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Open Access Research article

Verification of predicted alternatively spliced Wnt genes reveals two new splice variants (CTNNB1 and LRP5) and altered Axin-1 expression during tumour progression

Heike Pospisil1, Alexander Herrmann2, Kristine Butherus3, Stefan Pirson4, Jens G Reich2 and Wolfgang Kemmner5*

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Bioinformatics, University of Hamburg, Bundesstrasse 43, 20146 Hamburg, Germany

2 Dept. of Bioinformatics, Max-Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Robert-Roessle Str. 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany

3 Clinic for Surgery and Surgical Oncology, Robert-Roessle Klinik, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Lindenberger Weg 80, 13125 Berlin, Germany

4 Children's Hospital Medical Center, Munich University of Technology, Parzivalstr. 16, 80804 München, Germany

5 Clinic for Surgery and Surgical Oncology, Max-Delbrueck Center, Robert-Roessle Str. 10, 13125 Berlin, Germany

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BMC Genomics 2006, 7:148  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-7-148

Published: 13 June 2006

Abstract

Background

Splicing processes might play a major role in carcinogenesis and tumour progression. The Wnt pathway is of crucial relevance for cancer progression. Therefore we focussed on the Wnt/β-catenin signalling pathway in order to validate the expression of sequences predicted as alternatively spliced by bioinformatic methods. Splice variants of its key molecules were selected, which may be critical components for the understanding of colorectal tumour progression and may have the potential to act as biological markers. For some of the Wnt pathway genes the existence of splice variants was either proposed (e.g. β-Catenin and CTNNB1) or described only in non-colon tissues (e.g. GSK3β) or hitherto not published (e.g. LRP5).

Results

Both splice variants – normal and alternative form – of all selected Wnt pathway components were found to be expressed in cell lines as well as in samples derived from tumour, normal and healthy tissues. All splice positions corresponded totally with the bioinformatical prediction as shown by sequencing. Two hitherto not described alternative splice forms (CTNNB1 and LRP5) were detected. Although the underlying EST data used for the bioinformatic analysis suggested a tumour-specific expression neither a qualitative nor a significant quantitative difference between the expression in tumour and healthy tissues was detected. Axin-1 expression was reduced in later stages and in samples from carcinomas forming distant metastases.

Conclusion

We were first to describe that splice forms of crucial genes of the Wnt-pathway are expressed in human colorectal tissue. Newly described splicefoms were found for β-Catenin, LRP5, GSK3β, Axin-1 and CtBP1. However, the predicted cancer specificity suggested by the origin of the underlying ESTs was neither qualitatively nor significant quantitatively confirmed. That let us to conclude that EST sequence data can give adequate hints for the existence of alternative splicing in tumour tissues. That no difference in the expression of these splice forms between cancerous tissues and normal mucosa was found, may indicate that the existence of different splice forms is of less significance for cancer formation as suggested by the available EST data. The currently available EST source is still insufficient to clearly deduce colon cancer specificity. More EST data from colon (tumour and healthy) is required to make reliable predictions.