Gene Summary

Gene:WNT4; wingless-type MMTV integration site family, member 4
Aliases: WNT-4, SERKAL
Summary:The WNT gene family consists of structurally related genes which encode secreted signaling proteins. These proteins have been implicated in oncogenesis and in several developmental processes, including regulation of cell fate and patterning during embryogenesis. This gene is a member of the WNT gene family, and is the first signaling molecule shown to influence the sex-determination cascade. It encodes a protein which shows 98% amino acid identity to the Wnt4 protein of mouse and rat. This gene and a nuclear receptor known to antagonize the testis-determining factor play a concerted role in both the control of female development and the prevention of testes formation. This gene and another two family members, WNT2 and WNT7B, may be associated with abnormal proliferation in breast tissue. Mutations in this gene can result in Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser syndrome and in SERKAL syndrome. [provided by RefSeq, Jul 2008]
Databases:OMIM, VEGA, HGNC, Ensembl, GeneCard, Gene
Protein:protein Wnt-4
Source:NCBIAccessed: 25 June, 2015


What does this gene/protein do?
Show (73)
Pathways:What pathways are this gene/protein implicaed in?
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Cancer Overview

Research Indicators

Publications Per Year (1990-2015)
Graph generated 25 June 2015 using data from PubMed using criteria.

Literature Analysis

Mouse over the terms for more detail; many indicate links which you can click for dedicated pages about the topic.

  • Cancer Gene Expression Regulation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-myc
  • Cell Surface Receptors
  • beta Catenin
  • Mutation
  • p21-Activated Kinases
  • Signal Transduction
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Base Sequence
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Messenger RNA
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Prostate Cancer
  • G-Protein-Coupled Receptors
  • CD Antigens
  • Breast
  • Wnt3 Protein
  • Wnt1 Protein
  • Cell Line
  • TCF Transcription Factors
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Pituitary Tumors
  • Adolescents
  • Ligands
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Chromosome 1
  • Wnt Proteins
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Frizzled Receptors
  • Intercellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Wnt4 Protein
  • Wnt2 Protein
  • Breast Cancer
  • Tumor Markers
  • Cultured Cells
  • Young Adult
  • Up-Regulation
Tag cloud generated 25 June, 2015 using data from PubMed, MeSH and CancerIndex

Specific Cancers (4)

Data table showing topics related to specific cancers and associated disorders. Scope includes mutations and abnormal protein expression.

Note: list is not exhaustive. Number of papers are based on searches of PubMed (click on topic title for arbitrary criteria used).

Latest Publications: WNT4 (cancer-related)

Kuchenbaecker KB, Ramus SJ, Tyrer J, et al.
Identification of six new susceptibility loci for invasive epithelial ovarian cancer.
Nat Genet. 2015; 47(2):164-71 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have identified 12 epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) susceptibility alleles. The pattern of association at these loci is consistent in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers who are at high risk of EOC. After imputation to 1000 Genomes Project data, we assessed associations of 11 million genetic variants with EOC risk from 15,437 cases unselected for family history and 30,845 controls and from 15,252 BRCA1 mutation carriers and 8,211 BRCA2 mutation carriers (3,096 with ovarian cancer), and we combined the results in a meta-analysis. This new study design yielded increased statistical power, leading to the discovery of six new EOC susceptibility loci. Variants at 1p36 (nearest gene, WNT4), 4q26 (SYNPO2), 9q34.2 (ABO) and 17q11.2 (ATAD5) were associated with EOC risk, and at 1p34.3 (RSPO1) and 6p22.1 (GPX6) variants were specifically associated with the serous EOC subtype, all with P < 5 × 10(-8). Incorporating these variants into risk assessment tools will improve clinical risk predictions for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers.

Filippone MG, Di Palma T, Lucci V, Zannini M
Pax8 modulates the expression of Wnt4 that is necessary for the maintenance of the epithelial phenotype of thyroid cells.
BMC Mol Biol. 2014; 15:21 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The transcription factor Pax8 is expressed during thyroid development and is involved in the morphogenesis of the thyroid gland and maintenance of the differentiated phenotype. In particular, Pax8 has been shown to regulate genes that are considered markers of thyroid differentiation. Recently, the analysis of the gene expression profile of FRTL-5 differentiated thyroid cells after the silencing of Pax8 identified Wnt4 as a novel target. Like the other members of the Wnt family, Wnt4 has been implicated in several developmental processes including regulation of cell fate and patterning during embryogenesis. To date, the only evidence on Wnt4 in thyroid concerns its down-regulation necessary for the progression of thyroid epithelial tumors.
RESULTS: Here we demonstrate that Pax8 is involved in the transcriptional modulation of Wnt4 gene expression directly binding to its 5'-flanking region, and that Wnt4 expression in FRTL-5 cells is TSH-dependent. Interestingly, we also show that in thyroid cells a reduced expression of Wnt4 correlates with the alteration of the epithelial phenotype and that the overexpression of Wnt4 in thyroid cancer cells is able to inhibit cellular migration.
CONCLUSIONS: We have identified and characterized a functional Pax8 binding site in the 5'-flanking region of the Wnt4 gene and we show that Pax8 modulates the expression of Wnt4 in thyroid cells. Taken together, our results suggest that in thyroid cells Wnt4 expression correlates with the integrity of the epithelial phenotype and is reduced when this integrity is perturbed. In the end, we would like to suggest that the overexpression of Wnt4 in thyroid cancer cells is able to revert the mesenchymal phenotype.

Wang W, Meng M, Zhang Y, et al.
Global transcriptome-wide analysis of CIK cells identify distinct roles of IL-2 and IL-15 in acquisition of cytotoxic capacity against tumor.
BMC Med Genomics. 2014; 7:49 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Cytokine-induced killer (CIK) cells are an emerging approach of cancer treatment. Our previous study have shown that CIK cells stimulated with combination of IL-2 and IL-15 displayed improved proliferation capacity and tumor cytotoxicity. However, the mechanisms of CIK cell proliferation and acquisition of cytolytic function against tumor induced by IL-2 and IL-15 have not been well elucidated yet.
METHODS: CIK(IL-2) and CIK(IL-15) were generated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells primed with IFN-γ, and stimulated with IL-2 and IL-15 in combination with OKT3 respectively. RNA-seq was performed to identify differentially expressed genes, and gene ontology and pathways based analysis were used to identify the distinct roles of IL-2 and IL-15 in CIK preparation.
RESULTS: The results indicated that CIKIL-15 showed improved cell proliferation capacity compared to CIK(IL-2). However, CIK(IL-2) has exhibited greater tumor cytotoxic effect than CIKIL-15. Employing deep sequencing, we sequenced mRNA transcripts in CIK(IL-2) and CIK(IL-15). A total of 374 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified including 175 up-regulated genes in CIK(IL-15) and 199 up-regulated genes in CIK(IL-2)). Among DEGs in CIK(IL-15), Wnt signaling and cell adhesion were significant GO terms and pathways which related with their functions. In CIK(IL-2, type I interferon signaling and cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction were significant GO terms and pathways. We found that the up-regulation of Wnt 4 and PDGFD may contribute to enhanced cell proliferation capacity of CIK(IL-15), while inhibitory signal from interaction between CTLA4 and CD80 may be responsible for the weak proliferation capacity of CIK(IL-2). Moreover, up-regulated expressions of CD40LG and IRF7 may make for improved tumor cytolytic function of CIK(IL-2) through type I interferon signaling.
CONCLUSIONS: Through our findings, we have preliminarily elucidated the cells proliferation and acquisition of tumor cytotoxicity mechanism of CIK(IL-15) and CIK(IL-2). Better understanding of these mechanisms will help to generate novel CIK cells with greater proliferation potential and improved tumor cytolytic function.

