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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 1999 Sep 24;263(2):384-8.

Identification of a Wnt-responsive signal transduction pathway in primary endothelial cells.

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Valentis Corporation, 863A Mitten Road, Burlingame, California, 94010, USA.


The beta-catenin signal transduction pathway, which can be activated by secreted Wnt proteins, plays a key role in normal embryonic development and in malignant transformation of the mammary gland and colon. Here we demonstrate, for the first time, that Wnt and beta-catenin signaling also function in cells of the vasculature. RT-PCR analysis showed that primary endothelial and smooth muscle cell cultures, of both mouse and human origin, express members of the Wnt and Wnt receptor (Frizzled) gene families. Transfection of an expression vector for Wnt-1 into primary endothelial cells increased both the free pool of beta-catenin and the transcription from a Lef/tcf-dependent reporter gene construct. Expression of Wnt-1, but not Wnt-5a, also stimulated proliferation of primary endothelial cell cultures. These data show that Wnt and Frizzled proteins can regulate signal transduction, via beta-catenin, in endothelial cells. These findings suggest that Wnt signaling may feature in normal differentiation of the vasculature as well as in pathological settings where endothelial and smooth muscle proliferation is disturbed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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