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Accession IconSRP045828

BCL9/9L-ß-catenin Signaling is Associated With Poor Outcome in Colorectal Cancer

Organism Icon Mus musculus
Sample Icon 24 Downloadable Samples
Technology Badge IconIllumina HiSeq 2500

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Canonical Wnt signaling output is mediated by ß-catenin, which interacts with LEF/TCF transcription factors and recruits a general transcriptional activation complex to its C-terminus. Its N-terminus binds BCL9/9L proteins, which bind co-activators that in mammals contribute to fine-tuning the transcriptional output. We found that a BCL9/9L-dependent gene expression signature was strongly associated with patient outcome in colorectal cancer and that stem cell and mesenchymal genes determine its prognostic value. Abrogating BCL9/9L-ß-catenin signaling in independent mouse colorectal cancer models resulted in virtual loss of these traits, and oncogenic intestinal organoids lacking BCL9/9L proteins proved no longer tumorigenic. Our findings suggest that the BCL9/9L arm of Wnt-ß-catenin signaling sustains a stemness-to-differentiation equilibrium in colorectal cancer, which critically affects disease outcome. Mutational activation of the Wnt pathway is a key oncogenic event in colorectal cancer. Targeting the pathway downstream of activating mutations is challenging, and the therapeutic window is limited by intestinal toxicity. Contrasting with phenotypes caused by inactivating key Wnt pathway components, ablation of BCL9/9L proteins in adult mice indicated that they were dispensable for intestinal homeostasis, consistent with their role in tuning transcription. Cancer stem cells are increasingly recognized as responsible for tumor recurrence. The correlation between stemness traits in colorectal cancer models and BCL9/9L-ß-catenin signaling suggests that high Wnt signaling output is required for their maintenance. Our findings suggest that pruning Wnt-ß-catenin signaling might be well tolerated and prove sufficient for trimming stemness traits and improving disease outcome. Overall design: Examination of Bcl9/9l-knockout versus wild-type transcriptome in murine AOM-DSS tumors, APC-Kras tumors and healthy colocyte extracts.
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