Background & aims: Expression of the tight junction protein claudin-1 is dysregulated in colon tumors and associates with their progression. Up-regulation of claudin-1 reduces expression of E-cadherin. We investigated the mechanisms by which claudin-1 regulates E-cadherin expression and its effects in colon cancer cells.
Materials and methods: We used gene expression analysis, immunoblotting, and reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction to associate expression of the repressor of transcription Zinc Finger E-box binding homeobox-box1 (ZEB-1) with claudin-1. We analyzed SW480 colon cancer cells that overexpressed claudin-1, or SW620 cells in which claudin-1 expression was repressed, to determine the effects on ZEB-1 and E-cadherin expression, invasive activity, and resistance to anoikis. We studied cells that expressed constitutively active or dominant negative forms of factors in the Wnt or phosphotidylinositol-3-kinase signaling pathways and used pharmacologic inhibitors of these pathways to study their role in claudin-1-dependent regulation of ZEB-1. We used microarray analysis to examine gene expression patterns in 260 colorectal tumor and normal colon samples.
Results: Claudin-1 down-regulates E-cadherin expression by up-regulating expression of ZEB-1. Claudin-1 activates Wnt and phosphotidylinositol-3-kinase/Akt signaling. ZEB-1 mediates claudin-1-regulated changes in cell invasion and anoikis. Expression of claudin-1 correlated with that of ZEB-1 in human colon tumor samples. In the progression from normal colonic epithelium to colon adenocarcinoma, levels of E-cadherin decreased, whereas levels of claudin-1 and ZEB-1 increased. Down-regulation of E-cadherin and up-regulation of ZEB-1 in colon tumors were associated with shorter survival times.
Conclusions: Claudin-1 up-regulates the repressor ZEB-1 to reduce expression of E-cadherin in colon cancer cells, increasing their invasive activity and reducing anoikis. This pathway is associated with colorectal cancer progression and patient survival.
Copyright © 2011 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.