Gauger KJ, Bassa LM, Henchey EM, et al.
The effects of diet induced obesity on breast cancer associated pathways in mice deficient in SFRP1.
Mol Cancer. 2014; 13:117 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Secreted frizzled-related proteins (SFRPs) are a family of proteins that block the Wnt signaling pathway and loss of Sfrp1 expression is observed in breast cancer. The molecular mechanisms by which obesity contributes to breast tumorigenesis are not well defined, but involve increased inflammation. Mice deficient in Sfrp1 show enhanced mammary gland inflammation in response to diet induced obesity (DIO). Furthermore, mammary glands from Sfrp1-/- mice exhibit increased Wnt signaling, decreased cell death responses, and excessive hyper branching. The work described here was initiated to investigate whether obesity exacerbates the aforementioned pathways, as they each play a key roles in the development of breast cancer.
FINDINGS: Wnt signaling is significantly affected by DIO and Sfrp1-/- loss as revealed by analysis of Myc mRNA expression and active β-catenin protein expression. Furthermore, Sfrp1-/- mice fed a high fat diet (HFD) exhibit an increase in mammary cell proliferation. The death response is also impaired in the mammary gland of Sfrp1-/- mice fed a normal diet (ND) as well as a HFD. In response to γ-irradiation, mammary glands from Sfrp1-/- mice express significantly less Bax and Bbc3 mRNA, caspase-3 positive cells, and p53 protein. The expression of Wnt4 and Tnfs11 are critical for normal progesterone mediated mammary gland development and in response to obesity, Sfrp1-/- mice express significantly more Wnt4 and Tnfs11 mRNA expression. Evaluation of progesterone receptor (PR) expression showed that DIO increases the number of PR positive cells.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that the expression of Sfrp1 is a critical factor required for maintaining appropriate cellular homeostasis in response to the onset of obesity.

Tanabe S, Aoyagi K, Yokozaki H, Sasaki H
Gene expression signatures for identifying diffuse-type gastric cancer associated with epithelial-mesenchymal transition.
Int J Oncol. 2014; 44(6):1955-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is associated with tumor malignancy. The hedgehog-EMT pathway is preferentially activated in diffuse-type gastric cancer (GC) compared with intestinal-type GC; however, histological typing is currently the only method for distinguishing these two major types of GC. We compared the gene expression profiles of 12 bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cell cultures and 5 diffuse-type GC tissue samples. Numerous upregulated or downregulated genes were identified in diffuse-type GC, including CDH1, CDH2, VIM, WNT4 and WNT5. Among these genes, the mRNA ratio of CDH2 to CDH1 could distinguish the 15 diffuse-type GC samples from the 17 intestinal-type GC samples. Our results suggested that the mesenchymal features were more prominent in diffuse-type GC than in intestinal-type GC, but were weaker in diffuse-type GC than in mesenchymal stem cells. Diffuse-type GC that has undergone extensive EMT, which has a poor prognosis, can be identified by quantitative PCR analysis of only two genes.

Drosch M, Schmidt N, Markowski DN, et al.
The CD24hi smooth muscle subpopulation is the predominant fraction in uterine fibroids.
Mol Hum Reprod. 2014; 20(7):664-76 [PubMed] Related Publications
Uterine fibroids are the most common gynecological tumors affecting women in their reproductive age. Despite this high incidence the pathogenesis of fibroids is widely unsolved. Whereas formerly only imbalances in hormonal levels were considered to account for tumor development, the identification of genetic changes likely to affect myometrial stem cell reservoirs provided a novel approach to fibroid genesis. Here, we identified a certain subset of cells by the surface marker CD24 with increased abundance in fibroids compared with myometrial tissue. Fibroid cells expressing CD24 shared certain features of immature or progenitor-like cells such as quiescence, reduced expression of smooth muscle differentiation markers and elevated expression of genes involved in the wingless-type (WNT)-pathway such as beta-catenin. In addition, a positive correlation between CD24 and wingless-type family member 4 (WNT4) expression was observed in uterine fibroids with mediator subcomplex 12 gene (MED12) mutations. Our findings suggest that cells highly expressing CD24 represent a type of immature smooth muscle progenitor cells. Their accumulation might be driven by disturbed differentiation processes caused by genetic changes possibly involving MED12 mutations or high mobility group AT-hook (HMGA)2 rearrangements.

Rall K, Conzelmann G, Schäffeler N, et al.
Acne and PCOS are less frequent in women with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome despite a high rate of hyperandrogenemia: a cross-sectional study.
Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2014; 12:23 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Acne is a very common skin condition during adolescence and adulthood. Patients with uterovaginal agenesis (Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, MRKH) treated at the Tübingen University Center for Rare Female Genital Malformations, however, clinically appeared to be less frequently affected by acne. The etiology of MRKH syndrome remains unknown. The only known MRKH-associated mutations are located within the WNT4 gene and lead to an atypical form of MRKH syndrome associated with clinical and biochemical hyperandrogenism. Our study aimed to assess the frequency, severity, and self-evaluation of acne in MRKH patients and to correlate the clinical findings with hormone analyses.
METHODS: As part of a cross-sectional longterm follow-up study after laparoscopic assisted creation of a neovagina a questionnaire was sent to 149 MRKH patients aged 16-44 years comprising 26 items concerning prevalence and self-evaluation of acne, and the effects of acne on quality of life. The questionnaire was derived from one used in a former epidemiological study of acne in 4,000 women. Blood for hormone analyses was collected routinely during the clinical visit.
RESULTS: Fully completed, evaluable questionnaires were returned by 69/149 (46%) women. Of these respondents, 42 (60.1%) showed hyperandrogenemia without other clinical signs of virilization but only 17 (24.6%) reported acne (8 (11.6%) had physiological acne and 9 (13.0%) clinical acne) and only 10 (14.5%) reported receiving medical treatment for their acne. Effects of acne on quality of life were minor. Only 4 patients (5.8%) with PCOS were identified, among them one with physiological acne, the other three within the acne-free group.
CONCLUSIONS: Although hyperandrogenemia is common, acne is significantly less frequent in women with MRKH than reported in the literature for non-MRKH women, and is seldom treated medically. Patients in this study appeared resistant to acne to some extent, possibly due to the sebaceous glands in the acne regions being less sensitive to androgens compared to the normal population. A WNT4 mutation is unlikely to be the main cause of MRKH syndrome in our hyperandrogenemic patients.

