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J Cell Biol. 2001 Jul 23;154(2):369-87.

Vitamin D(3) promotes the differentiation of colon carcinoma cells by the induction of E-cadherin and the inhibition of beta-catenin signaling.

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  • 1Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas "Alberto Sols, " Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, E-28029 Madrid, Spain.


The beta-catenin signaling pathway is deregulated in nearly all colon cancers. Nonhypercalcemic vitamin D3 (1alpha,25-dehydroxyvitamin D(3)) analogues are candidate drugs to treat this neoplasia. We show that these compounds promote the differentiation of human colon carcinoma SW480 cells expressing vitamin D receptors (VDRs) (SW480-ADH) but not that of a malignant subline (SW480-R) or metastasic derivative (SW620) cells lacking VDR. 1alpha,25(OH)2D(3) induced the expression of E-cadherin and other adhesion proteins (occludin, Zonula occludens [ZO]-1, ZO-2, vinculin) and promoted the translocation of beta-catenin, plakoglobin, and ZO-1 from the nucleus to the plasma membrane. Ligand-activated VDR competed with T cell transcription factor (TCF)-4 for beta-catenin binding. Accordingly, 1alpha,25(OH)2D(3) repressed beta-catenin-TCF-4 transcriptional activity. Moreover, VDR activity was enhanced by ectopic beta-catenin and reduced by TCF-4. Also, 1alpha,25(OH)2D(3) inhibited expression of beta-catenin-TCF-4-responsive genes, c-myc, peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta, Tcf-1, and CD44, whereas it induced expression of ZO-1. Our results show that 1alpha,25(OH)2D(3) induces E-cadherin and modulates beta-catenin-TCF-4 target genes in a manner opposite to that of beta-catenin, promoting the differentiation of colon carcinoma cells.

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