Hedgehog signal is re-activated in several cancers. In this study, we examined the role of Gli3 on malignant phenotype of tumorigenicity for colorectal cancer and its relationship with p53, WNT and ERK/AKT signals. Gli3 expression was detected in HT29 and SW480 (p53-mutant) cells, but not in DLD-1 (p53-mutant) or HCT116 (p53-wild type) cells by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction and immunocytochemistry. Full-length Gli3 transfection increased anchor-independent growth for all cells regardless of p53 status, with upregulation of adhesion-related genes. Exogenous Sonic-Hedgehog increased activator-type of Gli3 and colony formation in Gli3-positive HT29 and SW480 cells. After implantation of Gli3-FL or mock-transfectant DLD-1 cells into SCID mice, tumor formation was highly observed in only Gli3-FL-transfectant group. In clinical specimens, Gli3 expression was detected in subsets of colorectal cancer and related with poorly-differentiated histological type, while Sonic-Hedgehog was present with high incidence. In conclusion, activator Gli3 signal augments tumorigenicity of colorectal cancer irrespective of p53 status.
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