Binding of the adenomatous polyposis coli protein to microtubules increases microtubule stability and is regulated by GSK3 beta phosphorylation.
Truncation mutations in the adenomatous polyposis coli protein (APC) are responsible for familial polyposis, a form of inherited colon cancer. In addition to its role in mediating beta-catenin degradation in the Wnt signaling pathway, APC plays a role in regulating microtubules. This was suggested by its localization to the end of dynamic microtubules in actively migrating areas of cells and by the apparent correlation between the dissociation of APC from polymerizing microtubules and their subsequent depolymerization [1, 2]. The microtubule binding domain is deleted in the transforming mutations of APC [3, 4]; however, the direct effect of APC protein on microtubules has never been examined. Here we show that binding of APC to microtubules increases microtubule stability in vivo and in vitro. Deleting the previously identified microtubule binding site from the C-terminal domain of APC does not eliminate its binding to microtubules but decreases the ability of APC to stabilize them significantly. The interaction of APC with microtubules is decreased by phosphorylation of APC by GSK3 beta. These data confirm the hypothesis that APC is involved in stabilizing microtubule ends. They also suggest that binding of APC to microtubules is mediated by at least two distinct sites and is regulated by phosphorylation.