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Int J Cancer. 2002 Jan 1;97(1):42-51.

Cell type- and promoter-dependent modulation of the Wnt signaling pathway by sodium butyrate.

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Department of Pharmacology and Developmental Therapeutics Section, Cancer Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


The Wnt signaling pathway modulates the transcription of genes linked to proliferation, differentiation and tumor progression. beta-Catenin-Tcf (BCT)-dependent Wnt signaling is influenced by the short-chain fatty acid sodium butyrate, which induces growth arrest and/or maturation of colonic carcinoma cells. We have compared the effects of sodium butyrate on BCT-dependent signaling in 2 colon carcinoma cell lines that differ in their physiologic response to butyrate, with SW620 cells responding to butyrate by undergoing terminal differentiation and apoptosis, and HCT-116 cells undergoing reversible growth arrest, but no significant apoptotic cell death. Furthermore, these colon carcinoma cell lines differ in their mechanism of Wnt pathway activation, with adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) mutant SW620 cells having high levels of BCT complexes and APC wild-type HCT-116 cells having mutant beta-catenin, low levels of BCT complexes and correspondingly higher levels of free Tcf. We have demonstrated that in SW620 cells, butyrate downregulates BCT-dependent expression of the Tcf-TK, matrilysin and cyclin D1 promoters, whereas in HCT-116 cells, butyrate upregulates expression of these promoters. Cotransfection with expression vectors that interfere with the Wnt pathway suggests that butyrate enhances BCT complex-DNA binding. Butyrate reduces the expression of Tcf4 in HCT-116 cells, consistent with the induction by butyrate of Tcf-repressible promoters in these cells. These findings indicate that sodium butyrate modulates the Wnt pathway in SW620 and HCT-116 cells in a different manner and that these differences have consequences for promoter activity that may influence the physiologic response to butyrate.

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