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Folate transport gene inactivation in mice increases sensitivity to colon carcinogenesis.

Low dietary folate intake is associated with an increased risk for colon cancer; however, relevant genetic animal models are lacking. We therefore investigated the effect of targeted ablation of two folate transport genes, folate binding protein 1 (Folbp1) and reduced folate carrier 1 (RFC1), on folate homeostasis to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of folate action on colonocyte cell proliferation, gene expression, and colon carcinogenesis. Targeted deletion of Folbp1 (Folbp1(+/-) and Folbp1(-/-)) significantly reduced (P < 0.05) colonic Folbp1 mRNA, colonic mucosa, and plasma folate concentration. In contrast, subtle changes in folate homeostasis resulted from targeted deletion of RFC1 (RFC1(+/-)). These animals had reduced (P < 0.05) colonic RFC1 mRNA and exhibited a 2-fold reduction in the plasma S-adenosylmethionine/S-adenosylhomocysteine. Folbp1(+/-) and Folbp1(-/-) mice had larger crypts expressed as greater (P < 0.05) numbers of cells per crypt column relative to Folbp1(+/+) mice. Colonic cell proliferation was increased in RFC1(+/-) mice relative to RFC1(+/+) mice. Microarray analysis of colonic mucosa showed distinct changes in gene expression specific to Folbp1 or RFC1 ablation. The effect of folate transporter gene ablation on colon carcinogenesis was evaluated 8 and 38 weeks post-azoxymethane injection in wild-type and heterozygous mice. Relative to RFC1(+/+) mice, RFC1(+/-) mice developed increased (P < 0.05) numbers of aberrant crypt foci at 8 weeks. At 38 weeks, RFC1(+/-) mice developed local inflammatory lesions with or without epithelial dysplasia as well as adenocarcinomas, which were larger relative to RFC1(+/+) mice. In contrast, Folbp1(+/-) mice developed 4-fold (P < 0.05) more lesions relative to Folbp1(+/+) mice. In conclusion, Folbp1 and RFC1 genetically modified mice exhibit distinct changes in colonocyte phenotype and therefore have utility as models to examine the role of folate homeostasis in colon cancer development.

Pubmed ID: 15705887


  • Ma DW
  • Finnell RH
  • Davidson LA
  • Callaway ES
  • Spiegelstein O
  • Piedrahita JA
  • Salbaum JM
  • Kappen C
  • Weeks BR
  • James J
  • Bozinov D
  • Lupton JR
  • Chapkin RS


Cancer research

Publication Data

February 1, 2005

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NCI NIH HHS, Id: CA 59034
  • Agency: NIEHS NIH HHS, Id: P30 ES 09106
  • Agency: NIDCR NIH HHS, Id: R21 DE014523

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Azoxymethane
  • Carcinogens
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic
  • Colon
  • Colonic Neoplasms
  • Folate Receptors, GPI-Anchored
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Silencing
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Kidney
  • Male
  • Membrane Transport Modulators
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Precancerous Conditions
  • Receptors, Cell Surface
  • Reduced Folate Carrier Protein
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • S-Adenosylhomocysteine
  • S-Adenosylmethionine