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World J Clin Oncol. 2011 Aug 10;2(8):311-25. doi: 10.5306/wjco.v2.i8.311.

Dickkopfs and Wnt/β-catenin signalling in liver cancer.

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Sarwat Fatima, Nikki P Lee, Department of Surgery, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China.


Liver cancer is the fifth and seventh most common cause of cancer in men and women, respectively. Wnt/β-catenin signalling has emerged as a critical player in both the development of normal liver as well as an oncogenic driver in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Based on the current understanding, this article summarizes the possible mechanisms for the aberrant activation of this pathway with specific focus on HCC. Furthermore, we will discuss the role of dickkopfs (DKKs) in regulating Wnt/β-catenin signalling, which is poorly understood and understudied. DKKs are a family of secreted proteins that comprise at least four members, namely DKK1-DKK4, which act as inhibitors of Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Nevertheless, not all members antagonize Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Their functional significance in hepatocarcinogenesis remains to be further characterized for which these studies should provide new insights into the regulatory role of DKKs in Wnt/β-catenin signalling in hepatic carcinogenesis. Because of the important oncogenic roles, there are an increasing number of therapeutic molecules targeting β-catenin and the Wnt/β-catenin pathway for potential therapy of HCC.


Dickkopf; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Tumourigenesis; Wnt/β-catenin signalling

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