β-Catenin plays a dual role in the cell: one in linking the cytoplasmic side of cadherin-mediated cell–cell contacts to the actin cytoskeleton and an additional role in signaling that involves transactivation in complex with transcription factors of the lymphoid enhancing factor (LEF-1) family. Elevated β-catenin levels in colorectal cancer caused by mutations in β-catenin or by the adenomatous polyposis coli molecule, which regulates β-catenin degradation, result in the binding of β-catenin to LEF-1 and increased transcriptional activation of mostly unknown target genes. Here, we show that the cyclin D1 gene is a direct target for transactivation by the β-catenin/LEF-1 pathway through a LEF-1 binding site in the cyclin D1 promoter. Inhibitors of β-catenin activation, wild-type adenomatous polyposis coli, axin, and the cytoplasmic tail of cadherin suppressed cyclin D1 promoter activity in colon cancer cells. Cyclin D1 protein levels were induced by β-catenin overexpression and reduced in cells overexpressing the cadherin cytoplasmic domain. Increased β-catenin levels may thus promote neoplastic conversion by triggering cyclin D1 gene expression and, consequently, uncontrolled progression into the cell cycle
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