Watanabe K, Biesinger J, Salmans ML, Roberts BS, Arthur WT, Cleary M, Andersen B, Xie X, Dai X
BACKGROUND: Deregulation of canonical Wnt/CTNNB1 (beta-catenin) pathway is one of the earliest events in the pathogenesis of colon cancer. Mutations in APC or CTNNB1 are highly frequent in colon cancer and cause aberrant stabilization of CTNNB1, which activates the transcription of Wnt target genes by binding to chromatin via the TCF/LEF transcription factors. Here we report an integrative analysis of genome-wide chromatin occupancy of CTNNB1 by chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled with high-throughput sequencing (ChIP-seq) and gene expression profiling by microarray analysis upon RNAi-mediated knockdown of CTNNB1 in colon cancer cells. RESULTS: We observed 3629 CTNNB1 binding peaks across the genome and a significant correlation between CTNNB1 binding and knockdown-induced gene expression change. Our integrative analysis led to the discovery of a direct Wnt target signature composed of 162 genes. Gene ontology analysis of this signature revealed a significant enrichment of Wnt pathway genes, suggesting multiple feedback regulations of the pathway. We provide evidence that this gene signature partially overlaps with the Lgr5+ intestinal stem cell signature, and is significantly enriched in normal intestinal stem cells as well as in clinical colorectal cancer samples. Interestingly, while the expression of the CTNNB1 target gene set does not correlate with survival, elevated expression of negative feedback regulators within the signature predicts better prognosis. CONCLUSION: Our data provide a genome-wide view of chromatin occupancy and gene regulation of Wnt/CTNNB1 signaling in colon cancer cells.