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EMBO J. 2009 Jul 8;28(13):1843-54. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.153. Epub 2009 Jun 11.

JNK signalling modulates intestinal homeostasis and tumourigenesis in mice.

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  • 1Mammalian Genetics Laboratory, CRUK London Research Institute, Lincoln's Inn Fields Laboratories, London, UK.


Wnt signalling is a crucial signalling pathway controlling intestinal homeostasis and cancer. We show here that the JNK MAP kinase pathway and one of its most important substrates, the AP-1 transcription factor c-Jun, modulates Wnt signalling strength in the intestine. Transgenic gut-specific augmentation of JNK signalling stimulated progenitor cell proliferation and migration, resulting in increased villus length. In the crypt, c-Jun protein was highly expressed in progenitor cells and the absence of c-Jun resulted in decreased proliferation and villus length. In addition to several known c-Jun/AP-1 target genes, expression of Wnt target genes Axin2 and Lgr5 were stimulated by JNK activation, suggesting a cross talk of JNK to Wnt signalling. Expression of the Wnt pathway component TCF4 was controlled by JNK activity, and chromatin immunoprecipitation and reporter assays identified tcf4 as a direct c-Jun target gene. Consequently, increased JNK activity accelerated tumourigenesis in a model of colorectal carcinogenesis. As c-jun is a direct target of the TCF4/beta-catenin complex, the control of tcf4 expression by JNK/c-Jun leads to a positive feedback loop that connects JNK and Wnt signalling. This mechanism regulates the physiological function of progenitor cells and oncogenic transformation.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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