The adenomatous polyposis coli gene (APC) is a tumor suppressor gene that is inactivated in most colorectal cancers. Mutations of APC cause aberrant accumulation of beta-catenin, which then binds T cell factor-4 (Tcf-4), causing increased transcriptional activation of unknown genes. Here, the c-MYC oncogene is identified as a target gene in this signaling pathway. Expression of c-MYC was shown to be repressed by wild-type APC and activated by beta-catenin, and these effects were mediated through Tcf-4 binding sites in the c-MYC promoter. These results provide a molecular framework for understanding the previously enigmatic overexpression of c-MYC in colorectal cancers.
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