Cripto haploinsufficiency affects in vivo colon tumor development

Emilia Giorgio, Annamaria Liguoro, Luca D'Orsi, Sara Mancinelli, Antonio Barbieri, Giuseppe Palma, Claudio Arra, Giovanna L. Liguori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colorectal cancer is one of the most common and aggressive cancers arising from alterations in various signaling pathways, such as the WNT, RAS-MAPK, PI3K and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) pathways. Cripto (also called Teratocarcinoma-derived growth factor), the original member of the vertebrate EGF-CFC family, plays a key role in all of these pathways and is deeply involved in early embryo development and cancer progression. The role of Cripto in colon and breast cancer, in particular, has been investigated, as it is still not clearly understood. In this article, we provide the first in vivo functional evidence of a role of Cripto in colon cancer development. We analyzed the effect of Cripto haploinsufficiency on colon tumor formation by treating Cripto heterozygous mice with the colonotropic carcinogen azoxymethane (AOM). Of note, in our model system, Cripto haploinsufficiency increased tumorigenesis. Moreover, we revealed a correlation between the differential AOM response found in wt and Cripto+/- mice and the expression levels of glucose regulated protein-78 (Grp78), a heat shock protein required for Cripto signaling pathways. We hypothesize that the balance between Cripto and Grp78 expression levels might be crucial in cancer development and may account for the increased tumorigenesis in Cripto heterozygous mice. In summary, our results highlight the heterogeneous effect of Cripto on tumorigenesis and the consequent high level of complexity in the Cripto regulatory pathway, whose imbalance causes tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Azoxymethane
  • Colon cancer
  • Cripto heterozygous mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Oncology
  • Medicine(all)


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