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Mol Biol Cell. 2009 Apr;20(7):2121-9. doi: 10.1091/mbc.E08-12-1196. Epub 2009 Feb 4.

Loss of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts activates a novel mechanism for up-regulation of the proto-oncogene c-Jun.

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Department of Biochemistry, George S. Wise Faculty of Life Sciences, Tel Aviv University, 69978 Tel Aviv, Israel.


Loss of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts can elicit a signaling pathway that leads to acquisition of an invasive phenotype. Here, we show that at the receiving end of this pathway is the proto-oncogene c-Jun, a member of the activator protein-1 family of transcription factors that play a key role in stimulation of cell proliferation and tumor promotion. Cell separation or abrogation of E-cadherin-mediated cell-cell contacts both cause a dramatic increase in accumulation of the c-Jun protein. Unlike growth factors that enhance the expression of c-Jun by activating the transcription of the c-jun gene, the cell contact-dependent increase in c-Jun accumulation is not accompanied by a corresponding increase in c-Jun mRNA or c-Jun protein stability but rather in the translatability of the c-Jun transcript. Consistently, the increase in c-Jun accumulation is not dependent on activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase or beta-catenin pathways but is mediated by signals triggered by the restructured cytoskeleton. Depolymerization of the cytoskeleton can mimic the effect of cell separation and cause a dramatic increase in c-Jun accumulation, whereas Taxol inhibits the cell contact-dependent increase. This novel mechanism of c-Jun regulation seems to underlie the robust overexpression of c-Jun in tumor cells of patients with colon carcinoma.

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