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Oncogene. 2002 May 2;21(19):2948-60.

Wnt-4 regulation by the Wilms' tumour suppressor gene, WT1.

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  • 1Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD 4072, Australia.


The Wilms' tumour suppressor gene, WT1, encodes multiple nuclear protein isoforms, all containing four C-terminal zinc finger motifs. WT1 proteins can both activate and repress putative target genes in vitro, although the in vivo relevance of these putative target genes is often unverified. WT1 mutations can result in Wilms' tumour and the Denys-Drash Syndrome (DDS) of infantile nephropathy, XY pseudohermaphroditism and predisposition to Wilms' tumour. We have established stable transfectants of the mouse mesonephric cell line, M15, which express WT1 harbouring a common DDS point mutation (R394W). A comparison of the expression profiles of M15 and transfectant C2A was performed using Nylon-based arrays. Very few genes showed differential expression. However Wnt-4, a member of the Wnt gene family of secreted glycoproteins, was downregulated in C2A and other similar clones. Doxycycline induction of WT1-A or WT1-D expression in HEK293 stable transfectants also elicited an elevation in Wnt4 expression. Wnt4 is critical for the mesenchyme-to-epithelial transition during kidney development, making it an attractive putative WT1 target. We have mapped human Wnt-4 gene to chromosome 1p35-36, a region of frequent LOH in WT, have characterized the genomic structure of the human Wnt-4 gene and isolated 9 kb of immediate promoter. While several potential WT1 binding sites exist within this promoter, reporter analysis does not strongly support the direct regulation of Wnt4 by WT1. We propose that Wnt-4 regulation by WT1 occurs at a more distant promoter or enhancer site, or is indirect.

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