Open Access Open Badges Research article

Rab11 regulates E-cadherin expression and induces cell transformation in colorectal carcinoma

Yuan-Chiang Chung1, Wan-Chen Wei12, Shin-Han Huang2, Chi-Min Shih2, Chih-Ping Hsu3, King-Jen Chang1 and Wei-Ting Chao2*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, Cheng-Ching General Hospital, Chung-Kang Branch, Taichung, Taiwan

2 Department of Life Science, Tunghai University, 1727, Sec.4, Taiwan Boulevard, Taichung, Taiwan

3 Department of Medical Laboratory Science and Biotechnology, Yuanpei University, Hsinchu City, Taiwan

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BMC Cancer 2014, 14:587  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-587

Published: 12 August 2014



In the process of epithelial mesenchymal transition EMT, the disassembly of junctional adhesion complexes such as E-cadherin is a remarkable sign during changes in cell morphology and polarity. However, E-cadherin expression is dynamic, and is regulated by the cellular endocytic system; it is also involved in cell signaling mechanisms. In this study, we investigated the role of E-cadherin in colorectal tumors and the relationship with recycling endosome protein Rab11 in colon cell transformation.


For tissue screening, the expressions of E-cadherin and Rab11 in colorectal tumors were identified by immunohistochemistry in 113 patients with colorectal carcinoma. For the in vitro cell experiment, GFP-tagged Rab11 plasmid was transfected into HT29 colon cells, E-cadherin expression and cell transformation were monitored by Western blot and confocal microscopy.


In immunohistochemistry, the mean score of E-cadherin in tumor and normal tissues was 1.41 ± 0.06 and 1.08 ± 0.06 (p < 0.05). The mean score of Rab11 in tumor and normal tissues was 0.51 ± 0.05 and 0.18 ± 0.02 (p < 0.05). Synchronous overexpression of E-cadherin and Rab11 was noted in 74 patients (66.5%) with colorectal carcinoma. When GFP-tagged Rab11 plasmid was overexpressed in cultured colon cell line HT-29, the E-cadherin expression was up-regulated, and cell membrane protrusion was induced, which resulted in cell transformation and cell migration.


This study demonstrated the importance of the overexpression of Rab11 and E-cadherin in colorectal cancer. The results indicated that Rab11 together with E-cadherin might be potential markers for colorectal cancer progression and treatment.

Rab11; E-cadherin; Colorectal carcinoma; Vesicle recycling; Epithelial mesenchymal transition