Cancer development is usually driven by multiple genetic and molecular alterations rather than by a single defect. In the human colorectal cancer (CRC), series of mutations of genes are involved in the different stages of tumorigenesis. For example, adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) and KRAS mutations have been known to play roles in the initiation and progression of the tumorigenesis, respectively. However, many studies indicate that mutations of these two genes, which play roles in the Wnt/β-catenin and RAS-extra-cellular signal regulated kinase (ERK) pathways, respectively, cooperatively interact in the tumorigenesis in several different cancer types including CRC. Both Apc and Kras mutations critically increase number and growth rate of tumors although single mutation of these genes does not significantly enhance the small intestinal tumorigenesis of mice. Both APC and KRAS mutations even result in the liver metastasis with inductions of the cancer stem cells (CSCs) markers in a mice xenograft model. In this review, we are going to describe the history for interaction between the Wnt/β-catenin and RAS/ERK pathways especially related with CRC, and provide the mechanical basis for the cross-talk between the two pathways. The highlight of the crosstalk involving the stability regulation of RAS protein via the Wnt/β-catenin signaling which is directly related with the cellular proliferation and transformation will be discussed. Activation status of GSK3β a key enzyme involving both β-catenin and RAS degradations, is regulated by the status of the Wnt/β-catenin signaling dependent upon extracellular stimuli or intracellular abnormalities of the signaling components. The levels of both β-catenin and RAS proteins are co-regulated by the Wnt/β-catenin signaling, and these proteins are overexpressed with a positive correlation in the tumor tissues of CRC patients. These results indicate that the elevation of both β-catenin and RAS proteins is pathologically significant in CRC. In this review, we also will discuss further involvement of the increments of both β-catenin and RAS especially mutant KRAS in the activation of CSCs and metastasis. Overall, the increments of β-catenin and RAS especially mutant KRAS by APC loss play important roles in the cooperative tumorigenesis of CRC.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cancer Research