The Hedgehog (Hh) signaling pathway plays an important role in human development. Abnormal activation of this pathway has been observed in several types of human cancers, such as the upper gastro-intestinal tract cancers. However, activation of the Hh pathway in colorectal cancers is controversial. We analyzed the expression of the main key members of the Hh pathway in 7 colon cancer cell lines in order to discover whether the pathway is constitutively active in these cells. We estimated the expression of SHH, IHH, PTCH, SMO, GLI1, GLI2, GLI3, SUFU and HHIP genes by RT-PCR. Moreover, Hh ligand, Gli3 and Sufu protein levels were quantified by western blotting. None of the cell lines expressed the complete set of Hh pathway members. The ligands were absent from Colo320 and HCT116 cells, Smo from Colo205, HT29 and WiDr. GLI1 gene was not expressed in SW480 cells nor were GLI2/GLI3 in Colo205 or Caco-2 cells. Furthermore the repressive form of Gli3, characteristic of an inactive pathway, was detected in SW480 and Colo320 cells. Finally treatment of colon cancer cells with cyclopamine, a specific inhibitor of the Hh pathway, did not downregulate PTCH and GLI1 genes expression in the colorectal cells, whereas it did so in PANC1 control cells. Taken together, these results indicate that the aberrant activation of the Hh signaling pathway is not common in colorectal cancer cell lines.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.