Secreted HMGB1 from Wnt activated intestinal cells is required to maintain a crypt progenitor phenotype

Karen R Reed, Fei Song, Maddy A Young, Nurudeen Hassan, Daniel J Antoine, Nesibe-Princess B Gemici, Alan R Clarke, John R Jenkins

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND AND AIMS: Colorectal cancer (CRC) arises via multiple genetic changes. Mutation of the tumour suppressor gene APC, a key regulator of Wnt signalling, is recognised as a frequent early driving mutation in CRC. We have previously shown that conditional loss of Apc within the murine small intestine (Apcfloxmice) results in acute Wnt signalling activation, altered crypt-villus architecture and many hallmarks of neoplasia. Our transctipomic profiling (Affymetrix Microarrays) and proteomic profiling (iTRAQ-QSTAR) of Apc-deficient intestine inferred the involvement of High Mobility Group Box 1 (Hmgb1) in CRC pathogenesis. Here we assess the contribution of HMGB1 to the crypt progenitor phenotype seen following Apc loss.

RESULTS: Elevated HMGB1 was confirmed in intestinal epithelia and serum following conditional loss of Apc. Treatment of Apcflox mice with anti-HMGB1 neutralising antibody significantly reduced many of the crypt progenitor phenotypes associated with Apc loss; proliferation and apoptosis levels were reduced, cell differentiation was restored and the expansion of stem cell marker expression was eradicated.

METHODS: Hmgb1 levels in intestinal epithelia and serum in Apcflox and ApcMin mice were assessed using qRT-PCR, Western blot and ELISA assays. The functional importance of elevated extracellular Hmgb1 was assessed using an anti-HMGB1 neutralising antibody in Apcflox mice.

CONCLUSIONS: HMGB1 is expressed and secreted from intestinal epithelial cells in response to Wnt signalling activation. This secreted HMGB1 is required to maintain nearly all aspects of the crypt progenitor phenotype observed following Apc loss and add to the body of accumulating evidence indicating that targeting HMGB1 may be a viable novel therapeutic approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51665-51673
Number of pages9
Issue number32
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016


  • Animals
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, APC
  • HMGB1 Protein
  • Intestinal Mucosa
  • Intestine, Small
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Phenotype
  • Stem Cell Niche
  • Stem Cells
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • Journal Article


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