Altered expression of beta-catenin without genetic mutation in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.Mod Pathol 2001; 14(9):900-5MP
beta-catenin which has a role in E-cadherin mediated cell-to-cell adhesion, and is also involved in Wnt signaling pathways as a downstream signaling molecule accumulating in the cytoplasm and nucleus constitutively activates Tcf/LEF-associated transcription of oncogenic genes. We examined the expression pattern and the genetic alteration of beta-catenin to determine the role of beta-catenin in cancer formation and/or progression in intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). beta-catenin expression was immunohistochemically examined in 71 surgically resected ICC samples, and correlation between the expression pattern and clinicopathologic factors was investigated. Mutation analysis of beta-catenin exon 3, which included the responsible element for Wnt signaling was done in 55 samples, using PCR-SSCP and direct sequence methods. Immunohistochemical analysis revealed the reduced membranous expression of beta-catenin in 58 (82%) ICCs and aberrant nuclear expression in 11 (15%) ICCs. The membranous expression was preserved in 62% of the papillary adenocarcinomas, and was frequently reduced in tumors with a poorer histological differentiation (84%), with a significant difference (P =.01). Genetic analysis showed that none of the 55 ICCs examined carried mutations in beta-catenin exon 3. The present study indicates that reduced membranous expression of beta-catenin is associated with non-papillary ICCs which have a more malignant behavior, and that nuclear translocation of beta-catenin results in oncogenic events. Mutations in beta-catenin exon 3 do not appear to be responsible for nuclear translocation of beta-catenin in ICCs.