The Deleted in Colorectal Cancer (DCC) gene is a candidate tumor suppressor gene that is predicted to encode a transmembrane polypeptide with strong similarity to the neural cell adhesion molecule (N-CAM) family. Previous studies have suggested that several different N-CAMs, when expressed in non-neuronal cell types can stimulate neurite outgrowth from PC12 rat pheochromocytoma cells. Based on the predicted structural similarity of DCC to N-CAMs, we sought to determine whether NIH3T3 cells expressing DCC could stimulate neurite outgrowth in PC12 cells. We found that NIH3T3 cell lines expressing DCC could stimulate PC12 cells to extend neurites. Supernatants from DCC-transfected NIH3T3 cells did not induce neurite outgrowth above background levels, suggesting that cell-cell interaction was required. NIH3T3 cells expressing a truncated form of DCC, lacking the majority of the cytoplasmic domain sequences, also failed to induce neurite outgrowth above the levels seen with control NIH3T3 cells, suggesting that the cytoplasmic domain of DCC was necessary for its neurite-promoting function. In contrast to NGF-mediated neurite outgrowth, the DCC-mediated response was inhibited by treatment with pertussis toxin or the combination of N- and L-type calcium channel blockers, and was unaffected by the transcriptional inhibitor cordycepin. The data suggest that the DCC protein can function in a fashion analogous to other N-CAMs to alter PC12 cell phenotype through intracellular pathways distinct from those involved in NGF signaling.

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