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Exp Hematol. 2009 Feb;37(2):225-33. doi: 10.1016/j.exphem.2008.10.007. Epub 2008 Dec 20.

beta-catenin is involved in N-cadherin-dependent adhesion, but not in canonical Wnt signaling in E2A-PBX1-positive B acute lymphoblastic leukemia cells.

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Department of Immunology, Institute for Cancer Research, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Rikshospitalet University Hospital, Montebello, Oslo, Norway.

Erratum in

  • Exp Hematol. 2009 Mar;37(3):421.



The t(1;19)(q23;13) translocation, resulting in the production of the E2A-PBX1 chimeric protein, is a common nonrandom translocation in pediatric B-lineage acute lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL). The E2A-PBX1 chimeric protein activates expression of several genes, including Wnt16. In the present study, we explored the role of Wnt16 and beta-catenin in t(1;19) B-ALL cells.


Canonical Wnt signaling was measured by TOPflash activity. Localization of beta-catenin in the cell membrane and its involvement in leukemia-stroma interaction were studied by confocal microscopy. Adhesion to N-cadherin was analyzed by adding (3)H-thymidin-labeled cells to N-cadherin-coated wells.


In contrast to previous reports, we detected no effects on cell viability or proliferation upon modulation of the Wnt16 levels. Moreover, despite high levels of Wnt16 and beta-catenin, the cells had very low levels of canonical Wnt signaling. Instead, beta-catenin was located in the cell membrane along with N-cadherin. E2A-PBX1-positive leukemia cells adhered strongly to bone marrow stroma cells, and we showed that adherence junctions stained strongly for both proteins. Moreover, knockdown of beta-catenin reduced the adhesion of E2A-PBX1-positive leukemia cells to N-cadherin, suggesting that beta-catenin and N-cadherin play a central role in homotypic cell-to-cell adhesion and in leukemia-stroma adhesion. Interestingly, knockdown of Wnt16 by small interfering RNA reduced the level of N-cadherin.


Wnt16 does not activate canonical Wnt signaling in E2A-PBX1-positive cells. Instead, beta-catenin is involved in N-cadherin-dependent adherence junctions, suggesting for the first time that leukemia-stroma interactions may be mediated via an N-cadherin-dependent mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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