Genetic alterations in the TGFβ signaling pathway in combination with oncogenic alterations lead to cancer development in the intestines. However, the mechanisms of TGFβ signaling suppression in malignant progression of intestinal tumors have not yet been fully understood. We have examined ApcΔ716 TGFβr2ΔIEC compound mutant mice that carry mutations in Apc and TGFβr2 genes in the intestinal epithelial cells. We found inflammatory microenvironment only in the invasive intestinal adenocarcinomas but not in noninvasive benign polyps of the same mice. We thus treated simple TGFβr2ΔIEC mice with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) that causes ulcerative colitis. Importantly, these TGFβr2ΔIEC mice developed invasive colon cancer associated with chronic inflammation.Wealso found that TGFβ signaling is suppressed in human colitis-associated colon cancer cells. In the mouse invasive tumors, macrophages infiltrated and expressed MT1-MMP, causingMMP2activation. These results suggest that inflammatory microenvironment contributes to submucosal invasion of TGFβ signaling-repressed epithelial cells through activation of MMP2. We further found that regeneration was impaired in TGFβr2ΔIEC mice for intestinal mucosa damaged by DSS treatment or X-ray irradiation, resulting in the expansion of undifferentiated epithelial cell population. Moreover, organoids of intestinal epithelial cells cultured from irradiated TGFβr2ΔIEC mice formed "long crypts" in Matrigel, suggesting acquisition of an invasive phenotype into the extracellular matrix. These results, taken together, indicate that a simple genetic alteration in the TGFβ signaling pathway in the inflamed and regenerating intestinal mucosa can cause invasive intestinal tumors. Such a mechanism may play a role in the colon carcinogenesis associated with inflammatory bowel disease in humans.
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