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Nature. 2001 May 17;411(6835):349-54.

The Hedgehog and Wnt signalling pathways in cancer.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21205, USA.


The Wnt and Hedgehog (Hh) signalling pathways have long been known to direct growth and patterning during embryonic development. Recent evidence also implicates these pathways in the postembryonic regulation of stem-cell number in epithelia such as those of the skin and intestine, which undergo constant renewal. A pathological role for the Wnt and Hh pathways has emerged from studies showing a high frequency of specific human cancers associated with mutations that constitutively activate the transcriptional response of these pathways. This article focuses on Hh and Wnt signal transduction and reviews evidence suggesting that tumorigenesis associated with pathway activation may result from mis-specification of cells towards stem-cell or stem cell-like fates.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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