Identification of BMP and activin membrane-bound inhibitor (BAMBI), an inhibitor of transforming growth factor-beta signaling, as a target of the beta-catenin pathway in colorectal tumor cells.
The Wnt signaling pathway is activated in most human colorectal tumors. Mutational inactivation in the tumor suppressor adenomatous polyposis coli (APC), as well as activation of beta-catenin, causes the accumulation of beta-catenin, which in turn associates with the T cell factor/lymphoid enhancer factor (TCF/LEF) family of transcription factors and activates transcription of their target genes. Here we show that beta-catenin activates transcription of the BMP and activin membrane-bound inhibitor (BAMBI)/NMA gene. The expression level of BAMBI was found to be aberrantly elevated in most colorectal and hepatocellular carcinomas relative to the corresponding non-cancerous tissues. Expression of BAMBI in colorectal tumor cell lines was repressed by a dominant-negative mutant of TCF-4 or by an inhibitor of beta-catenin-TCF interaction, suggesting that beta-catenin is responsible for the aberrant expression of BAMBI in colorectal tumor cells. Furthermore, overexpression of BAMBI inhibited the response of tumor cells to transforming growth factor-beta signaling. These results suggest that beta-catenin interferes with transforming growth factor-beta-mediated growth arrest by inducing the expression of BAMBI, and this may contribute to colorectal and hepatocellular tumorigenesis.