García-Castro B, Alvarez-Zavala M, Riveros-Magaña AR, et al.
Restoration of WNT4 inhibits cell growth in leukemia-derived cell lines.
BMC Cancer. 2013; 13:557 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: WNT signaling pathways are significantly altered during cancer development. Vertebrates possess two classes of WNT signaling pathways: the "canonical" WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway, and the "non-canonical" pathways including WNT/Ca²⁺ and WNT/Planar cell polarity [PCP] signaling. WNT4 influences hematopoietic progenitor cell expansion and survival; however, WNT4 function in cancer development and the resulting implications for oncogenesis are poorly understood.The aim of this study was twofold: first, to determine the expression of WNT4 in mature peripheral blood cells and diverse leukemia-derived cells including cell lines from hematopoietic neoplasms and cells from patients with leukemia; second, to identify the effect of this ligand on the proliferation and apoptosis of the blast-derived cell lines BJAB, Jurkat, CEM, K562, and HL60.
METHODS: We determined WNT4 expression by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and T- and B-lymphocytes from healthy individuals, as well as from five leukemia-derived cell lines and blasts derived from patients with leukemia. To analyze the effect of WNT4 on cell proliferation, PBMCs and cell lines were exposed to a commercially available WNT4 recombinant human protein. Furthermore, WNT4 expression was restored in BJAB cells using an inducible lentiviral expression system. Cell viability and proliferation were measured by the addition of WST-1 to cell cultures and counting cells; in addition, the progression of the cell cycle and the amount of apoptosis were analyzed in the absence or presence of WNT4. Finally, the expression of WNT-pathway target genes was measured by qRT-PCR.
RESULTS: WNT4 expression was severely reduced in leukemia-derived cell lines and blasts derived from patients with leukemia. The exposure of cell lines to WNT4 recombinant protein significantly inhibited cell proliferation; inducing WNT4 expression in BJAB cells corroborated this observation. Interestingly, restoration of WNT4 expression in BJAB cells increased the accumulation of cells in G1 phase, and did not induce activation of canonical WNT/β-catenin target genes.
CONCLUSIONS: Our findings suggest that the WNT4 ligand plays a role in regulating the cell growth of leukemia-derived cells by arresting cells in the G1 cell cycle phase in an FZD6-independent manner, possibly through antagonizing the canonical WNT/β-catenin signaling pathway.

Fox SA, Richards AK, Kusumah I, et al.
Expression profile and function of Wnt signaling mechanisms in malignant mesothelioma cells.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2013; 440(1):82-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an uncommon and particularly aggressive cancer associated with asbestos exposure, which currently presents an intractable clinical challenge. Wnt signaling has been reported to play a role in the neoplastic properties of mesothelioma cells but has not been investigated in detail in this cancer. We surveyed expression of Wnts, their receptors, and other key molecules in this pathway in well established in vitro mesothelioma models in comparison with primary mesothelial cultures. We also tested the biological response of MM cell lines to exogenous Wnt and secreted regulators, as well as targeting β-catenin. We detected frequent expression of Wnt3 and Wnt5a, as well as Fzd 2, 4 and 6. The mRNA of Wnt4, Fzd3, sFRP4, APC and axin2 were downregulated in MM relative to mesothelial cells while LEF1 was overexpressed in MM. Functionally, we observed that Wnt3a stimulated MM proliferation while sFRP4 was inhibitory. Furthermore, directly targeting β-catenin expression could sensitise MM cells to cytotoxic drugs. These results provide evidence for altered expression of a number of Wnt/Fzd signaling molecules in MM. Modulation of Wnt signaling in MM may prove a means of targeting proliferation and drug resistance in this cancer.

Colli LM, Saggioro F, Serafini LN, et al.
Components of the canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways are not mis-expressed in pituitary tumors.
PLoS One. 2013; 8(4):e62424 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
INTRODUCTION: Canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways are involved in the genesis of multiple tumors; however, their role in pituitary tumorigenesis is mostly unknown.
OBJECTIVE: This study evaluated gene and protein expression of Wnt pathways in pituitary tumors and whether these expression correlate to clinical outcome.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Genes of the WNT canonical pathway: activating ligands (WNT11, WNT4, WNT5A), binding inhibitors (DKK3, sFRP1), β-catenin (CTNNB1), β-catenin degradation complex (APC, AXIN1, GSK3β), inhibitor of β-catenin degradation complex (AKT1), sequester of β-catenin (CDH1), pathway effectors (TCF7, MAPK8, NFAT5), pathway mediators (DVL-1, DVL-2, DVL-3, PRICKLE, VANGL1), target genes (MYB, MYC, WISP2, SPRY1, TP53, CCND1); calcium dependent pathway (PLCB1, CAMK2A, PRKCA, CHP); and planar cell polarity pathway (PTK7, DAAM1, RHOA) were evaluated by QPCR, in 19 GH-, 18 ACTH-secreting, 21 non-secreting (NS) pituitary tumors, and 5 normal pituitaries. Also, the main effectors of canonical (β-catenin), planar cell polarity (JNK), and calcium dependent (NFAT5) Wnt pathways were evaluated by immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: There are no differences in gene expression of canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways between all studied subtypes of pituitary tumors and normal pituitaries, except for WISP2, which was over-expressed in ACTH-secreting tumors compared to normal pituitaries (4.8x; p = 0.02), NS pituitary tumors (7.7x; p = 0.004) and GH-secreting tumors (5.0x; p = 0.05). β-catenin, NFAT5 and JNK proteins showed no expression in normal pituitaries and in any of the pituitary tumor subtypes. Furthermore, no association of the studied gene or protein expression was observed with tumor size, recurrence, and progressive disease. The hierarchical clustering showed a regular pattern of genes of the canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways randomly distributed throughout the dendrogram.
CONCLUSIONS: Our data reinforce previous reports suggesting no activation of canonical Wnt pathway in pituitary tumorigenesis. Moreover, we describe, for the first time, evidence that non-canonical Wnt pathways are also not mis-expressed in the pituitary tumors.

