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Cancer Res. 2001 Apr 15;61(8):3406-9.

Beta-catenin mutations in biliary tract cancers: a population-based study in China.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030-4095, USA.


beta-Catenin is an ubiquitously expressed cytoplasmic protein that has a crucial role in both cadherin-mediated cell-cell adhesion and as a downstream signaling molecule in the wingless/Wnt pathway. Activating mutations in exon 3 of the beta-catenin gene, at the phosphorylation sites for ubiquitination and degradation of beta-catenin, are present in a variety of cancers. Because alterations of the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene are present in biliary tract cancers and the APC protein modulates levels of beta-catenin, we evaluated the role of beta-catenin in biliary tract cancer by sequencing the third exon of the beta-catenin gene among 107 biliary tract cancers and 7 gallbladder adenomas from a population-based study in CHINA: Point mutations of serine or threonine phosphorylation sites in exon 3 of beta-catenin were present in 8 of 107 (7.5%) biliary tract cancers and 4 of 7 (57.1%) gallbladder adenomas. Mutations of beta-catenin were more frequent in ampullary and gallbladder carcinomas than in bile duct carcinomas (P = 0.04) and in papillary adenocarcinomas than other histological types of carcinomas (P = 0.02). These results suggest that the molecular pathways of biliary tract neoplasms vary by anatomical subsite and histological subtype.

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