Gastroenterology. 2007 Nov.
Beta-catenin/Tcf-4 inhibition after progastrin targeting reduces growth and drives differentiation of intestinal tumors
Pannequin J1, Delaunay N, Buchert M, Surrel F, Bourgaux JF, Ryan J, Boireau S, Coelho J, Pélegrin A, Singh P, Shulkes A, Yim M, Baldwin GS, Pignodel C, Lambeau G, Jay P, Joubert D, Hollande F.
Aberrant activation of the beta-catenin/Tcf-4 transcriptional complex represents an initiating event for colorectal carcinogenesis, shifting the balance from differentiation toward proliferation in colonic crypts. Here, we assessed whether endogenous progastrin, encoded by a target gene of this complex, was in turn able to regulate beta-catenin/Tcf-4 activity in adenomatous polyposis coli (APC)-mutated cells, and we analyzed the impact of topical progastrin depletion on intestinal tumor growth in vivo.
Stable or transient RNA silencing of the GAST gene was induced in human tumor cells and in mice carrying a heterozygous Apc mutation (APCDelta14), which overexpress progastrin but not amidated or glycine-extended gastrin.
Depletion of endogenous progastrin production strongly decreased intestinal tumor growth in vivo through a marked inhibition of constitutive beta-catenin/Tcf-4 activity in tumor cells. This effect was mediated by the de novo expression of the inhibitor of beta-catenin and Tcf-4 (ICAT), resulting from a down-regulation of integrin-linked kinase in progastrin-depleted cells. Accordingly, ICAT down-regulation was correlated with progastrin overexpression and Tcf-4 target gene activation in human colorectal tumors, and ICAT repression was detected in the colon epithelium of tumor-prone, progastrin-overexpressing mice. In APCDelta14 mice, small interfering RNA-mediated progastrin depletion not only reduced intestinal tumor size and numbers, but also increased goblet cell lineage differentiation and cell apoptosis in the remaining adenomas.
Thus, depletion of endogenous progastrin inhibits the tumorigenicity of APC-mutated colorectal cancer cells in vivo by promoting ICAT expression, thereby counteracting Tcf-4 activity. Progastrin targeting strategies should provide an exciting prospect for the differentiation therapy of colorectal cancer.