Volkomorov V, Grigoryeva E, Krasnov G, et al.
Search for potential gastric cancer markers using miRNA databases and gene expression analysis.
Exp Oncol. 2013; 35(1):2-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
AIM: The aim of this study was to identify genes that are differentially expressed in gastric tumors and to analyze the association of their expression level with tumor clinicopathologic features.
METHODS: In the present research, we used bioinformatic-driven search to identify miRNA that are down-regulated in gastric tumors and to find their potential targets. Then, the expression levels of some of the target mRNAs were investigated using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis.
RESULTS: As a result of the bioinformatics analysis, fifteen genes were found to be potentially differentially expressed between the tumors and normal gastric tissue. Five of them were chosen for the further analysis (WNT4, FGF12, EFEMP1, CTGF, and HSPG2) due to their important role in cell proliferation and differentiation. Expression levels of these genes were evaluated in our collection of frozen tissue samples of gastric tumor and paired normal stomach epithelia. Increased FGF12 expression was observed in diffuse type of gastric cancer while WNT4 mRNA was found to be down-regulated in intestinal type of gastric cancer. Besides, CTGF gene overexpression was revealed in diffuse type of stomach cancer in comparison with that in intestinal type. Up-regulation of CTGF was also associated with lymph node metastasis.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings show its expedient to perform further investigations in order to clarify diagnostic and prognostic value of CTGF, FGF12, and WNT4's in stomach cancer as well as the role of these genes in carcinogenesis.

Layman LC
The genetic basis of female reproductive disorders: etiology and clinical testing.
Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2013; 370(1-2):138-48 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
With the advent of improved molecular biology techniques, the genetic basis of an increasing number of reproductive disorders has been elucidated. Mutations in at least 20 genes cause hypogonadotropic hypogonadism including Kallmann syndrome in about 35-40% of patients. The two most commonly involved genes are FGFR1 and CHD7. When combined pituitary hormone deficiency includes hypogonadotropic hypogonadism as a feature, PROP1 mutations are the most common of the six genes involved. For hypergonadotropic hypogonadism, mutations in 14 genes cause gonadal failure in 15% of affected females, most commonly in FMR1. In eugonadal disorders, activating FSHR mutations have been identified for spontaneous ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome; and WNT4 mutations have been described in mullerian aplasia. For other eugonadal disorders, such as endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and leiomyomata, specific germline gene mutations have not been identified, but some chromosomal regions are associated with the corresponding phenotype. Practical genetic testing is possible to perform in both hypogonadotropic and hypergonadotropic hypogonadism and spontaneous ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. However, clinical testing for endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, and leiomyomata is not currently practical for the clinician.

Tokar EJ, Person RJ, Sun Y, et al.
Chronic exposure of renal stem cells to inorganic arsenic induces a cancer phenotype.
Chem Res Toxicol. 2013; 26(1):96-105 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Inorganic arsenic in the drinking water is a multisite human carcinogen that potentially targets the kidney. Recent evidence also indicates that developmental arsenic exposure impacts renal carcinogenesis in humans and mice. Emerging theory indicates that cancer may be a disease of stem cells (SCs) and that there are abundant active SCs during early life. Therefore, we hypothesized that inorganic arsenic targets SCs, or partially differentiated progenitor cells (PCs), for oncogenic transformation. Thus, a rat kidney SC/PC cell line, RIMM-18, was chronically exposed to low-level arsenite (500 nM) for up to 28 weeks. Multiple markers of acquired cancer phenotype were assessed biweekly during arsenic exposure, including secreted matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) activity, proliferation rate, colony formation in soft agar, and cellular invasiveness. Arsenic exposure by 10 weeks and after also induced marked and sustained increases in colony formation, indicative of the loss of contact inhibition, and increased invasiveness, both cancer cell characteristics. Compared to the passage-matched control, chronic arsenic exposure caused exposure-duration dependent increases in secreted MMP-2 and MMP-9 activity, Cox-2 expression, and more rapid proliferation (all >2-fold), characteristics typical of cancer cells. Dysregulation of SC maintenance genes and signaling pathways are common during oncogenesis. During arsenite exposure, expression of several genes associated with normal kidney development and SC regulation and differentiation (i.e., Wt-1, Wnt-4, Bmp-7, etc.) were aberrantly altered. Arsenic-exposed renal SCs produced more nonadherent spheroid bodies that grew much more aggressively in Matrigel, typical of cancer SCs (CSCs). The transformed cells also showed gene overexpression typical of renal SCs/CSCs (CD24, Osr1, Ncam) and arsenic adaptation such as overexpression of Mt-1, Mt2, Sod-1, and Abcc2. These data suggest that inorganic arsenic induced an acquired cancer phenotype in vitro in these rat kidney SCs potentially forming CSCs and, consistent with data in vivo, indicate that these multipotent SCs may be targets of arsenic during renal carcinogenesis.

De Menna M, D'Amato V, Ferraro A, et al.
Wnt4 inhibits cell motility induced by oncogenic Ras.
Oncogene. 2013; 32(35):4110-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
Aberrant motility and invasive ability are relevant hallmarks of malignant tumor cells. Pathways regulating the movement of cancer cells from the site of primary tumor toward adjacent and/or distant tissues are not entirely defined. By using a model of malignant transformation induced by Ras, we identified Wnt4 as an early target of Ras oncogenic signaling. Here we show that Wnt4 is repressed by Ras and that forced Wnt4 expression inhibits Ras-induced cell motility. Accordingly, we found that Wnt4 is downregulated in human anaplastic thyroid carcinomas, the most malignant and metastatic thyroid cancer histotype. Wnt4 interferes with Ras-induced actin cytoskeleton reorganization through non-canonical pathways, by altering the balance between the activation of different Rho-family small guanosine triphosphatases (GTPases). Finally, we demonstrate that Wnt4 is post-transcriptionally repressed by miR-24, a Ras-induced micro RNA (miRNA) targeting the 3'-untranslated region (UTR) of Wnt4. Taken together our data highlight a novel Ras-regulated miRNA-dependent circuitry regulating the motile phenotype of cancer cells.

