Guanylyl cyclase C (GCC) is the receptor specifically expressed by intestinal cells for the paracrine hormones guanylin and uroguanylin and diarrheagenic bacterial heat-stable enterotoxins. This tissue-specific receptor coordinates lineage-dependent regulation of epithelial homeostasis, and its disruption contributes to intestinal tumorigenesis. It coordinates regenerative and metabolic circuits by restricting the cell cycle and proliferation and programming metabolic transitions central to organizing the dynamic crypt-surface axis. Further, mice deficient in GCC signaling are more susceptible to colon cancer induced by Apc mutations or the carcinogen azoxymethane. Moreover, guanylin and uroguanylin are gene products most commonly lost, early, in colon cancer in animals and humans. The role of GCC as a tumor suppressing receptor regulating proliferation and metabolism, together with the universal loss of guanylin and uroguanylin in tumorigenesis, suggests a model in which colorectal cancer is a paracrine hormone deficiency syndrome. In that context, activation of GCC reverses the tumorigenic phenotype by limiting growth of colorectal cancer cells by restricting progression through the G1/S transition and reprogramming metabolic circuits from glycolysis to oxidative phosphorylation, limiting bioenergetic support for rapid proliferation. These observations suggest a pathophysiological hypothesis in which GCC is a lineage-dependent tumor suppressing receptor coordinating proliferative homeostasis whose dysregulation through hormone loss contributes to neoplasia. The correlative therapeutic hypothesis suggests that colorectal cancer is a disease of hormone insufficiency that can be prevented or treated by oral supplementation with GCC ligands.
Keywords: Hormone, colorectal, Prevented