Nuclear factor-κB signaling and ezrin are essential for L1-mediated metastasis of colon cancer cells

Nancy Gavert, Amir Ben-Shmuel, Vance Lemmon, Thomas Brabletz, Avri Ben-Ze'ev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

82 Scopus citations


Hyperactivation of β-catenin-T-cell-factor (TCF)-regulated gene transcription is a hallmark of colorectal cancer (CRC). The cell-neural adhesion molecule L1CAM (hereafter referred to as L1) is a target of β-catenin-TCF, exclusively expressed at the CRC invasive front in humans. L1 overexpression in CRC cells increases cell growth and motility, and promotes liver metastasis. Genes induced by L1 are also expressed in human CRC tissue but the mechanisms by which L1 confers metastasis are still unknown. We found that signaling by the nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) is essential, because inhibition of signaling by the inhibitor of κB super repressor (IκB-SR) blocked L1-mediated metastasis. Overexpression of the NF-κB p65 subunit was sufficient to increase CRC cell proliferation, motility and metastasis. Binding of the L1 cytodomain to ezrin - a cytoskeleton-crosslinking protein - is necessary for metastasis because when binding to L1 was interrupted or ezrin gene expression was suppressed with specific shRNA, metastasis did not occur. L1 and ezrin bound to and mediated the phosphorylation of IκB. We also observed a complex containing IκB, L1 and ezrin in the juxtamembrane region of CRC cells. Furthermore, we found that L1, ezrin and phosphorylated p65 are co-expressed at the invasive front in human CRC tissue, indicating that L1-mediated activation of NF-κB signaling involving ezrin is a major route of CRC progression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2135-2143
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cell Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2010


  • Colon cancer
  • Ezrin
  • IκB
  • L1
  • Metastasis
  • NF-κB

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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