Targeting the active β-catenin pathway to treat cancer cells

Hadas Dvory-Sobol, Eyal Sagiv, Diana Kazanov, Avri Ben-Ze'ev, Nadir Arber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The adenomatous polyposis coli or β-catenin genes are frequently mutated in colorectal cancer cells, resulting in oncogenic activation of β-catenin signaling. We tried to establish in vitro and in vivo models for selectively killing human cancer cells with an activated β-catenin/ T-cell factor (Tcf) pathway. We used a recombinant adenovirus that carries a lethal gene [p53-up-regulated modulator of apoptosis (PUMA)] under the control of a β-catenin/Tcf - responsive promoter (AdTOP-PUMA) to selectively target human colorectal cancer cells (SW480, HCT116, DLD-1, and LS174T), hepatocellular carcinoma (HepG2), and gastric cancer cells (AGS) in which the β-catenin/Tcf pathway is activated, and compared its efficiency in killing cancer cells in which this pathway is inactive or only weakly active. AdFOP-PUMA, carrying a mutant Tcf-binding site, was used as control virus. The combined effect of AdTOP-PUMA with several chemotherapeutic agents (5-florouracil, doxorubicin, and paclitaxel) was also evaluated. The effect of AdTOP-PUMA on colorectal cancer cells was also examined in nude mice: SW480 cells were infected with the AdTOP-PUMA and AdFOP-PUMA, and then inoculated s.c. into nude mice. The TOP-PUMA adenovirus inhibited cell growth in a dose-dependent fashion, depending on the signaling activity of β-catenin. The growth of cells displaying high levels of active β-catenin/Tcf signaling was inhibited after infection with AdTOP-PUMA, whereas that of cells with low levels of β-catenin signaling was not. Growth inhibition was associated with induction of apoptosis. Chemotherapy synergistically enhanced the effect of AdTOP-PUMA. A combination of the adenovirus system with standard therapy may improve the efficacy and reduce the toxicity of therapy in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2861-2871
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Cancer Therapeutics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2006


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