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Gastroenterology. 2004 Oct;127(4):1110-22.

Functional consequences of frizzled-7 receptor overexpression in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

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The Liver Research Center, Department of Medicine and Pathology, Brown Medical School, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, USA.



The molecular pathogenesis of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is understood poorly. In some tumors, activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway as a result of beta-catenin gene mutations has been found. However, in many other HCCs, activation of the Wnt/beta-catenin pathway has been shown in the absence of such mutations.


We previously have identified the upstream human Frizzled-7 receptor (FZD7) gene of this pathway. In the present study, a quantitative real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay for FZD7 was developed and overexpression of FZD7 was detected in 90% of tumors, most of which were related to chronic hepatitis B virus infection. FZD7 also was overexpressed in the 6 HCC cell lines tested and functional analysis showed that FZD7 messenger RNA (mRNA) levels correlated with enhanced cellular motility.


Transfection of HCC cells with dominant-negative mutant constructs encoding a C-terminally truncated FZD7 protein decreased wild-type beta-catenin protein accumulation and reduced cell motility. More importantly, we observed beta-catenin accumulation in human HCC tumors containing the wild-type beta-catenin gene in the context of high-level FZD7 expression.


These observations suggest that the Wnt/beta-catenin signal transduction pathway is involved much more commonly in the molecular pathogenesis of HCC than previously recognized because FZD7 overexpression occurred early in the disease process, stabilized wild-type beta-catenin levels, and contributed to enhanced tumor cell migration.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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