Lönnroth C, Andersson M, Nordgren S, Lundholm K
Downregulation of Prominin 1/CD133 expression in colorectal cancer by NSAIDs following short-term preoperative treatment.
Int J Oncol. 2012; 41(1):15-23 [PubMed] Related Publications
Expression of Prominin 1/CD133 is associated with poor prognosis and chemoresistance in several types of solid tumors. The aim of the present study was, therefore, to evaluate Prominin 1/CD133 expression in colorectal carcinoma after short-term preoperative treatment by non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Patients aimed at curative operation for colon cancer were randomized to receive NSAIDs (indomethacin 50 mg x2 or celecoxib 100 mg x2) three days preoperatively. Antisecretory prophylaxis (esomeprasol 40 mg x1) was provided to all patients and served as sham intake. CD133 expression in tumor tissue was also assessed in tumors from Dukes' B patients selected for either long or short postoperative survival. No patients received perioperative chemoradiotherapy. Tumor tissue was collected at surgery for quantification of mRNAs (Prom1 and Wnt4) by qPCR. Immunohistochemistry stained for CD133, Ep-CAM, CD34 and CD45. PGE2 content in tumor tissue was determined. Transcript of CD133 in tumor tissue was lower in patients treated with NSAIDs (0.28 ± 0.07 vs. 0.51 ± 0.08; p<0.03) as well as some other stem cell-related transcripts. In treated patients 36% of all tumors stained positive for CD133 compared to 71% in sham-treated control patients (p<0.05). Short survivors with Dukes' B tumors displayed 78% CD133 expression as compared to 33% of tumors in long-term survivors (p<0.002). Tumor tissue PGE(2) content was negatively related to patient survival. Our results show that short-term preoperative NSAID treatment downregulates colon cancer tissue expression of Prominin 1/CD133, a stem cell marker indicative of survival prognosis as confirmed.

Markowski DN, Bartnitzke S, Löning T, et al.
MED12 mutations in uterine fibroids--their relationship to cytogenetic subgroups.
Int J Cancer. 2012; 131(7):1528-36 [PubMed] Related Publications
Recurrent chromosomal alterations are found in roughly 20% of all uterine fibroids but in the majority cytogenetic changes are lacking. Recently, mutations of the gene mediator subcomplex 12 (MED12) have been detected in a majority of fibroids but no information is available whether or not they co-occur with cytogenetic subtypes as, e.g., rearrangements of the genes encoding high mobility group AT-hook (HMGA) proteins. In a total of 80 cytogenetically characterized fibroids from 50 patients, we were not only able to confirm the frequent occurrence of MED12 mutations but also to stratify two mutually exclusive pathways of leiomyomagenesis with either rearrangements of HMGA2 reflected by clonal chromosome abnormalities affecting 12q14~15 or by mutations affecting exon 2 of MED12. On average the latter mutations were associated with a significantly smaller tumor size. However, G>A transitions of nucleotides c.130 or c.131 correlate with a significantly larger size of the fibroids compared to other MED12 mutations thus explaining the high prevalence of the former mutations among clinically detectable fibroids. Interestingly, fibroids with MED12 mutations expressed significantly higher levels of the gene encoding wingless-type MMTV integration site family, member 4 (WNT4). Based on these findings and data from the literature, we hypothesize that estrogen and the mutated MED12 cooperate in activating the Wnt pathway which in turn activates β-catenin known to cause leiomyoma-like lesions in a mouse model. The occurrence of a "fibroid-type mutation" in a rare histologic subtype of endometrial polyps suggests that this mechanism is not confined to uterine leiomyomas.

Siar CH, Nagatsuka H, Han PP, et al.
Differential expression of canonical and non-canonical Wnt ligands in ameloblastoma.
J Oral Pathol Med. 2012; 41(4):332-9 [PubMed] Related Publications
BACKGROUND: Canonical and non-canonical Wnt signaling pathways modulate diverse cellular processes during embryogenesis and post-natally. Their deregulations have been implicated in cancer development and progression. Wnt signaling is essential for odontogenesis. The ameloblastoma is an odontogenic epithelial neoplasm of enamel organ origin. Altered expressions of Wnts-1, -2, -5a, and -10a are detected in this tumor. The activity of other Wnt members remains unclarified.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: Canonical (Wnts-1, -2, -3, -8a, -8b, -10a, and -10b), non-canonical (Wnts-4, -5a, -5b, -6, 7a, -7b, and -11), and indeterminate groups (Wnts-2b and -9b) were examined immunohistochemically in 72 cases of ameloblastoma (19 unicystic [UA], 35 solid/multicystic [SMA], eight desmoplastic [DA], and 10 recurrent [RA]).
RESULTS: Canonical Wnt proteins (except Wnt-10b) were heterogeneously expressed in ameloblastoma. Their distribution patterns were distinctive with some overlap. Protein localization was mainly membranous and/or cytoplasmic. Overexpression of Wnt-1 in most subsets (UA = 19/19; SMA = 35/35; DA = 5/8; RA = 7/10) (P < 0.05), Wnt-3 in granular cell variant (n = 3/3), and Wnt-8b in DA (n = 8/8) was key observations. Wnts-8a and -10a demonstrated enhanced expression in tumoral buddings and acanthomatous areas. Non-canonical and indeterminate Wnts were absent except for limited Wnt-7b immunoreactivity in UA (n = 1/19) and SMA (n = 1/35). Stromal components expressed variable Wnt positivity.
CONCLUSION: Differential expression of Wnt ligands in different ameloblastoma subtypes suggests that the canonical and non-canonical Wnt pathways are selectively activated or repressed depending on the tumor cell differentiation status. Canonical Wnt pathway is most likely the main transduction pathway while Wnt-1 might be the key signaling molecule involved in ameloblastoma tumorigenesis.

Choijamts B, Jimi S, Kondo T, et al.
CD133+ cancer stem cell-like cells derived from uterine carcinosarcoma (malignant mixed Müllerian tumor).
Stem Cells. 2011; 29(10):1485-95 [PubMed] Related Publications
Cancer stem cells (CSCs) that display tumor-initiating properties have recently been identified. CD133, a surface glycoprotein linked to organ-specific stem cells, has been described as a marker of CSCs in different tumor types. We herein identify and characterize CSCs in human uterine carcinosarcoma (malignant mixed Müllerian tumor), which is one of the most aggressive and therapy-resistant gynecological malignancies and is considered to be of mesodermal origin. The CD133(+) population was increased in uterine carcinosarcoma, and this population showed biphasic properties in the primary tumor. CD133(+) cells predominantly formed spheres in culture and were able to differentiate into mesenchymal lineages. CD133(+) cells were more resistant to cisplatin/paclitaxel-induced cytotoxicity in comparison with CD133(-) cells. A real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis of the genes implicated in stem cell maintenance revealed that CD133(+) cells express significantly higher levels of Oct4, Nanog, Sox2, and Bmi1 than CD133(-) cells. Moreover, CD133(+) cells showed a high expression level of Pax2 and Wnt4, which are genes essential for Müllerian duct formation. These CD133(+) cells form serially transplantable tumors in vivo and the resulting CD133(+) tumors replicated the EpCAM, vimentin, and estrogen and progesterone receptor expression of the parent tumor, indicating that CSCs likely differentiated into cells comprising the uterine carcinosarcoma tissue. Moreover, strong CD133 expression in both epithelial and mesenchymal elements in primary tumor demonstrated significant prognostic value. These findings suggest that CD133(+) cells have the characteristics of CSCs and Müllerian mesenchymal progenitors.

