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Genes Dev. 2002 Aug 15;16(16):2058-72.

Nr-CAM is a target gene of the beta-catenin/LEF-1 pathway in melanoma and colon cancer and its expression enhances motility and confers tumorigenesis.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Cell Biology, The Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot 76100, Israel.


beta-catenin and plakoglobin (gamma-catenin) are homologous molecules involved in cell adhesion, linking cadherin receptors to the cytoskeleton. beta-catenin is also a key component of the Wnt pathway by being a coactivator of LEF/TCF transcription factors. To identify novel target genes induced by beta-catenin and/or plakoglobin, DNA microarray analysis was carried out with RNA from cells overexpressing either protein. This analysis revealed that Nr-CAM is the gene most extensively induced by both catenins. Overexpression of either beta-catenin or plakoglobin induced Nr-CAM in a variety of cell types and the LEF/TCF binding sites in the Nr-CAM promoter were required for its activation by catenins. Retroviral transduction of Nr-CAM into NIH3T3 cells stimulated cell growth, enhanced motility, induced transformation, and produced rapidly growing tumors in nude mice. Nr-CAM and LEF-1 expression was elevated in human colon cancer tissue and cell lines and in human malignant melanoma cell lines but not in melanocytes or normal colon tissue. Dominant negative LEF-1 decreased Nr-CAM expression and antibodies to Nr-CAM inhibited the motility of B16 melanoma cells. The results indicate that induction of Nr-CAM transcription by beta-catenin or plakoglobin plays a role in melanoma and colon cancer tumorigenesis, probably by promoting cell growth and motility.

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