Runx1 is a tumor suppressor gene in the mouse gastrointestinal tract

Remond J.A. Fijneman, Rebecca A. Anderson, Ethan Richards, Jieming Liu, Marianne Tijssen, Gerrit A. Meijer, Janae Anderson, Annette Rod, Gerard O'Sullivan, Patricia M Scott, Robert T Cormier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The Runx1 transcription factor plays an important role in tissue homeostasis through its effects on stem/progenitor cell populations and differentiation. The effect of Runx1 on epithelial differentiation of the secretory cell lineage of the colon was recently demonstrated. This study aimed to examine the role of Runx1 in tumor development in epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal tract. Conditional knockout mice that lacked Runx1 expression in epithelial cells of the GI tract were generated. These mice were crossed onto the ApcMin background, killed and their intestinal tumor phenotypes were compared with ApcMin Runx1 wild-type control mice. Apc-wild-type Runx1-mutant mice were also examined for tumor development. Colons from Runx1 knockout and wild-type mice were used for genome-wide mRNA expression analyses followed by gene-specific quantitative RT-PCR of whole colon and colon epithelium to identify Runx1 target genes. Runx1 deficiency in intestinal epithelial cells significantly enhanced tumorigenesis in ApcMin mice. Notably, epithelial Runx1 deficiency in Apc-wildtype mice was sufficient to cause tumor development. Absence of Runx1 was associated with global changes in the expression of genes involved in inflammation and intestinal metabolism, and with gene sets indicative of a metastatic phenotype and poor prognosis. Gene-specific analysis of Runx1-deficient colon epithelium revealed increased expression of genes linked to an expansion of the stem/progenitor cell population. These results identify Runx1 as a novel tumor suppressor gene for gastrointestinal tumors and support a role for Runx1 in maintaining the balance between the intestinal stem/progenitor cell population and epithelial differentiation of the GI tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-599
Number of pages7
JournalCancer Science
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2012


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