Leal LF, Mermejo LM, Ramalho LZ, et al.
Wnt/beta-catenin pathway deregulation in childhood adrenocortical tumors.
J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 96(10):3106-14 [PubMed] Related Publications
CONTEXT: CTNNB1/β-catenin mutations and activation of Wnt/β-catenin pathway are frequent in adult adrenocortical tumors (ACT), but data on childhood ACT are lacking.
OBJECTIVE: The aim of the study was to investigate the presence of Wnt/β-catenin pathway abnormalities in childhood ACT.
PATIENTS AND METHODS: Clinicopathological findings and outcome of 62 childhood ACT patients were analyzed regarding CTNNB1 mutations and the expression of Wnt-related genes (CTNNB1; WNT4, a Wnt ligand; SFRP1, DKK3, and AXIN1, Wnt inhibitors; TCF7, a transcription factor; and MYC and WISP2, target genes) by quantitative PCR and immunohistochemistry.
RESULTS: CTNNB1-activating mutations were found in only four of 62 ACT (6%), all of them harboring TP53 mutation. There was association between the presence of CTNNB1 mutations and death (P = 0.02). Diffuse β-catenin accumulation was found in 71% of ACT, even in ACT without CTNNB1 mutations. Compared to normal adrenals, ACT presented increased expression of CTNNB1 (P = 0.008) and underexpression of Wnt inhibitor genes: DKK3 (P < 0.0001), SFRP1 (P = 0.05), and AXIN1 (P = 0.04). With regard to Wnt/β-catenin target genes, ACT presented increased expression of WISP2 but lower expression of MYC. Higher overall survival was associated with underexpression of SFRP1 (P = 0.01), WNT4 (P = 0.004), and TCF7 (P < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: CTNNB1 mutations are not common in childhood ACT but appear to associate with poor prognosis. Nevertheless, most ACT exhibit increased expression of β-catenin and WISP2 and reduced expression of Wnt inhibitor genes (DKK3, SFRP1, and AXIN1). Thus, in addition to CTNNB1 mutations, other genetic events affecting the Wnt/β-catenin pathway may be involved in childhood adrenocortical tumorigenesis.

Thiele S, Rauner M, Goettsch C, et al.
Expression profile of WNT molecules in prostate cancer and its regulation by aminobisphosphonates.
J Cell Biochem. 2011; 112(6):1593-600 [PubMed] Related Publications
Skeletal metastases represent a frequent complication in patients with advanced prostate cancer (PCa) and often require bisphosphonate treatment to limit skeletal-related events. Metastasized PCa cells disturb bone remodeling. Since the WNT signaling pathway regulates bone remodeling and has been implicated in tumor progression and osteomimicry, we analyzed the WNT profile of primary PCa tissues and PCa cell lines and assessed its regulation by bisphosphonates. Prostate tissue (n = 18) was obtained from patients with benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH) and PCa patients with different disease stages. Serum samples were collected from 62 patients. Skeletal metastases were present in 17 patients of whom 6 had been treated with zoledronic acid. The WNT profile and its regulation by bisphoshonates were analyzed in tissue RNA extracts and serum samples as well as in osteotropic (PC3) and non-osteotropic (DU145, LNCaP) PCa cell lines. Several members of the WNT pathway, including WNT5A, FZD5, and DKK1 were highly up-regulated in PCa tissue from patients with advanced PCa. Interestingly, osteotropic cells showed a distinct WNT profile compared to non-osteotropic cells. While WNT5A, FZD5, and DKK1 were highly expressed in PC3 cells, WNT1 and SFRP1 mRNA levels were higher in DU145 cells. Moreover, zoledronic acid down-regulated mRNA levels of WNT5A (-34%), FZD5 (-60%), and DKK1 (-46%) in PC3 cells. Interestingly, patients with skeletal metastases who received zoledronic acid had twofold higher DKK1 serum levels compared to bisphosphonate-naive patients. The WNT signaling pathway is up-regulated in advanced PCa, differentially expressed in osteotropic versus non-osteotropic cells, and is regulated by zoledronic acid.

Memarian A, Hojjat-Farsangi M, Asgarian-Omran H, et al.
Variation in WNT genes expression in different subtypes of chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Leuk Lymphoma. 2009; 50(12):2061-70 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Wnt molecules are a family of secretory glycoproteins implicated in proliferation and differentiation of both normal and malignant cells. Despite extensive investigation of the WNT genes expression profile in various tumors, little is known about their expression in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). In this study, the expression profile of 14 WNT genes was investigated in a large number of Iranian patients with CLL. Semi-quantitative RT-PCR was performed on peripheral blood leukemic cells obtained from 62 patients with CLL. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from 11 age matched normal subjects served as control to determine baseline expression level of these genes. Our results have demonstrated significant up-regulation of WNT-3, WNT-4, WNT-5B, WNT-7B, WNT-9A, WNT-10A, and WNT-16B in patients with CLL compared to normal subjects (p < 0.05 to p < 0.0001). WNT gene expression analysis in different CLL subtypes showed a similar pattern of expression in progressive and indolent clinical subtypes. Over-expression of WNT-5A and WNT-9A genes was observed in patients with no mutation in their immunoglobulin (Ig) variable region heavy chain (Ig VH) genes compared to those with mutated Ig VH genes. Comparison between patients expressing VH1 (n = 9), VH3 (n = 40) and VH4 (n = 12) gene families, revealed down-regulation of WNT-3 and WNT-9A in VH3 positive patients. Our results indicate up-regulation of many members of the WNT gene family in CLL suggesting involvement of the Wnt canonical and/or noncanonical signaling pathways in CLL tumorigenesis.

