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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Sep 3;93(18):9588-93.

Forced expression of the tumor suppressor adenomatosis polyposis coli protein induces disordered cell migration in the intestinal epithelium.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Biology and Pharmacology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA.


Mutations of the human adenomatosis polyposis coli (APC) gene are associated with the development of familial as well as sporadic intestinal neoplasia. To examine the in vivo function of APC, 129/Sv embryonic stem (ES) cells were transfected with DNA encoding the wild-type human protein under the control of a promoter that is active in all four of the small intestine's principal epithelial lineages during their migration-associated differentiation. ES-APC cells were then introduced into C57BL/6-ROSA26 blastocysts. Analyses of adult B6-ROSA26<-->129/Sv-APC chimeric mice revealed that forced expression of APC results in markedly disordered cell migration. When compared with the effects of forced expression of E-cadherin, the data suggest that APC-catenin and E-cadherin-catenin complexes have opposing effects on intestinal epithelial cell movement/adhesiveness; augmentation of E-cadherin-beta-catenin complexes produces a highly ordered, "adhesive" migration, whereas augmentation of APC-beta-catenin complexes produces a disordered, nonadhesive migratory phenotype. We propose that APC mutations may promote tumorigenesis by increasing the relative activity of cadherin-catenin complexes, resulting in enhanced adhesiveness and functional anchorage of initiated cells within the intestinal crypt. Our studies also indicate that chimeric mice generated from B6-ROSA26 blastocysts and genetically manipulated ES cells should be useful for auditing gene function in the gastrointestinal tract and in other tissues.

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