Transformation of epithelial cells is associated with loss of cell polarity, which includes alterations in cell morphology as well as changes in the complement of plasma membrane proteins. Rab proteins regulate polarized trafficking to the cell membrane and therefore represent potential regulators of this neoplastic transition. Here we have demonstrated a tumor suppressor function for Rab25 in intestinal neoplasia in both mice and humans. Human colorectal adenocarcinomas exhibited reductions in Rab25 expression independent of stage, with lower Rab25 expression levels correlating with substantially shorter patient survival. In wild-type mice, Rab25 was strongly expressed in cells luminal to the proliferating cells of intestinal crypts. While Rab25-deficient mice did not exhibit gross pathology, ApcMin/+ mice crossed onto a Rab25-deficient background showed a 4-fold increase in intestinal polyps and a 2-fold increase in colonic tumors compared with parental Apc Min/+ mice. Rab25-deficient mice had decreased β1 integrin staining in the lateral membranes of villus cells, and this pattern was accentuated in Rab25-deficient mice crossed onto the ApcMin/+ background. Additionally, Smad3+/- mice crossed onto a Rab25-deficient background demonstrated a marked increase in colonic tumor formation. Taken together, these results suggest that Rab25 may function as a tumor suppressor in intestinal epithelial cells through regulation of protein trafficking to the cell surface.
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