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J Cell Biol. 1999 Aug 23;146(4):855-68.

Exogenous expression of beta-catenin regulates contact inhibition, anchorage-independent growth, anoikis, and radiation-induced cell cycle arrest.

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The Lombardi Cancer Center and the Department of Cell Biology, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, District of Columbia 20007, USA.


beta-Catenin is an important regulator of cell-cell adhesion and embryonic development that associates with and regulates the function of the LEF/TCF family of transcription factors. Mutations of beta-catenin and the tumor suppressor gene, adenomatous polyposis coli, occur in human cancers, but it is not known if, and by what mechanism, increased beta-catenin causes cellular transformation. This study demonstrates that modest overexpression of beta-catenin in a normal epithelial cell results in cellular transformation. These cells form colonies in soft agar, survive in suspension, and continue to proliferate at high cell density and following gamma-irradiation. Endogenous cytoplasmic beta-catenin levels and signaling activity were also found to oscillate during the cell cycle. Taken together, these data demonstrate that beta-catenin functions as an oncogene by promoting the G(1) to S phase transition and protecting cells from suspension-induced apoptosis (anoikis).

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