The Journal of cell biology

K-Ras and B-Raf oncogenes inhibit colon epithelial polarity establishment through up-regulation of c-myc.

PMID 22826122


KRAS, BRAF, and PI3KCA are the most frequently mutated oncogenes in human colon cancer. To explore their effects on morphogenesis, we used the colon cancer-derived cell line Caco-2. When seeded in extracellular matrix, individual cells proliferate and generate hollow, polarized cysts. The expression of oncogenic phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3KCA H1047R) in Caco-2 has no effect, but K-Ras V12 or B-Raf V600E disrupts polarity and tight junctions and promotes hyperproliferation, resulting in large, filled structures. Inhibition of mitogen-activated protein/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) kinase blocks the disruption of morphology, as well as the increased levels of c-myc protein induced by K-Ras V12 and B-Raf V600E. Apical polarity is already established after the first cell division (two-cell stage) in Caco-2 three-dimensional cultures. This is disrupted by expression of K-Ras V12 or B-Raf V600E but can be rescued by ribonucleic acid interference-mediated depletion of c-myc. We conclude that ERK-mediated up-regulation of c-myc by K-Ras or B-Raf oncogenes disrupts the establishment of apical/basolateral polarity in colon epithelial cells independently of its effect on proliferation.