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Carcinogenesis. 2005 Jan;26(1):239-48. Epub 2004 Oct 7.

A beta-catenin-dependent pathway regulates expression of cytochrome P450 isoforms in mouse liver tumors.

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Department of Toxicology, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Tuebingen, Wilhelmstrasse 56, 72074 Tuebingen, Germany.


Phenobarbital (PB) is a model tumor promoter in the rodent liver. In the mouse, the promotional effect of PB results from a selective stimulation of clonal outgrowth of hepatocytes harboring activating mutations in the beta-catenin (catnb) gene. Glutamine synthetase (GS), a downstream target in the Wnt/beta-catenin/T-cell factor (TCF) signaling pathway, is strongly up-regulated in catnb-mutated mouse liver tumors and may serve as a marker for their identification. Here we show that the levels of several cytochrome P450 (CYP) isoenzymes are also altered in GS-positive liver tumors. Immunohistochemical and western blotting analyses demonstrated that GS-positive, catnb-mutated tumors showed levels of CYP1A, CYP2B, CYP2C and CYP2E1, which were similar or slightly enhanced in comparison with non-tumoral liver tissue. This contrasts with tumors without catnb mutations, which exhibited decreased levels of these CYP isoforms. Real-time RT-PCR revealed that the differences in CYP levels in the tumors corresponded to changes in the respective mRNAs. Mouse hepatoma cells were transiently transfected with an expression vector encoding an S33Y-mutated beta-catenin protein, which was functional with regard to transactivation of a beta-catenin/TCF-responsive (topflash) reporter construct. Co-transfected with luciferase reporter vectors containing either the regulatory upstream sequence of the CYP2B1 gene or three dioxin-responsive core elements were activated by S33Y-beta-catenin. These results indicate that mutation of catnb leads to transcriptional activation of CYP isoenzymes in mouse liver tumors. As CYPs are involved in both the activation and the inactivation of several clinically important anticancer drugs, our findings may be relevant for chemotherapy of human cancers, where activation of beta-catenin-dependent signaling by mutation of the gene or alternative mechanisms is frequently observed.

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