Carcinoembryonic antigen promotes colorectal cancer progression by targeting adherens junction complexes

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Abstract

Oncomarkers play important roles in the detection and management of human malignancies. Carcinoembryonic antigen (CEA, CEACAM5) and epithelial cadherin (E-cadherin) are considered as independent tumor markers in monitoring metastatic colorectal cancer. They are both expressed by cancer cells and can be detected in the blood serum. We investigated the effect of CEA production by MIP101 colorectal carcinoma cell lines on E-cadherin adherens junction (AJ) protein complexes. No direct interaction between E-cadherin and CEA was detected; however, the functional relationships between E-cadherin and its AJ partners: α-, β- and p120 catenins were impaired. We discovered a novel interaction between CEA and beta-catenin protein in the CEA producing cells. It is shown in the current study that CEA overexpression alters the splicing of p120 catenin and triggers the release of soluble E-cadherin. The influence of CEA production by colorectal cancer cells on the function of E-cadherin junction complexes may explain the link between the elevated levels of CEA and the increase in soluble E-cadherin during the progression of colorectal cancer.

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