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Oncogene. 2006 May 18;25(21):3084-92.

Alterations of the Wnt signaling pathway during the neoplastic progression of Barrett's esophagus.

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Institut de Pathologie, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland.


Aberrant activation of the Wnt signaling pathway has been reported during neoplastic progression in Barrett's esophagus (BE). However, mutations in APC and CTNNB1 genes were rarely observed. In this study, expression pattern of Wnt ligands, Frizzled receptors and APC, as well as the methylation status of the APC, SFRP1 and SFRP2 promoter genes were investigated in normal esophageal mucosa and in preneoplastic and neoplastic lesions of BE patients. Promoter methylation of APC was found in all BE samples and in 95% of esophageal adenocarcinomas (EAC). Full methylation of APC correlated with lack of expression. In EAC, nuclear translocation of beta-catenin was observed regardless of the expression of APC. WNT2 expression was higher in dysplasia and EAC than in BE, with 20/26 (77%) of the EAC showing high expression of WNT2. SFRP1 methylation occurred in all BE samples and in 96% of EAC, while SFRP2 was methylated in 73% of the normal squamous esophageal mucosa samples. In conclusion, (1) alterations of key regulators of the Wnt signaling are frequent in the pathogenesis of BE; (2) the APC and SFRP1 genes are inactivated by promoter methylation in BE; (3) the WNT2 gene is upregulated along the progression from low-grade dysplasia to EAC.

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