Mutations in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene are linked to polyp formation in familial and sporadic colon cancer, but the functions of the protein are not known. We show that APC protein localizes mainly to clusters of puncta near the ends of microtubules that extend into actively migrating regions of epithelial cell membranes. This subcellular distribution of APC protein requires microtubules, but not actin filaments. APC protein-containing membranes are actively involved in cell migration in response to wounding epithelial monolayers, addition of the motorgen hepatocyte growth factor, and during the formation of cell-cell contacts. In the intestine, APC protein levels increase at the crypt/villus boundary, where cell migration is crucial for enterocyte exit from the crypt and where cells accumulate during polyp formation that is linked to mutations in the microtubule-binding domain of APC protein. Together, these data indicate that APC protein has a role in directed cell migration.

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