Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common malignant tumors and the fourth leading cause of cancer death worldwide. Constitutive activation of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway is a hallmark of colon tumor growth. CATSPER1 gene encodes a pore-forming and pH-sensing subunit of the CatSper Ca-permeable channel, a sperm-specific calcium channel essential for hyperactivated motility and male fertility. However, the function of CATSPER1 outside the male reproductive system is unclear.
This study was designed to explore whether CatSper exerted its functional role in the progress of CRC, and investigate the possible mechanisms.
Microarray data (GSE146587) from 6 patients diagnosed with stage III CRC post-surgery was analyzed by Limma R package. The Kaplan Meier plotter (KM plotter) database was used to assess the relevance of CATSPER1 mRNA expression to the overall survival (OS) rates in CRC. Western blot, real-time PCR and luciferase reporter assays were used to determine the SOX11-CATSPER1 axis in CRC cells. Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR)-based gene editing was used to generate CATSPER1 knockout (KO) CRC cells. The proliferation of CRC cells was determined by BrdU incorporation and colony formation assays. The effect of CATSPER1 on CRC tumor growth in vivo was investigated in a mice tumor xenograft model.
Here, we show that CATSPER1 expression was significantly up-regulated in CRC and elevated CATSPER1 was associated with poor overall survival (OS). Moreover, the transcription factor SOX11 (SRY-related high-mobility-group (HMG) box 11) activated CATSPER1 transcription in CRC cells. Functionally, we showed that CATSPER1 promoted CRC cells proliferation both in vitro and in vivo. At the molecular level, we demonstrated that CATSPER1 might maintain CRC malignant process partly through the activation of the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway.
Increased CATSPER1 expression facilitates CRC cells proliferation, suggesting that targeting CATSPER1 might represent a promising strategy for colon cancer treatment.

© 2022. The Author(s) under exclusive licence to The Genetics Society of Korea.