Recent biochemical studies have demonstrated that the adenomatous polyposis coli gene, initially identified via its link to colon cancer, is expressed at high levels in the brain. Furthermore, the ability of this tumor suppressor protein to bind to Discs-Large and β-catenin, proteins implicated in organizing synaptic structure, point to a role for APC in neuronal signalling. However, anatomical studies have provided conflicting results regarding its localization in brain. In situ hybridization studies predict neuronal expression of APC, while immunostaining studies performed with a panel of N-terminal antibodies detected staining of glial cells, especially oligodendrocytes. In this study, we have examined the basis for this discrepancy and provide evidence that the glial staining pattern detected in previous studies reflects cross-reactivity with an unrelated antigen rather than the localization of APC. Furthermore, we have performed immunohistochemical studies with a C-terminal APC antibody which reveal a neuronal pattern of staining closely matching that predicted by the in situ studies. For example, in the hippocampus APC immunostaining is detected in the pyramidal neurons and dentate granule cells, which fits well with the localization of APC mRNA. Examination of APC immunostaining in other regions revealed that particularly intense staining was displayed by large neurons, including layer V cortical pyramidal neurons, cerebellar Purkinje cells, and olfactory bulb mitral cells. Within labeled neurons, APC staining was apparent in the cytoplasm, as well as in dendritic and axonal processes. To help clarify the localization of APC in brain, we have conducted additional in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical studies. These results provide compelling evidence that APC is expressed predominantly in neurons rather than in glial cells as reported previously.
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