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Curr Cancer Drug Targets. 2008 Sep;8(6):454-65.

Importance of Wnt signaling in the tumor stroma microenvironment.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Royal Melbourne Hospital, Parkville, Victoria 3050, Australia.


Wnt signaling plays an important role in cancer. Signaling is initiated by binding of Wnt ligands to Frizzled cell surface receptors and results in signaling via one of three pathways, the canonical Wnt pathway, which is the best characterized in both normal tissues and in cancer, and two non-canonical Wnt pathways, the Ca(2+)-dependent and the PCP pathways. Canonical Wnt signaling results in beta-catenin accumulation in the cytoplasm, translocation into the nucleus and activation of transcription of Wnt target genes including the c-Myc oncogene. Some cancer types, including colorectal cancer, have mutations in APC and Axin, which are involved in beta-catenin phosphorylation, such that the canonical pathway is constitutively active. Few studies have investigated the role non-canonical Wnt signaling in cancer, or of Wnt signaling on tumor stromal cells. Wnt overexpression is observed in tumor stroma, as is overexpression of the Wnt pathway inhibitors, secreted Frizzled-related proteins and Dickkopf proteins. Interactions between epithelial cells and stromal cells have been observed to activate Wnt signaling in both cell types. Wnt signaling is also observed in tumor blood vessels and is likely to be activated by signals from tumor cells. Current cancer therapies focus on interfering with canonical Wnt signaling in the tumor cells. Future therapeutic targets for interfering with Wnt signaling include cell surface receptors such as the RYK and Ror2 receptors and secreted signaling molecules, which mediate signaling between cancer cells and the stromal environment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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