Colorectal cancer causes >900,000 deaths every year and a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying this disease will contribute to improve its clinical management and survival. Myosin Vb (MYO5B) regulates intracellular vesicle trafficking, and inactivation of this myosin disrupts the polarization and differentiation of intestinal epithelial cells causing microvillous inclusion disease (MVID), a rare congenital disorder characterized by intractable life-threatening diarrhea. Here, we show that the loss Myosin Vb interfered with the differentiation/polarization of colorectal cancer cells. Although modulation of Myosin Vb expression did not affect the proliferation of colon cancer cells, MYO5B inactivation increased their migration, invasion, and metastatic potential. Moreover, Myo5b inactivation in an intestine-specific knockout mouse model caused a >15-fold increase in the number of azoxymethane-initiated small intestinal tumors. Consistently, reduced expression of Myosin Vb in a cohort of 155 primary colorectal tumors was associated with shorter patient survival. In conclusion, we show here that loss of Myosin Vb reduces polarization/differentiation of colon cancer cells while enhancing their metastatic potential, demonstrating a tumor suppressor function for this myosin. Moreover, reduced expression of Myosin Vb in primary tumors identifies a subset of poor prognosis colorectal cancer patients that could benefit from more aggressive therapeutic regimens.

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