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Mol Carcinog. 2010 Apr;49(4):337-52. doi: 10.1002/mc.20603.

Vitamin D receptor ligands, adenomatous polyposis coli, and the vitamin D receptor FokI polymorphism collectively modulate beta-catenin activity in colon cancer cells.

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  • 1Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, USA.


The activity of beta-catenin, commonly dysregulated in human colon cancers, is inhibited by the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and this mechanism is postulated to explain the putative anti-cancer activity of vitamin D metabolites in the colon. We investigated the effect of a common FokI restriction site polymorphism (F/f) in the human VDR gene as well as the effect of anti-tumorigenic 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25D) and pro-tumorigenic lithocholic acid (LCA) VDR ligands on beta-catenin transcriptional activity. Furthermore, the influence of a major regulatory protein of beta-catenin, the APC tumor suppressor gene, on VDR-dependent inhibition of beta-catenin activity was examined. We report herein that beta-catenin-mediated transcription is most effectively suppressed by the VDR FokI variant F/M4 when 1,25D is limiting. Using Caco-2 colorectal cancer (CRC) cells, it was observed that VDR ligands, 1,25D and LCA, both suppress beta-catenin transcriptional activity, though 1,25D exhibited significantly greater inhibition. Moreover, 1,25D, but not LCA, suppressed endogenous expression of the beta-catenin target gene DKK-4 independent of VDR DNA-binding activity. These results support beta-catenin sequestration away from endogenous gene targets by 1,25D-VDR. This activity is most efficiently mediated by the FokI gene variant F/M4, a VDR allele previously associated with protection against CRC. Interestingly, we found the inhibition of beta-catenin activity by 1,25D-VDR was significantly enhanced by wild-type APC. These results reveal a previously unrecognized role for 1,25D-VDR in APC/beta-catenin cross talk. Collectively, these findings strengthen evidence favoring a direct effect on the Wnt-signaling molecule beta-catenin as one anti-cancer target of 1,25D-VDR action in the colorectum.

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