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Cancer Cell. 2004 Nov;6(5):497-506.

An autocrine mechanism for constitutive Wnt pathway activation in human cancer cells.

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Department of Oncological Sciences, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Box 1130, One Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, New York 10029, USA.


Autocrine Wnt signaling in the mouse mammary tumor virus model was the first identified mechanism of canonical pathway activation in cancer. In search of this transformation mechanism in human cancer cells, we identified breast and ovarian tumor lines with upregulation of the uncomplexed transcriptionally active form of beta-catenin without mutations afflicting downstream components. Extracellular Wnt antagonists FRP1 and DKK1 caused a dramatic downregulation of beta-catenin levels in these tumor cells associated with alteration of biological properties and increased expression of epithelial differentiation markers. Colorectal carcinoma cells with knockout of the mutant beta-catenin allele retained upregulated beta-catenin levels, which also could be inhibited by these Wnt antagonists. Together, these findings establish the involvement of autocrine Wnt signaling in human cancer cells.

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