Yuzugullu H, Benhaj K, Ozturk N, et al.
Canonical Wnt signaling is antagonized by noncanonical Wnt5a in hepatocellular carcinoma cells.
Mol Cancer. 2009; 8:90 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: beta-catenin mutations that constitutively activate the canonical Wnt signaling have been observed in a subset of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs). These mutations are associated with chromosomal stability, low histological grade, low tumor invasion and better patient survival. We hypothesized that canonical Wnt signaling is selectively activated in well-differentiated, but repressed in poorly differentiated HCCs. To this aim, we characterized differentiation status of HCC cell lines and compared their expression status of Wnt pathway genes, and explored their activity of canonical Wnt signaling.
RESULTS: We classified human HCC cell lines into "well-differentiated" and "poorly differentiated" subtypes, based on the expression of hepatocyte lineage, epithelial and mesenchymal markers. Poorly differentiated cell lines lost epithelial and hepatocyte lineage markers, and overexpressed mesenchymal markers. Also, they were highly motile and invasive. We compared the expression of 45 Wnt pathway genes between two subtypes. TCF1 and TCF4 factors, and LRP5 and LRP6 co-receptors were ubiquitously expressed. Likewise, six Frizzled receptors, and canonical Wnt3 ligand were expressed in both subtypes. In contrast, canonical ligand Wnt8b and noncanonical ligands Wnt4, Wnt5a, Wnt5b and Wnt7b were expressed selectively in well- and poorly differentiated cell lines, respectively. Canonical Wnt signaling activity, as tested by a TCF reporter assay was detected in 80% of well-differentiated, contrary to 14% of poorly differentiated cell lines. TCF activity generated by ectopic mutant beta-catenin was weak in poorly differentiated SNU449 cell line, suggesting a repressive mechanism. We tested Wnt5a as a candidate antagonist. It strongly inhibited canonical Wnt signaling that is activated by mutant beta-catenin in HCC cell lines.
CONCLUSION: Differential expression of Wnt ligands in HCC cells is associated with selective activation of canonical Wnt signaling in well-differentiated, and its repression in poorly differentiated cell lines. One potential mechanism of repression involved Wnt5a, acting as an antagonist of canonical Wnt signaling. Our observations support the hypothesis that Wnt pathway is selectively activated or repressed depending on differentiation status of HCC cells. We propose that canonical and noncanonical Wnt pathways have complementary roles in HCC, where the canonical signaling contributes to tumor initiation, and noncanonical signaling to tumor progression.

Schittenhelm J, Psaras T, Honegger J, et al.
No evidence for WT1 involvement in a beta-catenin-independent activation of the Wnt signaling pathway in pituitary adenomas.
Endocr Pathol. 2009; 20(3):158-62 [PubMed] Related Publications
The overexpression of Wilms' tumor gene product WT1, which acts as a tumor suppressor or oncogene, has been reported in various malignancies. Recent studies have shown that the interaction partner Wnt-4 is upregulated in pituitary adenomas dependent on the Pit-1 lineage (somatotrophs, lactotrophs, and thyrotrophs). However, no data on WT1 expression in nontumorous pituitary tissue or pituitary adenomas is available to date. We investigated WT1 expression in 90 paraffin-embedded pituitary adenomas, including eight atypical adenomas, and in 28 nontumorous pituitary glands by immunohistochemistry. WT1 is absent in epithelial cells of all nontumorous pituitary glands and in 87 out of 90 pituitary adenomas. Only two GHomas (including one atypical adenoma) and one gonadotropin-producing adenoma expressed WT1 in the cytoplasm of single tumor cells without nuclear staining. There is no evidence that WT1 does regulate the Wnt-4/beta-catenin-independent pathway which is activated in the Pit-1-expressing subset of pituitary adenomas.

Miyakoshi T, Takei M, Kajiya H, et al.
Expression of Wnt4 in human pituitary adenomas regulates activation of the beta-catenin-independent pathway.
Endocr Pathol. 2008; 19(4):261-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
The Wnt signaling pathway has been implicated in the genesis of numerous human cancers. A member of the Wnt family of genes, Wnt4, has been known to regulate proliferation of anterior pituitary cell types in the mouse during embryonic development. In order to elucidate the roles of Wnt signaling in human pituitary adenomas, we examined the expression of Wnt4 and its putative receptor Frizzled6 (Fzd6) by immunohistochemistry in pituitary adenomas and normal pituitaries. Expression of Wnt4 was higher in growth hormone-producing adenomas (GHomas), prolactin-producing adenomas (PRLomas), and thyroid-stimulating hormone-producing adenomas (TSHomas) than in the normal pituitary. Fzd6 was widely expressed in GHomas, PRLomas, TSHomas, and gonadotropin subunit (GnSU)-positive adenomas. In normal pituitary glands, Wnt4 and Fzd6 were colocalized predominantly in follicle-stimulating hormone-, luteinizing hormone-, and alpha-subunits of glycoprotein hormone-positive cells. The canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway was analyzed by beta-catenin immunohistochemistry. beta-Catenin was localized at the cell membrane in all pituitary adenomas, but not in the nuclei. On the other hand, Erk1/2 was highly activated in GHomas and TSHomas. These results suggested that activation of Wnt4/Fzd6 signaling through a "beta-catenin-independent" pathway played a role in proliferation and survival of the pituitary adenoma cells. Detailed involvement of transcription factors including Pit-1 remains to be further investigated.

Kuulasmaa T, Jääskeläinen J, Suppola S, et al.
WNT-4 mRNA expression in human adrenocortical tumors and cultured adrenal cells.
Horm Metab Res. 2008; 40(10):668-73 [PubMed] Related Publications
The members of the Wnt glycoprotein family are important in embryogenesis and adult tissue homeostasis, and deletion of WNT-4 gene in mice leads to improper development of many organs including the adrenals. The objective of this study was to investigate the expression of WNT-4 gene in human adrenals and adrenocortical tumors. The WNT-4 mRNA expression (analyzed by quantitative real-time RT-PCR) was significantly higher in Conn's adenomas (p<0.01) and lower in Cushing's adenomas, virilizing carcinomas and fetal adrenals (p<0.05) compared with normal adult adrenals. WNT-4 mRNA expression was clearly upregulated by ACTH and 8-bromo-cAMP (8-BrcAMP) in primary cultures of normal adult adrenocortical cells, but downregulated by 8-BrcAMP and 12- O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA) in human NCI-H295R adrenocortical carcinoma cells. Angiotensin II tended to increase WNT-4 mRNA expression at 24 hours and decreased it at 48 hours time point in both cell culture types. The abundant WNT-4 mRNA expression in Conn's adenomas and its hormonal regulation in adrenocortical cells suggest a role for WNT-4 in human adrenocortical function.

Knower KC, Sim H, McClive PJ, et al.
Characterisation of urogenital ridge gene expression in the human embryonal carcinoma cell line NT2/D1.
Sex Dev. 2007; 1(2):114-26 [PubMed] Related Publications
The study of the mammalian sex-determining pathway has been hampered by the lack of cell culture systems to investigate the underlying molecular relationships between sex-determining genes. Recent approaches using high-throughput genome-wide studies have revealed a number of sexually dimorphic genes expressed in the developing mouse gonad. Here, we investigated a human testicular cell line in terms of its expression of known sex-determining genes and newly identified candidates. The human embryonal carcinoma cell line NT2/D1 was screened for the expression of 46 genes with known or potential roles in the sex-determining and differentiation pathway. Forty genes tested were expressed in NT2/D1 cells including the testis-determining genes SRY, SOX9, SF-1, DHH and FGF9. Genes not expressed included WT1, DAX1 and the ovary-specific genes FOXL2 and WNT4. Cell-specific markers demonstrate that NT2/D1 cells reflect a number of cell types in the gonad including Sertoli, Leydig and germ cells. Our results suggest that male pathways initiated by SRY, SOX9 and SF-1 remain intact in these cells. Lack of expression of ovary-specific genes is consistent with a commitment of these cells to the male lineage. Manipulation of gene expression in this cell line could be an important new in vitro tool for the discovery of new human sex-determining genes.

