Loss of full-length adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) protein correlates with the development of colon cancers in familial and sporadic cases. In addition to its role in regulating ß-catenin levels in the Wnt signaling pathway, the APC protein is implicated in regulating cytoskeletal organization. APC stabilizes microtubules in vivo and in vitro, and this may play a role in cell migration (Näthke, I.S., C.L. Adams, P. Polakis, J.H. Sellin, and W.J. Nelson. 1996. J. Cell Biol. 134:165–179; Mimori-Kiyosue, Y., N. Shiina, and S. Tsukita. 2000. J. Cell Biol. 148:505–517; Zumbrunn, J., K. Inoshita, A.A. Hyman, and I.S. Näthke. 2001. Curr. Biol. 11:44–49) and in the attachment of microtubules to kinetochores during mitosis (Fodde, R., J. Kuipers, C. Rosenberg, R. Smits, M. Kielman, C. Gaspar, J.H. van Es, C. Breukel, J. Wiegant, R.H. Giles, and H. Clevers. 2001. Nat. Cell Biol. 3:433–438; Kaplan, K.B., A. Burds, J.R. Swedlow, S.S. Bekir, P.K. Sorger, and I.S. Näthke. 2001. Nat. Cell Biol. 3:429–432). The localization of endogenous APC protein is complex: actin- and microtubule-dependent pools of APC have been identified in cultured cells (Näthke et al., 1996; Mimori-Kiyosue et al., 2000; Reinacher-Schick, A., and B.M. Gumbiner. 2001. J. Cell Biol. 152:491–502; Rosin-Arbesfeld, R., G. Ihrke, and M. Bienz. 2001. EMBO J. 20:5929–5939). However, the localization of APC in tissues has not been identified at high resolution. Here, we show that in fully polarized epithelial cells from the inner ear, endogenous APC protein associates with the plus ends of microtubules located at the basal plasma membrane. Consistent with a role for APC in supporting the cytoskeletal organization of epithelial cells in vivo, the number of microtubules is significantly reduced in apico-basal arrays of microtubule bundles isolated from mice heterozygous for APC.
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