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J Biol Chem. 2013 Mar 1;288(9):6478-87. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.419184. Epub 2013 Jan 10.

SOX9 regulates low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 6 (LRP6) and T-cell factor 4 (TCF4) expression and Wnt/β-catenin activation in breast cancer.

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Division of Hematology-Oncology, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02215, USA.


Gene expression profiling has identified breast cancer (BCa) subtypes, including an aggressive basal-like (BL) subtype. The molecular signals underlying the behavior observed in BL-BCa group are largely unknown, although recent results indicate a prevalent increase in Wnt/β-catenin activity. Our immunohistochemistry study confirmed that SOX9, one of the BL-BCa signature genes, was expressed by most BL-BCa, and its expression correlated with indicators of poor prognosis. Importantly, BCa gene expression profiling strongly associated SOX9 with the expression of Wnt/β-catenin pathway components, LRP6 and TCF4. In cancer cell lines, SOX9 silencing reduced cell proliferation and invasion, LRP6 and TCF4 transcription, and decreased Wnt/β-catenin activation. SOX9 expression was also increased by Wnt, indicating that SOX9 is at the center of a positive feedback loop that enhances Wnt/β-catenin signaling. Consistently, SOX9 overexpression in BCa cell lines and transgenic SOX9 expression in breast epithelium caused increased LRP6 and TCF4 expression and Wnt/β-catenin activation. These results identify SOX9-mediated Wnt/β-catenin activation as one of the molecular mechanisms underlying aberrant Wnt/β-catenin activity in BCa, especially in the BL-BCa subgroup.

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