Lef-1 isoforms regulate different target genes and reduce cellular adhesion


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Abstract

The lymphoid enhancer factor 1 (Lef-1) belongs to the nuclear transducers of canonical Wnt-signalling in embryogenesis and cancer. Lef-1 acts, in cooperation with β-catenin, as a context-dependent transcriptional activator or repressor, thereby influencing multiple cellular functions such as proliferation, differentiation and migration. Here we report that an increased Lef-1 expression in human pancreatic cancer correlates with advanced tumour stages. In pancreatic tumours, two different transcripts of Lef-1 have been detected in various stages, as demonstrated by RT-PCR analysis. One transcript was identified as the full length Lef-1 (Lef-1 FL), whereas the second, shorter transcript lacked exon VI (Lef-1 Δexon VI) compared to the published sequence. Comparative analysis of these two Lef-1 variants revealed that they exhibit different cellular effects after transient expression in pancreatic carcinoma cells. Forced expression of Lef-1 Δexon VI inhibited E-cadherin expression in a β-catenin-independent way. Increased amounts of Lef-1 Δexon VI resulted in reduced cellular aggregation and increased cell migration. Expression of Lef-1 FL, but not the newly identified Lef-1 Δexon VI, induced the expression of the cell cycle regulating proteins c-myc and cyclin D1 in cooperation with β-catenin and it enhanced cell proliferation. Our findings indicate that expression of alternatively spliced Lef-1 isoforms is involved in the determination of proliferative or migratory characteristics of pancreatic carcinoma cells.

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