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Expression of the homeobox protein CDX1 is lost or reduced in a significant proportion of colorectal carcinomas (CRCs) but the underlying mechanism for this is unclear. We have demonstrated absence of CDX1 mRNA expression in 7 of 37 CRC cell lines and shown that all 7 cell lines have a methylated CDX1 promoter. Twenty-five cell lines showed both CDX1 mRNA expression and an unmethylated CDX1 promoter. The five remaining cell lines had a partially methylated CDX1 promoter and all expressed CDX1 mRNA; when treated with the demethylating agent, 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine, these five cell lines all showed increased CDX1 expression. No mutations were found in the promoter and coding regions of CDX1. One polymorphism was demonstrated in each of the promoter, 5' UTR, and coding region of exon 1 of CDX1, but there were no associations between CDX1 mRNA expression and different polymorphic genotypes. Similarly, there was no association between CDX1 mRNA expression and loss of heterozygosity at the CDX1 locus. In conclusion, absence or reduction of CDX1 expression in CRC seems to be primarily regulated by promoter methylation and is probably selected for because of its impact on the differentiation of colonocytes.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





574 - 579


Animals, Base Sequence, Cell Line, Tumor, Colorectal Neoplasms, DNA Methylation, DNA, Neoplasm, Homeodomain Proteins, Humans, Loss of Heterozygosity, Mice, Mutation, Promoter Regions, Genetic, Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid