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Oncogene. 2005 Feb 10;24(7):1277-83.

Low expression of Wnt-5a gene is associated with high-risk neuroblastoma.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Unité Mixte de Recherche 8126, Université Paris-Sud, Institut Fédératif de Recherche 54, Institut Gustave-Roussy (IGR), 39, rue Camille Desmoulins, 94805 Villejuif Cedex, France.


Disseminated forms of neuroblastoma (NB), a tumor derived from neuroectodermal tissue, pose a major therapeutic challenge for pediatric oncology. By performing a comparative cDNA array analysis of metastatic neuroblasts versus primary xenograft from the human IGR-N-91 NB model, we were able to identify a set of downregulated developmental genes in metastatic neuroblasts. One of these genes was Wnt-5a, a member of the Wnt signaling pathway, known to be involved in the development of neural crest cells. Since we also found a significant decrease in Wnt-5a mRNA in unfavorable versus favorable categories in 37 primary NB tumors (P<0.007), we wondered whether retinoic acid (RA), which has a role in neural crest induction and differentiation, might reverse the aberrant negative regulation of Wnt-5a in metastatic malignant neuroblasts. Following treatment with 10 muM RA for 6 days, the MYCN-amplified IGR-N-91 cell lines underwent neuronal differentiation as assessed by reduced MYCN gene expression and neuritic extension. In these conditions, data showed an upregulation of Wnt-5a and PKC-theta; isoform expressions. Our study highlights, for the first time, the involvement of Wnt-5a, which has a role in embryonic and morphogenetic processes, in the response of malignant neuroblasts to RA. In conclusion, we demonstrated that RA, which is used in the treatment of high-risk NB patients with recurrent/residual disease in the bone marrow, is able to upregulate Wnt-5a gene expression.

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