Chemoprevention of colon carcinogenesis by polyethylene glycol: Suppression of epithelial proliferation via modulation of SNAIL/β-catenin signaling

Hemant K. Roy, Dhananjay P. Kunte, Jennifer L. Koetsier, John Hart, Young L. Kim, Yang Liu, Marc Bissonnette, Michael Goldberg, Vadim Backman, Ramesh K. Wali*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Polyethylene glycol (PEG) is one of the most potent chemopreventive agents against colorectal cancer; however, the mechanisms remain largely unexplored. In this study, we assessed the ability of PEG to target cyclin D1 - β-catenin - mediated hyperproliferation in the azoxymethane-treated rat model and the human colorectal cancer cell line, HT-29. Azoxymethane-treated rats were randomized to AIN-76A diet alone or supplemented with 5% PEG-8000. After 30 weeks, animals were euthanized and biopsies of aberrant crypt foci and uninvolved crypts were subjected to immunohistochemical and immunoblot analyses. PEG markedly suppressed both early and late markers of azoxymethane-induced colon carcinogenesis (fractal dimension by 80%, aberrant crypt foci by 64%, and tumors by 74%). In both azoxymethane-treated rats and HT-29 cells treated with 5% PEG-3350 for 24 hours, PEG decreased proliferation (45% and 52%, respectively) and cyclin D1 (78% and 56%, respectively). Because β-catenin is the major regulator of cyclin D1 in colorectal cancer, we used the T-cell factor (Tcf)-TOPFLASH reporter assay to show that PEG markedly inhibited β-catenin transcriptional activity. PEG did not alter total β-catenin expression but rather its nuclear localization, leading us to assess E-cadherin expression (a major determinant of β-catenin subcellular localization), which was increased by 73% and 71% in the azoxymethane-rat and HT-29 cells, respectively. We therefore investigated the effect of PEG treatment on levels of the negative regulator of E-cadherin, SNAIL, and observed a 50% and 75% decrease, respectively. In conclusion, we show, for the first time, a molecular mechanism through which PEG imparts its antiproliferative and hence profound chemopreventive effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2060-2069
Number of pages10
JournalMolecular cancer therapeutics
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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