Apc inactivation, but not obesity, synergizes with Pten deficiency to drive intestinal stem cell-derived tumorigenesis

Tahmineh Tabrizian, Donghai Wang, Fangxia Guan, Zunju Hu, Amanda P. Beck, Fabien Delahaye, Derek M. Huffman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Obesity is a major risk factor for colorectal cancer and can accelerate Lgr5+ intestinal stem cell (ISC)-derived tumorigenesis after the inactivation of Apc. However, whether non-canonical pathways involving PI3K-Akt signaling in ISCs can lead to tumor formation, and if this can be further exacerbated by obesity is unknown. Despite the synergy between Pten and Apc inactivation in epithelial cells on intestinal tumor formation, their combined role in Lgr5+-ISCs, which are the most rapidly dividing ISC population in the intestine, is unknown. Lgr5+-GFP mice were provided low-fat diet (LFD) or high-fat diet (HFD) for 8 months, and the transcriptome was evaluated in Lgr5+-ISCs. For tumor studies, Lgr5+-GFP and Lgr5+-GFP-Ptenflox/flox mice were tamoxifen treated to inactivate Pten in ISCs and provided LFD or HFD until 14-15 months of age. Finally, various combinations of Lgr5+-ISC-specific, Apc- and Pten-deleted mice were generated and evaluated for histopathology and survival. HFD did not overtly alter Akt signaling in ISCs, but did increase other metabolic pathways. Pten deficiency, but not HFD, increased BrdU-positive cells in the small intestine (P < 0.05). However, combining Pten and Apc deficiency synergistically increased proliferative markers, tumor pathology and mortality, in a dose-dependent fashion (P < 0.05). In summary, we show that HFD alone fails to drive Akt signaling in ISCs and that Pten deficiency is dispensable as a tumor suppressor in Lgr5+-ISCs. However, combining Pten and Apc deficiency in ISCs synergistically increases proliferation, tumor formation and mortality. Thus, aberrant Wnt/β-catenin, rather than PI3K-Akt signaling, is requisite for obesity to drive Lgr5+ ISC-derived tumorigenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-265
Number of pages13
JournalEndocrine-Related Cancer
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • Apc
  • Colon cancer
  • Lgr5
  • Obesity
  • Pten

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Oncology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cancer Research


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