Overexpression of CD97 in Intestinal Epithelial Cells of Transgenic Mice Attenuates Colitis by Strengthening Adherens Junctions
The adhesion G-protein-coupled receptor CD97 is present in normal colonic enterocytes but overexpressed in colorectal carcinoma. To investigate the function of CD97 in colorectal carcinogenesis, transgenic Tg(villin-CD97) mice overexpressing CD97 in enterocytes were generated and subjected to azoxymethane (AOM)/dextran sodium sulfate (DSS)-induced colitis-associated tumorigenesis. Unexpectedly, we found a CD97 cDNA copy number-dependent reduction of DSS-induced colitis in Tg compared to wild-type (WT) mice that was confirmed by applying a simple DSS protocol. Ultrastructural analysis revealed that overexpression of CD97 strengthened lateral cell-cell contacts between enterocytes, which, in contrast, were weakened in CD97 knockout (Ko) mice. Transepithelial resistance was not altered in Tg and Ko mice, indicating that tight junctions were not affected. In Tg murine and normal human colonic enterocytes as well as in colorectal cell lines CD97 was localized preferentially in E-cadherin-based adherens junctions. CD97 overexpression upregulated membrane-bound but not cytoplasmic or nuclear β-catenin and reduced phospho-β-catenin, labeled for degradation. This was associated with inactivation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) and activation of Akt. In summary, CD97 increases the structural integrity of enterocytic adherens junctions by increasing and stabilizing junctional β-catenin, thereby regulating intestinal epithelial strength and attenuating experimental colitis.
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