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Cancer Res. 2003 Jun 15;63(12):3145-53.

beta-Catenin regulates vascular endothelial growth factor expression in colon cancer.

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  • 1Chiron Corporation, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.


To evaluate whether beta-catenin signaling has a role in the regulation of angiogenesis in colon cancer, a series of angiogenesis-related gene promoters was analyzed for beta-catenin/TCF binding sites. Strikingly, the gene promoter of human vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF, or VEGF-A) contains seven consensus binding sites for beta-catenin/TCF. Analysis of laser capture microdissected human colon cancer tissue indicated a direct correlation between up-regulation of VEGF-A expression and adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) mutational status (activation of beta-catenin signaling) in primary tumors. In metastases, this correlation was not observed. Analysis by immunohistochemistry of intestinal polyps in mice heterozygous for the multiple intestinal neoplasia gene (Min/+) at 5 months revealed an increase and redistribution of VEGF-A in proximity to those cells expressing nuclear beta-catenin with a corresponding increase in vessel density. Transfection of normal colon epithelial cells with activated beta-catenin up-regulated levels of VEGF-A mRNA and protein by 250-300%. When colon cancer cells with elevated beta-catenin levels were treated with beta-catenin antisense oligodeoxynucleotides, VEGF-A expression was reduced by more than 50%. Taken together, our observations indicate a close link between beta-catenin signaling and the regulation of VEGF-A expression in colon cancer.

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