CLU and Colon Cancer. The Dual Face of CLU: From Normal to Malignant Phenotype

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Abstract

The transition from normal to malignant phenotype implies the activation of some pathways that underlie the aberrant clone expansion. In some way, the conventional function of proteins involved in DNA repair, cell death/growth induction, vascularization, and metabolism is inhibited or shifted toward other pathways by soluble mediators that orchestrate such change depending on the microenvironment conditions. The adenoma-carcinoma sequence of the colon represents one of the most well studied and characterized models of human tumor progression. In this section, we focus our attention on defined pathways that underlie the initiation, promotion, and progression of colon cancer, conferring aggressiveness to the neoplastic cells. Clusterin (CLU) is a pleiotropic protein with a broad range of functions. It has recently drawn much attention because of its association with cancer promotion and metastasis. It is involved in prosurvival and apoptosis processes that are carried out by two different forms. sCLU is cytoprotective and its prosurvival function is the basis of the current Phase I/II clinical trials. In colorectal cancer an increase of sCLU expression occurs, whereas the nuclear proapoptotic form is downregulated. Several controversial data have been published on colon cancer discussing its role as tumor suppressor or prosurvival factor in colon cancer. Here, we report the dynamic interaction of the different forms of CLU with their partners DNA-repair protein Ku70 and proapoptotic factor Bax during colon cancer progression, which seems to be a crucial point for the neoplastic cell fate.

We also highlight that the appearance and the progressive increase of the sCLU in colorectal tumors correlate to a significant increase of CLU in serum and stool of patients. On the basis of results obtained by CLU immuno-dosage in blood and stool of colon cancer patients, we report that sCLU could represent a diagnostic molecular marker for colon cancer screening.

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