Molecular causes of colon cancer

Eur J Clin Invest. 2002 Jun;32(6):448-57. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2362.2002.01004.x.


Cells in a developing embryo communicate with each other through a limited number of intercellular signalling pathways, of which the Wnt signalling pathway is one. Little is known about the function of Wnt signalling beyond that in embryogenesis. However, recent insights into the molecular etiology of colon cancer have implied a central role for the Wnt signalling pathway. The malignant transformation of colorectal epithelium is well defined, leading to adenoma and sequentially carcinoma formation. Several genes that regulate the Wnt pathway are mutated in cancer of the human colon and other organs. All of these mutations lead to the inappropriate activation of the pathway, which instructs the cell to divide unrestrictedly. These insights now allow the Wnt pathway to be exploited as a new target for drug development in colon cancer.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / genetics
  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Axin Protein
  • Carcinoma / genetics
  • Carcinoma / metabolism*
  • Colonic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Colonic Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / genetics
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Proteins / genetics
  • Proteins / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins / metabolism*
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Signal Transduction*
  • Trans-Activators / genetics
  • Trans-Activators / metabolism
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins*
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin


  • Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Protein
  • Axin Protein
  • CTNNA1 protein, human
  • CTNNB1 protein, human
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Proteins
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Trans-Activators
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Zebrafish Proteins
  • alpha Catenin
  • beta Catenin