Publication of IMPRS-LS student Tiago de Oliveira

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De Oliveira, T., Ramakrishnan, M., Diamanti, M.A., Ziegler, P.K., Brombacher, F., and Greten, F.R.
Oncogene, 2018, [Epub ahead of print].
doi: 10.1038/s41388-018-0551-2

Loss of Stat6 affects chromatin condensation in intestinal epithelial cells causing diverse outcome in murine models of inflammation-associated and sporadic colon carcinogenesis.

While great advances have been achieved regarding the genetic basis of colorectal cancer, the complex role of cell-cell communication and cytokine-induced signaling during its pathogenesis remains less understood. Signal transducer and activator of transcription 6 (Stat6) is the main transcription factor of interleukin-4 (IL-4) signaling and its participation in the development of various tumor types has been already reported. Here we aimed to examine the contribution of Stat6 in intestinal epithelial cells (IEC) in mouse models of intestinal carcinogenesis. Wild-type (WT), Stat6 knockout (Stat6-/-), and intestinal epithelial cell-specific IL-4Rα knockout (Il-4rαΔIEC) mice were subjected to colitis-associated (AOM/DSS) and colitis-independent (sporadic) carcinogenesis. IEC proliferation, apoptosis and RNA expression were evaluated by immunohistochemical, immunoblot, and RT-PCR analysis. We found that Stat6-/- mice developed more tumors in the colitis-associated carcinogenesis model. This was accompanied by a more pronounced inflammatory response during colitis and an elevated Stat3-dependent proliferation of IEC. Increased sensitivity to DSS-induced colitis was caused by elevated cell death in response to the initial carcinogen exposure as Stat6 deficiency led to increased chromatin compaction affecting DNA damage response in IEC upon treatment with alkylating agents independently of IL-4Rα engagement. Thus, loss of Stat6 caused more severe colitis and increased tumor load, however loss-of-initiated Stat6-/- IEC prevented tumor formation in the absence of overt inflammation. Our data unravel unexpected IL-4-independent functions of Stat6 in chromatin compaction in intestinal epithelial cells ultimately providing both tumor suppressive as well as tumor promoting effects in different models of intestinal tumorigenesis.