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Mutat Res. 2006 Oct 10;601(1-2):11-8. Epub 2006 Jul 24.

Tumors from rats given 1,2-dimethylhydrazine plus chlorophyllin or indole-3-carbinol contain transcriptional changes in beta-catenin that are independent of beta-catenin mutation status.

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Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA.


Tumors induced in the rat by 1,2-dimethylhydrazine (DMH) contain mutations in beta-catenin, but the spectrum of such mutations can be influenced by phytochemicals such as chlorophyllin (CHL) and indole-3-carbinol (I3C). In the present study, we determined the mutation status of beta-catenin in more than 50 DMH-induced colon tumors and small intestine tumors, and compared this with the concomitant expression of beta-catenin mRNA using quantitative real-time RT-PCR analysis. In total, 19/57 (33%) of the tumors harbored mutations in beta-catenin, and 14/19 (74%) of the genetic changes substituted amino acids adjacent to Ser33, a key site for phosphorylation and beta-catenin degradation. These tumors were found to express a 10-fold range of beta-catenin mRNA levels, independent of the beta-catenin mutation status and phytochemical exposure, i.e. CHL or I3C given post-initiation. However, beta-catenin mRNA levels were strongly correlated with mRNA levels of c-myc, c-jun and cyclin D1, which are targets of beta-catenin/Tcf signaling. Tumors with the highest levels of beta-catenin mRNA often had over-expressed beta-catenin protein, and those with lower beta-catenin mRNA typically had low beta-catenin protein expression, but there were exceptions (high beta-catenin mRNA/low beta-catenin protein, or vice versa). We conclude that DMH-induced mutations stabilize beta-catenin protein in tumors, which increase c-myc, c-jun and cyclin D1, but there also can be over-expression of beta-catenin itself at the mRNA level, contributing to high beta-catenin protein levels. Similar findings have been reported in primary human colon cancers and their liver metastases, compared with matched normal-looking tissue. Thus, further studies are warranted on the mechanisms that upregulate beta-catenin at the transcriptional level in human and rodent colon cancers.

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