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Hepatology. 2003 Jul;38(1):178-86.

EBP50, a beta-catenin-associating protein, enhances Wnt signaling and is over-expressed in hepatocellular carcinoma.

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Pathology Division, National Cancer Center Research Institute, Tokyo, Japan.


Wnt signaling mediated by beta-catenin plays crucial roles in the development of hepatocellular carcinoma and other cancers such as colorectal cancer. beta-Catenin associates with T-cell factor (TCF) transcription factors and functions as a transcriptional activator in the nucleus. By protein interaction screening, we identified EBP50, a cytoplasmic protein with 2 PDZ domains, as a beta-catenin-associating molecule. EBP50 interacted with beta-catenin through its carboxyl-PDZ domain in vitro and in vivo. Northern blot and RT-PCR analysis revealed an increase of EBP50 messenger RNA (mRNA) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) cell lines and surgical specimens of human HCC. Over-expression of EBP50 protein with focal nuclear localization was detected in human HCC. In human HCC and colorectal cancer cell lines, EBP50 enhanced beta-catenin/TCF-dependent transcription in a dose-dependent manner. In an HCC cell line, over-expression of the carboxyl PDZ domain resulted in a decrease of endogenous beta-catenin/TCF transactivation. EBP50 promoted beta-catenin-mediated transactivation only in cells in which beta-catenin was already stabilized, suggesting that EBP50 may work with stabilized beta-catenin for transcriptional regulation. In conclusion, the EBP50/beta-catenin complex promotes Wnt signaling, and over-expression of EBP50 may work cooperatively with beta-catenin in the development of liver cancer.

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