Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the 3rd most common type of cancer in the U.S., and it is estimated it will account for an alarming 151,030 (8%) of new total cancer cases and 52,580 (9%) of total cancer deaths in 2022. Remarkably, dysregulation of the Wnt signaling pathway has been linked to ~90% of all colorectal cancer (CRC) cases. The vast majority (>80%) of sporadic CRC cases display mutations in Adenomatous Polyposis Coli (APC), a central Wnt signaling regulator. Loss of APC function causes aberrant stabilization of β-catenin (βcat), a crucial step in CRC initiation. Notably, attempts towards “drugging” this pathway still poses multiple hurdles due to poor tumor cell targeting, negative side effects associated with required long-term treatments and poorly understood mechanisms of action. Consequently, there is an urgent need to gather additional mechanistic insights associated with the Wnt pathway to develop novel therapeutic approaches. With respect to Wnt biology, two key plasma membrane receptors, LRP5/6 and Frizzled (Fzd) require lipid raft localization and nanoclustering for efficient signaling. Interestingly, various effectors that disrupt raft dynamics, alter LRP5/6-Fzd clustering, leading to reduced βcat stabilization. Thus, we examined the effect of mutant APC (mAPC) on plasma membrane lipid/protein-mediated interactions of Wnt-associated effectors in a CRC mouse model, human mAPC-expressing organoids and cell lines, and Drosophila. We show for the first time that mAPC significantly increased the levels of plasma membrane free cholesterol, a major component of lipid rafts known to selectively activate canonical Wnt signaling, in the intestinal epithelium including Lgr5+ colonic stem cells. Moreover, this change in plasma membrane cholesterol was associated with alterations in colonocyte membrane rigidity and raft organization. We subsequently examined the effect of mAPC on the interactions between Wnt signaling receptors/effectors in mAPC-expressing cell lines. mAPC significantly increased LRP6 and Fzd7 homo-clustering and LRP6-Fzd7 hetero-clustering as well as their interactions with key lipids, e.g., PIP2, resulting in the enhancement of Wnt signaling activation. Interestingly, the effects of mAPC were recapitulated by the addition of exogenous cholesterol to wild type colonocytes. Finally, we demonstrate that n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n3-PUFA), i.e., DHA and EPA, reduces mAPC-driven colonic polyp formation in mice in part by reducing plasma membrane cholesterol, rigidity and LRP6-Fzd7 clustering in colonocytes. Collectively, these findings indicate that mAPC can directly perturb lipid homeostasis in the colon, thereby altering raft stability, LRP6-Fzd7 membrane nanoclusters and downstream Wnt signaling and supports the feasibility of using membrane therapy, i.e., dietary/drug-related strategies to target plasma membrane lipid composition, to reduce Wnt signaling and cancer risk.

Citation Format: Alfredo Erazo-Oliveras, Mohamed Mlih, Mónica Muñoz-Vega, Eunjoo Kim, Venkat Thiriveedi, Michael L. Salinas, Xiaoli Wang, Jatin Roper, Jason Karpac, Robert S. Chapkin. A novel role of mutant APC and n3-PUFA in reshaping cholesterol-dependent Wnt pathway-associated proteolipid nanocluster organization and signaling in colorectal cancer. [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the AACR Special Conference: Precision Prevention, Early Detection, and Interception of Cancer; 2022 Nov 17-19; Austin, TX. Philadelphia (PA): AACR; Can Prev Res 2023;16(1 Suppl): Abstract nr P014.