Kaiser S, Park YK, Franklin JL, et al.
Transcriptional recapitulation and subversion of embryonic colon development by mouse colon tumor models and human colon cancer.
Genome Biol. 2007; 8(7):R131 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
BACKGROUND: The expression of carcino-embryonic antigen by colorectal cancer is an example of oncogenic activation of embryonic gene expression. Hypothesizing that oncogenesis-recapitulating-ontogenesis may represent a broad programmatic commitment, we compared gene expression patterns of human colorectal cancers (CRCs) and mouse colon tumor models to those of mouse colon development embryonic days 13.5-18.5.
RESULTS: We report here that 39 colon tumors from four independent mouse models and 100 human CRCs encompassing all clinical stages shared a striking recapitulation of embryonic colon gene expression. Compared to normal adult colon, all mouse and human tumors over-expressed a large cluster of genes highly enriched for functional association to the control of cell cycle progression, proliferation, and migration, including those encoding MYC, AKT2, PLK1 and SPARC. Mouse tumors positive for nuclear beta-catenin shifted the shared embryonic pattern to that of early development. Human and mouse tumors differed from normal embryonic colon by their loss of expression modules enriched for tumor suppressors (EDNRB, HSPE, KIT and LSP1). Human CRC adenocarcinomas lost an additional suppressor module (IGFBP4, MAP4K1, PDGFRA, STAB1 and WNT4). Many human tumor samples also gained expression of a coordinately regulated module associated with advanced malignancy (ABCC1, FOXO3A, LIF, PIK3R1, PRNP, TNC, TIMP3 and VEGF).
CONCLUSION: Cross-species, developmental, and multi-model gene expression patterning comparisons provide an integrated and versatile framework for definition of transcriptional programs associated with oncogenesis. This approach also provides a general method for identifying pattern-specific biomarkers and therapeutic targets. This delineation and categorization of developmental and non-developmental activator and suppressor gene modules can thus facilitate the formulation of sophisticated hypotheses to evaluate potential synergistic effects of targeting within- and between-modules for next-generation combinatorial therapeutics and improved mouse models.

Xu J, Gao M, Fan S, et al.
Effect of Akt inhibition on scatter factor-regulated gene expression in DU-145 human prostate cancer cells.
Oncogene. 2007; 26(20):2925-38 [PubMed] Related Publications
The cytokine scatter factor (SF) (hepatocyte growth factor) transduces various biologic actions, including cell motility, invasion, angiogenesis and apoptosis inhibition. The latter is relevant to understanding the role of SF in promoting tumor cell survival in different contexts, for example, detachment from basement membrane, growth in metastatic sites and responses to chemo- and radiotherapy. Previously, we showed that SF protects cells against apoptosis owing to DNA damage, by a mechanism involving phosphoinositol-3-kinase/c-Akt signaling. Here, we used DNA microarray assays to identify c-Akt-regulated genes that might contribute to cell protection. DU-145 human prostate cancer cells were transfected+/-a dominant-negative mutant Akt, treated+/-SF and analysed for gene expression using Affymetrix arrays. These studies identified SF-regulated genes for which induction was c-Akt-dependent vs -independent. Selected microarray findings were confirmed by semiquantitative and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction. We tested the contribution of four SF-inducible/c-Akt-dependent genes (AMPD3, EPHB2, MX1 and WNT4) to protection against adriamycin (a DNA topoisomerase IIalpha inhibitor) using RNA interference. Knockdown of each gene except EPHB2 caused a small but significant reduction in the SF cell protection. The lack of effect of EPHB2 knockdown may be due to the fact that DU-145 cells contain a single-mutant EPHB2 allele. A combination of three small interfering RNAs blocked most of the protection by SF in both DU-145 and T47D cells. These findings identify novel c-Akt-regulated genes, some of which contribute to SF-mediated cytoprotection.

Canto P, Söderlund D, Carranza-Lira S, Méndez JP
Mutation analysis of the WNT-4 gene in patients with polycystic ovary syndrome.
Gynecol Endocrinol. 2006; 22(9):484-7 [PubMed] Related Publications
Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is one of the most common endocrinopathies in women of childbearing age and is characterized by chronic anovulation with either oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea and hyperandrogenism. The etiology of this entity remains unknown. It has been suggested that genomic variants in genes related to the regulation of androgen biosynthesis and function could be involved in genetic predisposition to PCOS. WNT-4 is a member of the WNT family of secreted molecules. Studies on female Wnt-4 knockout mice have suggested that this gene suppresses gonadal androgen synthesis in normal females. We investigated if 25 women with PCOS presented mutations in WNT-4 as the cause of their disorder. Direct sequencing of all five exons demonstrated no mutant alleles in any patient. This study demonstrates that, at least in the population studied, mutations of the open reading frame of WNT-4 gene or its intron/exon junctions are not the cause of PCOS. However, the present data do not rule out the possible existence of causative mutations in the WNT-4 gene promoter region.

Ayyanan A, Civenni G, Ciarloni L, et al.
Increased Wnt signaling triggers oncogenic conversion of human breast epithelial cells by a Notch-dependent mechanism.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2006; 103(10):3799-804 [PubMed] Article available free on PMC after 01/08/2015 Related Publications
Wnt and Notch signaling have long been established as strongly oncogenic in the mouse mammary gland. Aberrant expression of several Wnts and other components of this pathway in human breast carcinomas has been reported, but evidence for a causative role in the human disease has been missing. Here we report that increased Wnt signaling, as achieved by ectopic expression of Wnt-1, triggers the DNA damage response (DDR) and an ensuing cascade of events resulting in tumorigenic conversion of primary human mammary epithelial cells. Wnt-1-transformed cells have high telomerase activity and compromised p53 and Rb function, grow as spheres in suspension, and in mice form tumors that closely resemble medullary carcinomas of the breast. Notch signaling is up-regulated through a mechanism involving increased expression of the Notch ligands Dll1, Dll3, and Dll4 and is required for expression of the tumorigenic phenotype. Increased Notch signaling in primary human mammary epithelial cells is sufficient to reproduce some aspects of Wnt-induced transformation. The relevance of these findings for human breast cancer is supported by the fact that expression of Wnt-1 and Wnt-4 and of established Wnt target genes, such as Axin-2 and Lef-1, as well as the Notch ligands, such as Dll3 and Dll4, is up-regulated in human breast carcinomas.

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