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Cancer Res. 2005 Sep 1;65(17):7554-60.

Prostate cancer cells promote osteoblastic bone metastases through Wnts.

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Department of Urology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-0940, USA.


Prostate cancer produces painful osteoblastic bone metastases. Although prostate cancer cells produce numerous osteogenic factors, to date, none have been shown to mediate osteoblastic bone metastases in an in vivo model of prostate cancer. Wnts are a large family of proteins that promote bone growth. Wnt activity is antagonized by endogenous proteins including dickkopf-1 (DKK-1). We explored if prostate cancer cells mediate osteoblastic activity through Wnts using DKK-1 as a tool to modify Wnt activity. A variety of Wnt mRNAs were found to be expressed in prostate cancer cell lines and Wnt mRNA expression was increased in primary prostate cancer compared with nonneoplastic prostate tissue. In addition to expressing Wnts, PC-3 prostate cancer cells expressed the Wnt inhibitor DKK-1. To determine if DKK-1 masked Wnt-mediated osteoblastic activity in osteolytic PC-3 cells, the cells were stably transfected with DKK-1 short hairpin RNA. Decreasing DKK-1 enabled PC-3 cells to induce osteoblastic activity, including alkaline phosphatase production and mineralization, in murine bone marrow stromal cells indicating that DKK-1 blocked Wnt-mediated osteoblastic activity in PC-3 cells. Another prostate cancer cell line, C4-2B, induces mixed osteoblastic/osteolytic lesions. To determine if Wnts contribute to C4-2B's ability to induce mixed osteoblastic/osteolytic lesions, C4-2B cells were stably transfected with either empty vector or DKK-1 expression vector to block Wnt activity. The cells were then injected in the tibiae of mice and allowed to grow for 12 weeks. Blocking Wnt activity converted the C4-2B cells to a highly osteolytic tumor. Taken together, these data show that Wnts contribute to the mechanism through which prostate cancer induces osteoblastic activity.

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