ZEB1 knockdown. This work recognizes ZEB1 as a key regulator of cutaneous wound healing that is of particular relevance to diabetic wound complication.
- Received February 27, 2019.
- Accepted August 15, 2019.
- © 2019 by the American Diabetes Association.