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Exp Cell Res. 2002 Oct 15;280(1):119-33.

Regulation of epithelial cell migration and tumor formation by beta-catenin signaling.

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Aventis Pharmaceuticals, Cambridge Genomics Center, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Cell migration requires precise control, which is altered or lost when tumor cells become invasive and metastatic. beta-catenin plays a dual role in this process: as a member of adherens junctions it is essential to link cadherins to the cytoskeleton thereby allowing tight intercellular adhesion, and as a member of the Wnt-signaling pathway, beta-catenin is translocated into the nucleus and serves together with the LEF1/TCF-transcription factors to drive gene expression necessary for the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT). Activated beta-catenin signaling has been implicated in the genesis of a variety of tumors. Here we demonstrate a pivotal function for beta-catenin signaling in epithelial cell migration and tumorigenesis. Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) and epidermal growth factor (EGF) induce beta-catenin signaling under conditions where they stimulate cell motility. Ectopic expression of either stabilized beta-catenin or a regulatable form of activated beta-catenin induces cell migration in different cell types and cooperates with EGF and HGF in this process. Activation of beta-catenin signaling induces expression of the new target gene osteopontin during migration. Cells expressing stabilized beta-catenin also exhibit significantly increased capability to form tumors in a nude mouse xenograft model. The data suggest that a critical threshold of beta-catenin signaling, activated by cooperative mechanisms, may be important during the EMT and tumorigenesis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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